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Chapter 1 : life is a box of exploding bonbons
| ||Rating: Mature||Chapter Reviews: 7|
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What you are going to be reading is heavily inspired by Korean dramas. In particular, this particular story is inspired by Mary Stayed Out All Night, or Marry Me, Mary, which is owned by KBS2.
There will be unbelievable scenes of nonsense and ridiculousness. There will be dramatic hand-holding and over-the-top declarations of everything. There will be confusion and plot-holes. There will be a genuine overflow of fluffy fluff of the gooiest kind.
You have been warned!
She squinted at the piece of parchment for a brief moment before she continued to write. Her hands were splashed with ink, but she didn't care. Her break was only twenty minutes, so she had to make the most of it and pen down everything she had come up with.
A quick glance at the clock told her that she had used the majority of her break, and now only had a few more minutes before she had to return to the counter.
Her uniform was splashed with ice cream of all colours – ranging from pink to rainbow. The stupid hat they made the employees wear was making her head sweat, and was about to fall off.
Brow furrowed, Emma finished up some more thoughts, ending the scene short before blowing hastily on the parchment to help the ink dry. She stowed the quill and bottle of ink in an empty ice-cream carton before rolling up her parchment and placing it also in the carton.
She went over to the staff sink and washed her hands, scrubbing extra hard so that her manager wouldn't be able to scold her for working with dirty hands (not that she would – that wouldn't be sanitary and would drive customers away).
Emma slipped back into her place at the counter at exactly the moment her manager came over from his office.
Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour was not a particularly exciting place to work, but with rent to pay and a lazy sister at home who decided her dream was to pursue an acting career...Emma had to do with what she had.
Florean Fortescue IV looked at her with disdain. His beady black eyes went directly to her hands, which had been scrubbed until they were pink.
“I need to talk to you in my office,” he said in that hateful way of his. It was as though he disapproved of everything she did – even though she was the most obviously pleasant server in his shop.
“Yes, Mr. Fortescue,” Emma replied cheerfully, trying her best not to seem startled.
She followed him dutifully into the cramped room that used to be the supply cupboard but now was refurbished to be used as Florean's private office.
There was some awkward manoeuvring about as he pushed in the guest chair across from the desk so he might squeeze past it towards his desk. She fumbled around the door as he tried to get around all his furniture (which seemed to be half a size too big for that small of a space).
After much squeaking and squelching of furniture in order for Florean to fit tightly behind his desk, Emma managed to shut the door behind her chair. The back of Florean's large, black chair touched the back wall, and the back of the chair Emma was sitting in touched, exactly, the back of the door when shut. A small filing cabinet was situated to the right of Emma's chair, crammed so tightly against the walls and the desk that it was impossible to open the bottom drawer without rearranging the furniture.
If you know, there had been space to rearrange it to begin with.
She wondered how he had even gotten the furniture to fit into such a tiny space. And then she wondered if having an office like this was even necessary to begin with.
Florean Fortescue IV was a small man, just like all the men in his family before him. His chair sat on top of a stack of books so he could menacingly glare at all his other employees. Maybe the largeness of his blocky furniture was him trying to overcompensating for his small stature.
“I hope you are aware that ice cream sales have dwindled.” His tone was accusing, as though he blamed Emma for all of his misfortunes. “This month, we've barely made enough to cover the rent of this old place.”
“Well, sir,” Emma cleared her throat and sat up straighter. “It is going to be winter in a couple months.” She knew this because on her way to work this morning, a crisp autumn breeze had picked up a couple of leaves and danced them across the street.
“Winter is coming!” Florean said passionately, and loudly, drowning out what Emma had been saying previously. “Which means it's going to soon be too cold to eat any ice cream.”
“That's a bit pessimistic, don't you think?” She leaned forward a little eagerly. “There will always be people who will love to have an icy treat, even when it's snowing out.”
“There are going to be cuts.” He leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk unprofessionally. “We're going to have to size back on employees, starting with those who were hired just this summer.”
Emma had guessed this from the start. Florean had been giving her the evil eye more than usual this week, so it was only so long before she would learn that her employment at Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour was to be terminated.
“I'm sorry, Miss Chau,” Florean's mock-apologetic voice crooned. “But it just isn't fair for someone to work for no pay, you know? And I know times have been rough for you and your sister.”
Emma took in a deep breath, gave him her sweetest smile and shrugged. “Not at all, sir. Things have been wonderful. Thank you for the opportunity to work at such a fine establishment.” She tried to stand from the chair, but managed to get stuck between the chair and the desk. The chair legs squeaked against the floor when she tried to push through.
Florean watched her struggle as she climbed over the chair, pushed it in and proceeded to open the door, which also gave a loud squeak.
“Thank you again, Mister Fortescue.” She bowed slightly, gave him another smile and turned to walk away.
“Make sure to clear away the filthy ink and dusty feather that you've stowed in the back,” Florean said, waving her away with a chipper voice. “Leave the uniform, please. We'll need it come spring and summer when we're training for new people.”
Emma sucked in another breath as she made her way across the empty shop. She smiled at Courtney, a girl who was also hired over the summer. Courtney just continued chewing her bubble gum without interest. Courtney probably wasn't going to get fired anytime soon. Florean doted on her, but probably only because Courtney's boobs were bigger than her brain.
If she had said that her pride hadn't been hurt a little, Emma would have been a liar. And Emma wasn't a liar. Her pride stung. She felt personally attacked, and a little irritated.
Courtney should have been the one fired. Chicken-brained Courtney and her big tits. Courtney who smoked in the back storage room and blatantly hit on customers.
It wasn't fair, but what could she do?
Emma took in another breath, slowly exhaling as she changed out of her uniform and into her street clothes. Heaving her bag over her shoulder, she went over to the freezer, stuck her hand in the back and pulled out the empty carton that held her bottle of ink, quill and parchment.
The parchment was wet, all her words blurring together in a single black fuzz of unreadable text.
Her pride hurt, her ideas now a sopping wet piece of nothing, Emma shoved everything into her bag and exited through the back. She stopped to lean against one of the dirty walls, taking deep breaths to calm the frustration she felt.
“I-It wasn't nice to work there, anyway,” she muttered. “The pay was lousy, my boss was an imbecile and my co-workers were morons.” A tear rolled down her face, but she rubbed it away. “I could do a lot better. I deserve a lot better.” Emma inhaled deeply and exhaled, allowing a small smile to grow into a grin. “At least I can go home early and do nothing.”
But in the back of her mind, she worried about rent. Amy was always off doing something, trying charm her way into business and failing miserably. She always invested their savings into failed projects or trusted people who ultimately betrayed her.
“We're okay, now, though,” Emma reassured herself. “I've paid the landlady for this month, so we've a guaranteed place for now.” Yes, she nodded. Things would be fine.
Emma believed that life was a challenge. One obstacle after another. How you encountered these challenges ultimately determined who you were.
Emma was a Hufflepuff. She could always be counted onto see the good in every situation, even when she didn't want to. Even in the darkest of times, Emma could somehow make out the light at the end of the tunnel.
Amy called her an idiot for believing in the light. But then again, Amy was always trying to take the easy way out of every situation.
The streets of Diagon Alley narrowed and Emma found herself nearing Knockturn Alley.
Many passers-by gave her weird looks as she walked happily through the overhang separating Knockturn Alley from Diagon Alley. The old cobblestone streets narrowed even more, and Emma found herself squeezing past the crowd, shielding her wallet inside her cloak because the area was infamous for pick-pockets.
People thought it wasn't right for two girls to be living in such a shoddy part of down, but what could you do? The rent was low, and it allowed Emma to walk to her jobs in Diagon Alley.
She hummed a little song, her feet softly clip-clopping on the cobblestones.
Emma and her older sister of 10 years, Amy, lived near the outskirts of Knockturn. It was a two-room flat with chipped paint and concrete floors. Cosmetically, it was ugly, but Emma had made it her home these last five months.
Knockturn's streets widened again, and people dispersed into their own dark corners, leaving Emma to walk alone on streets still lit by sunlight.
She breathed a sigh or relief when she saw the rundown tower block. She raced up the rotten stairs and fished into her bag for her key.
The key clicked into the first lock, and clicked into the rest of the locks. Emma pushed the door in and nearly dropped her things in shock.
Emma came home to an empty flat.
“Amy?” Emma’s voice echoed off the empty walls, reverberating off the cement flooring and back to her ears.
She took a moment to check that she hadn’t somehow walked into someone else’s flat.
Nope. This was definitely where she had woken up this morning -- in an actual bed, not just a pile of her things in the middle of the empty living room.
All the furniture was gone. Sofas, refrigerator, beds -- somehow everything had disappeared in the six hours she had been at work.
Emma squatted down by her things and took in another deep breath. She felt overwhelmed. Swallowed. She shouldn’t have felt this way, though. Her sister often sprung these moves on her -- disappearing for half a day, moving furniture and allowing Emma to come home to an empty flat and a note.
Except this time, the note was different.
Flipping open her mobile, Emma dialled her sister’s number and crumpled when it rang and rang and rang but never connected through. She called again. And again. And again.
She wanted to throw her phone at the wall. Wanted to fall over and let everything wash over her...but she didn’t. Didn’t because that wouldn’t have helped at all.
Sorry. The note had said.
It was always sorry. Always a wave of apologies that poured out of Amy’s mouth. Excuses, reasons for what was going on or where the money had gone.
The last time, Amy had taken all of Emma’s life savings and put it into hiring a “legitimate” talent agent. Instead, the man had run off with everything, leaving nothing for the two sisters.
And Amy was sorry. She gave that nonchalant shrug of her shoulders, hugged her sister and told her that they would just have to make do without a few things for now -- that it wasn’t a big deal.
Until it became a big deal.
“OI!” There was a heavy pounding that pulled Emma out of her pity pot. “CHAU. WE KNOW YER IN THERE.” The voice was masculine, and sounded incredibly angry. The pounding on the door increased in power. “CHAU. WE WANT OUR FUCKIN’ MONEY.”
There was no time for any other thoughts. All Emma wanted to do was grab her discarded blanket, pull it around her, and pretend she was the ground.
She had almost reached the blanket when it sounded like they were trying to kick down the door.
Startled, her heart beating a thousand beats per second, Emma stood up and swallowed the lump in her throat. For her own sake, she pulled herself together and went to the door.
“CHAU!” They were shouting, the pounding and kicking continued until they heard Emma undoing the locks from the inside.
Sweat dripping off her brow, anxiety threatening to overtake her words, Emma pulled the door open and was violently shoved aside by the rough men.
One had a dragon tattoo going from the side of his neck to his bald head, which glistened with sweat. His mustache bristled when he talked.
“Who the fuck are you?” He asked roughly, surveying Emma with blood-shot eyes.
“E-Ella.” Emma had long known not to give any real information to these men. She swallowed again. “W-Who are you?”
“Where the fuck is Amy Chau?” Muscles asked, standing next to the Mustached man. “She borrowed money from us and we haven’t seen a single sickle of it since.” He was more muscular than the other man, and lacked the intimidating mustache and glare. His thick head of auburn colored hair was greased and combed stiffly back.
“N-No clue.” Emma straightened up her spine, took a deep breath and looked Mustache in the eye. “Amy disappeared this morning. I haven’t seen her since.” She gestured to the empty room. “You can see that she’s sold everything that we ever had.”
Muscles relaxed a bit, and stared her down.
Mustache didn’t looked convinced. “What relationship do you have with the bitch?”
“Half-sister.” Truth. “She took all my savings and ran away with it.” Half-truth. She gestured to the room again. “She sold all the furniture in order to cover her expenses. Even stuff that belonged to me. I have nothing. NOTHING.” Maybe truth? Emma took a step forward and stared Mustache full in the face. “So don’t come over here, trying to threaten me because I, I am just like you. I have been swindled. And lied to. And I have lost everything.”
Emma took a deep breath, and allowed everything to overwhelm her. Tears brimmed against her eyes when she glanced at the sad pile of her clothes and blankets.
“So don’t come to this place demanding to see a sister that doesn’t exist.” Lie. No matter how much Amy had wronged Emma. She couldn’t bring herself to hate the familiar, smiling face of her half-sister.
Family was family. That was that.
“She’s dead to me.” Emma stated, her face as dead-pan as she could get it in that particular situation. “So I would appreciate it if you could leave so I can start gathering up what is left of my fucking life.”
She almost cringed at the curse word.
Hufflepuffs just don’t curse. It’s weird. They just don’t. She had never met a Hufflepuff that cursed.
Well, that wasn't true. Some did. Most did.
Emma did not.
Muscles and Mustache looked at each other. They looked irritated, but sympathetic.
“What a low-life.” Mustache muttered. “Family’s family, isn’t it? Why would you steal from your little sister?”
She nodded, shooing them closer and closer to the door.
“If you catch her, if you see her --” Emma narrowed her eyes at them, scrunching up her face in a way that made her look angry or upset (one or the other, really, didn’t matter at this point), “You’ll let me know, alright? I’d like back what she took from me.”
Muscles sighed. “Yeah. Look, we’re sorry, though. We really thought she’d be here. It’s a pain to try and get money back, you know?”
“I know.” Emma nodded.
And she knew only too well.
Loan sharks were old news. They came around frequently, screaming for Amy’s blood and pounding on all doors, looking for her. They were the cause of many evictions, and usually Emma could get around them by claiming that she didn’t know who Amy was or playing the sympathy card.
It only worked for so long, though, because Amy always came back.
And she almost always brought trouble back with her.
The door shut and she quickly bolted everything before settling back down in the middle of the floor. Emma had a feeling that Muscles and Mustache would probably be back, though. They always came back when they realized that she had lied to them.
Half-lied, she supposed. Some of it was the truth.
She really had no idea where Amy had gone this time.
By the time Emma had gotten on to two buses and made her way to her second job, she had successfully rolled out and organized the rest of her belongings. There were three blankets, a large one that could probably double as a thin barrier between her body and the cold, concrete floor, and two smaller ones that she could wrap herself in. There was one pillow, dented and not exactly soft, but better than the ground underneath a tired head.
She also had a few clothes. Mostly jackets and scarves, a few pairs of trousers and socks. Shirts were scarce, so she’d have to make do with what she had before payday.
The pub was just beginning to fill with people, and as she tied the apron around her waist and picked up a tray, the band was already beginning to file onto the stage.
Popular with the indie crowd, the pub that Emma worked at was frequented by many “underground” bands that appeared every so often to play a gig there. On these nights, rowdy teenage women were the problem. They screamed and threw their clothes on the stage and did inappropriate things, such as leave disgusting messes behind and not tip their waitress.
The lead singer stumbled a bit, gripping the microphone for support as his white guitar swung from side to side dangerously. He smiled mischievously, dark brown hair falling into hazel eyes, his chin purposefully unshaven; his clothes were unkempt, wrinkled and mostly shades of black. Silver hoops were looped through his earlobes. In total, he had more piercings on his right side than left. His hair was styled long, gelled in a curl on top of his head. All in all, he was fashionable, extremely attractive, and maybe just a little intoxicated.
The crowd went wild. She recognized the sound of the song they started to play -- this band was very popular with this crowd. Almost too popular. They crowded backstage, spilt things and left papers scattered about the hallways.
And she would have to clean up after them.
With tray in hand, Emma flocked to the tables of customers, asking if she could help them with anything. Most ordered complicated drinks. Her memory poor, Emma jotted them down on a pad of paper before heading to the bartender and ordering them.
The bartender was a man named Xavier. He looked like he fit with the atmosphere of the pub (Emma didn’t -- too wide-eyed and innocent for this kind of “dangerous,” and “indie-hip” establishment) with his black skinny jeans, cool ripped-in-all-the-best-places band t-shirt, tattoos, piercings and short black hair.
“What can I get ya, Ems?” He also had a penchant for nicknames.
She smiled, because he was friendly. Most other waitresses kept to themselves, but they all swooned and threw themselves at the overly casual and amiable bartender.
“Two mixed Wizards? One half-Firewhiskey, half-vodka.”
“Hangman’s Noose?” Xavier winked at her. “And two Wandering Warlocks? Coming right up.”
Emma hung around the bar awkwardly, watching the band warm up with a set of familiar songs. She found herself humming along, regardless of her dislike for loud music.
“They’re not bad, huh?” Xavier was talking to her as his hands busied themselves with the various tossing and turnings of the bottles beyond the counter.
“What?” He caught her off-guard.
His smile was sincere as he handed her the black-coloured drink. “You’re humming.”
“Well, yes...” she felt awkward, like a child who had been caught with her hand in the cookie jar.
“It’s not bad.” Xavier’s brow furrowed a little as he handed her two tumblers full of cloudy white liquid that glowed when she touched it. “Most people hum, you know.”
“Yeah,” was all Emma managed before she took up her tray and went directly to the customer.
Xavier watched her, interested. She was always a bit strange. A bit awkward. A bit out of place. With hair cut like a boys, and a round face, she exuded innocence. He picked up a tumbler and dried it thoroughly with a cloth before setting it down.
Emma walked as though she floated, and offered an easy smile to every patron -- even when they were rude, or belligerently drunk.
They had worked together for a little over two months, and she hadn’t disclosed much personal information about herself. He was used to the waitresses flinging out every sort of sob-story one could think of at him. They wanted his pity, wanted his sympathy so he could be their knight in shining armour, swooping down to save them.
He wasn’t the knight type.
She was definitely not his type, either. Too quiet. Too innocent.
But he was interested.
They could be friends, he felt, maybe, if she was less awkward and more accepting of friendly gestures.
Emma came back, her cheeks flushed with the warm room, eyes bright. “Um, one bourbon mix and three Cosmopolitans?”
“By bourbon mix, do you mean...”
“The Manhattan.” Emma scanned her handwriting for a second and nodded for her own reassurance.
“You always forget the drink names, don’t you?” He teased, reaching back for the bourbon.
“I have a terrible memory.” Emma reached a hand to her forehead and knocked. “Was never too good at Potions, so I could never mix drinks like you can,” she said earnestly, peeking over to see how he was picking the liquor.
“It’s really nothing.” Xavier shrugged and handed the mixes back to her.
Emma gave him a smile and turned, only to be attacked.
“Emma!” her old Hogwarts friends, Nat and Liv, appeared on both of her sides. “You’re working tonight?!”
“Uh,” she balanced the drinks carefully. “Yeah, I do work here. Three nights a week.”
“That would explain it,” Liv said, pointedly looking at Nat. “We’ve been coming for three weeks, trying to see you -- but that one always wants to go to the other pub on Friday nights.”
“Oi,” Nat retorted. “The Sassy Sorceress has super attractive waiters that work there! And you know that the one fit bloke works only Friday nights.”
“Except for tonight!” Liv argued. “And you don’t even talk to him. You just creep on him with your eyes.”
“I’m working!” Emma sighed. “Do you guys want a table? We can talk later.”
Nat and Liv stopped squabbling for a second and nodded. “That would be absolutely lovely, Emma.”
She seated them far from the other patrons, near the stage.
Out of the entire Hufflepuff house during her seven years at Hogwarts, Emma would always consider Nat and Liv two of the silliest girls in existence. Not that it was bad, of course. They were more than friendly and obliging, but it was in their nature to be silly and wild.
As she took another order, she could see Nat and Liv still bickering about something from the corner of her eye.
“Your friends?” Xavier raised a brow at the two girls while Emma nodded.
“From Hogwarts. I haven’t seen them in ages...” Emma was watching Nat and Liv bickering, a smile on her face. “But I have been moving around a bit -- I think that’s why they’ve tried to find me here.” She said the first part thoughtfully, and Xavier looked up quickly.
She had just disclosed something about her personal life -- Xavier just barely picked up on it.
“They’re ridiculously silly,” Emma continued. “Always fighting over boyfriends and brand names...but they’re lovely.” She sighed. “It’s actually really nice to see them again.” She picked up the drinks order and delivered them to the customer, gracefully arching as she placed the glasses on the white napkins and was hailed over by her friends.
“We know, we know, you’re working,” Liv pulled Emma into a seat. “Just act like you’re taking an order from us.”
Nat leaned forward, almost too eagerly. “Who’s that hunk you were talking to?”
“Eh?” Emma turned to look past her right shoulder. “What are you talking about?”
“Aiyeeee.” Nat looked like she was going to stomp her foot and throw a tantrum, but the smile on her face cancelled out whatever bad feelings might have been brewing. “You just claim all the attractive guys for yourself, right?”
Emma frowned, “You’re being ridiculous.”
“She is,” Liv replied.
“I mean the bartender.” Nat turned to watch Xavier fill the orders of the females at the bar counter. “What’s his name? What’s his story?” She narrowed her eyes so that she resembled a cat on the prowl.
“Xavier?” Emma blinked and turned back around. “I don’t know. I don’t talk to him that much.”
“Liar,” Nat pouted. “You were just talking to him.”
“Not like that.” Emma protested.
“Nattttt.” Liv rolled her eyes.
The band on stage suddenly stopped playing and there was a deafening roar from the group of teenage girls. All three girls turned their heads to the stage, and Liv’s eyes suddenly widened.
The lead singer was standing right above them, his eyes closed, guitar posed. The crowd continued to roar and the drummer banged his drumsticks together, signalling that they were going to start another song.
“He’s so handsome.” Liv got up from the stool and walked towards the group of roaring women.
“Typical,” Nat was saying. “Anyways, Emma,” she winked, “could you get me the attention of the bartender?”
Emma looked troubled, but sighed. “Sure, but could you guys order something so it seems like I’m actually working and not messing around? I need this paycheck.”
“Aiyee!” Nat frowned. “Of course! When do you get off tonight?”
Emma glanced at the clock. “Two?”
“Perfect. We’ll go for some late-night dinner.”
“Are places still open at that hour?”
Nat winked at her again. “Of course! They cater to street-rats like us.” She gestured to herself and the enchanted Liv, who seemed to be hanging onto the edge of the stage.
When the man on stage opened his mouth, a slow, mournful sound came out. He was serenading, going along with the sound of the guitar to this right. The guitar solo’d for a bit, building up speed and the voice joined in.
Emma had never heard a sound like that before. She stood, awkwardly to the side, her eyes glued to the stage while Nat prattled on.
His movements were purely for the crowd. They were slow, seemingly meaningful, as though he had written the song for every single girl in the audience. It wasn’t a love song, though, as Emma had first thought when she heard the intro. It was a revenge song disguised as a love song. And it was clever. One-liners wove into melody, the sound of his voice along with the guitar, the joining bass...the drum.
The pub was getting really full. Emma had been staring so intently at the musicians on stage that she had failed to notice the customers. She turned to rush back to work, but stopped, slowly turning back once again to watch the lead singer. His hazel eyes snapping sparks, his voice still crooning -- it was an alluring act. Transfixed, Emma’s eyes met his for a brief moment. He smirked, as though acknowledging her before turning to the other side of the stage, allowing his guitar to swing by itself as he gripped the microphone, giving himself fully to the song.
Emma turned around, face flushed, embarrassed and went towards one of the full tables.
“What the fuck is that racket?”
Emma’s shift was over, and the crowds had thinned out. Most intoxicated customers had cabs called for them, or they decided to travel by Knight Bus.
The manager was there, now, surveying clean-up as he usually did. His attention was drawn by the racket happening backstage.
“I don’t know.” Xavier was leaning against the cash register, looking cool, but exhausted.
“Emma, go check it out.” The owner waved her in the direction of the noise.
“Her shift’s over,” Xavier pointed out.
Liv and Nat were still at the table, a little drunker than they had anticipated getting. Emma removed herself from the table and went over to the owner. “Check out the sound?”
“See what’s going on back there,” The older man said, sighing. “The only reason I allow the fucking musicians in here is because they draw in customers.” He sighed. “It’s not a goddamn concert hall.”
Emma took the stairs, stepped over the gate and pushed through the dark purple curtains. She crinkled her nose as the strong stench of alcohol assaulted her senses.
The drummer was making out with some girl, his hands lower than they should have been, her hands tangled up in his long hair.
She moved passed them awkwardly, because they weren’t the ones making the noise, and instead, found herself looking into the dressing room.
The lead singer was jumping on the sofa. He was laughing, as the girls around him laughed as well. The guitar player was trying to stand up but was drunkenly knocking over everything in sight instead. The bassist seemed to be arguing with himself in the mirror, smoothing back his hair and holding up his fist to his reflection.
The girls were falling over, giggling loudly, not caring that they had just toppled a glass vase.
Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as she tried to gather up her courage to address them.
Drunk people were not her forte.
“E-Excuse me,” she inquired, looking to the girls as they clung onto the lead singer, who had stopped jumping and was standing on top of the coffee table, kicking over some more decorations and laughing about it. “Could you stop...”
The noise escalated until the bassist, apparently tired of what his reflection was saying, angrily punched the mirror, shattering it.
It was as though the record player skipped and stopped playing while Emma was in the middle of talking, so she, with her eyes closed and hands bunched into fists at her side, yelled at the top of her lungs, “COULD YOU GUYS STOP DOING THAT?”
All drunk, bloodshot eyes were on her.
“Er,” she paused, opened her eyes, and trembling, continued, “You’re causing a lot of ruckus, and we’d really appreciate it if you left.”
“Rude,” One of the girls said, pushing past her.
The other girl helped the guitar player up, and sauntered out with his arm over her shoulder. The bassist, now in terrible pain and bleeding profusely, wrapped his hand in his shirt and walked out, swaying ever so slightly.
“We’re gone.” The lead singer was in her personal space, giving her a little too much attitude. He leaned forward some more, so that his face way too closer to hers. He gave a little laugh, hazel eyes still latched onto her own brown ones. “Bye.” He swayed a bit before leaving her in the empty room.
She leaned against the doorway as he passed by the drummer, and in a single movement, pulled him up from the sofa and out the back door.
“Was that really necessary?” Emma breathed, blinking rapidly.
“Take us home, Emma.” Liv was barely standing. She leaned heavily against the wooden beam outside of the pub, her face pale in the light. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“I’m never drinking again,” Nat murmured, slumped against a car.
“Didn’t you guys promise me a late night dinner?” Emma inquired, raising an eyebrow.
“Too drunk,” Nat complained. “Is the world supposed to be spinning?”
“Emmmaaa,” Liv whined. “Nat was too sad that the hot bartender turned her advances down and drowned her sorrow in alcohol. She made me drink with herrrrr.”
“A classy lady,” Nat paused to let out a loud belch, “Never drinks by herself.”
Emma let out a loud sigh.
“We’ll pay you.” Liv reached into her purse and took out a stack of galleons. “How about it, Emma?”
“I have the worst friends,” She sighed. “Where’s your car?”
“Sleeping beauty’s slumped over it.” Liv gestured to the silver car underneath a drunk Nat.
Emma helped her drunk friends into Liv’s vehicle and jumped into the driver’s seat. It had been so long since she had been behind the wheel of a car.
A sigh escaped her lips, the stack of galleons burning a hole in her pocket as she started the car.
It lurched forward, and for a moment, panic gripped Emma as she froze for a moment. A man chose that moment to cross the street and Emma slammed on the breaks.
The tires squealed and the man turned towards the vehicle.
Their eyes met as the car halted.
She recognized it to be the lead singer from the band.
He slapped the hood of the car with both hands. “WATCH WHERE THE FUCK YOU’RE GOING.”
“What was that?” Liv straightened up and blinked her eyes sleepily. “What’s going on?”
“N-nothing.” Emma hoped he didn’t recognize her. She turned the car off and got out.
The man was still stumbling around in the dark.
“Are you okay?”
“Get the fuck away from me.” He pushed off her advances.
“Do you need a ride? Where’s the rest of the band?”
“Left with those girls,” he slurred as he slumped against one of the brick walls across the street from the pub. “Sleepyyy...”
“You can’t sleep here.” Emma sighed, trying to pull him up.
“EEEEEMMMMMMAAAAAAA...” her friends called loudly from the car. “I think Nat’s going to be sick.”
Emma looked at the now unconscious man and at her friends. She dug around her pockets and found a scratch piece of parchment. She wrote ‘If found...’ and her name and her mobile number on it before leaving it in his hand.
She got into the car and drove off, hoping that he’d somehow get home safely.
“You’re too nice,” Liv slurred, as Nat mumbled something inaudible from the back seat. “TOOOOO fucking NICE. You can’t help everyone, you know,” she hiccuped. “Just help the people you already know -- the people you love.”
“Okay, drunky,” Emma nodded. “Whatever you say.”
Emma had dropped off both of her friends. Liv managed the steps by herself, but Nat was passed out in the back seat of the car and required levitation to get into the house they shared. Things were going well. Liv was tucked into her bed, sleeping soundly, and Nat was about to get the same treatment when she opened her eyes, smiled at Emma, and threw up.
“Guh,” Nat shut her eyes again.
Emma groaned, hoisted her friend into bed and went to the bathroom. With a swish of her wand, the vomit disappeared but the smell remained.
In her 7 years at Hogwarts, Emma had cleaned up vomit more than once. Usually from carpets, people’s shoes or in plant’s pots.
Once she had vomited, Nat claimed to be much better and curled up like a cat in her mess of sheets. Emma tucked the sheets tightly under her sleeping friend and flicked off the light with her wand. She made sure the coffee machine was properly plugged in and timed before flicking off the remaining lights and locking the door.
Now utterly depleted, Emma leaned against their front door. The only thing she could look forward to was undisturbed sleep. She would typically have to get up at 7 to open up the ice cream parlour, but now that she was fired...
An exhausted smile managed to crawl onto Emma’s face.
That was exactly what she needed.
The sunlight had started with a trickle, but now fully engulfed the small living room with its rays. Emma, asleep on the floor all rolled up in her blankets, sat straight up for a moment, panic in her heart. She was still used to getting up early to open up shop, so she had thought she was late for work.
Relaxed, she laid back down, stretched out her limbs completely and smiled widely. She wiggled her toes and fingers; it was good to be alive, she decided before her stomach gave a loud growl. Hunger was motivation enough for scrambling out of her wrappings to see if she had any food left.
The fridge had been taken along with the rest of the furniture, but the cabinets remained. Emma opened a few of them, disappointed to find dust and crumbs. Feeling discouraged and famished, Emma went back to her pile of blankets and squatted, surveying the empty room.
Her eyes fell on her coat, which hung on one of the empty wall-hooks and her lips quirked themselves into a smile. Liv had given her a stack of galleons for driving them home, and absentmindedly, after apparating home (and splinching one of her nails), she had hung the coat without a second thought on the hook.
Emma leapt towards it, landing soundly in front of it as she reached into the front pocket and beamed when her fingers connected with gold.
She was going to have a hot, proper breakfast -- the first in maybe a couple months. Her stomach gave a loud grumble at the prospect of actual food and not soggy oatmeal or dry cereal. It was almost too good to be true, but Emma knew better than to push her luck too far.
She folded up her blankets and divided up her various belongings. A pot was put aside, along with the portable gas cooking stove. Clothes were folded up and neatly placed on the other side of her blankets. Emma made a mental list of things she would need to buy, putting them in the back of her mind because nothing would stand in the way of her breakfast this morning.
What was it that her mother used to say? A good meal brings good morale? Something like that. And Emma really needed a morale booster. She could see the light at the end of the dark tunnel, but it was significantly dimmer than it was yesterday. She needed to know she was okay. A reassurance of some sorts. Emma needed to know that Amy would be coming back, or not coming back. She needed to know that she could move on with her life.
Slipping on her coat and lacing up her shoes, Emma stood up straight, her hands balled up into fists as she raised them up. She could do this. She would persevere. She would survive.
She started humming “Eye of the Tiger” loudly, to get her motivated and pumped for the day.
Emma hummed and mimed punching the air before she took a swing at nothing. Getting back into the punching pose, Emma unlocked and pulled the door open...
She leapt back, startled as a sleeping figure draped in black tumbled into the flat. He gave a loud snore as she took a hesitant step towards him.
“Should I poke him?” she inquired to no one in particular. Emma squatted next to the sleeping form and prodded him with her finger. “Hello? Are you okay?”
He grumbled in his sleep and rolled over, causing Emma to leap away from him again.
The homeless man sat up for a bit, murmured something unintelligible and curled back up on the floor.
Staring, unsure of what to do, Emma prodded him again. “Are you alright?”
He made a loud groaning sound and turned towards Emma. She shut her eyes as his hand grabbed her wrist, pulling her closer to him. Emma let out a squeak.
She was going to be murdered in her own flat by some random homeless man.
Emma found herself face to face with the would-be assailant, and opened her eyes. Blinking, it took her a second to realize who it was. The dark hair, still gelled up in a curl...his facial hair.
“You!” Emma pointed at his face, mouth agape with surprise. “You!”
His eyelids fluttered for a moment, opening slowly as he took in her face.
“I know you.” Emma was still pointing.
The lead singer from the previous night curled his lips into a smirk.
Except Emma knew him from before last night. Who didn’t know that face? She had been so stupid to have missed it the night before. Even behind all the facial hair and eyeliner, it was easy to tell in the stark morning light the familiar Potter nose and Weasley eyes.
“A lot of people know me, sweetheart,” his raspy voice replied.
Emma was still pointing, her eyes wide with realization and her mouth still open. “James Potter.”
Author's Note: Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling's. Mary Stayed Out All Night is KBS2's. "Winter is coming!" is a reference to Game of Thrones which is by George R. R. Martin. I own nothing.
So many thanks for my amazing beta and friend, GubraithianFire! She read through this and pointed out all the weird typos I make and just made it all nice and easy to understand. Also thanks to peppersweet for britpicking this for me! Without you, it would be awkwardly in-between American and English. :) Also thanks to Ellerina for fangirling and being as in love with this story as I am! And the rest of my puffins for all the support and listening to me rant about how much this story means to me.
It would be amazing if you could let me know what you think of this story. Do you love it as much as I do? What do you think will happen? Thoughts would be really lovely. ^_^ ♥
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