The parlour was manic today. Seriously, there were screeching children everywhere, not to mention raucous and fairly intimidating teenagers, and many stressed-out-of-their-wits parents practically clawing out their eyeballs at their children’s extreme excitement.
It was summer, it was a hot day, Hogwarts had finished for the school year and tensions were high in Diagon Alley as the sun beat down on the street unforgivingly.
Beatrice had been working since nine in the morning, and had finally reached her (extremely late) lunch at one, settling down behind the counter with a sandwich and a huge Knickerbocker glory made Florence-style.
Florence, Beatrice’s boss, was the epitome of awesome. Beatrice loved watching her in the back room, flicking her wand like a crazed maniac as she made these impossibly delicious ice creams, then swanned out to the front counter and chatted away to her customers with the biggest smile ever plastered across her face.
It wasn’t hard to recognise that Florence had been a Hufflepuff in her Hogwarts days. Beatrice had never met someone so genuinely happy and hard-working as Florence was, and it made her feel slightly guilty for behaving like a complete idiot and throwing the past three years of her life away. It wasn’t even like Beatrice had found herself on her travels, in fact, if anything, Beatrice had lost herself in all those foreign countries.
And she hadn’t even decided what she wanted to do yet, and as much as she loved this job in the ice cream parlour, she didn’t want to be doing it for the rest of her life, especially once she met her fellow employees for the summer, two annoying sixteen year olds who looked at Beatrice like she was a failure.
Which she sort of was, but Beatrice didn’t like knowing that people actually knew that.
“So, how’s Louis?” Florence asked absent-mindedly as she served a bickering couple with a sweet grin.
Beatrice raised an eyebrow. “Fine… why?”
Florence shrugged, and then turned to face Beatrice with a raised eyebrow. “Why do you care that I’m asking?”
Beatrice shrugged and spooned a hefty, final mouthful of ice cream into her mouth. “I dunno, Florence. I’d just sort of like to know if you maybe… you know…”
“No, Beatrice, I don’t know” Florence sniggered slightly and Beatrice blushed lightly.
“I just… oh merlin, Florence, do you fancy Louis?” Beatrice sighed dejectedly.
“What?!” Florence laughed. “Oh, no! He’s not my type at all!” she laughed again and then fixed Beatrice with an odd expression. “But you like him, don’t you Bea?”
“What, no! Of course I don’t! You know I’m still in love with Alex, Florence! I wasn’t… I don’t… it’s just Louis is my friend and so are you and I’d like to know if something was going on…”
“Nothing’s going on between Louis and I, Bea” Florence smiled kindly at her, and then raised her head as the doorbell made a light tinkling sound. “Talk of the devil though, here he comes!”
Beatrice immediately popped her head over the counter, smoothing down her hair sub-consciously and grinning at Louis who waved jovially at her.
She watched as he stepped towards the counter and then found his path blocked by a completely recognisable redhead.
“Oh, merlin” Beatrice breathed, her breath quickening and her cheeks heating up as her hands flew to cover her mouth with shock.
One of Beatrice’s oldest friends had been sat in the parlour for however long Beatrice’s lunch break had been, and they’d both been completely oblivious.
Beatrice was fairly sure that if Rose had seen her she would have received an ice cream to the face and/or a hex of some sort to punish her for being a truly awful friend.
Which of course was completely reasonable because Beatrice had been a shit excuse for a friend, but once again… Beatrice didn’t like to be reminded of these things.
She watched as Rose and Louis chatted for a moment, before Louis nodded in Beatrice’s direction with a smile. Beatrice watched with silent horror as Rose’s head turned in her direction, and the moment they locked eyes Beatrice ducked behind the counter, hiding from the red-head’s infamous wrath, but a little too late because Beatrice knew Rose had seen her.
“Bea?” Florence frowned at her employee. “What on earth are you doing hiding from Louis?”
“I’m not hiding!” Beatrice replied indignantly, throwing her head up to glare at Florence but whacking her forehead on the counter edge in the process.
“There are children here, Beatrice!” Florence hissed angrily after smacking her hand over Beatrice’s mouth. “We don’t curse in front of children!”
“Bloody hell!” Beatrice whimpered. “I feel like my heads splitting open!”
Tiny stars began to pop up in Beatrice’s vision as Florence sighed and summoned Beatrice an ice pack to hold to her head, pushing her around the side of the counter to where Louis and Rose were standing, with bewildered, yet slightly amused expressions.
“You alright, Bea?” Louis chuckled, patting her hair soothingly, and lifting the ice pack to inspect the damage. “I’m no Healer, love, but I reckon you’ll be alright.”
“No, Louis, I’m the Healer” Rose sighed bossily, and Beatrice suddenly felt like beaming with happiness at the fact her friend really hadn’t changed at all. “Here, Bea, let me have a look” she sighed, avoiding eye contact with Beatrice as she gently examined the bump. “Are you seeing stars in front of your eyes?” she asked as she watched Beatrice continually blink for a moment or two. At her nod, Rose frowned slightly, her lips pursing and once again Beatrice noticed happily that her friend’s worried expression hadn’t changed either. “Are you feeling faint at all?”
“No” Beatrice murmured. “I’m fine, thanks Rose. Don’t worry about a little bump, I’ve had worse” Beatrice gestured to her numerous scars she’d acquired from her many drunken stumbles over the past three years.
With a small frown, Rose handed her the ice pack and stepped backwards tentatively.
“So, er… hi” Beatrice attempted a casual smile, but ending up sort of grimacing apologetically at Rose, who rolled her eyes.
“It’s, erm… great to see you.”
“Really?” Rose raised her eyebrows coolly. “I gathered you didn’t want to after you didn’t write back or visit for three years… oh, and you forgot to mention to everyone that you were back in London!”
“Cool it, Rosie” Louis mumbled, patting Rose’s arm soothingly.
“No, Louis! She was meant to be my friend and then she just…”
“I know Rose… I’m sorry. I’ve been a bit of an idiot these past three years… and I saw you when I first came back, to see my Dad when he was in St Mungos… but… I just didn’t want anyone to know I was back, that’s all. Not yet.”
“Why not Bea? Everybody’d love to see you!”
“It’s just… it’s sort of embarrassing Rose.”
“What do you mean? We’re your friends, and if there’s a special reason you stayed in London after your Dad…” Beatrice and Louis momentarily locked eyes and shared a look. “Well…” Rose glanced between the pair of them suspiciously. “We don’t care… we don’t even have to know!”
“It’s not that Rose, it’s just… you’re a Healer aren’t you?”
“Nearly finished my training, now.”
“Exactly, and well, everyone else will be the same, won’t they? Working at the Ministry, or Gringotts or playing professional Quidditch, gossiping for Witch Weekly or whatever… the point is they all have jobs. And I’ll just be there with no money, no life, and a job that is for teenagers. I don’t want to see everybody when I’m like that.”
Rose rolled her eyes at Beatrice and instantly pulled her into a bone-crushing, ginger-curls-in-mouth kind of hug. “You’re an idiot, Bea. Don’t you realise that you are so much cooler than us because you travelled for three years?!”
Beatrice scoffed. “Oh, yeah, drinking every night, working as a slutty barmaid, having no money and basically living off my rich, bastard of an Australian boyfriend is really cool. Not.”
“Um, yes it is!” Rose grinned excitedly. “The fact alone that you had an Australian boyfriend says it all, Bea.”
Beatrice blushed and shook her head. “Rose, look, I’m still not comfortable…”
“Beatrice” Rose sighed as she shot Beatrice a dis-satisfied look. “How about I cook a nice meal, you and Louis can come over to Scorpius and I’s, and we’ll just invite the old lot, at least, alright?”
Rose rolled her eyes and began to list the people off on her fingers. “Well, Albus and Sophie of course…”
“His girlfriend” Rose replied with a small smile. “Three years this coming month… Anyway, and we’ll get Emily over, and you can meet her nice new boyfriend, and Grace and her-“
“Boyfriend” Beatrice sighed heavily. “Wow. Everyone has boyfriends, don’t they?”
“Come on, Beatrice, we’re twenty-one, did you really expect us not to?”
“Look, I don’t really get why you’re embarrassed, you’ve got Louis after all…”
“Sorry, I’ve got Louis?”
“Yes…” Rose eyed her strangely. “You have Louis, Bea, because he’s you’re boyfriend?”
Beatrice shot Louis a glance, who grinned and nodded behind Rose’s back, mouthing ‘Please!’ and Beatrice closed her gaping mouth with a snap.
“Yeah… Rose, I thought you said I wasn’t ever allowed to date one of your cousins?”
Rose smiled at Beatrice and shrugged her shoulders non-committedly. “It was going to happen eventually, Bea, and anyway, don’t think I didn’t know that you used to fancy Fred” Rose winked at Beatrice’s surprised expression. “Besides, once the boys learnt to accept Scorpius it only seemed fair I had to accept whoever they chose as their girlfriend.”
“Why, did they chose one of your friends?”
“Obviously” Rose pulled a face. “Two months into Healing school and I invite my friend Hannah around for dinner at the Burrow… two weeks later James is following her everywhere and insisting she go out with him…” Rose and Louis shared an amused glance over the memories of their most ridiculous cousin. “Anyway… they’re engaged now so I’m good with it.”
“James is engaged?!”
“Well, yes” Rose smiled. “I know, I wouldn’t have believed it either, but as soon as he met Hannah… boom, he was in love” she rolled his eyes. “Cliché, but completely true.”
“I really missed a lot, didn’t I?”
“Well, yeah. But don’t worry, Bea, we’ll all fill you in when you come over. How does tomorrow sound?”
“Too soon” Beatrice muttered and Louis grabbed her hand and squeezed it gently.
Rose rolled her eyes and leant forward to kiss Beatrice on the cheek for a brief moment. “Look, I’ll see you tomorrow. Be there by seven!”
With a small wave, Rose left the shop and left Louis and Beatrice stood against the counter together, holding hands.
“I should…” Beatrice gestured towards Florence. “Lunch is sort of over.”
“Right… yeah” Louis swung their hands absent-mindedly and Beatrice rolled her eyes at him.
“Why did you say I was your girlfriend?”
Louis shrugged. “My family have been driving me nuts nagging at me about girls, it’s as if as soon as James got engaged that’s all my mother’s got on the brain, because I’m a year older than him and it can’t possibly be right that he’s getting married and I’m still single.”
“Who was your last girlfriend, Lou?”
“Melissa… we were together in seventh year… don’t you remember her? Brown hair… tall, fairly good looking…?”
“Vaguely” Beatrice nodded. “Rose told me you thought she was the One.”
“Well, yeah, I did. Before she cheated on me with her brother’s friend” Louis shrugged. “Turns out she’d fancied him for years.”
“But didn’t you guys go out for years?”
“Exactly. It ended last year… that’s when things went… well, a bit shit for me to be honest. Apparently she said it was because I travelled too much with work, and then once it ended, I didn’t really feel like going back.”
“I’m sorry she was such a bitch.”
“I’m sorry Alex was such a dick.”
“Well, don’t worry then, I’ll be your pretend girlfriend for a while” Beatrice grinned, standing on her tip-toes to kiss Louis on the cheek. “I’ll see you later, I’m finishing at three today.”
“I’ve got a late shift.”
“I’ll cook you something then?”
“Very domestic” Louis raised his eyebrows as Beatrice sauntered over to the other side of the counter. “Are you offering because you’re still a bit loopy from your bump on the head?”
“Nope” Beatrice grinned. “Just playing awesome girlfriend… it’s sort of fun being mature sometimes” she winked at him as she disappeared into the back room.
Louis grinned, chuckling softly as he waved to Florence and then headed out of the parlour door, his mind on Beatrice, and how she really did make quite the nice pretend girlfriend.
"I can't do it."
"Yes, you can" Louis threw his hands onto Beatrice's shoulders and ducked his head to look her sternly in the eyes.
"Louis, they're all in there being successful and I'm just a shitty-"
"Bea" he smiled. "You put yourself down too much... you can throw together a wicked ice cream or two."
"Shut up!" she snorted, throwing Louis a false glare and punching him in the stomach.
"Anyway, if you feel bad, just say all you want to achieve is being a housewife and caring for our children. They'll congratulate you enough purely for bagging a gorgeous boyfriend like me."
"But you're not my boyfriend, so it's a lie. Which basically means my life is shit."
"And what?" Louis chuckled. "So is mine! The difference, Bea, is that I really couldn't give a flying fuck what people think about me."
"That's because you could murder someone and people would still swoon over your looks."
"Beatrice" Louis tutted, frowning down at her demandingly. "You bloody get your arse into Rosie's flat, now."
With a small smirk in Beatrice's direction, Louis stretched his arm out behind her head and rapped on the door once or twice.
"Lou! Bea!" Rose squealed happily as the door swung open to reveal the pair of them, Louis' arm slung around Beatrice's waist as she balled her hands into tight fists.
"Hey Rosie!" Louis grinned, propelling Beatrice into the flat and lightly tapping her on the arse so she started alarmingly, flicking her gaze to glare at Louis as Rose leapt on her.
"I'm so glad you came! Everybody's been so excited to see you!"
Beatrice then found herself shoved across the room to greet her friend’s she'd had in school and then unceremoniously ditched, although admittedly Beatrice had never had many friends.
Rose and Emily had been her closest friends, whereas Albus and Scorpius had hung out with the three of them because of Rose and therefore Beatrice became fairly close to them despite them being Slytherins.
"Hey Scorpius" Beatrice smiled as she was yanked into the arms of the tall blonde who crushed her into his chest painfully.
"What have you been up to then in three years, Bea?! Rose said something about you enticing Australian boys?"
Beatrice laughed and patted Scorpius' arm gently. "No Scorp, more like I was the one being enticed... but don't mention it too much, Louis always gets a bit jealous" Beatrice elaborately winked at Louis who was across the room chatting with Albus, and he rolled his eyes dramatically.
"Bea" a timid voice spoke up, and Beatrice turned her head to face one of her closest friends, Emily.
"Em! Er... hi!"
"Hello" she smiled slightly. "How are you?"
"Great thanks, how are you?" Beatrice smiled brightly. "I missed you!"
"I got your letters" Emily frowned. "Well, all four of them anyway. At least it was more than once a year, right?"
Beatrice's face fell and she grimaced slightly. "Em, I'm sorry-"
"Was it something we did? Rose and I? Or was it just me? Because Rose seems quite happy to forgive you and go back to being best friends, Bea, even though I don't really know anything about you anymore and you haven't even met my fiancé..." Emily trailed off, breathing deeply and biting her lip. Emily had always been the kind of girl to be dead quiet until you angered her.
"I've tried to warn Rose, Bea, that you might do it again... disappear off, I mean. I know we don't have any right to stop you travelling, we always knew you wanted to... but I'd assumed you'd stay in touch, visit sometimes... or let us visit you... You just seemed to leave your whole life behind Bea, and you can't expect to just waltz back here and expect us all to forgive you for it."
The room was silent now, Albus and a pretty girl holding his hand that Beatrice presumed was his girlfriend Sophie with wide eyes, and Beatrice frantically wondered where Emily’s fiancé (Rose hadn’t even warned her!) was, as he didn’t appear to be here. Everyone was staring at the pair of them, Emily clutching her wine glass angrily and Beatrice's eyes slowly filling up with salty tears.
Louis crossed his arms, tapping his fingers along his forearm (a nervous habit), glancing between the girls, his worried gaze trained on Beatrice.
"I'm sorry Em, I really am" Beatrice bit back the threatening tears. "I just didn't want you to visit me out there... it wasn't ideal, in fact it was embarrassing how I was living... and it still sort of is. Yes, so I have a home and Louis, but you lot all have money and careers and I work in an ice-cream parlour. Rose and Louis were the ones who made me come, I didn't want to because I was embarrassed of how completely crap my whole life is and I didn't want to see you because I knew you'd be upset with me, and I knew that the minute I left three years ago."
"Bea..." Emily trailed off, taking a heavy swig of wine as Beatrice took a deep breath.
"I went away and I thought a fresh start would be fine, that leaving everybody behind wouldn't matter, because I'd find a husband out there and be happily married in a foreign country. I didn't expect to come home because my Dad was ill, or meet Louis, or bump into Rose the other day. Emily, I haven't even seen my family yet so I wasn't likely to seek you out! I'm embarrassed by how stupid I was for leaving, and I know you wouldn't really want to see me anyway."
Emily gaped at Beatrice, who turned and walked towards the door, throwing Louis a significant glance.
"I'm sorry for coming, I really shouldn't have... but thanks for the invite, Rose" and flashing the bewildered redhead a smile, Beatrice shut the door behind her and apparated back to the flat.
Once she'd slouched backwards onto the couch, Beatrice allowed herself to cry. She'd known this would happen, why would Emily or Albus or anybody have wanted to see her again?
She didn't belong in their lives anymore... she didn't really deserve to.
In some ways, Beatrice accepted it, even though it made her eyes sting and her stomach churn just thinking about her closest friends and what an idiot she'd been three years ago to leave such a support system like them behind.
She still cared for them all, but like Emily had said, she couldn't be trusted anymore. Even Beatrice could admit that if Alex turned up right this moment and demanded her to come back to him... she would.
She missed the ease of her life a few months ago, she missed the sun, the sea, the fun and she missed Alex. She especially missed the sex with Alex, she'd been thinking about their relationship a lot recently and had occasionally found herself having disturbing dreams about Louis that she really shouldn't be having.
"You alright?" Beatrice jumped as Louis' familiar tone sounded from behind her and Louis snorted slightly.
Her cheeks coloured a tinge, she'd been so busy sniffling and reminiscing her pathetically dirty dreams about Louis that she hadn't heard him apparate into the flat.
"Bea?" he threw himself onto the couch beside her, settling an arm over her shoulder and pulling her against his chest. "Are you ok?"
"Brilliant, absolutely ace..." her words trailed off as she dissolved into a fresh load of tears all over his nice shirt.
"Emily didn't mean to be... you know... Bea, she's just upset, she'll come round."
"I don't want her to" Beatrice sniffled. "She has every right to hate me; I was a bitchy friend... Rose shouldn't have invited me either… I really don't deserve a friend like Rose!"
"Don't be stupid, Bea, we all make mistakes sometimes."
"They're all too nice for me Louis!"
"Oi" Louis sighed. "Shut up about that, alright? Did you know that Rose seduced Scorpius even though he was going out with Emily?"
"Scorpius and Emily went out?!"
"For a bit, yeah" Louis shrugged. "Emily knew Rose liked him, but she'd still agreed to go out with Scorpius. They fell out over it, so Rose seduced him and made it obvious to Scorpius that he really loved Rosie, which was obvious anyway. But Emily went mental at Rose after Scorp broke it off with her, and then they went about a year without speaking to one another. And then one day, Emily just turned up at Rose’s flat, saying she missed her like mad and she didn't want to lose every one of her Hogwarts friends. She showed Rose her engagement ring a week later."
"So... what you're trying to say is that Emily's done some stupid stuff just like I have... so I do deserve to be her friend?"
"Yep" Louis grinned, stroking Beatrice's hair lightly. "That's why Rose forgave you; she wanted you as her friend too much to bother with all the drama that went on with her and Emily."
"Right" Beatrice sat up, before slumping back down into Louis arms again. "I can't go back... it's too embarrassing."
"You don't have to" Louis pressed a kiss to her temple. "Rose and Albus mentioned a family dinner, they'd love me to bring you, and Emily will come and sort things out when she's ready to, Bea. Don't run around after her or something stupid like that."
"You know, Louis" Beatrice tilted her face to face Louis'. "For a fake boyfriend you actually make a decent one."
"Thank you" he nodded his head, squeezing her slightly in his arms as he shifted underneath her.
Slowly, Beatrice touched her lips lightly to his and closed her eyes slowly, lifting her hands to cradle his face. Louis' eyes widened as she kissed him softly for a moment, her lips pressing against his as he sat frozen in shock, before she left his lips and blinked a few times, before giggling at his surprised expression.
"Thought we should have a little practise if we're going to pretend" she winked, before clambering off him. "Night, night Louis."
Louis watched, gobsmacked, as she disappeared into the bathroom and shut the door behind her.
After a moment of frozen silence, Louis smiled as he heard Beatrice begin to hum, and the sound of the shower switching on. With a flick of his wand, the sofa bed sprang out ready for her and he disappeared into his bedroom win a smile so big on his face it rivalled his niece or nephew's.
A/N- ok... so yeah. This chapter was pretty filler-ish, and I don't really like it too much, but I hope you readers like it? :) Reviews would be greatly appriciated, I am working hard on getting this story written and I'm hoping that it's at least decent? There was a tiny, tiny smooch in there, and I promise there is more kisses to come... although it may not be Louis and Beatrice! Who knows really? ;) Up next is some Weasley/Potter family dinner fun, where you'll get to meet the whole gang (very exciting) so stay tuned and it'll be up soon! Thank you :)