gorgeous chapter image by Magic_Phoenix.
none of this belongs to me.
hellooo! i couldnt decide whether to put this now or at the end, so i decided to put it here because... well, i just did. anyway. there is a point to this. first of all, im so sorry about how long this chapter took. its been an insanely long time. with all my other stories, ive never taken longer than two weeks to update, and with this... has it been six? im not sure. oopsies. anyway, im really sorry. school has been eating me alive and i had severe writers block, but anyways.
second, sorry about the lack of plot in the last chapter, and in this one - well, other than the last chunk or so - but i just need to get all the characters out there, because there are quite a lot. so yeah. anyway. apologies, and the next chapter has a lot more plot, i promise. and i know what will happen, so it shouldnt take too long to write.
"So how old are you now, Jack?" I asked, bouncing my nephew up and down on my knee and grinning as he laughed and hugged me.
"You know how old I am, Auntie Aimee!" He giggled, and I couldn't help but laugh along. What? Children's laughs are infectious; it's just the way it is. Especially Jack's. Merlin, that kid is going to be a hit with the ladies when he's older.
"Ooh... sixteen?" I guessed, and Jack laughed, his deep brown eyes crinkling around the edges as he smiled. It's seriously not fair for one child to be this bloody adorable.
"No!" He giggled.
"Eighteen?" I guessed again.
"No! I'll tell you, because you're silly and will never
get it right! It's my third birthday today, Auntie Aimee, and this is my party. See, there is three candles on my caterpillar cake. One, two, three!" I pretended to gasp with shock.
"You are not three! No, you're yanking my wand." Jack giggled again and shook his head, his expression of the utmost seriousness; as though it was of vital importance that I believed I was indeed at his birthday party.
"I am! Daddy, aren't I three today?" Jack looked over his shoulder at my brother, who was sitting casually on the couch, his legs propped up on the coffee table and a grin on his face from whatever story he had been telling Mum and Dad.
"You sure are, buddy. Soon you're going to be older than me." Mark joked, and Jack started once again into peals of laughter.
Mark grinned at me over the top of Jack's head, and I smiled back, taking a moment to honestly look
at my brother. In some kind of way, it almost felt ethereal to actually be at Jack's third birthday party, with Mark looking laid back and happy and just more relaxed
than I had seen him in long time.
Let's just say, the story of Jack is a bit of a complicated one.
Mark had a one night stand with some girl in his year, the night before their graduation from Hogwarts. He never planned on seeing her again – yeah, a right charmer – and he didn't. Until she showed up on his doorstep a year later, holding a three month old baby.
Nub and gist? She wanted to move to Spain with her new boyfriend 'Brick', and couldn't if she had a little baby in tow. And from that moment on, Mark was a father. They haven't heard from her since, and between you and me, good riddance to bad rubbish.
She was a snotty bitch.
Well, guess it wasn't that complicated.
Mark... well, he tried his best, he really did, but he wasn't cut out to have a child sprung on him.
He'd only just started working at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, and with trying to be a good employee and look after a very young baby... well, it was hard. Guess that's what you get for sleeping around.
But Mark is the best father I know. Seriously, he is. Yeah, he found it hard at first, but he's gotten so much better over the years, and he's become even better of a father than I ever could have imagined he would be.
Jack will never know how lucky he actually is.
"Auntie Aimee, do you want to see my new cars? Daddy got me them for my birthday!" I grinned and scooped Jack up, propping him on my hip and carrying him over to his small stack of presents in the corner.
For future reference, spending half an hour sitting in a corner with a three year old, discussing the different types of car (apparently, Jack is a fan of the 'big, red ones') eventually causes you to lose the will to live.
Or at least make you desperate to have a discussion with someone your own age.
"Auntie Aimee, when is Uncle Brent going to get here?" Jack asked, walking across the small gap between us and sitting back down on my knee.
"Uncle Brent should be here soon." I smiled at Jack, and grinned as Mark walked behind me and muttered –
"He should have been here an hour ago. Bloody wanker."
Luckily, he had finally mastered the ability to whisper – it's not exactly the kind of things that most people want their children repeating.
I looked over my shoulder and grinned at Mark, who had flopped down onto the floor next to me, lifted Jack off my knee and balanced him on his own.
"You should have told him to get here an hour early; you know that he's never on time. It's Brent, what did you expect?" Mark grinned and balanced his chin on the top of Jack's head, his long legs stretched out languidly in front of him, and the back of his head resting against the wall.
After a couple of minutes of peaceful silence, during which Jack tottered off to find his Nana and demand to know where she was hiding his biscuits, I leant towards Mark and laid my head on the wall next to him.
"How'd the interview go, Aimes? You had one yesterday, didn't you?" I nodded and brushed my hair behind my ear.
"It was absolute shit. I knocked over a load of the jars and the boss was wearing a bathrobe. A freaking bathrobe.
" Mark smiled sympathetically. "What about you Mark, anything new happened in your life lately?"
"I had a date with this gorgeous bird last week, blonde with an amazing arrrr –" He cut off under my glare.
"An amazing personality? Is that what you were going to say?" I asked, and Mark rolled his eyes.
"Sure, yeah, that's what I was going to say. I said I'd call her when she left in the morning, but I never bothered. It's not like she'd have a relationship with me anyway if she knew that I had a three year old son."
"So you're just going to shag random women until you die?" I cut in slyly, and Mark rolled his eyes at me.
"Sounds like a plan to me." He smirked, and I pretended to throw up over the stack of cars. "So what about you Aimes, anything big happening in the romance department?"
Ha. Yeah, that's a funny one.
"Nooo. I haven't been on date for about a month, since that bloke that Molly set me up with that asked me if I wanted to go and shag him in the bathroom." Mark chuckled under his breath, and pulled my head down onto his shoulder.
"Wanker. You'll find someone, Aimes, don't you worry about that. You're too amazing not to." I closed my eyes and smiled slightly.
"Thanks, Mark." It's time like this that actually make having brothers worth it – because they're always going to be there for you.
"BONJOUR, SENSATION SEEKERS." Either that, or they're going to barge into your nephew's birthday party over an hour late and interrupt lovely brother-sister moments.
"Brent." Mark chuckled under his breath, as though I would actually need clarification over who could possibly
make that much noise.
"Brent!" My mother called, hurrying out of the kitchen and embracing my little brother in a large hug, her skinny arms locking him in a chokehold and a beam brighter than it had been all morning. Brent grinned and patted my mother on the back, flicking his neck sideways to get his artfully styled fringe out of his eyes.
Honestly, it's worrying that the bloke cares more about his hair more than I do.
Some days, I just wake up in the morning and leave it.
"Hello, mummy." Did I ever mention that my seventeen year old brother, who is going to be sitting his NEWTS in less than a year, still calls my mum 'mummy'?
Yeah, I try to keep that on the down low. Either that or I tell people, and then try to deny sharing any genetic information with him. That works too.
"How've you been? Are you hungry, I'll go and make you some enchiladas, they're your favourite." In case you haven't noticed, Brent is my mother's blue-eyed boy.
Seriously. She tries to spin all that 'I love you all the same' crap, but none of us believe it. As far as my mum is concerned, Baby Brent can do no wrong.
And yes, Mark and I do enjoy taking the right royal piss out of him for being such a Mummy's boy.
"What part of 'be there at eleven' didn't manage to get through to you, Brent?" Mark called, leaning back on his palms and grinning at my younger brother.
Brent rolled his eyes as he strolled over to us, yanking the recliner from the middle of the room and plonking his arse down on it.
"I like to think of it as fashionably late." Brent smirked, leaning back on the recliner so fast that it was only Mark's quick thinking and Quidditch reflexes that saved me from having my head removed. Brent laughed. Arse. "Besides, it's not like I missed anything important. The presents haven't been opened yet." He gestured to the corner with his thumb.
"That's because we were waiting for you, you bloody arse!" I punched him in the shin.
"Aimee, how many times have I told you to mind your language? Young ladies should not use words like tha – FUCK!"All of us jumped, startled, as mum leapt away from the cake, clutching her thumb. "The fucking candle just burned me."
Oh, the irony.
I leapt to my feet and headed over to her, taking her thumb in between my fingers (ignoring her tutting at the state of my chipped nail polish) and leaning it towards the window so I could see it better. A little red, but nothing serious.
"Just run it under some water, I'll light the candles." I said, tossing my hair over my shoulders. I learned at a very young age that candles and long hair (and Mark) should not be mixed. "I would have in the first place if you'd asked." The last part was muttered under my breath.
Mum doesn't take sass. According to her, I may be twenty, but I'm not too old to be put across her knee.
The candles were lit, Jack was summoned, and a quick chorus of happy birthday was sung before we speed-unwrapped his presents.
"I don't see why we have to rush, just because Aimee has to meet someone for lunch." Brent muttered under his breath, looking a little resentful as he took another long sip of lager. What a brat.
"Well, maybe if you'd
bothered to show up on time –" I shot back, but mum shushed us like we were bloody pigeons, before turning back to Jack, who was unwrapping his last present – a kiddie scooter from mum and dad.
Mark took a quick picture as Jack squealed in delight and clapped his chubby little hands together, the flash nearly burning my fucking retinas out.
And then I noticed the clock.
"Sh... oot." I hissed, with a nervous glance at Jack. "Brent, tell me that clock does not say one o'clock." Without waiting for him to answer, I started to toss my purse and keys and whatnot back into my bag.
"Can't tell you that if it's true, love." Brent chimed, smirking at me as I hopped around, searching for my other shoe. "We all know that I never
lie." Mark snorted and I paused long enough to toss a toffee at his head.
It hit him square between the eyes – yeah, I'm that cool.
"Who are you meeting for lunch, anyway?" Mark asked, older-brother-protectiveness kicking in, and his arms folding across his broad chest. One of his eyebrows was quirked in suspicion and his mouth was a flat line. Brent was on his hands and knees, searching under the recliner for the toffee I threw at him.
Ah, the diversity in my family.
"Molly – we're getting coffee and then going shopping. Well, she's going shopping. I help her carry her bags and then drink half the coffee in her apartment." Mark nodded approvingly, and then cut off as Jack ran a car over his face.
"You drink too much coffee you know – it's not good for you." Dad said from the corner, looking up from Quidditch Post – the man is obsessed with that magazine. I don't know why, it doesn't even talk about Quidditch, it just gossips about the private lives of the so called 'stars' – to stare disapprovingly at me.
"Yeah, yeah, I know." I muttered, leaning down to peck Mark on the cheek and flick Brent on the forehead. I shot my parents a quick grin and scooped Jack up from the couch.
"Have a smashing birthday, right kid?" I said, ruffling his deep brown hair. He nodded cheerfully and kissed the end of my nose.
"Right, well I've gotta go. I'll see you when I see you." I jumped over the couch and pushed out the door, stepping over the weeds that littered the tiny front garden, annoyed at the fact I see my family once in a blue moon, and when I do, I have to leave.
I'm going to get Brent one of those watches that beep at you when you're late. Well, once I can afford it.
I glanced down the street – huh. I see Mrs Rocklebottom across the road still hasn't gotten round to putting a new gutter up. The rainwater from last night is just pissing all over her front garden – and took in the familiar estate that I grew up in.
Some things never change.
Ten past one. Shit. If there is one thing Molly hates, it's people being late. That's why I thank the lord that I wasn't on the Hufflepuff Quidditch team when she was Captain. Well, that, and the fact that I never learned how to fly a broom.
Mark was worried I would hurt myself.
Didn't bother him when he was in the hospital for two weeks in fifth year after falling during a game, but have his little sister play? Nooooo. Of course not.
Grabbing the handle of my bag and scowling at the déjà vu, I began to sprint down the road.
I was sprinting through Central Park when it happened. The beginning of the end of my life. Well, the end of life as I knew it, anyway. There I was, just sprinting along in a manner that was surely a health risk to those around me, when the bottom of my bag split.
Something as simple as my bag splitting was responsible for starting the event that would change everything. That is so
going to be a factor when I buy bags in future.
My purse, keys, lipgloss, hairbrush, mirror, parchment, quill, ink, chewing gum, earplugs, sunglasses, wand and whatever other shit I cart around in my bag went tumbling to the ground, spreading out along the stone path.
Cursing creatively under my breath, I bent down to pick them up, subtly mending my bag with my wand – after glancing around like a right ninja to check for muggles first, of course.
I crammed everything back into the large canvas bag, before glancing at my watch and cursing again. Twenty past one. Molly is going to go insane.
I threw my bag over my shoulder and stumbled to my feet, veering off to the left and crashing into someone who was jogging towards me. With a loud bang, we both flew backwards.
Seriously? What kind of twat has nothing better to do that go running through a park (for recreational purposes, you sarcastic shit) on a Saturday afternoon? Blocking the path for all the innocent people who trip over their own feet on a daily basis.
Honestly. So bloody inconsiderate.
"Shit!" I squeaked as I went stumbling backwards, landed on my rear end and a particularly sharp rock went straight into my arse.
Stupid Running Bloke pulled the headphones out of his ears and bent down to help me up, chucking under his breath. It was then that I looked up into his face.
Shit. Well, at least I can tell Molly that it's her own family's fault that I'm late and she can't blame me (I won't mention that fact that I was already late. That can be our little secret).
"Aimee, right? Mark's little sister." He said, pulling me to my feet and picking my bag up off the floor. Of course. Mark's little sister. I thought that stupid reputation might have ended after Hogwarts, but apparently not.
Well, two can play at that game.
"Yeah. James, right? Molly's cousin." Pfft. Like everyone in the wizarding world didn't know who he was. He and his various girlfriends were splashed across the front of Quidditch Post every other day.
And from his smirk, he had called my bluff.
"That's me." He winked. My attention was diverted slightly by an odd clicking noise that seemed to be coming from the trees next to us, but I couldn't see anything. I noticed that his hand was still on my arm from when he had helped me up.
I shrugged my elbow out of his fingers.
"Right, well, I have to go. It was nice to see you again." Considering that I've been hearing about your disaster of a love life on an almost weekly basis, but I haven't seen you since the graduation party at the Weasley's two years ago.
Bloody hell. Two years ago? I feel old.
"Nice to see you too, Aimee
." He said, and I didn't miss the way his eyes flicking up and down the length of my body, a smirk once again lilting the corners of his mouth. "Maybe we'll see each other again soon."
He leaned forwards and brushed some hair behind my ear – I jerked away from him just a second too late, unfortunately – leaning so close that I could see the green flecks in his eyes. With one last wink, he dodged around me and continued pounding down the path, shoving his headphones back into his ears.
I blinked a few times and tried to clear my head.
And then my priorities hit me again. Molly. Half past one. Shit. With one more murderous glare at nothing in particular, I continued sprinting down the path.