Chapter 13 : The one with the graduation II
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“You did a bloody good job of that yourself.” I returned, slowing down slightly because it took Jan slightly longer to get anywhere when she was both in drunk and wearing skyscraper heals, and I didn’t really want to lose my girlfriend in some unfamiliar town when she was dressed as a cat. Her parents would murder me alive.
“Al!” Jan called, tripping over her heals and grabbing hold of my arm for support, “Al, will you just... I’m your girlfriend, show some respect -”
“Stop being so ridiculous, then,” I said, stopping short and turning round, “you ruined what was supposed to be a perfectly lovely evening by drinking insane numbers of shots and starting to boast to all your friends about snogging my brother. Merlin’s pants, Jan.”
“Al.” Jan muttered, pulling at the unyielding material of her cat suit and shivering slightly.
“You’ve been a pain all evening.” I finished derisively, pulling the keycard out of my pocket and squinting that the hotel signs. Ours was the third one down and I swiped the keycard and threw open the door. Jan followed me silently, her shoes making a loud noise on the floor.
The room was tiny. I’d known that, but it felt a lot smaller now that both Jan and I were cramped inside and not on the best of terms.
“Sorry.” Jan said heavily, folding her arms with her forehead creased. Her nails were painted grey today.
“Forget it,” I muttered. Jan sat down on the bed and made a big deal about taking off her shoes and massaging the balls of her feet, “you just couldn’t help yourself.”
“Oh, great Al, it’s nice to know what you think of me.” Jan muttered, digging her nails into her feet and not looking up. She always said my name a lot when she was drunk. Usually, I liked that.
“And then you started rambling on about how we’re not going on holiday like Rose and Scorpius – as if that’s my fault.”
“Well isn’t it?” Jan demanded, “Scorpius is putting his career on hold so they can have a romantic break together.”
“Well why don’t you go date Scorpius then?” I asked, not bothering to keep my voice down anymore, “if I’m doing such a bloody crap job.”
“Well how are we supposed to have a relationship if I never see you?” Jan said, letting go of her feet and looking up at me. “It’s been two weeks since school finished and I’ve only seen you twice.”
“Because of your parents,” I countered, “if you’d just stand up to them and tell them.”
“Tell them what?” Jan asked. “That I want to go visit my boyfriend where I’m not even allowed to talk too loudly because his idiot of a brother might be listening! Or actually do anything in case his stupid baby sister decides to disturb us!”
“Well I’m sorry!” I said angrily. “But that’s not my fault.”
“I know!” Jan returned. “I know it’s not your bloody fault. You’re freaking perfect. I’m just pissed off because I’m jealous of Rose, because I miss you like hell and because I’m fed up of my parents telling me that we’re never going to last because we’re too ruddy young to be getting serious.”
“Getting serious?” I questioned. “We are serious. I’ve never been so fucking serious in my whole life.” Jan was nearly crying now.
“And that’s why I’m pissed off: because I wanted to talk to you about something serious and then you go and fuck it all up. It’s all ruined.”
“Now who’s being melodramatic?” Jan questioned, a smile creeping on to her features a little. I didn’t return the expression. “Come on, Al, I’m sorry.” Jan said. “I just think that we should be the ones that get to go getting off to Paris for two weeks – we’re the better couple. Rose and Scorpius always argue.”
“Right,” I laughed, “because we never argue.”
“Not normally,” Jan said. “What did you want to talk about?”
“No,” I said grumpily. “You’re too drunk. It’s too ruined.”
“Al?” Jan asked, “I’ll drink a ton of water and, anyway, you... you storming off like that sort of acted as a sobering solution. I hate arguments. Al, please... I’m really sorry.”
“Right.” I muttered, kicking off my shoes and glancing around the Hotel room: really, I was a perfect boyfriend. Who could want anything more than a hotel room which didn’t even have a window?
The window would have been an extra twelve quid.
I was trying to save up so I could by the expensive kind of firewhiskey.
I sat down on the bed moodily
“Al,” Jan muttered, rummaging through her bag and pulling out a packet of makeup wipes, “I always fuck everything up, I’m sorry. I’m such an annoying bitch. Can you please..?”
“Ah, forget it,” I muttered, lying down on the tiny double bed and looking at the ceiling, “I’m an ass most of the time. Just give me a minute to stop being angry.”
“Have all the time you want.” Jan said, standing up and shrugging at me helplessly.
“That means I’m giving you about five minutes,” Jan said, sending me a smile, “and then you’re telling me what you wanted to talk about.”
“Sounds about right.” I muttered, taking off the stupid braces and the shoes – bloody fancy dress parties. Jan was messing around in the bathroom: washing her face and doing girl stuff. Probably she was attempting to sober herself up a little bit, because it didn’t matter what she said I could still her stumbling about a bit in the bathroom. Maybe this was all best left till morning.
When Jan remerged from the bathroom she was wearing one of my old t-shirts and had lost her cat whiskers.
“Hey,” She said, slumping down on the bed next to me and slipping her fingers through mine, “would another apology by annoying?”
“Yeah, it would.”
“I won’t apologise again then,” Jan said, “now, what did you want to talk about?”
Jan brought a hand to her head for a second and I wondered how much the world was swimming for her right now. She closed her eyes and pressed her head against my shoulder.
Jan made a face.
“Maybe I should apologise again. I can beg?”
“Not necessary,” I returned, “honestly, Jan, I know you well enough to know that you weren’t purposefully an annoying git tonight.”
“So, this is a pre-empted conversation?”
“Entirely thought out before I’d even thought about this bloody graduation party.”
“Good.” Jan said, rolling onto her side and holding onto my arm tightly.
“I just thought,” I began, turning to face Jan and smiling even though she was a drunken twit who wasn’t going to be a allowed to drink shots for at least a week, “that there’s a solution to all of this.”
“If you say you want to break up with me I’m going to kill you,” Jan said, and then she looked liked she might cry – I’m sure being very drunk wasn’t exactly helping, “because I know that’s what everyone’s saying we should do, but they’re talking crap. I know I made a fool of you this evening but I love you Al and I’d rather only see you once a week, and never get to kiss you properly, or talk properly, than not be with you at all. We are not breaking up.”
“Don’t be ridiculous Jan,” I said, managing to smile, “I was going to say that we should get a flat together.”
“What?” Jan asked, clumsily propping herself up on her elbows and staring at me.
“Neither of us wants to live with our parents,” I said, “neither of us can afford to live on our own. Realistically, if either one of us got a place we’d spend every night together anyway, so... I thought it might make sense,” Jan didn’t say anything for a few moments which was debatably a terrible and horrible sign. I hadn’t been nervous around Jan for a really long time and it felt strange. “In my head I was going to be all romantic and ask you properly.”
“We’re going to move in together?” Jan asked, her eyes suddenly lighting up and causing her to slip off the elbow that was holding her up in excitement. Bloody idiot. “Seriously? Are you serious? You want to live together?”
“Yeah, I really do,” I said. Jan beamed. “We can get a two bed place if it satisfies your parents...”
“No,” Jan said, “I’m just going to tell them straight. I don’t care. I’m an adult. We’re adults, right?” Jan asked, “I know we’re only eighteen but...”
“I know.” I said. She threw her arms round my neck so that we fell back onto the tiny double bed in the shitty hotel room. We could do this. I mean, everything was going to be hard and I’d imagine that they’d be plenty of occasions when Jan was a twit and I was a tosser – but we’d been putting up with those things about each other since we were eleven. Surely, it wasn’t an impossible task. Surely.
“I love you so much,” I grinned, wrapping my arms around her tightly. “And moving in together is one up on Rose and Scorpius.” I added. Jan laughed and kissed my forehead.
“You know I don’t really care about them, right?” She muttered into my shoulder.
“Sure,” I said with an eye roll.
“This is crazy.”
“We should probably talk about it tomorrow,” I said, “we can’t make a big decision when you’re drunk and I’m still pissed off – it’s hardly a good place to start for adulthood.”
“No,” Jan said, frowning, “but... who needs to be conventional?”
“I think it might help sometimes.”
“You’re the best, Albus Potter.” Jan muttered, pulling the paper-thin pillows towards her and burying her face in them.
“So much for a romantic night in a hotel room.” I grinned, climbing over her to go to the bathroom.
“I’ve seen more romantic public toilets,” Jan muttered, her face still full of pillow, “not that I don’t appreciate the effort, because when I start throwing up tomorrow I don’t want to have to queue to use someone else’s toilet.”
“You’re so hot.” I called out from the bathroom, washing the wrinkles that Jan had drawn on my face off in the sink. I wanted to grow old with Janet Harper. I’d grown up with her, damnit, and I’d grow old with her if I wanted to. Maybe we were still kids but that didn’t mean this was impossible. It didn’t mean we couldn’t do it.
Jan’s return comment was muffled into her pillow.
“What was that?”
“I said,” Jan muttered, removing her face from the pillow as I began brushing my teeth, “that you shouldn’t forget it.”
“You were looking particularly fine dressed up as Professor Whatzit. And I wish I was joking.”
“You’re a nutter.” I declared as I stuffed my tooth brush back into Jan’s incredible handbag (extendable charms, for the win) and crawled into bed next to her in my boxers.
“You knew I’d slept with Wood?”
“Of course I did.”
“Wish I hadn’t,” Jan said, turning to face me and kissing my nose, “I’d like to tell our children that you were my first.”
“All parents lie to their children,” I returned, letting her wrap her arms around my neck, “mine told me that I had a great name.”
“At least we both have old people name,” Jan muttered, “I’ve always thought that, Janet and Albus. Wonderful grandparent names.”
“You’re an idiot,” I said affectionately, “no go ahead and fall into a drunken stupor already, then forget that we ever had this conversation so I can make it better tomorrow.”
“I’m never going to forget it,” Jan said kissing me briefly, “but when we tell the children, let’s pretend I wasn’t so damn wasted.”
“Never.” I muttered, kissing her on the forehead and watching until she fell asleep. Passed out. Whatever.
I fell asleep smiling because, even if Jan had been drunk, she wanted to get a flat together. At least on some level.
“Are we ready?” Jan asked, looking up at me over her black coffee and making a face, “I know I said it was a good idea last night, but – maybe we should talk some more. Are we ready for this?”
“No,” I muttered, looking at my toast for a second, “of course we’re not – but, well, what else can we do?”
“What are the other options?” Jan asked, taking another drink of her coffee. One of the waitresses in the cafe dropped a tray. Jan winced.
“Erm, continue as we are – you in Healer training, me in Auror training both of us too tired to do anything after work until gradually all we do is argue, more so than now, and wind up breaking up and never talking to each other.”
“We’re not doing that,” Jan said, rubbing her eyes and looking very much like she wanted to complain about being hung over, but didn’t want to remind me how much she’d made a fool of me the night before. I smiled at her slightly, “so, other options?”
“Break up for a couple of years and remain friends. Then, say, in three years time we get together and talk about whether it’s a good time to start a relationship.”
“When did you get so mature?” Jan asked feebly, looking up at me and narrowing her watery eyes, “have you been thinking about this a lot?”
“Couple of months.”
“So, three years?” Jan questioned, “I don’t think I can do that.”
“No, me neither,” I admitted, “I don’t know if we could just be best friends again.”
“No,” Jan said, reaching out and taking my hand for a moment, “we’ve had too much sex.”
“Nice, Jan.” I laughed, shaking my head at her.
“No, I mean, it’d be weird – imaging just casually sitting around watching a film when we’ve both seen each other naked. It wouldn’t feel right,” She looked up at me. “Any more options?”
“I couldn’t think of any.” I shrugged.
“So we move in together?”
“It would be great, wouldn’t it?” I asked, grinning. Jan smiled at me, pushing her hair back from her face and smiling into her cup of coffee, “you could make me breakfast.”
“Make it yourself,” Jan shot at me, “and if it all goes wrong?”
“Well, it depends how it goes wrong – it either reverts to option one or two.”
“Or, there’s the forth thing to consider.”
“My parents murder you and I’m left as a widow.”
“You’re only a widow if we’re married, love,” I said, “and I wasn’t going to suggest marriage for quite awhile.”
“Good to know, Al,” Jan said, “I love you – you nutter. No, don’t kiss me; I threw up when I went to the loo a minute ago. Didn’t want to mention it.”
“I thought I could hear you throwing up,” I grinned, “so, what about my mum? Reckon you’re going to survive her wrath?”
“Bleug, I don’t know. Let’s just elope, it might be safer.”
“Stop with the marriage talk.”
“We’re moving in together, Al, and I’m a girl – although I hope your real proposal is more romantic.”
“I was going to attempt to be romantic, but then you got wasted and told everyone how you made out with my brother for twenty minutes.”
“Okay,” Jan said, “that’s a fair point – but let’s not talk about that, I don’t want to vom again.”
“I was meaning talk about alcohol, but that too. You’re not mad at him, are you? It really was all my fault.”
“No,” I shrugged, “I don’t know. It’s one of those things I try to pretend is one of James’s sick jokes and didn’t actually to happen.”
“Can we make a deal then?” Jan asked. “Can we agree that we’re not going to argue about the whole James thing again? I don’t want it to be the sort of thing that’s brought up every time we argue, I think we should just put it in the past and move onwards and upwards.”
“And inwards, into our own apartment.”
“That too.” Jan grinned.
“I have a condition for that one.”
“Yeah?” Jan asked, raising her eyebrows slightly.
“Apologise to James about yesterday.”
“Yeah,” Jan said, “yeah, okay. I did throw my wand at him.”
“Sorry he tried to shag your sister again.” I put in helpfully, watching Jan’s face twist downwards.
“Amendment – let’s agree never to argue about siblings ever again. We are not responsible for either of our siblings’ actions, nor how we react to their provocation.”
“Well if you murder Eleanor then -”
“You’d kill James first,” Jan said defiantly, “you know he’s more annoying.”
“James has never had a pregnancy scare.”
“Don’t say that,” Jan said, “you’ll jinxed it. So, are we agreed?”
“Maybe we should extend it to parents too,” I suggested, “not that it’ll matter, as they’re going to kill me.”
“Maybe,” Jan said, drinking some more of her coffee before setting the glass down very quickly and looking a little vomity, “we should act like we’re going to get married. No! I’m pregnant, right -”
“-after all the alcohol, I very much doubt you are.”
“Just, tell them I’m pregnant then be all, only joking we’re just going to move in together! Then it won’t seem as bad.”
“Hardly going to convince them we’re mature enough, is it?”
“Shit, Al, we’re going to share the same bathroom and shit.”
“And the same bed,”
“Is James going to come over a lot?”
“Probably, he’s a tosser. We should, well, we should line up a place that we both like, sign the deeds and then tell them. Prove that we can sort it all out ourselves.
Jan nodded and then turned very white.“Can we go, Al? I want to throw up in a familiar toilet.”
“Sure, throw up in my house –then my parents might think you’re pregnant and won’t kill us when we start talking about looking round flats.”
“Apparate straight for the toilet,” Jan advised, “unless your Mum wants to clear up my fake-baby-vomit from the carpet.”
“Duly noted,” I said, pulling out a tenner and throwing it onto the table, “let’s go.”
“Is that Janet Harper I can hear vomiting in our toilet?” James asked cheerfully.
“Yup,” I answered, dropping two slices of toast into the toaster, “sorry about last night, James.”
“Eh, she’s your woman,” James shrugged, “but, you know, do it again and I’ll make you regret it.”
“Love you too James.”
“Next time you’re on your own.” James mocked, taking my toast from the toaster and making a point of eating them in front of me.
“How’s she feeling?”
“Not so hot,” Jan said, walking into the kitchen and taking James’s/my toast from his hand and stuffing it into her mouth, “I think I’m actually still slightly drunk.”
“I love those mornings.”
“Jan.” I said, raising my eyebrows at her.
“Sorry James,” she said grudgingly, “I didn’t mean to, you know, make a scene.”
“S’okay,” James said, “and I didn’t mean to do dirty things to your twin sister.
“Don’t push it.” Jan muttered through narrowed eyes.
“So, Rose said that you were going to dump Jan,” James said conversationally, “but I told her not to talk rubbish.”
Jan’s eyebrows shot upwards but she didn’t turn her gaze my way; siblings-aren’t-our-fault pact obviously still running fresh in her mind.
“Rose heard the rear end of a conversation involving Rich, for Merlin’s sake, the fact that she took any of it seriously -”
“So you’re together forever?”
“We’re moving in together,” Jan said, folding her arms, “so Rose can just go –“
“Really?” James asked, his face twisting up into a grin. “How’s the Harpers take that news?”
“Obviously, they don’t know yet.”
“I’m still alive, after all.” I pointed out, shifting uncomfortably. I never would understand Jan and Rose’s complicated friendship.
“Morning, oh, hello Jan, Al,” Mum said, arriving in the kitchen with a bag full of grocery shopping, “how was the party?”
“Didn’t James tell you?” I asked.
“Er...” James said, “Mum was, actually, unaware that I attended that party...”
“James,” Mum said, her eyes flashing dangerously, “are you telling me you didn’t turn up to help babysit for Victoire? After you promised?”
“Erm, Al paid for me to get a tattoo removed. No, wait,” James said, “Al lost his virginity to a Spaniard.”
“James nearly knocked up Jan’s twin.” I countered, watching as Mum’s eyes turned from James, to me and back again. The game of dropping-each-other-in-it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence, although James really had raised the stakes by mentioning the tattoo and my flaming virginity – usually these things started out as the petty ‘Al spilt your perfume’ and ‘James didn’t go to bed till twelve.’
“Wait, what?” James asked, “I mean, er... I mean...” Mum’s eyes were narrowing at him dangerously and I was beginning to step back away from the inevitably explosion. Nothing more but a classic game of hot potato, “Al and Jan are going to move in together!” James declared.
James gave me a small wave, backed out of the room and ran up the stairs. Queue explosion, Jan having to vomit again and being forbidden from leaving the house ever again.
Yeah, I guess this chapter too a long time. Sorry about that. You know I love your reviews though, yeah? Thanks for sticking with this (if anyone has) :)
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by Eavan Shea