Chapter 15 : Circles
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Sometime near the end of March, the dormitory of the seventh year Hufflepuff girls was in chaos. Near noon, a hysterical cry could be heard to all those in the Hufflepuff common room.
“Have you seen my broom?!”
Upstairs, what looked like a small mountain of clothes was lying on one bed. Beside the mess, a blonde haired girl was upturning her trunk frantically.
“Calm down, you lunatic,” drawled a brunette sitting beside the hill of clothes. “Why d’you need it anyway? You can’t take it with you!”
“I have to make sure it’s put away properly! What if I lost it?” retorted Trista St. Clair.
Lucy Weasley strolled out of the loo and tossed in the remainder of her things into a neat pile beside her trunk. “It’s under your bed, remember?”
Trista swooped down below and emerged, looking relieved. “Oh thank Merlin.”
“And Priscilla, precisely when are you planning to pack?” asked Lucy, eyeing the pile apprehensively. “You know the train leaves in an hour.”
“Ah, whatever,” said Priscilla, falling backwards into the pile.
“You too, June,” said Lucy warningly.
June gave a lazy nod. “I’m almost done.”
She heaved the last of her school books into her trunk and rifled through some loose papers before slamming the lid shut and sighing. “I can’t believe it came up so fast,” she said gloomily.
Priscilla opened one eye to peer in her direction. “You don’t want to go home?”
“You mean back to the Potter house? Not really. This place feels more like home.”
“You can see your dad again,” Trista said. “You haven’t seen him since January. That’ll be nice.”
“I suppose,” said June. “I feel a bit bad, though. I haven’t written or talked to him in months.”
“You don’t miss him?” asked Lucy.
“No, I do. It’s just that I’ve got to take care of him some times and it can be a bit hard.”
“I don’t see what you’re so glum about,” said Priscilla with the usual tactlessness. “I already said I’ll come down soon and we can look at new flats together. You’ve got some money from Professor Longbottom, right?”
“Some,” said June. “I didn’t work at all last week because of exams, so I’ve got nothing from that. But I’ve got about 160 Galleons.”
“That’s not much,” said Priscilla.
“I don’t get paid much,” said June grumpily. “But it’s better than nothing. Five Galleons an hour, two hours a day, twice a week. And it’s been about two months – ”
“We get the point, you’re poor,” said Priscilla with a grin. “That’s fine, I already said I could help pay.”
“And I’ll come visit when you plan to go flat hunting,” said Lucy.
“So will I,” said Trista. “I’m dreading going home, to be honest.”
“Stepmum visiting again?” asked Lucy.
“Yeah, my dad and her are picking me up from King’s Cross, if you can imagine that,” said Trista moodily. “I already told him not to come. My brother’s been picking me up for years. But my dad told me that she wants to see me again, which I think is rubbish. My mum’s got enough to worry about with me and my brothers without her nosing in.”
“She is your stepmum,” said Lucy gently. “She’s probably just trying to get to know you. You can’t avoid them forever – she’s going to have a baby, isn’t she? What’re you going to do if you have another brother or sister?”
“I don’t care!” Trista snapped. “Let her have her baby and leave us alone!”
There was a pronounced silence.
June and Priscilla exchanged looks as Lucy hovered over Trista uncertainly.
“Well, now seems like a good time to start packing,” said Priscilla, attempting to divert the new awkwardness.
It seemed to work. “Yes, let me help,” said Lucy, leaving Trista alone and digging into the mountain of clothes.
“Me too,” began June, before Lucy waved her away.
“Go see if the boys are packed, will you? I’ve got an inkling Desmond hasn’t even begun.”
“Fine,” she said, feeling reluctant, but eager to escape the tension.
She descended the stairs to the Common Room and took the stairs to the right, walking past a few doors to the boys’ dormitory. A door opened somewhere along the way and a second year passed her by, giving her a strange look. She avoided this place out of principle. There was no telling what disgusting and potentially dangerous things took place here.
She paused in front of a familiar door and knocked loudly.
There was a grunt, a falling noise, laughter and a cry of, “Damn it,Weasley!”
Nicholas Corner opened the door, still grinning. “Hey – oh. Hey June.”
“Expecting Priscilla?” asked June. “Or Lucy?”
“Who knows? Didn’t think it was you, though.”
“Why did you think it’d be a girl?”
“Only girls knock,” he said, moving aside to let her in. “Why’d you come?”
“Lucy wanted to make sure everyone was packed.”
“Of course,” he said. “Well, I’ve been packed since last night.”
Beside a bed that had several paintings hung on the wall stood a neatly arranged trunk. Beside the trunk sat Henry, looking perplexed as he held up two socks amidst a small array of colorful socks.
“Bates is trying to pair them by color,” whispered Nicholas, muffling laughter.
And on the other side of Henry lay Desmond, flat on his face on the ground and trying to struggle free of the sheets wrapped around him.
“You scared the daylights out of him when you knocked,” said Nicholas.
“That’s still too early to be up on a Saturday,” said Desmond grumpily. “Did Weasley send you?”
“Yeah. Have you packed?”
“Yes, mum,” Desmond sneered.
“Don’t mind him,” said Duncan from his bed, “He’s always like this after he gets up.”
Duncan was folding the remainder of his clothes neatly into his trunk and smiled serenely at June.
“Did something good happen?” asked June.
“Oh nothing,” he said in the same blissful tone.
June turned back at Nicholas, who grinned. “He’s been planning something for today.”
Duncan turned beet-red. “Don’t tell her!”
“Tell me what?”
“He’s asking out some girl today,” said Desmond. “You should’ve heard him over the last week. He’s practically been bouncing up and down. He looks like he had his trainers on too tight.”
“He’s planning to confess to her on the train or something stupid like that. He’s basically turned into Bates,” murmured Nicholas.
“That’s scary,” muttered June.
“Trista’s not going to be happy…”
This seemed to snap Duncan out of his rapture and he paled. “Oh no.”
“You didn’t guess as much?” said Desmond. “You idiot, she’s going to murder you and drown your body in the Black Lake. Your parents’ll get a letter sometime tomorrow saying that you got killed off by a girl!”
Duncan froze. “You think she’ll be mad?” He asked June.
“Probably,” said June. “You know she fancies you, right? She just has a strange way of showing it.”
“I know,” said Duncan with a sigh. “She’s nice and all. I think she’s a good friend. But it’s just – ”
“You don’t fancy her back,” said June with a nod. “I know how that feels.”
“You’re talking about Potter?” asked Nicholas.
“That was all a while ago.”
“Do you really think Trista’ll kill me?” said Duncan.
“This is why I don’t like having girls who aren’t Fawcett over. Everything bloody turns into girl talk,” said Desmond, rising with his sheets still swanking him. He struggled against them for a second and gave up, instead hopping to the loo looking like a giant white worm with as much dignity as he could muster.
“I can talk to her for you,” said June.
Duncan looked relieved. “Thanks.”
Henry chose that moment to interrupt. “Aha!” He held up two socks triumphantly. “That’s the last pair!”
“Congratulations,” said Nicholas.
Henry looked up and caught June’s eye and bound up. “June! When did you come by?”
“Oh, just now,” said June weakly.
“I just finished packing,” said Henry. “Do you want to see?”
“Er, since Desmond’s getting ready, I should probably go and – um, check on Priscilla,” said June. “I’ll see you on the train.”
By the next hour, the noise and clamor near the Hogwarts Express was deafening. June could feel her feet being stepped on and elbows seemed to protrude out of nowhere to prod her. She yanked her trunk from the platform, and nearly staggered backwards as she attempted to get on the train, knocking the wind out of Priscilla.
“Watch it!” she screeched, pushing June forward.
Luckily, Desmond stopped and grabbed on to her slipping trunk and pulled her on the train with a grumpy Priscilla following afterwards.
“Anyone found a compartment yet?” called Nicholas from the back.
“Over here!” came a yell from Lucy. “Henry’s found two empty ones!”
Desmond nearly trampled over several terrified looking Gryffindor first years as he plowed to the front, leaving June to follow gingerly after him.
The boys separated into one of the compartments, leaving the girls to shuffle past them.
“Here, here,” shepherded Lucy, ushering them inside.
Trista sat by the window, looking forlorn.
“What is it?” asked June.
“She just saw Duncan walk out with flowers,” whispered Lucy. “He went down the corridor towards the Slytherins.”
“The Slytherins? With flowers? Is he mad?” asked Priscilla.
“He fancies Megara Vaisey,” said Lucy in a low whisper to Priscilla. It echoed around the room.
Trista snapped up at this. “The Head Girl? How do you know?”
“He told me,” said Lucy, looking guilty. “And he stares after her every time we do our Prefect rounds.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” asked Trista.
“I thought you already knew.”
“Why do you fancy that idiot anyway? He’s just another stupid boy,” said Priscilla.
The train began chugging along, spilling smoke into the platform. They watched the station whirl past into hills before Trista finally replied.
“Oh, I don’t even know. I’ve fancied him for three years now. It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even remember why. It’s just a habit.”
“A stupid one,” chided Priscilla.
“I know. I feel stupid chasing after him all the time.”
“It isn’t worth it,” June piped up. They all stared at her. “Trust me, I know how it feels. It isn’t worth it in the least running after him if he doesn’t feel the same way about you. You’ll just be wasting your time and making yourself feel awful.”
“Did you ever fancy someone before Duncan?” asked Lucy. “You must’ve forgotten him, right? All these things will change. People move on.”
“I suppose I should make a confession now,” said Trista, looking nervous. “I’ve never really talked about this before.”
Everyone watched her.
“Go on,” Lucy eased.
“Before I fancied Duncan, I fancied…a girl…”
There was a long pause. Lucy’s eyes widened and she fell back against her seat. June frowned at Trista. Priscilla looked like she’d been hit with a blunt object.
Finally, it was June who said. “What?!”
“I know, I know, it sounds really strange,” said Trista apologetically. “I’ve fancied a girl, I’ve fancied boys, it doesn’t really mean anything – ”
“No, no, don’t say that,” said Lucy, “We don’t think it’s strange at all! It’s just…surprising. You’ve never mentioned it before.”
“Well, an occasion hasn’t really popped up, has it?” She looked nervously at June and Priscilla. “You two haven’t really said anything.”
June swallowed slowly, wondering if she had missed any signs along the way. She’d known Trista for almost seven years. “So you’re…bisexual?”
“I guess,” said Trista. “I haven’t really thought about it much. I haven’t fancied anyone since Duncan then, but who knows? How do you feel about it?
“A bit strange,” said June. “But I understand.”
Trista smiled and looked at Priscilla. “Pris, say something, please?”
Priscilla looked up, her face oddly blank, before she launched a Cauldron Cake at Trista. “You ninny, why didn’t you ever tell us?!”
Trista swatted it away with a pout. “I don’t know, I couldn’t think of a way too!”
Lucy laughed and June still felt the surprise trickling over her. She sighed and stared at her friends, a sense of relief replacing the surprise. As Priscilla began attacking Trista with questions, June smiled at them. They could get past anything together.
At the platform, they all embraced before parting ways.
“Thanks for not making a big deal about it,” murmured Trista. “But don’t tell anyone, though.”
“There was nothing to make a big deal about,” said Lucy warmly. “Well, Molly’s here. I’ll see you all in a few days.”
Within a few moments, both Trista and Priscilla said their goodbyes and left, leaving June alone on the platform as she waited. She hovered by the train for a few minutes, watching as Nicholas, Desmond and Duncan unloaded their trunks from the train. Nicholas seemed to be consoling a crestfallen Duncan who was limply holding on to a bouquet. Apparently, asking out Megara Vaisey hadn’t gone well.
Desmond was looking mildly disgusted until out of thin air, two little girls materialized and flung themselves around him with a cry of, “Dessie!”
He fought them off desperately. “Annie – Jane – ouch, get off!” – ”
“There she is.”
It was a familiar, grumpy voice that she hadn’t heard in a few months. Lily Potter came from behind her, looking the same as she did when they’d parted in January. Her red hair was flying in the wind and she was wearing the same irritated expression at the sight of June.
Albus came up from behind her, pushing his own trolley. “Hey.”
“Hello,” said June reluctantly out of politeness. It felt awkward standing beside him again after a month and a half of no contact, though nothing seemed to have changed. Three months without Lily had been a nice change.
They stood together until they heard a cry of, “Lily! Albus!”
June followed them to their mother, who embraced them both. She stood slightly apart, yet again feeling like the third wheel.
“Hello June,” said Mrs. Potter, leaning in for a hug.
“Hi Mrs. Potter.”
“Ready to go home? Your father’s been missing you.”
“Yeah,” said June. “I’ve missed him too.”
As they neared the car, Albus took her trunk and began loading it in the back, alongside Lily’s.
Lily gave June a glare and took the seat beside her mother in the front, leaving Albus and June in the back.
The car ride was spent mostly listening to Mrs. Potter talk about her father’s renovated café and about wallpaper and furniture. Neither Lily nor Albus did anything but look out their windows.
As they pulled up to the Potter home, June felt a sense of dread overcoming her. She was back here again.
She strode up the room that had been hers without a glance backwards and shoved her trunk in, shutting the door behind her. Everything was as pink and pristine as when she had left it.
She flopped on to the ground despairingly.
The door opened with a cry of “June!”
“Dad!” She scrambled up to embrace her father. He felt warm and smelled familiar – like coffee and cinnamon and something she could never identify but always recognized. “How’ve you been?”
Mr. Bernard stood before her, looking happier and plumper than she had seen him in a while. “Oh, very well!” he said, “How’ve you been, dear? How was school?”
“I’ve been doing well,” she smiled. “Well, better than before.”
“Albus tells me that you’ve been studying more,” he said.
“He has? How?”
“He mentioned you in his letter to Ginny and she told me,” said Mr. Bernard with a shrug. He embraced her once more. “I’ve missed you so much!”
“I’ve missed you so much, Dad. I really have. How’s the café going?”
“Wonderfully!” He sat on her bed as she began unpacking, launching into a twenty minute detailing on all of the renovations in Victoria’s Corner; there was new flooring and new curtains and a new table.
By the time he’d finished, June had filed most of her things away. “So, how’re we paying for all this?” she asked casually.
His face waned. “Well, look here, June – ”
“Dad…” she began warningly.
“I may have taken a loan. But these kinds of things will pay themselves you see, when we get reopen the café…”
“Dad!” she said it so loudly he winced. “You know what happened last time you took a loan from one of those dodgy places!”
“I know,” he said glumly. “But this time’s different – it’s a proper bank and it isn’t too much – ”
“How’re we supposed to move out and pay this loan of yours?”
“M – move out?” he stammered.
“You’re not expecting to stay here forever, are you? We’ve got to get a place of our own.”
“Ginny said we could stay until you were done with school,” he mumbled.
“You mean until the summer? I don’t want to be homeless until the summer! I want a flat for us now!”
“Now let’s not be unreasonable, darling,” he began.
“Look Dad, I’m getting a flat for us by the end of this week. You can come with me if you want to or stay here. Either way, I’m not coming to live here after graduation.”
There was a knock on the door before it opened.
“My mum wants you down for lunch,” said Albus.
“Albus, my boy, that’s an excellent idea!” said Mr. Bernard, springing up. “No use arguing when we’re both hungry, eh, June?”
He all but ran out of the room, leaving June flushed and staring angrily after him.
“Next time try arguing louder,” said Albus. “I’m sure there was someone down the street who didn’t hear you.”
“He doesn’t want to move out,” said June.
“I heard. We share a wall, unfortunately,” said Albus dryly. “Anyway, you probably don’t want to bring it up with my mum. She’ll go insane.”
June looked up at him petulantly. “She’ll understand, won’t she?”
“Don’t ask me. She’ll cling on.”
“I have to move out,” she repeated.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because this isn’t our house. This is your house. I need a place that’s mine.” He didn’t respond, so June continued stubbornly. “I don’t want to keep feeling like I’m intruding every time I come to visit my dad. And where am I supposed to live after graduation? Here – forever?”
“Do whatever you want.” He turned and closed the door behind him.
Frustrated, June rose and flopped into the bed, feeling exhausted even though it was barely past 2’oclock. She closed her eyes, feeling a headache coming and reminding herself that she would have to start flat hunting soon.
The next thing June knew, she felt a sharp pressure against her hand and a distinct cry of, “WHAT THE HELL – ” and she woke up with her head throbbing.
The room was dark, though somebody was fumbling on the ground and finally turned a lamp on.
She opened her eyes groggily, feeling sour and stiff. Jet black hair protruded into view.
“Albus?” she asked, trying to sit up.
“Not exactly,” said the hair.
She blinked and saw the hair blurring into a face; someone was staring nervously at her. He looked a lot like Albus, regardless of what he said.
“Go away, Albus,” she moaned, burying herself back in her sheets.
“I told you, I’m not Al,” he said, sounding amused. “And this is my room, actually.”
June sat back up and he grinned. “I’m James.”
“I’m June,” she said, feeling slightly mortified at the thought of how she must look.
He shook her hand. “Sorry I tried sitting on you, by the way. I forgot you were in here these days.” He looked around the pink room with distaste. “I can’t believe what my mum’s done to this place. I can’t even recognize it.”
She looked around the room and saw that it was already dark.
“Why is it dark?” she asked.
“It’s night. You see, night tends to do that.”
She frowned and began getting up. “Why didn’t anyone wake me up?”
“They’re having dinner downstairs right now. My mum said you looked tired and we shouldn’t disturb you. But I forgot you were in here anyway.”
“I’ve got things to do –“ she stumbled over James and groped towards the door. “ – and I have to write to someone – ”
“You might want to eat first, though,” he said, holding the door open for her and grabbed onto her shoulder. “Come on, I’ll help you downstairs. You’re walking like a one-legged dwarf.”
“Thanks,” she said sarcastically.
As they proceeded downstairs, she could see the table was laid out and everyone else was already eating. Mr. Potter and Mrs. Potter were deep in discussion about something, while Lily, Albus and Mr. Bernard were eating quietly.
“Mum, look what the nargles dragged out!” said James, by way of introduction.
Mrs. Potter abruptly broke off talking. “James! I told you not to disturb June!”
“I didn’t disturb her,” he said, his eyebrows waggling. “She woke up on her own.”
Mrs. Potter flicked her wand and a plate and silverware appeared for June. June took a seat between James and Albus, feeling awkward. She kept silent as they ate and chatted, with James recounting a recent Quidditch game boisterously.
What a tragedy, she lamented, that she had wasted so much time on Albus.
The next morning, June woke up early and ran downstairs, past Mr. Potter reading the newspaper. While they’d never really had a formal introduction, he smiled at her.
“Hello, Mr. Potter.”
“Hi,” he said, holding up his glass of pumpkin juice like a salute. “So you’re Albert’s daughter. Sorry we haven’t met before. I’ve been busy.”
“Oh, I understand,” she said, returning a smile and taking a seat at the table.
He asked a few casual questions about how school was going and how Albus and Lily had been doing and she gave a few simple responses, keeping her eye on the clock behind him, waiting for nine o’clock. As they were speaking, a loud snore from the sofa cut off Mr. Potter and he set down his newspaper and walked over to give the sofa a prod.
“Wassgoinon – “
“You,” said Mr. Potter curtly, “are managing to be very loud and annoying even when you’re asleep.”
James’s head popped up, his dark hair sticking in every direction. “What time is it?”
“Eight fifty,” groaned James, diving back to the sofa. “Dad, your only son comes home for the weekend and you make him sleep on the sofa and you wake him up at bloody eight fifty – ”
“You’re not my only son, you idiot,” said Mr. Potter.
“At this time of the morning, I am,” said James crossly. “Would you leave me alone? Everyone else in the house is probably asleep.”
“I’m awake,” chirped June.
“And your brother’s been awake for the last hour,” said Mr. Potter. “And Lily just got – ”
“Enough already,” moaned James.
“Albus is already awake?” said June, staring up at the stairs. She hadn’t heard a sound from his room all morning.
“He’s in my study,” said Mr. Potter with a nod towards a door down the hall.
June wandered down the corridor to the door and opened it, peeking inside. The bookshelf lined walls seemed austere and uninviting. Albus was in a corner, hunched over a desk, writing something. He turned when the door opened, staring at her.
“What is it?”
“Oh, nothing,” she muttered, red-faced. Why had she bothered coming all the way down here?
As she closed the door behind her, it wrenched back open in a minute.
“What did you want?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said, even more flushed. The lack of a conversation between them for a good month had managed to make everything awkward all over again.
The fireplace exploding into emerald flames thankfully managed to save her.
“Hey!” said James from his corner, greeting whoever had clambered in. “Long time, no see!”
“Hello James,” said Lucy, dusting off the ash from her robes. “Hello Uncle Harry, Albus. Ready to go, June? Almost everyone’s ready.”
“Yeah,” said June, turning away from Albus.
“Where’re you going?” asked Albus.
“Flat hunting,” said Lucy, earning a questioning look from Albus and Mr. Potter.
“Flat hunting?” asked Mr. Potter. “For who?”
Lucy gave June a helpless look as June glared at her. “Um…a friend. June and I are helping her.”
Albus smirked. "Really, who?"
“Priscilla,” said June immediately, frowning at him. Was he being deliberately annoying? “She lives in France and she’s gotten bored of Flooing around all the time, so she’s thinking of moving nearby.”
Albus looked like he was going to retort, but Lucy grabbed June’s hand and dragged her to the fireplace. “Well, we’ll be back in the evening. June’s going to eat dinner with us and I’ll see her back. Have a nice day, Uncle Harry!”
With that, they climbed into the fireplace one by one and Flooed away.
June was unsure of where they were arriving until she climbed out of another fireplace, coughing.
“Finally!” said Priscilla, “I was getting bored of waiting!”
“We’ve only been here five minutes,” said Trista, rolling her eyes. “Hey, Lucy, June.”
“Where are we?” asked June.
“The first prospect,” said Priscilla crisply. “An all wizarding building near Diagon Alley. Mostly occupied by Ministry workers who couldn’t find flats in Diagon Alley and had to settle for muggle London.”
“It looks nice,” said Lucy hesitantly, staring up at the building.
And it did look nice; the building was large and relatively new looking, not in the least like her crumbling old flat. A few elderly witches shuffled past them inside the door as the four of them looked on.
“Let’s go inside. I’ve arranged for them to give us a key to the empty flats.”
Before they’d stepped in, a short, balding man nearly bowled over Trista and June to reach Priscilla. “Miss Fawcett, Miss Fawcett!” He offered her a sweaty palm which Priscilla refused. “I’m Langdon, miss. You asked me to – ”
“I know what I asked for,” said Priscilla coldly and he broke off with a smile. He spotted Lucy beside Priscilla and gave a cry.
“You’re Miss Lucy Weasley!”
“Oh – yeah, I - ” was all Lucy could manage before he seized her hand and shook her whole arm in a handshake.
“You’re with Miss Fawcett, of course!”
“We’re classmates, actually – ”
“Good company, good company indeed!” he grinned.
In the corner where he had pushed June and Trista, Trista muttered to June, “Typical. We’re ignored, as always.”
June cleared her throat. “Excuse me? So can we see an actual flat?”
“I’m afraid this’s only for certain parties,” he said coldly.
“You idiot, I’m doing this for her!” said Priscilla, nearly stomping on his foot.
He yelped. “My apologies, my apologies! Here’re the keys!” He threw the keys at Trista who deftly caught them. “And this has the room numbers and price estimates. We’ll begin at – ”
“We?” said Priscilla, eyeing him angrily. “You’ll be staying here.”
The first flat was too large: three bedrooms and a sprawling kitchen. The next proved even larger. By the fourth flat, June interrupted Priscilla before they could enter. “I really don’t think we can afford any of this.”
“Not even if I pay?” asked Priscilla.
“I don’t need such a big flat for just me and my dad,” said June, rolling her eyes. “And I don’t want to live off of your money.”
“Nothing wrong with borrowing,” said Priscilla.
“I’d never be able to pay you back at that rate.”
“Don’t be stubborn!”
“I’m not being stubborn, I just want to – ”
“Oh, it’s getting late,” fretted Lucy. “We should be heading back.”
“Fine,” said June grumpily. Priscilla was still looking put-off. They both frowned at each other.
“Enough for today,” said Trista. “Before we bite each others’ heads off.”
That evening, when June returned, she heard Mrs. Potter’s distraught voice echoing from the kitchen. As she dusted the Floo powder off her robes, she could hear James comforting her.
“How can I calm down?” she snapped, “I’ve got one son that’s practically antisocial! I’ve got a daughter that yells at me every time I tell her to do something!”
“You’ve got me,” he said hopefully.
“You,” she said, incensed. “You can’t keep a single girlfriend for more than a month!”
He groaned. “Not this again! Who are you, Nana Molly? I’m only twenty!”
“I don’t like how you treat those girls. Watch yourself, James,” said Mrs. Potter.
“Big deal,” said James lazily, “Besides, why’re you nagging me? What about Al?”
“What about Al?” said Mrs. Potter. “Albus, what’ve you been up to?”
“Ignore him,” cut in a voice. June stopped brushing herself abruptly, wondering if Albus had been with his mother and brother all along. “He always tries to do this to me every time he comes. Remember what he said about me buying illegal broomsticks last time?”
“But this time is real, though. Lily told me all about that you and that June girl.”
“June? What about June?” Mrs. Potter’s voice was climbing. “I’ve told you to treat her nicely, Albus – ”
“Oh, it’s more about how nicely she’s been treating him. Something about the Great Hall – ”
Feeling mortified, June stopped brushing herself off and froze.
“ – oh come on, Al, I’m helping you finally get a sense of humor – ”
“Yeah, no thanks. Not about this,” intercut Albus’s voice.
“She’s nice enough.”
“If she’s that nice, you go snog her.”
“Is that what happened?” said Mrs. Potter keenly, “Albus, is it?”
James laughed. “Nothing that scandalous, Mum. Don’t get so eager. You finally going to get yourself a girlfriend, Al?”
June felt herself getting heated. She turned and quickly ran up the stairs to her room, not caring enough to be discreet as she stumbled over herself and slammed the door shut after her. She flopped into bed, the thought of the conversation she’d overheard making her groan. She hadn’t heard Albus’s answer, even though she knew what it would have been.
A few minutes later, she rose from her bed, feeling more collected and opened the door to the balcony. Outside, the cool night air blew towards her and she took a step outside, her eyes closed.
She jumped a little at the sudden sound and turned around to find Albus seated in a chair in the balcony beside her own. The door leading to his room was open and she craned her head slightly, wondering if she had ever seen his room before.
She gave no response and propped her elbows on the balcony edge, closing her eyes again.
“Find a flat?” he asked.
“It went fine,” she said, her voice coming out slightly angrier than she’d expected.
“So when’re you moving out?”
“So you’ve got time.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Wind blew between them, letting June forget all the wearying memories of the last three months. She turned to him, half expecting him to be reading another book, but he was leaning out, watching the empty street.
“How’ve you been?” drifted in his voice from the left.
June still wasn’t looking at him. “What?”
“This last month, I mean.”
“Fine,” she said. “You?”
She kept staring out at the street, feeling the spring wind calm her down slightly. A car whizzed by on the road, breaking the silence between them.
“I’m sorry for the trouble,” she said at last. “I think your mum might be catching on about me trying to leave.”
“That’s bound to happen.”
“Will she be offended?”
“Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.”
She sighed. “I’d feel awful if she was angry. She’s the only one in this house that likes me.”
“What’d my dad ever do to you?” he said dryly.
June laughed. “Your dad doesn’t count. He only met me this morning.”
“I don’t think he likes me all that much,” said June, remembering their conversation.
“James is James,” said Albus. “He’s an idiot.”
“Still better than Lily, though.”
“Lily’s not that bad.”
“She keeps looking at me like she wants to kill me.”
“That’s just her face, though,” said Albus, leaning against the balcony. “She looks at everybody like that. It’s another one of her phases. Mum hates it.”
“I’m sorry,” June blurted out.
He looked confused, uncrossing his arms. “About what?”
“I heard James teasing you about me. I’m sorry about before – you know– that.” The thought of the incident in the Great Hall made her blush all over again. It had seemed so perfect and reasonable at the time. Looking back, her stomach churned that she had actually kissed Albus in public. His expression changed; he looked mildly uneasy. “If Henry did something like that to me in front of everyone, I might’ve died from embarrassment.”
“It was stupid of you,” he said. “And you got mad at me when I told you as much.”
“I know. I’m an idiot. And anyway, I’m sorry that stuff still gets brought up. But I’m – um – past all of it now. It really doesn’t matter anymore. I thought I should apologize to you before I left.”
He gave one of his usual surly nods. “Whatever. Don’t waste your time apologizing.”
“Thanks,” she said. “I’ll be going in, then. Good night.”
“Good night,” he echoed.
She returned to her room and shut the balcony door behind her, smiling. In the balcony beside her, Albus stared for a moment at the street below, looking vaguely like he was smiling as well.
The next morning, when June ventured downstairs, she found the house empty.
She stared at the clock and groaned. Noon. How was it noon already?
“Hello?” she called to the empty house.
There was no response. She tried the kitchen and then the living room, yelling. “Mrs. Potter? Dad?” Finally, tentatively, she called out, “Albus?”
A door opened.
“How long do you plan to keep yelling?”
“Where is everyone?”
Albus propped the door to the study open. “My mum and dad went to visit James’s flat. Lily’s gone out with friends. Your dad went to visit his café or something.”
“Everyone had plans,” said June wonderingly.
“Yeah, except us, obviously.”
“I didn’t mean to bother you – I can leave – ”
In response, he opened the door. “You can come in. I don’t really care.”
June stepped inside, brushing past him to see the inside of Mr. Potter’s study. There were several large bookshelves covering two walls and a dark wooden desk in the center of it all. Albus had piled a small mountain of books on it.
“Why do you read so much?” she asked.
He shrugged. “What else is there to do?”
“But what is it for?”
He gave a strange half-grin again, looking as though he’d been waiting for her to ask. “I don’t read for no reason.”
She squinted at one of the books. “Intermediate Healing Principles,” she read aloud. “Advances in Magical Medicine. These are all Healing books!”
“Brilliant deduction,” he said wryly.
“So those Healing books I saw ages ago were yours?” she asked, remembering a bookshelf of them in the living room.
“I don’t know – your dad’s?”
“My dad couldn’t be a Healer if his life depended on it. For one, you have to be able to brew potions and he brews like a first year.”
June rolled her eyes. “Don’t say that, he’s Harry Potter after all.”
As she browsed the study, she could hear him say, “He’s my dad, I can say what I want.”
“So…you want to be a Healer?” she said. She found an empty spot on the table and leaned against it.
“Obviously. And you?”
“I don’t know,” she said glumly. “Professor Aubrey – that’s our Head of House – wants me to do Magical Design, but I don’t know if I’d be any good.”
“You might as well. You wouldn’t be good at anything else, would you?”
When she looked indignant, he amended, “How’d Charms work out for you? After you tried blackmailing me, I mean.”
“I have an Acceptable so far,” she said, holding her head up high.
“That’s not bad,” he said.
She flushed. “Thank you. But as long as I keep until we graduate, I should be okay.”
He simply stared neutrally at her, giving no response. She looked away uncomfortably, before starting again with, “Everyone’s really excited about graduation. Henry’s going abroad or something to celebrate. He even asked me to come with him.”
“Don’t go anywhere with that idiot.”
“He’s not that bad.”
Albus grimaced. “Oh come on.”
“Don’t say anything bad about my friends,” she said, hopping off the table. She started to leave, but she could hear Albus’s voice calling after her.
“Hey, are you hungry?”
“My mum didn’t make us any lunch or anything.” He frowned again. “She told me I had to make something myself or go out and buy something.”
“Can you cook?”
“No,” he said, following her out of the study, “can you?”
“My dad owns a café, after all,” she said, smiling.
Once they were in the kitchen, she began opening cabinets. In the first one she opened, she found a pair of old pans that she slid out.
“What’re you looking for?” he asked.
“Something to cook, obviously. Where does your mum keep stuff?”
“I…don’t know,” he said slowly. “I know where the spoons are.”
When she stared blankly at him, he added defensively, “What? I’ve never had to cook, alright? We used to have a house elf for all of this.”
“So I’m supposed to cook for you too?” asked June.
He stood there unresponsively, arms crossed.
She sighed. “Fine. Just help me find something.”
As he began opening cabinets, he said, “You could always help your dad with his place after graduation.”
“No thanks,” said June, peering into a jar. It was empty.
“I don’t know, I don’t really want to be stuck there forever.” Distractedly, she peered into another cabinet. “Why don’t you have any food in here? Everything’s empty.”
“James,” said Albus matter-of-factly. “This always happens when he stays over. He decimates whatever food we have.” He opened the refrigerator. “Here, I found this.”
He held out three eggs and a squashed tomato.
“Eggs?” said June. “Anything else?”
He held the fridge door open for her; there was nothing inside.
“Fine,” she sighed. “Crack the eggs. We can make omelets.”
“I don’t know how to,” he said.
“You don’t know how to crack eggs?” she asked wonderingly. “And you were on about me not knowing anything?”
“That’s different – ” he began retorting angrily.
Sighing, she took the eggs from him. She cracked them against the tap, easily sliding the egg yolk onto a pan.
“Normally, I’d cook it over a stove or something, but it’s easier by magic.” She took out her wand and waved it under the pan. “Incendio.”
He watched in amazement as the egg yolk shifted, puffing out. Within seconds, it had changed from liquid form to a wide, yellow circle.
“Quick, give me a plate,” said June, balancing the wandtip and the pan carefully.
He held a plate in front of her and she slid the omelet on.
“Eat up,” she said, turning to crack an egg for herself.
As she made another, she watched him eat. He finished within a few bites.
“Still hungry?” she asked, sitting down to join him. She extinguished her wandtip. “Can I have a fork?”
He passed her a fork, his hands brushing against her fingers. It made her finger run cold for a few seconds.
He watched her, looking puzzled. “You’ve changed.”
“Not really,” she said.
“No, I think you have.” He grinned at her.
Feeling uneasy, she took a bite. He never smiled at her. The omelet tasted plain. How had he managed to eat it so fast? “Well, a lot of things change…my whole life’s changed…”
He looked at her for a long moment, then pushed his chair back and stood up. Leaving his plate behind, he casually looked away. “So, thanks. For the food.”
“That was nothing,” said June dismissively. “It didn’t even taste good. You should ring your mum and ask her to bring some food home.”
“Better than starving.”
“We should eat together sometime.” He said, looking uneasy again. He was staring resolutely at the tap. He cleared his throat. “Or something.”
She flushed pink, then burned red. “Um – are you – ”
Albus cut her off, his green eyes narrowing into a steely expression. “It’s not a big deal, is it?”
“Good. Tomorrow night, then,” he said. He uncrossed his arms and walked away, leaving her staring after him.
She took a long sigh and fell forward, resting her head against the table. June could feel a headache coming. She gave a soft groan. What was he up to, being so nice suddenly?
Every time. Every time, it’s Albus. Like one big circle. No matter how many times I tell myself that I don’t fancy him, it comes back to this.
Author's Note: Hello my lovely readers! Refrain from throwing eggs my way! I've been really busy with school during these last few months. I've also been struck by writer's block every time I tried to start on this chapter. So many Junebus moments! It had me reeling with fear, haha. I apologize if this chapter sounds disjointed; it was written over several months. Special thanks to all of you who badgered me to get writing via Formspring and asked so many funny hypothetical questions.
Anyway, a lot of things happened this chapter. I'm sorry you guys didn't get to see as much of Priscilla, Lucy or of the boys, but they'll be in the background for a bit as Junebus develops in the next few chapters. I'd love to know what you thought of the chapter! Thank you for the continued support!
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