Chapter 9 : Problem #9 and #9.5
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My hands are shaking
This is a complicated love with me
Keep your eyes closed, I've seen it baby
I've seen where this goes
Stay by Sara Bareilles
I was walking through the muggle airport terminal, lugging my suitcase behind me when I heard my name being called.
I turned around, looking around for the voice. I didn't see anyone, so I turned and kept on walking, figuring it must be a different Alex they were looking for.
This time it was closer, and I recognized the voice.
"James?" He came into view among the mass of people walking back and forth among the crowded Heathrow airport terminal.
"Alex, thank god you haven't left yet!" He approached me, stopping about a foot away from me.
"Listen, James, I-" I began to say, but he cut me off.
"No. Not now. Okay? I think I already know what you're going to say, and I don't want you to feel forced into anything, okay? I just want you to know that whatever the hell is going on with us, we should just forget about it for now, and just remember our friendship. I know you're leaving, and I have no idea when you're coming back, so I just came to say goodbye, nothing more, nothing less."
"Well, okay, goodbye I guess?"
"Goodbye Alex." He said, leaning in and kissing me on the cheek, while resting his hand on my neck.
He turned and walked away, not looking back. I stood there, no idea where to go from there.
He was just about to completely disappear into the crowds, when I called,
He turned around, confused. I left my suitcase where it was, and ran after him. I ran up to him and practically jumped into his arms, hugging him. He was warm despite the cold weather outside, and smelt so familiar, woodsy and fresh. I buried my head in his neck, taking in a last whiff of his scent, just holding on to him.
"Promise we'll write. It won't jeopardize the mission or anything. Just write, okay?" I asked, pulling back.
"I promise." He said, smiling.
"Good. Catch you later, Alligator." I said, and turned to leave.
"After a while, Crocodile." I looked back, and he looked back as well, smiling.
The plane ride was long, but not as bad as I anticipated. I sat next to Ron Weasley, who pretty much slept the whole ride, snoring away. I thought that I would have to spend the whole ride feeling bad about James and feeling guilty for running away, but now that we had left on good terms, all I had to think about was my feelings for him.
Did I love James?
I had no idea, I had never been in love.
If anything, this trip would be the final line to decide my answer. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Of course, after two hours of boredom and Ron's snores, I started to resent Harry's choice of using muggle transport for every mission to avoid detection from other ministries.
I was hungry, bored, and had to use the bathroom, as the little airplane bathroom had been occupied ever since the seat belt light came off. I swear, every time the door opened and someone left, another person would waltz right in there and shut the door just as I was getting up. And I flat out refused to eat airport food.
"Can I offer you some peanuts, miss?"
I know it's only been a couple of hours since we last said goodbye, but this plane is soooo boring. I'm sitting next to your uncle Ron, and he's been snoring the ENTIRE time. The food sucks, and the bathroom is always occupied. I know I should have brought a book or something, but honestly, I didn't exactly have time I probably wouldn't have read it anyways.
I'm glad we could leave each other on such good terms. I think for me to figure out my feelings for you things, I need space. It would be good for us to see other people, at least for a while.
Sorry your plane ride was so boring, and sorry for Ron. I think that would be best for us, provide the most space, you know. In fact, guess who asked me out last night? Marina! I put her down nicely, asking for a raincheck. It'll be good for us to see other people, but Marina isn't exactly what I had in mind. How's Romania? Is the weather good? the food?
So Marina had asked James out? Interesting. I wonder if it had anything to do with me being gone? No, Marina didn't know that there was anything going on between me and James. Not that there was...
"What do you have there, Alex?" A voice said next to me. "A love letter?"
"No." It was Leanne, an older auror on the trip. She was becoming a friend of mine, as she was only several years older than me.
She was sitting next to me at the pub we were currently at. It was a cold night in Romania, after a long day of scoping out caves and other outdoor stuff. Leanne and I had retired to the pub to get food before going to bed in our shared hotel room, muggle of course.
"It's not a love letter." I said, explaining. "Just a letter from a friend."
"James?" she asked, suggestively.
"You know there's nothing going on between James and I." I said. "And yes, it was him."
"What did he write you about?"
"Nothing, really. It was a short letter. Wanted to know about Romania. Said Marina asked him out the other night. You know her?"
"Leanne!" I punched her in the shoulder amiacably. "She's not a slut, just a bit of a bitch some of the time."
"Your words, not mine."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. So, anyways, notice any decent guys on this trip?" She asked. Leanne was twenty four, and always on the hunt for men to date, or you know...
"No, eighty percent of these people are over forty, and the other twenty percent is us."
"What about in here? Tell, me, do you think Romanian men are sexy?"
"No. I think they drink a lot of beer and have beards."
"Now, now, Lexi. Just because you're hostile at James for dating other women, doesn't mean you get to be hostile towards men in general!"
"I am NOT hostile to men in general! And who said I was hostile at James just because that bitch asked him out? Why would I be?"
"Oh, Alex. It's been a whole week, and you haven't even looked at other men. Not even the cute bellhop. Besides, you bring up James in nearly every conversation."
"I do not! And I have looked at the bellhop! He's undeniably attractive!"
"So why haven't you shagged him yet?"
It's been a week, and although I love cold weather, these Romanians have it down to a T. They work all day out in the snow, then come in and drink beer around six. It's really a dull form of life, but they seem to enjoy it. Romania in general is about seventy percent men, in my estimate. (Leanne extimates eighty five) And about ninety percent of those men have beards and are over thirty. Leanne has been trying to get me to shag the bellhop. Not going to happen. I've taken the liberty to notice that he tucks his shirt into his underwear and couldn't grow a beard if he tried. The food here's pretty good. A lot of steak and potatoes, your kind of food.
What's going on back in the UK? How are the siblings? What's going on back at the department? Have to say I'm glad Gary didn't come with us. (Sucker :-P) Write me back soon,
Romania kinda sounds awful, except for the food. Things are going good here, nothings really new. The departments been quiet, especially with my dad and Ron gone. Gary's worse, as he seems to think that he's in charge just because they're gone. It's been pretty boring with just Murphy and Marina, who keeps implying that she wants to go on that date. But, to be honest, I haven't found anyone better, as the prospects out here are pretty dumpy right now.
Oh! guess what? Al asked me for girl help! He's having girl troubles at school and he wrote me about it, saying that Lily is too meddlesome and the rest of our female cousins would just make fun of him. I didn't know what to say, so I just told him to write to you. You're way better at that stuff than me. Write back soon,
Yes, it was true. My little brother was having girl troubles. I bet you anything it's with this one girl who he always has over in the Summer holidays. They're best friends or something. Not exactly sure why he asked me, but I am pretty awesome. I was touched that he went to me though, even though I was technically his 'last resort'. That's a bunch of bullshit, however, as I know my mum is his last resort. I think he's just scared that mum will give him great advice that actually works. I sent him off to Alex anyways, though.
Alex has been in Romania for three weeks, now. We write to each other a lot, just exchanging pleasantries and such, little one sentence notes and some longer letters, like the one I had just mailed. It was hard to tell what I should do about her though. I didn't know if I should just go on a date with Marina to say I tried, or if I should just wait for her to figure out her 'feelings for me'.
Either way, I can't pretend my jealousy sensors didn't go off the charts when she wrote about screwing that nerdy bellboy. Thank squash she was joking.
I still hadn't decided wheter my proclaiming my love to her was just plain stupid, or the best thing I'd done since planting that cactus in her dorm room in sixth year. Good times.
Currently, I was leaning towards stupid, which is probably why when I was taking my coffee break, I asked Marina out.
"Hey James, what are you up to this weekend?" She asked from her spot at the table in the break room, sipping on her tea, which looked to be mostly cream and sugar.
"Nothing really." I said, taking a large gulp of coffee, just the way I (and Alex) liked it. "You?" I asked to be polite.
"Oh, nothing. I'm still waiting to hear back from this one chap though, so we'll see."
I wanted to roll my eyes at her blatant suggestion, but I held myself back.
I took another drink of coffee and thought of Alex, sitting in a pub with a bunch of Romanian men, and how she wanted to see other people before deciding anything.
It was stupid, as nothing had really gone on between us. (Okay, so we both know that's a bunch of ape shit, but it wasn't like we had dated or anything) I was still kind of put off though, feeling kind of rejected.
Which is probably what caused me to say:
"Hey, you want to get some dinner tonight?" to Marina.
She smiled. "Absolutely. I'm glad you finally asked."
So, James said I should write to you, as he was no help. I'm having girl troubles. This one girl, who I've known forever, and I'm best friends with, has been acting wierd lately, and I think that I might just fancy her. Like, a lot. But I don't want to ruin our friendship, so I have no idea what the hell to do. Apparently, you can help me.
You should just really pay attention to how she's acting, try and figure out if you're the reason she's acting so strange. You should definitely keep being friends with her, but you can be friends and more than friends at the same time. Just keep me updated on how she's acting and how much you like her. Whatever you do, try not to admit that you love her to her. It just makes things complicated. These things take time.
I finally talked to Al, told him to keep his eye on her. Is this girl nice? Pretty? I'm curious. He says he really likes her. Keep me posted. How's everything going on at home? Definitely missing England right now. Romania kind of sucks right now, and we're not even close to finishing the mission, and it's been a whole month. Write me soon,
Man, it was hard work helping sixteen year olds with their love issues. Writing letters to Al though wasn't bad at all, and anyways, there was another letter I had received that was worrying me.
It began with,
Miss, I regret to inform you that you are now behind on your payments for your housing...
and ended with,
If you cannot procure the money by the end of next week, we will be forced to evict you from your apartment.
This was really worrying me, because, well, I was in Romania for one thing, with no idea what the hell to do about a possible eviction. I mean, how on earth would I get back to clean out my stuff? I had done the math, (Okay, so maybe I had Harry help me finish off the balances) and I was realizing that the expenses of my apartment had gone up a lot in the last year and that I could not afford to live there anymore. That means I had to sell my apartment. This was not good.
I was ready to contact my cousin, Alisha (Remember her?) to help me organize my stuff into boxes and all that, as I couldn't leave Romania, until three days later when I recieved a letter from my one aunt, Alisha's mum.
It began with,
Alex, honey, I hate to write this in a letter, but I heard from your neighbor that you were in Romania. He gave me this adress...
It continued with,
I hate to ask you to come, but I really can't do this alone. It would be great to have you here. Alisha was always the one to do these sorts of things, and now...
(This part trailed off with several scribbles and tear drop stains)
And finally, almost completely smeared with tearstains, it ended with,
The funeral is this Sunday at noon. It'd be great if you could come Friday, please respond soon.
Of course. My only living relative that I was relatively close to got in a car accident the same week I get evicted from my apartment. Rotten timing for me, but perfect timing for my schedule.
"Well, you can get on a plane Friday morning, comfort your aunt and go to the funeral, pack up your apartment, and be back by Monday." Harry said as I asked for permission to leave for the weekend. "I'm sorry you have to deal with all this, Alex. If there's anything Ginny and I can do, just let me know." He put a fatherly hand on my shoulder, attempting to comfort me.
He made it sound so easy. But I booked a ticket, packed a bag, wrote my aunt, and went about my business, waiting for Friday to come. I was tired, stressed, and to be honest, really missing James. Like, reallly realllly missing him. A lot. Things were becoming pretty clear in my mind actually, and I was thinking about meeting him this weekend to tell him.
Thanks for helping Al. The advice you gave him sounds good. Way better than what I'd have said. How's the mission going? Oh, and guess what? I went on that date with Marina, it wasn't actually that bad. We had a good time. I think she's just looking for a good shag though, so it's really not going anywhere. Write soon,
Well then why don't you just have fun shagging Marina while move out of my apartment, and plan my only relative's funeral?
I thought after reading his letter. I ripped it, kind of pissed off, as I had been on the edge the past couple of days. It was Thursday, and I was leaving tomorrow. Of course James felt the need to tell me this. He obviously knew that it would piss me off. Well, technically, he didn't even know if I had feelings for him, and I guess this kind of proved it.
Damn it. I have feelings for James. I might even be in love with him. All I know is that I love snogging him, love spending time with him and miss him like hell. I had imagined many different scenarios where I would jump into his arms and he would just snog the shit out of me in the airport and then we would go off and I would proclaim my love for him then shag the piss out of him.
HOLY SHIT. I'M IN LOVE WITH JAMES POTTER.
Well, this actually makes things a lot easier. Right? I can see James this weekend, tell him that I've really missed him and have feelings for him.
Definitely freaking out.
I decided to just write him a quick letter before going to bed. (as if I would sleep now)
I'm coming home for the weekend. Wanna meet at the Leaky Cauldron at eight on Friday night? I'll meet you at the bar.
That's great! I'll see you at eight tonight!
I was feeling pretty optimistic when I boarded the plane on Friday morning, when it was so early it was pitch black and the moon was still high in the sky. I couldn't sleep, knowing that the plane was bringing me closer and closer to James. I couldn't wait to go home, even just for a little while. I loved London, and more importantly, James. Home for me was wherever he was. I had begun to realize this while away in Romania.
When we touched down, my heart soared. It was raining in London. It had been nearly a month, twenty nine days, since I had seen James. Now that I was here, I knew that what I had decided was right.
My uncle was waiting behind customs with a sign that read, "Allex".
It had been about thirteen years since I had seen my uncle, as my aunt and mother were never close and they my aunt and uncle didn't want anything to do with me when my parents died. We lived in completely different worlds. But yet, how hard is it to spell Alex? It's a common name! Very straight forward! How could he misspell Alex?
I sighed, heading over to him.
"Hello Alex." He said. He was wearing a fancy suit, with properly trimmed hair. He screamed "Wealthy".
He led me out to his car, a very nice silver banker's car. I put my bag in the backseat and joined him in the front seat.
"It's very nice of you to come, Alex. Patty and I can't thank you enough. I know our family's never really got along, but it's real dignified of you to come to her funeral. I know you two got together for brunch every once in awhile."
I decided not to mention his absence from my parent's funeral.
He drove me to there fancy schmancy house outside of London, dropping me off before heading off to his job as a banker.
"Oh, Alex. So nice of you to be here." My aunt said flatly. "It's been very hard to plan this, and Robert's family can't come until tomorrow afternoon, so I need a lot of help right now."
That about summed up the rest of my day. I spent the whole day running erands to the florist and a caterer, stopping by Alisha's firm and various other places she frequented, such as her aerobics class, to spread the news that she would not be coming anymore. Her firm already knew, but they gave me a huge thing of white tulips.
So basically, I was walking around London all day carrying flowers from the florist to the house.
I finally got away around seven thirty when I went over to Roxy's flat.
"LEXI!!!" She cried when she opened the door to her apartment. "I'm so excited!"
I had mailed ahead of time to tell her I'd be back for the weekend, so she had my whole weekend planned out for me. Of course, it was mostly working on the funeral and then cleaning out my apartment. And I would be busy tonight. Anticipation was settling in my stomach at the thought of seeing James again, in less than an hour.
Roxy did her best to get me ready, shoving me into my best jeans and one of her nice, cashmere sweaters, although she argued for a dress, tights, jacket, fancy scarf, and boots. I did wear boots and a scarf though, so I don't know what she was talking about.
"But that scarf is so dull." She whined as I wrapped my plain black and white scarf around my neck before putting on MY jacket.
"Too bad. I'm leaving now. I probably won't be back for a while, so don't wait up."
"Are you sure I can't come with?"
"Absolutely. See you later."
"See you. Have fun! But not too much fun! Wear protection!"
I left, blushing at the last part. I had told her I was meeting James, that was it.
I caught a ride on the tube to the Leaky Cauldron, getting out a block away. I slipped in the doors about eight twenty, and scanned the bar for James.
I walked among the tables, and I found him almost immediately, sitting with his back to me, facing.... Marina.
They were talking amiacably, although James kept checking his watch and looking towards the door. I was at an angle, in the midst of some tables.
She laughed, leaning in farther. Before I even realized what was going on, she leaned in and kissed him. I waited for James to pull back, tell her that this wasn't going to work because he was in love with someone else and was meeting her right now. But he stayed, frozen in place, liplocked with Marina.
I turned to leave, storming past tables.
"Hey, Alex! Is that you? Wow it's been a long time!" Someone said from a table. I ignored them, moving faster and faster to the door.
I recognized this voice, but ignored it, crashing the door shut behind me.
"Alex! Come back!"
I turned around the corner and ran into the alley behind the pub, a cool mist settling down into the night, making it cold and damp. Just as I was about to apparate, someone came out the back entrance, the one the bartender proably used to take out the trash.
"I don't know why you came. I don't know why he said he would meet you. We already had plans." She said, stepping down.
"He's been complaining about you a lot lately, about how you write him all the time, and he just doesn't want to seem mean by stopping.
"I've listened to him complain about you a lot. How he accidently said something that made you think that he loved you. But really, he regretted it the moment he said it. He originally just said it to score points with you but it backfired when you took it so seriously."
How could she know about this? My world was currently crashing down around me.
"He just sees you as the occaisonal snog partner. Nothing more, everything less. You didn't think you were the only one did you? He planned on telling you to scram tonight. I was there for moral support. Then you didn't show. We thought you had come to your senses. Apparently not. I bet you really thought he loved you, didn't you?" She laughed, sharply, and cruely.
"Well, let me be the one to break it to you sweetheart, It's best you get it plain and simple.
"James doesn't love you.
"He never has, and he never will. Bad timing, I know, but you should have realized sooner."
I wanted to scream at her, to tear out her hair and tell her how wrong she was. But Marina wasn't one to lie so dramatically. She was just the blonde bimbo of the office.
I was frozen.
It was him. He had just turned around the corner of the alley. He was soaking wet, as the rain was now coming down in sheets.
"James." I cried. "Please. Is it true?" Water was streaming down my face, and I was descending into desperation.
"Is what true?" He seemed confused.
"That you don't love me."
"What? Alex, hold on a second here, let me just..." He held up a hand as if to hold me back.
"You lied. You regret telling me you loved me."
"I know what you told her. I know the truth James. Now I want you to just leave me alone. I'm tired of this chase. My life has been nothing but a whole shit load of trouble since you showed up again. You're the biggest problem in my life, and I'm tired of it. I don't want you."
His face crumpled. He looked stung, as if my words have crushed him. I knew better.
"Just leave. Just go." I felt weak.
"If you really feel that way... I guess then you should just leave." He had a hard look on his face, yet he remained where he was, the rain soaking through his shirt and hair, the water crawling across his skin.
I regained my senses after a few seconds, and apparated to Roxy's house, with one last glimpse at Marina, looking at me like I was a sick puppy.
I fell, toppling to the carpet of her sitting area, shivering from the cold. I wrapped my knees to my chest, laying there in the fetal position.
I guess James didn't want me after all. Why else would he have been chatting, snogging Marina at the bar when he was supposed to be meeting me?
I thought he loved me, but maybe those were just empty words.
For the first time in seven and a half years, I cried, sheet racking, despairing sobs, as the one thing that had brought me so much joy, came crashing around me.
James doesn't love me.
A/N: Wow, quite the chapter. Let me know what you thought please!! I plan on writing a couple more chapters, so that this story will be eleven or twelve chapters total. What do you think will happen?
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