Chapter 10 : Problem #10
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Why should he come back through the park?
You thought that you saw him but no you did not
Who can be sure of anything through
The distance that keeps you
From knowing the truth
The Park by Feist
"Alex, you're my best friend...
and the best person I know.
I know you might not feel the same way...
but I think I might possibly be in love with you."
Liar. It wasn't true. After all, why would he love me? And if it was, why didn't he fight for me? Why had he started seeing Marina? He could've just kissed me full on at the airport and I would have known right then. I thought of all the times he had just
I was just so angry at myself for getting my hopes up so much then fooling myself into thinking that everything would just work out on it's own.
Because, honestly, when has that ever worked for me?
Oh, that's right, never.
"Oh Alex, what happened?" Roxy asked as she came into the room and found me laying on her floor in a heap of salt water and snot.
"James..." I choked out. "Doesn't... Love...... Me" I broke out sobbing again, as if saying out loud had made it just as true as it had been to hear it come out of her lips again.
"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... you should have realized sooner."
I wanted James. I wanted his arms around me instead of Roxy's. I wanted him to come and wrap me up in his arms and let me cry into his shoulder. I wanted this more than I ever wanted anything else.
But it wouldn't happen.
I had lost James.
He didn't want me.
And I had told him I didn't want him.
"Lex, I've never seen you cry. I'm so sorry."
"He's the only one who's ever seen me cry." I cried into her shoulder.
"I want him so bad. I love him Roxy."
"Shh..." She stroked my hair, making shushing noises, comforting me, cradling me in her arms. "Come on. Let's get you dried off, you're shivering."
She led me into the bathroom where she sat me on the floor and started drying my hair with a towel. She left for a minute, coming back with fresh clothes. Soft cotton replaced my sopping denim and drenched jacket.
Roxy brought me over to her bed, where she brushed through my wet and tangly hair, before gently twisting it into a braid. She made gentle shushing sounds, calming my sobs. I was still shivering when I slipped underneath the covers. She crawled in next to me, and after long hours of sobbing, I drifted off into sleep.
The next morning, I felt raw, and dry. I knew that I must have looked like absolute shit, with my eyes all red and puffy.
Roxy was moving around in the kitchen when I entered, putting together some scrambled eggs, just the way I liked them. She set a plate in front of me.
"I'm not hungry." I said, my voice hoarse and crackly.
"Eat." She commanded anyways. She put a huge cup of coffee right in front of my face. This almost started the waterworks again.
I sipped at the coffee and picked around the eggs, for once I wasn't hungry for breakfeast. "Roxy, I'm really not hungry."
She sighed. "Allright then. Let's get you in the shower. You okay to help your aunt?'
I nodded, padding off to the shower in her bathroom. Of course, the steady stream of water against my cheeks and back just reminded me of the events last night, reopening the wound.
This time though, I didn't cry.
It was going to be an awful day, but I was done being the weak girl who had gotten dumped by a bloke who had nothing better to do than shag blonde girls all day.
About an hour and a half later, after arguing with Roxy for over twenty minutes over why it was perfectly acceptable for me to wear sweatpants, I found myself in jeans, real bloody denim jeans, in my aunt and uncle's house. It smelled like Alisha and put me into even more of a funk if possible. Roxy was actually the only person I had left.
There was one time when I was fifteen that Alisha and I snuck out of the house one summer night and met a bunch of her friends in the park. They were all four years older than me but all I remember was how Alisha looked at me that night, like she was glad I was there.
Today was a flurry of even more flowers, scurrying around town and making sure the caterer knew what was going on. I'm assuming he does, but he only speaks French, so it's a bit of a guess.
I went through the morning and a good section of the afternoon in a daze, until it was time for me to go over and pack up my apartment.
I packed everything into boxes, and bags and more boxes, remembering the many small memories that came with each object. It seemed that everything had memories with them. Everything from the pair of socks I had never thrown out despite the ginormous hole in them, simply because they reminded me of staying with Roxy's family over the summer before our sixth year, to the couch that held many memories of me sitting in it and doing other things... with James.
Changing thought process...
Thinking of cute puppies to calm me down...
I ended up getting rid of a bunch of things, like most of my large pieces of furniture. I decided that when it came time for me to get a new apartment after Romania, I would compliment it with new furniture. I ended up earning a bit of cash from doing this, which would help when it came time for me to buy a new flat.
The only furniture I didn't donate or sell was that couch. For some reason, that ugly yellow couch was too important to me. Not just because I made out with You-Know-Who (not Voldemort, obviously) on it, but that couch was originally in my childhood home. I happened to come across it in some muggle estate sale and instantly recognized it, buying it for half it's worth. I used to sit and drink tea with my mother when I was still very young, curled up in her lap, my eyes fluttering closed while I tried to stay awake. I would sit on that couch with my father while he read the newspaper, rubbing my feet in his lap. It was all I had left of my family. I even had a memory of eating chinese take out with Alisha on that couch.
So, yeah, there was no way in hell I was getting rid of that thing. I planned on keeping it until my days as an old cat woman (It was inevitable at this point) before passing it on to another fruitful family. (If they actually were interested in a one hundred year old couch).
But anyways, cleaning out that apartment was hard. All those memories being shut in boxes or shipped off to charity or to the neighbor's flat. It felt relieving however, as if I was starting over. The last few days had taken a toll on me, and it felt like a permanent change. I could tell I was growing up, learning from my mistakes, finally being completely independent.
Which is why the new mature me wanted to get this funeral over with, stuff those boxes in a storage unit somewhere, and, for some reason, there was an inkling for closure with You-Know-Who (nope, still not Voldemort).
Roxy came by to help me carry the boxes to her place to store, as she had so faithfully volunteered to do so. We lugged the boxes to her apartment, apparating back and forth, storing as many boxes as we could in the storage closet she rarely used, except to store her out of season jackets and shoes. So, space was pretty minimal to begin with. Which is why I was left with five boxes of my junk and an ugly yellow couch that I refused to let go of.
"Look, Alex, I know you probably won't like this idea, but we have to store this stuff somewhere, and I know a perfect place..."
"Go on." I said, looking at her suspiciously as she trailed off.
"I was thinking that we could borrow Harry and Ginny's storage space. They have a ton of free space we could store all this in, and I know they wouldn't mind at all. And since he doesn't actually live there... I figured it was safe." She looked at me nervously.
I sighed, blowing a couple of spare hairs off my forehead. I considered the possibilities, as well as my other options. They were limited.
"Fine." I said. She breathed out a sigh of relief. "But only because I don't want to pay to rent storage space, and I don't know anyone else to store this stuff with."
"Great! Let's pop on over and ask Ginny!"
"Shit. I just remembered. I don't have a thing to wear tomorrow." I said, carrying the last box into the Potter's basement storage room. Believe it or not, but I didn't own a black blazer.
"Oh yeah that's right. Well, I'm sure Ginny has something. You're about her size. All my stuff is either to long or tight on you anyways." Roxy said dissmissively.
"Are you sure she wouldn't mind? I feel wierd already about being here..."
"Nonsense." She said. She grabbed my arm. "C'mon, let's go ask."
"Of course! I'm quite sure I have several things that could work." Ginny answered after Roxy asked about black outfits for me. "Why don't you come on up to my closet and we can check?"
She led us up the stairs into her and Harry's bedroom. It was large with a red-ish color scheme. Very comfortable and warm. She led us into her walk in closet and began looking thorugh hangers of dresses and such. I sat down on a little ottoman thing while Roxy and Ginny scoured the huge closet, occaisonaly finding something worthwhile, throwing it in a pile on the floor.
"Here, try these on." Roxy said, handing me a pile of black dresses and skirts.
I tried on a lot of black dresses, skirts, and pants until Roxy and Ginny were finally satisfied with a simple black dress that had as Roxy put it, "No sleeves, boat neck and a skirt that's not clingy, but not too poofy."
I finally plopped down at the Potter's kitchen table around six, as Ginny had asked us to stay for dinner as it was already getting late.
"How are you Alex? You seem really down today." Ginny said from the kitchen counter, where she was chopping up tomatoes for spaghetti sauce. Roxy was in the loo.
"I'm fine. I guess it's just my cousin's funeral." I said, shrugging. Obviously I wasn't about to spill to her the gruesome realization I had come across last night about her son.
"Ah. I see. Were you very close?"
"Not very. But she was really all I had left, you know?"
"No I don't. But I can only imagine." She looked at me sincerely. "Just know that if there's anything else you need, let any one of us know. I know that when you get back from Romania that you'll need a place to stay and help looking for a new flat, so just let me know allright?"
"Of course." I tried to smile in thanks, and managed a sort of grin. I think.
That night, I left the Potters and headed straight towards the pub, Roxy coming along to make sure I "didn't do any shit I would regret". At this point, there really wasn't much that I would regret tomorrow.
We went and had a couple of drinks, but we didn't stay long. Roxy was getting creeped out by this one hairy guy who kept looking our way and she didn't want me getting too pissed the night before my only relative's funeral. Roxy apparated us back to her flat, where she placed me at the table and put a cup of coffee down in front of me.
I was ready to just pass out in my jeans and shirt when there was a frenzied knock on the door. I figured it was Roxy, who had just left, to dash over to the drugstore a couple of blocks down to get some fresh tea and chocolate. She probably forgot her wallet or something.
Whoever knocked, knocked again, even more erratic.
"Yeesh Rox, no need to break down th-"
It wasn't Roxy.
It was James.
I shut the door, but before I could, he stuck his foot in the door, jamming it.
He swore. "Please Lex, just let me come in. That's all I'm asking here. Just five minutes to explain."
I thought about it. "No. And don't call me that."
I slammed the door in his face and went to make myself another cup of coffee.
He knocked again. I ignored it.
He kept knocking. "Please, Alex."
After a couple of minutes, the knocking subsided completely, and I heard him sigh.
I sat down on the floor, leaning against the door.
"James? What are you doing here leaning against my door?" I heard Roxy ask, the noise slightly muffled, about fifteen minutes later.
Yes, I had figured out that James was leaning on the opposite side of the door. I had heard him stop pacing, swear and then slide down the door about ten minutes ago.
James mumbled something about Alex not letting him in, and the pressure on the other side of the door was relocated, and I stood, backing up from the door which was now jiggling as Roxy tried to open it.
"James, I know you might regret what you said, but whatever you told her, it's too late. She's already been hurt by you." Roxy said. I could hear her digging around her bag for the keys once she realized I had locked the door.
"But I didn't do anything, Roxy. I haven't even spoken to her in person since before she left for Romania. Just letters. And I know it's not that. All I know is that I found her in the back alley of The Leaky Cauldron last night, and she was telling me that she didn't want to see me ever again. Do you know how hard the past twenty-six hours have been for me? They've been downright shitty. And I know Alex's have been too. So please, just let me talk to her."
The rustling had stopped. Roxy sighed. "Okay. But if she decides to hex you, that's all the chance you're getting." The door jiggled as Roxy inserted the key, opening the door.
"Alex." She said as she opened the door. I was sitting at the counter, pretending to do the crossword in the Daily Prophet. "Listen. I think you just need to hear James out."
Let's see... what is five spaces long and is the first word of the popular 'lucky' potion.
I filled in the word 'felix' and looked at the next problem.
"Alex, he has no idea what he's done and he deserves an explanation from you and he deserves to give you one."
Hmmm... what is the furry animal that resides in cold climate and rhymes with 'pear'.
I started to fill in the spaces. .. B..... E..............
... A ....
"Fine." I told Roxy, getting up off my seat and dragging James out into the hallway, grabbing my coat and scarf. "Let's go." I dragged him by the arm down to the street, walking for a while in silence, side by side, hands in pockets. We walked for a while until we came to a park somewhere just outside of muggle London.
I finally stopped walking, turning around to face him, my boots crunching the snow and ice beneath them.
He breathed out, forming a foggy cloud in the air.
"Listen Alex. Whatever Marina told you, I have a right to know what it was."
He stared at me intently.
I cleared my throat. "And why should I tell you when you know exactly what it was that you told her in the first place?"
"Because i'm sure it's not true at all."
"And what if it is?" I asked.
"Then I don't know why you're so mad at me. And if it isn't true, and you still don't feel the same, then that sucks, but at least you were honest and told me."
"Fine. But I know it's true. I saw you two together when I first came to the bar to meet you. You two sure looked cozy."
"What? What are you talking about?" He genuinely seemed confused. Poor boy, he must suffer from memory issues.
"I saw you and Marina snogging."
"That? Lex, she launched herself at me. I had no idea what to do. I don't even know how she knew I was going to be there."
"Uh huh. You know James, I never realized what a great actor you are. Really. You even fooled me."
"James, honestly. I know you don't love me. And I don't know how many girls you've used that on, but it's sick."
"What? Alex, that's -"
"Look James, it's too late, okay? You know, I meant to meet with you to tell you something. And I now know how wrong I was. Because I don't love you. And you obviously don't love me. So maybe, maybe it's just easier if we forget all this happened. You probably did the moment I left. Once you realized you weren't getting anything else out of me."
"So, you don't love me?" He seemed gravely serious now, looking at me intensely.
"Is that really all you got out of that?"
"Is it really too late?"
"Yes, and yes, I don't love you." At this moment, I knew that what I had waited for twenty nine days to say was utterly and helplessly true. I was hopelessly in love with James Sirius Potter.
But I had messed everything up with those four words.
But I knew that they had to be said. It was best that way. Better if what we had been messing around with for the past one hundred and forty three days would just end now.
That's how it had always worked for us.
It was the same when I left those ashes of a house and buried my parents beneath the soil. James had never worked in my life, and I knew now that I was just a brief little thing to him, and I had played along perfectly.
His face was oddly expressionless.
"I've waited to tell you that for twenty nine days."
"And I've waited to hear that for twenty nine days. But honestly, I love you Alex. Sincerely. But, if that's really how you feel, and you're positive you'll never change your mind, then I'll stop bothering you, and you won't hear for me for the rest of your life. However many days that is." James delivered this intensely, staring straight in my eyes.
I stared back sincerely, knowing what I had to do. "It's how I feel. And I'm not changing my mind."
"Then I guess this is goodbye. For good." He began to turn, then stopped. "And just so you know, whatever Marina told you was bull shit. Just knowing that we were friends made the past one hundred and three days the best I've had since we were eight years old together."
He turned, and my heart broke.
Because of this, I faltered for a half a second.
He stiffened and turned a quarter of the way towards me.
"In twenty nine days, if I change my mind, and you haven't changed yours... let's meet at that park by my old flat, around seven."
"Your old flat?"
"Yeah, I um, moved out of it... can't afford the rent anymore."
"I see. And yes, if I haven't changed my mind, I'll be there. But Alex?"
"Yes?" It's almost a whisper.
"If it doesn't work out, and only one of us show up, as the other has or hasn't changed their minds, I won't want to see you anymore. At all."
He turned and continued to walk away, as the realization that this tiny flicker of hope wasn't real at all, merely a figment of my imagination. My heart shattered, and I sank to the ground, plopping down onto a soft, snowy bank, the stars forming constellations above my head.
My only hope was that I would change my mind for real, as his obviously would.
A/N: Well, what did you think? Any ideas about what is going to happen next, especially in twenty nine days? Do you think Alex's going to change her mind? James? I'm guessing about three more chapters left, I'm finishing eleven right now, and there should be two more after that, and they're coming quickly, so keep in tune!
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