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Chapter 11 : Problem #11
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Is it my fault, is it my fault?
We’ve been missing each other
We’ve been missing each other
My fault, is it my fault?
My Fault by Imagine Dragons
My only hope was that I would change my mind for real, as his obviously would.
"Team, I'm happy to say that we have a lead, and it's a big one." Harry announced the day after I returned from Romania.
We all cheered and clapped, hoping that this meant we'd be out of here soon.
"Thank God." Leanne sighed.
"We have located the heart of their operation and are currently developing a plan to disentangle their foundation..." Harry went on to explain.
It was hard getting used to the idea of no more James. I was still mad at myself for what I did, but now that there was space between me and him, I knew that what I did was right for both of us.
I guess I believed that James wasn't just fooling around with me for a good shag, but I still didn't know if he meant what he said about loving me. I think he just got caught up in the moment and blurted it out, but, who knows. Besides, even if it was true, there's no way he still believes it now. He knows better.
Either way, we'll both find out in twenty six days.
Still no luck. I was still head over heels in love with James. Now I just wanted to see his face. I knew that unless something life altering happened in the next fourteen days, I would be there, waiting in the park, just to know that he had moved on.
We were coming even closer to finishing the case. Plans to remove the organization were almost done being drawn up and they would take about eight days to complete. I was a little nervous about not being back in time, but I should make it there in time with a day or so to spare.
As they days grow by, I become more and more anticipated, with the butterflies settling in my stomach. This feeling is the only thing keeping me going right now, this little flame of hope, and this little piece of knowledge that in fourteen days, I'll know what he feels.
Today was just about the hardest day of my life. After yesterday, maybe. I'm not positive.
Anyways, here's how my day went.
At seven, Roxy woke me up and shoved me in the shower, fully clothed, so as to 'get me going'. I assure you, it did nothing for me except fuel the anger for having to be woken up. Of course, once I remembered why I had to get up and what had happened last night, I sobered up pretty quickly, settling into a funk that lasted for at least seventy hours.
I changed into the dress from Ginny, trying to ignore the fact that it smelled like James did sometimes. It actually helped calm me though, despite what had gone on with James.
I inhaled the fresh, soothing scent as I listened to my aunt ramble on to the caters and drivers and guests, all about something not going right. Some of these things might have been my fault, but I didn't notice as I wasn't paying attention.
The service could be described as fitting. It was very buissnesslike, a lot of acquiantances of Alisha and of her father. No one from my side of the family, of course, as there was none.
I didn't know one person besides my aunt and uncle. I met Alisha's boyfriend, a nice looking fellow who seemed pretty down about it all. He seemed to care the most out of all the people there, even me. This made me think of James. Would he be this sad at my funeral? Sadder? Relieved?
I sure as hell hope he wouldn't feel relieved.
I watched as they lowered my last remaining relative down into the ground, and thought of James.
I missed his warm arms around me. I hadn't felt them for a month. Not since that day in the airport, when we were still best friends, plus more.
That was a good term for what we had.
We were more than friends with benefits, but we weren't all lovey dovey relationship type.
Best Friends plus more.
I rode in the nice black car from the service to the reception. We passed by a tube station and I thought of James, and the night I brought him on the underground tube system to the restaraunt near my apartment.
I sat through the luncheon with people I didn't know, eating a crappy salad and some decent cucumber sandwitches. Everything was very quiet, and it was slightly unnerving.
It felt very good to come back to Roxy's flat and simply plop straight down onto the couch and take off my uncomfortable shoes.
There was an owl waiting for me when I got back. It was from Al.
Thanks for the advice last time. I've noticed that she doesn't like her boyfriend very much and that she is probably going to break up with him soon. I sure hope she does, as he is a prat. I'm thinking of asking her out once she breaks up with him, but I feel like she'd just laugh in my face. What should I do?
I have no clue to be honest. I would reccomend casually suggesting to her that if she really doesn't like her boyfriend that they should break up. Make sure to do it completely platonically and as her friend, not as competition. Once she does, it all depends what you feel like doing. If you think you love this girl, however, don't let her go. Love sucks, unless if it's real. I know this is kind of a suckish letter, but I'm not feeling it today. You should just ask Lily.
After writing this depressing letter to Al, I passed out on Roxy's bed, exhausted, thinking of James.
Only twenty one more days until I'll know.
Last night, Leanne took me out for beer to 'liven my spirits'. I've been pretty down the past few days, and apparently, people are noticing.
Yesterday for example, I talked to Harry. This is how our conversation went:
"How are you doing Alex? You seem kinda down."
"I'm fine. Just been under a lot of stress."
"Is it about your cousin?"
"Yeah, partly. The flat too a little bit." And your son. (Which I wanted to say but didn't).
"Well, if there's anything I can do, just let me know. Have you talked to James recently?"
*awkwardly tries not to show any emotion on face* "Not to much. He's doing okay I think."
"Just wondering if that's what has you down."
"Well, yeah a little. Nothing major, I guess."
"Well, I always thought you two were great together."
"You know we weren't actually dating."
"I know, but James told me a little bit about what went on between you too."
*blushes* "Really? How much?"
"Not enough to understand you two, but just a little bit about what happened over Christmas and a little before that."
"Don't worry. Nothing too personal."
"Okay. Well, thanks Harry."
"Yeah, no problem. I really am sorry about your cousin. I don't know how close you were, but I know you would meet up with her a lot."
"Yeah, we weren't the tightest, but we were pretty close."
"Well, hopefully things will only go up from here for you." He smiled warmly, putting his hand on my shoulder in that fatherly way he always did.
Now I was sitting in a Romanian pub with a tankard of beer in front of me, listening to a bunch of drunk men sing some long folk song about a man who lost his goat. All the while thinking of James.
Yep, only up from here.
Only two more days.
Less than fifty hours.
That's less than three thousand minutes.
The anticipation is boiling very intensely right now.
Everyone is celebrated because we just finished the mission today, putting over thirty vampires in the custody of the ministry. We leave tomorrow, and we should get back late tomorrow night.
Currently, a drunk Ron Weasley is going over all the things he's going to do with his wife when he gets home.
It's really quite vulgar, especially since I know Hermione, and if she were here she would grab him by the ear and hurl him into the snow.
Everyone's spirits are also very high because we are going to recieve a big fat paycheck when we return that could probably be used to pay to feed two dozen Romanian goats for a year. Feeding them fancy french grain imported from Argentina. So yeah, a lot of moolah.
I was simply glad to be returning back home to England. And James. Even if he didn't show up, at least I would know.
All I know is that nothing life altering has happened and I'm still mad for him.
two thousand, five hundred and eighty three minutes left.
We have recently begun the plan to take down the vampire organization that's plotting against the ministry and life in general. Sinister, I know.
Only twelve days until I find out whether his mind has changed. Mine still hasn't.
It's a shame, but it's all that's left of me right now.
I'm becoming more and more desperate.
Last night for example, Leanne took me to the 'nice pub' of the region. Took us a half hour to get there, and there was an actual nice bar there, with nice polished wood and decent lighting.
She's been doing great to help cheer me up. She reminds me of Roxy, who I miss very dearly. I know that Leanne would like her, and that when we get back, they'll end up good friends. After I introduce them of course.
Still thinking of James, even as I watch Leanne down three tankards of beer and dance on top of some poor gentlemen's table.
Here I am, with eight days and two hours left, and I'm still in love with him. My mind has only grown stronger. One of my two only sensible hopes is that he's changed his mind.
My other is that he still loves me, and as much as I love him.
We are just about finished with the mission and we'll be back just in time for me to sleep for a couple of hours, then have a decent amount of time before meeting James when I get back to England.
Oh, by the way, Al's written me a couple more times.
I apologized for being so pessimistic towards him, blaming it on the weather.
He said he casually suggested to the girl to break up with her boyfriend, and she slammed him with her history of magic textbook.
Idiot. He obviously wasn't platonic at all, and they must not have been on the best terms.
I told him this, and suggested to just leave her be for a little while before assesing the situation again.
I thought of James and added, but don't wait longer than twenty days. That's just torture.
Only twenty two hours until I'll know for sure.
Currently, I am lugging my suitcase down the many wooden stairs to where the rest of the team is waiting for our ride to the airport two hours away by car.
We load into the dingy old cabs, riding along to the even smaller, remote airport.
Our feet echo in the mostly empty airport as Harry leads the way to the desk where we get our tickets. He talks with the woman there for several minutes before turning back to us.
"Listen up everybody." He says, standing before us all. "There's a bit of an issue with getting tickets for the flight home. Our original flight is canceled for the weather, and we're going to have to wait around here for the next available flight. That's in about four hours. I'm very sorry, and so is Patrice over here, so please be respectable."
I quickly do the math.
This means that by the time I get out of the airport it will be about two o' clock London time. That's plenty of time to catch a cab or apparate to meet James.
It'll be fine.
I keep telling myself as we sit around playing cards and chatting and complaining for the next three hours.
I watch out the windows and think of James.
The snow keeps barrelling down, without hardly any relief. I wonder what James is doing, what he's thinking, whether he's thinking of me.
It's been three and a half when the next announcement comes.
"I'm really very sorry you lot, but the weather is too bad for any flights. The soonest we can get out of here is tonight at midnight, as long as the weather reports hold true.
I do the math again.
It's four o' clock Romanian time. I need to be back seven o' clock London time.
We're leaving at midnight Romanian time...
We'll be back around ten o' clock London time.
I sit frozen in my seat.
"Alex, you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost or something." Leanne says.
"Ten o' clock... We won't be back until ten o' clock tomorrow... "
"So? Why that face? You got a hot date or something?"
I turn and look at her. Her face turns serious.
She looks around, then pulls me back into a deserted hallway, away from everybody else.
"What's this about Alex?"
I tell her, on the verge of a panic attack. I tell her everything she doesn't know. About what happened over Christmas. About what happened twenty eight days ago. What our agreement was. How I still desperately love him. How I have to know whether he changed his mind or not.
I stare straight at her the whole time. She stares at me right on back, barely saying anything, reminding me so much of Roxy, it's scary. She rubs my shoulders soothingly when I finish, well she tells me that it's going to be okay, that it's going to be okay in the end.
I remembered what James had said, about not wanting to see me if I don't show up. This is really my last chance.
"Leanne... I have to be there. I just have to." I whispered, staring out at the snow encasing the whole bloody country.
"Okay Alex, we'll get you there." She looked scary serious as she marched me back into the main area, over to Harry.
"Mr. Potter." Leanne said resolutely.
"Hello Leanne, Alex. What can I do for you?" He looked up from whatever documents he was reading from his seat next to Ron.
"Alex needs to be back in London by six o' clock tomorrow, or so help me God, I am going to blow a gasket. I'm pretty sure Alex already has."
His eyebrows creased, confused. "Why the urgency?"
"It's of the utmost importance." She insisted. "Is there any way she can aparate back?"
"No, it's much too far to risk, and the weather's so bad that there's too much interference."
I begin to shake.
Leanne looked at me, quite nervous, before turning back to Harry.
"Mr. Potter! This is life or death sort of stuff! And I assure you, that if Alex doesn't make it back in time, I will personally make sure that you will never see my Protego charm again!"
Oh, that was low. Leanne was famous for her amazing Protego charm. She was recruited at the age of 17 because of it.
Harry looked genuinely scared.
"Please, Harry." I said in a whisper, so desperate I thought I was going to burst.
"That bad huh?" He thought for a moment. "Well, I suppose if you gave me a little bit, I could try and set up some apparition points for you two."
"Thank you." I sighed.
He got up and walked away, going off to organize things for us.
Leanne took a seat while I paced around her, anxious for Harry to finish speaking with the ministry.
"Well, it looks like you two are able to apparate together to a series of different spots. First if from here out to Hungary. From there you will apparate to Austria, then France, then England. Here are your instructions," He handed us a huge stack of parchment with instructions. "and make sure not to draw attention to yourselves, you know the drill."
"Thank you so much Mr. Potter, we really appreiciate it." Leanne said gratefully and relieved.
"How many times have I told you Leanne, it's Harry. Now, be safe, you promise? Don't just try to rush through, take your time and you'll be back in no time at all." He smiled.
I hugged him fiercely. "Thank you Harry." He seemed surprised, but hugged me back anyways.
"Good luck Alex. And don't worry, you'll definitely be back by seven."
Did he know?
He just winked and waved us off to the back corridor.
The next twenty two hours were some of the hardest, most anxious hours I will probably ever spend.
We apparated to the different checkpoints easily, but we had to go through a customs officer in Austria, ride in a goat cart for three hours in Romania, we got held up in France with less than five hours to go, we got lost from Austria to France, and were held up by Sheep in Romania as well. By the time we reached France, I only had ten minutes. I was freaking out.
"Just calm down Alex, we'll get there. We've worked too hard to miss it. Just breathe. We can't apparate out of here if you don't calm down." Leanne spoke soothingly to me, as my breathing currently sounded like some sort of broken pipe in the midst of muggle London's tube system.
"Okay." I took several deep breaths, simply breathing in and out for a couple of minutes.
Five minutes left.
"Okay, I'm ready. Let's go."
We apparated into a field in the middle of a town an hour outside of London.
When I realized where we were, I lost it.
Absolutely lost it.
"LEANNE! I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!!!"
"Shhhh... Alex, c'mon, calm down, we just need to apparate into London."
"NO! DON'T YOU GET IT? WE'RE GOING TO BE TOO LATE! HE'LL BE GONE! HE PROBABLY WASN'T EVEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO? I NEED HIM! I NEED HIM, LEANNE. I need him..."
She grabbed my shoulders tightly. "Then let's go get him."
We apparated into an alley in muggle London about twenty or so blocks from the park.
"Allright, Alex, time for you to run. Good luck." She bid me ado as I sprinted out of the alley, emerging into the city lights. The sky was a navy blue, with all the busy street lights lit up, cars racing past.
I shoved past people, jumped over curbs, and ran through intersections.
I scrambled past familiar landmarks.
I went past the Thai restaraunt I frequented.
I ran past the buildings I used to see every day by my old apartment.
I ran past the streetcorner where James and I had kissed.
I ran through the melting snow, to the park where I could only hope he would still be waiting.
I ran, I hoped, I worried.
I stopped at the entrance to the park, scanning the walkway where he should be.
All I saw was a brick path, winding amongst the trees. Several street lights lit up the path into the distance where I knew there was a bridge across a little creek, with a great view of the city lights.
I didn't see him.
He hadn't come.
The breath left me as I sank down onto the bench.
We had been through so much.
And I knew right then that I really had no idea whether or not Marina had told the truth. She had no reason to say those things however, unless she truly thought so. But James had just seemed so confused and baffled. He seemed to really love me, despite what Marina had said.
I didn't want to think about this now.
I didn't feel whole, as I thought I would just by knowing his choice.
I just felt empty, knowing he didn't pick me.
I got up, and began walking down the path.
Despite, how he made me feel at home, for once in my sorry life, despite how good it felt to kiss him, and how much I wanted him, despite the fact that he was my best friend, despite the fact that he was the only one to make me cry, despite he was all I had left, despite that I needed him, and despite the utterly true fact that I loved him, he hadn't come.
He hadn't chosen me. But I had chosen him.
The park was very empty, a cold breeze blowing through the trees, as the street lamps reflected off the water left from a recent rain on the sidewalks.
As I made my way slowly towards the bridge, I spotted a figure, walking across it.
I knew instantly, that I was wrong.
"James!" I called out.
I ran after him, stopping at the foot of the bridge.
He turned from where he was at the other end of the bridge.
I ran across the bridge.
We met in the middle.
I didn't even bother talking, simply kissing him, feeling his arms circle around me, knowing that I was home.
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