“Pumpkin Pasties Pie – you never forget, do you, Tay?”
“And yet, you always forget the rest of my name, don’t you?” I grinned with fake annoyance as I turned around to face my best friend. I set my spoon back into my dish of Triple Chocolate Frog ice cream before standing up to hug her. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
She laughed as she returned the action and hugged me back. “I’d never miss this. I tell you every week no matter what I’m never going to skip out on G and G.” Letting go, she looked eagerly to her large dish before eying mine. “Should you be eating that the day before your big day?”
I looked down to my heaping dish of chocolaty swirls and snorted. “Luce, I’m not a sports player, I can eat whatever I want.”
“Right.” She grimaced. “Well, even if it’s ice cream, it’s good to see you actually eating.”
She took the seat across from me in our usual booth. The shop was new to Diagon Alley; Benjamin – or Ben – the young new owner opened it a few years ago. His ice cream wasn’t special only because of the creative flavours like Lucy’s Pumpkin Pasty Pie, or my personal favourite, Triple Chocolate Frog, but because of the little charms his treats had. Miniature Chocolate Frogs were mixed into the swirls of chocolate and they’d jump away if you let the ice cream melt too quickly.
We had been coming here for a few months, when Ben finally offered Lucy his floo after he overheard us talking one day. Since then she’s been able to make it to every one of our get-togethers. ‘G and G’, or gossip and gelato was our weekly sanity break from the world. It was the one day I didn’t have to work, or had to attend training, and the one day Lucy only had morning practice. With Caroline out exploring the world, she was the last connection I had to Hogwarts.
“Besides,” I added, “I have a ‘healthy’ dinner planned with my wonderful mother tonight.”
Lucy could sense the sarcasm dripping out of my tone. She sighed. “Taylor, you’re twenty-one years old, you’re going to have to—”
“I’ll be twenty-two in a week,” I quickly interrupted her. “And, I don’t want to talk about my mum.”
“Oh, good.” the red-headed witch sighed gratefully, blowing up her bangs in the process. “I really didn’t want to have to lecture you again.”
I laughed and gave her the okay to pick the next topic as I took a big spoonful of chocolate. I watched as one of the miniature Chocolate Frogs attempted to jump from my spoon, only landing itself back into my dish. Shovelling it into my mouth, I looked back up to her.
She was watching me. She was waiting to see my mood before she dropped something on me.
“Wha’?” I asked through my mouthful. I felt the top of my mouth begin to throb as I tried to swallow the whole frozen spoonful. When I finally forced it down, I pressed my pointer fingers to my temples and whimpered at the brain freeze she had caused me.
“You can’t be mad at me.” She quickly held her hands up in surrender for whatever she had done.
I dropped mine down to the table and glared at her. “Lucy Weasley, what did you do?” I had my suspicions about the way she was shifting the melty orange ice cream around in her dish.
“I—I talked to someone about you,” she mumbled as she set the spoon down.
“Lucy!” I whined loudly.
That was Lucy’s thing. With her connections, she liked playing cupid to the innocent people around her. She had this ideal that if all of the people around her weren’t paired off with their perfect matches (of the week), they weren’t happy. It drove her insane that I had managed to ruin so many of her matchmaking attempts over the past few years because of how involved I had been with full time training, a job, and – not to mention – how awkward I was on first dates.
I gave her my customary argument. “I can’t date while I’m in the program! You know that! You know how badly things always end because I can’t give the guys you pick any attention.”
“Don’t give me that rubbish.” She became more confident as I gave her my usual excuses. “You’ll be done and certified on Friday – you’re excuse is invalid, love. To celebrate, I… set something up.”
I eyed her suspiciously, before sighing. “Please don’t tell me it’s someone else from the Kestrels – they all think that brogue ‘seduces’ women, but it’s bloody infuriating.” I grimaced as one of my Chocolate Frogs escaped in my distraction. Before I could react, Lucy grabbed it off the table and popped it into her dish.
“Reflexes, love.” She smirked, before quickly coming to defence of one of her previous disasters; “and, Shane was a nice guy!”
“He spent the entire evening admiring his biceps in the back of his spoon when I wasn’t giving him enough attention,” I stated unamusedly. It was like that with most of the professional players that had been on any team for more than a couple years. They’d get a big head and wonder why I wasn’t fawning and swooning over them when I was too busy trying to memorize old case files.
“As a matter of fact, he does not have a brogue. And he’s not a professional Quidditch player…” she let her sentence trail off as she looked down to her half eaten bowl of ice cream. In almost a whisper, she added, “…yet.” I raised an eyebrow at her and waited for her to continue. “He’s trying out this Friday! And it’s for the Wasps!”
“Hufflepuff colours,” I said in unison with her, finally laughing like she wanted me to. While she fully supported the Harpies as her own team, we had bonded on supporting the Wimbourne Wasps – the Quidditch team with our house colours – back in Hogwarts. When she wasn’t playing against them, she was a big fan.
“Anyway,” she continued, “I told him my super beautiful, bubbly best friend was single, and also had something to celebrate on Friday!”
“Lucy, you’re going to jinx me. And did you really call me bubbly?” I asked as I secretly prayed my best friend was a little nicer. If this mystery man liked that I was bubbly, he might as well date Lucy.
“No.” She laughed. “I wanted all b’s!” When I didn’t laugh, she continued. “He actually went to school with us. He was a year older.”
“How’d you meet him? Drafts?” I then asked. The Britain-Ireland league constantly had drafts in which teams could attend to scope out potential players for tryouts. They’d pick a few of the position they were looking for, and hold their own individual tests and tryouts to pick the best for their reserve and/or regular team.
I saw her suppress a laugh – so it wasn’t tryouts. Purposely, she took a large bite of her ice cream and fidged with some of her curls, waiting for me to grow impatient. When I finally sighed at her, she put her spoon down. “He’s my cousin.”
My eyes widened and I – again – choked on my ice cream. When I finally managed to swallow the frog lodged in the back of my throat, I coughed out, “You’re setting me up with one of your family members!?”
“You could marry him! And then we’d basically be sisters!” Lucy cried happily, reaching across the table to pull me into a hug. I decided not to point out that we wouldn’t be sisters if I married a cousin of hers, instead accepting her affection. She was born into such a loving, doting family that she tended to hug a lot.
“Which one?” I asked with a heavy sigh. I met a cousin or two here or there, but I’d never had more than a polite exchange of hellos with any of them. I hardly knew any of their names besides Fred, and that’s just because he was a Gryffindor in our year.
“Hell, Taylor, don’t sound so miserable about being hooked up with a Potter.”
She really has a knack for trying to kill me with frozen sugary sweets.
I coughed again and sputtered, “A Potter!? You set me up – on the day I find out the results of training from Harry Potter – with his son!?”
“James is a great guy! And he doesn’t use his surname like that. Hell, he’d probably bicker endlessly with you if you accused him of that. I just told him you’d meet him at Cecelia’s at seven for drinks and food and celebration!”
“You didn’t even give him an option?” I scowled as I pressed my index fingers to my temples. I could already see this ending badly. Being family, I’m sure Lucy would make sure he showed, and he’d be pushed through a forced awkward first date with a girl he most likely had nothing in common with besides the Wasps. He probably already thought I had begged her to set it up with his surname and rising stardom.
“Certainly not, but enough arguing and excuses. You’ll like him and you’re going. It’ll be good for you to get out and… have some fun. You’ve cooped yourself up for too long, Tay, the world’s different three years down the road.”
“You know if I make it onto the Auror—”
“When,” she interrupted, giving me a confident smile.
“Don’t jinx me,” I warned her again. “If I make it onto the force, I’ll have less time for dating than I do now. And there will be security issues – significant others of Aurors need all kinds of protection against the people we’re hunting down.”
“I didn’t say you had to make him a ‘significant other’,” she retorted.
I frowned. “Your first sentence was, ‘you could marry him!’.”
“Come on, Taylor, take a damn joke every once in a while,” she complained as she scraped up the melty last bits of her ice cream. I frowned to her again as she shovelled them into her mouth. With a small smile, she continued. “Go out and celebrate with James. Lord knows you could use a night off from the world.”
I eyed her for a few moments, before I sighed, defeated. “Fine. But can you warn him not to give me those looks if I order off of the dessert menu?”
It was the worst part about her dates. Well, one of the many ‘worst parts’. She’d set me up with these (nonetheless attractive) strong, sporty men with appetites to match. I never had much of an appetite and the only thing that looked good at most of the restaurants they’d take me to would be the dessert menu, so I’d order off that.
“Why don’t you just eat like a normal human being?” Lucy asked me with a small smirk.
“I’m not going to eat if I’m not hungry,” I stated with a frown. I saw the smirk on her face dissipate as she realized my reasoning. Every once in a while her eating comments would go too far, and she’d get caught up in her joking to realize what she’d said.
“Taylor, I’m sorry, I didn’t—”
“It’s fine.” I quickly held up my hands and stopped her apology. “I don’t want to talk about me anymore; what’s new with you? How’s Tanner?”
Tanner Metalmark. Her most recent beau. He was a Beater for Puddlemere United and the apple of Lucy’s eye for months. She’d finally snagged him at a party after her team destroyed his.
“Eh.” She shrugged.
“Oh?” I responded, curious at her new revelation.
“Besides the Quidditch talk, he’s a bit dull.” She sighed. “And he doesn’t pick up on sarcasm. It’s like babysitting a very boring five year old who’ll believe anything you tell them.”
“I thought you fancied the pants off him for ages, Luce.”
“Well, once I got the pants off of him, everything else got boring,” she retorted with a smirk.
I rolled my eyes at her and finished off the last of my ice cream.
“When are you going to meet your mum?” she asked when a comfortable lull fell over us.
“Whenever I want to show up. She’s cooking at her house, so I don’t have a specific time.”
“She’s going to be mad if you show up and don’t eat any of the food she spent time cooking.” Lucy gave me a meaningful glance.
I shrugged. “I’ll tell her I’m nervous.”
“Are you?” she asked as she raised an eyebrow at me.
“It’s all up to Harry Potter now,” I said, avoiding answering her question. “It’s not going to do me any good to get worked up over the final run-through and mess things up. I know what I’m doing and hopefully my best will be good enough.”
“Taylor, being sure of yourself doesn’t mean you aren’t nervous too. I still get nervous before matches even though I know my team and I will do well,” Lucy replied.
I looked back up from my empty dish and made eye contact with her. It only took her a few seconds to start laughing, just like always. She flipped some of her hair off of her shoulder and continued to let out small bursts of giggles at nothing. I studied her red curls for a second, before a realization dawned on me. “Your cousin isn’t going to like me – I have the same hair colour as your whole family.”
“Naw.” She chuckled, glad for a subject change back to the date. “Yours is lighter; more blonde than anything. It’s different.”
“Yours looks nice like that,” I commented as I pointed towards her hair. “You should wear it down more often.”
She shook her head no. “I hate it like this. That’s another thing! Tanner asked me to wear it down; says it makes me look cute and young!”
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked, genuinely puzzled. I for one had always been jealous of Lucy’s hair. Mine laid flat and took hours to get any sort of volume, whereas her curls? Effortless. Of course, you always want what you can’t – and your best friends can – have. Lucy constantly complained about my reddish-blonde hair while I was jealous of the vibrancy of hers. I was envious of Lucy’s sporty figure and she hated that I could wear sundresses without looking like a ‘tomboy trying too hard’.
“Honestly? It’s creepy! I’m not old!” When I gave her another confused look, she continued ranting. “I’m twenty-one bloody years old! Any younger and he might as well hang out at Hogwarts for dates!”
“Okay, that is a little weird,” I mused. She nodded, and reached for her purse for something to tie her locks up with.
“I am a little nervous,” I finally answered, “for the final run-through. I’ve read that it’s tough, and none of Harry Potter’s examinations have ever been documented.”
“You’re prepared though, aren’t you?” she questioned.
“I’m never going to be prepared enough.”
“Stop being so modest.” Lucy frowned. “My arse can attest to the damage you have caused me. Besides, Uncle Harry—”
“No—” I quickly interrupted her. “You cannot talk to your uncle about me. It wouldn’t be fair, and it would look like I was trying to get ahead by being your friend.” She started to laugh. “I’m serious, Lucy!”
She pursed her lips together and tried to suppress her amusement. It did slip through a few more times, but the appearance of the handsome shop owner finally distracted her.
“Hi ladies.” He smiled politely, as he did every week. “Miss Weasley, the fireplace is ready whenever you’re ready.”
With the young shop owner still standing in front of our table, Lucy turned to me. “I think Benjamin wants us to leave, Tay.” For how nice he was to us, Lucy’s favourite Wednesday pastime was to press his buttons and make him think his hospitality was atrocious.
He held up his hands in a surrender stance and immediately started to stutter. “No! No, you can stay as long as you’d like! I just—”
“Ben, relax.” I, to his relief, interrupted him. “She’s just winding you up because she knows she can; thanks for letting us know.” I turned to Lucy. “I probably should head out. I’ll see you at the ceremony on Friday?”
She smiled. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ll come over after for a ‘celebrate and get ready for your date’ party, if you’d like?”
I rolled my eyes at her. “Sure, Lucy, if you insist.”
“I do,” she stated, before turning to Ben. “Alright, Benny, you can kick me out now.”
He turned to me in minor panic, wondering if he should laugh or apologize again.
“She doesn’t know anyone’s actual names,” I commented with a smirk. “Don’t take it personally.”
He nodded, and waved his wand to vanish our dishes. After I gave Lucy a hug goodbye, I watched her follow behind Ben towards the shop’s fireplace. I couldn’t help but snort as I saw her glance slightly lower than the bow on his apron, earning myself a glare from her for ‘ruining her fun’. I waved again, before watching her step through the green flames.
I, on the other hand, left the shop and headed down the alley towards The Leaky Cauldron. I felt a small smile tug on the corners of my lips as I walked past Lucy’s other uncle’s shop.
It was one of my first memories of the magical world I learned of when I was eleven; I was so scared to come shopping for my supplies, but the man in front of the bright coloured shop only smiled to me. As my mum and dad sat and pondered over my list of supplies, the red-headed man walked over and handed me a small box of candies. “On the house,” he said with a chuckle. “My son’s starting this year, too. Now,” he continued in a more serious tone as my dad caught up with me. My dad extended his hand to shake his; “These are only for emergencies.”
My dad thanked him and added the candies to my empty bag. I was sure he’d give them a thorough inspection once we got back home.
“You should head to Ollivander’s first,” the man then offered as he pointed down the street. “Get yourself a wand.”
I never wanted to go back to the Muggle world once I learned more about the magical one.
After a few more minutes of window shopping and browsing, I headed through The Leaky Cauldron and into Muggle London. I walked a few blocks down until I found a poorly lit alley way. From there, I could apparate to my mum’s backyard. While I was learning more about concealment charms in Auror training, I took the knowledge there and placed a few protections around her house so if I had to visit I wouldn’t have to bother taking a cab or a bus.
“I’m here!” I shouted as I slid open the patio screen door. I looked around the empty living room and grimaced as I saw an open bag of crisps sitting next to an armchair. Several delivery wrappers sat on the coffee table, a fork still lodged in the fried rice. Silence filled the once bustling living room as I noticed my little brother hadn’t arrived home from school. My eyes caught the faded sun spots on the wallpaper; they still hadn’t been fixed from old picture frames of our family that used to be. It gave the whole room the sense that something was missing; so appropriate for how I felt stepping over that threshold. “Mum?”
“In here, Taylor!” I heard her voice drifting from the kitchen. I didn’t bother to remove my shoes before walking across the battered old carpet and stopping in the kitchen doorway. She was at the stove with her back turned to me, stirring a large pot of liquid. I felt my nose scrunch on its own accord as the strong stench of garlic and oregano filled it. She dropped the handle of the spoon, tearing my eyes away from the whitish-grey mixture and up to hers.
“Where’s Timmy?” I asked as I rushed over to the table to sit before she could make it over to me. I kept my lips pursed and ignored the disappointment that filled her features when I didn’t hug her, instead gesturing for her to sit at the chair across from me.
“He’s participating in the school’s play; they have practice on Wednesday nights. And, he’s Tim now. He’s out of Primary School and ‘Timmy’ is a baby name.” She let a smile fill her eyes as she grabbed a can of Coke from the refrigerator. After I denied anything but water to drink, she finally turned the dial on the stove to low and took a seat; I winced as the chair creaked under her occupancy.
We were quiet for a few moments before she finally decided to break the silence. “It’s good to see you, Taylor. Are you nervous for your examination tomorrow?”
I shrugged. “No. Have you heard anything from dad?”
The small smile she had, fell. “Two minutes, Taylor? You couldn’t give me two minutes to spend mother-daughter time without bringing up your father?”
In an attempt to avoid eye contact, I looked down to my nails. “Sorry. What’s for dinner?”
“I tried Alfredo sauce, it’s from your grandma’s cookbook,” she said with a forced happier tone. Heavy cream, garlic and cheese; that’s a really healthy choice, mum. I saw her lift her hands from her lap to the table. “It should be done, I’ll just grab plates and—”
“I got it,” I pointed my wand towards the cupboards and summoned two plates, forks, and the large pot of fettuccine Alfredo. I didn’t want her to stand again. I eyed the greyish liquid cautiously. When I noticed my mum staring hopefully, waiting for me to take some, I had to grab for the spoon and scoop a ladleful onto my plate. I pushed the handle towards her and picked up my fork.
“So,” mum continued, “how many others did you say also have a shot at the position?”
“Three.” I pushed some of the noodles around on my plate, sneaking a glance to see if she was watching me or not.
“And the man in charge, he’s your friend Lucy’s uncle?”
She was waiting for me to explain more. When I didn’t, she looked back down to her plate and took a bite to fill the silence. While she was deciding if she had done a satisfactory job or not, I took the opportunity to vanish some of the noodles off my plate and quickly shove my wand back into my sleeve before she looked.
“When do you find out the results?”
“Friday. But, Muggles— err… it’s at the Ministry of Magic, so… non magic folk can’t come.”
“Will you write and let me know what happens?”
“I already said I would,” I commented as I pushed my fork around my plate. The silence loomed for a few more moments as I pushed the now lukewarm noodles around on my plate.
“Your father hasn’t written.”
I dropped my fork and looked up. “Did you give him my new address?” She nodded. “Did you make sure to put the numbers—”
“I sent him the exact slip of paper you wrote on, Taylor,” she interrupted.
“Oh.” I sunk back into my chair and looked around the kitchen. I knew she’d probably have some sort of frozen cake planned for dessert, so if I could ‘eat’ quicker I might be able to get back to my flat before sundown. “Did you paint the kitchen?”
“Yes.” She smiled. “The yellow was getting tacky and it was so stained.”
I felt a chuckle slip. “That red sauce stain never would come out, would it?” She laughed a little too much and I felt my own barriers go back up. “Erm— I need to be in bed by nine for tomorrow…” I let my sentence trail off as she got the idea.
“I didn’t get dessert,” she said, following my line of vision towards the freezer. “I really am working on eating better.”
“Oh,” I commented, unconvinced. A bag of crisps and fried rice flashed in my mind, but I bit my tongue. “Well, that’s alright. The sugar would keep me up anyway.”
“I figured.” She nodded, unsure of where to take the conversation.
I looked over at the clock and realized I hadn’t been there more than a half an hour. This was going better than I thought it would. The silence settled in the room as the sound of her chewing was the only thing I could hear. After she finished her plate and I made up an excuse as to why I wasn’t hungry, she sat back into her chair and eyed me.
“You can’t keep blaming me that your father won’t contact you. It’s his decision if he wants to miss out on his babies growing up,” she said as she pulled herself up from the chair. “Good luck tomorrow, Taylor.”
She walked out of the room and towards her bedroom without another word. This was normal for her to get ‘disappointed’ in my attitude, but it wasn’t something I could – or wanted – to change. What she did was unforgivable, and I was going to do just that.
I stood from the table and sent our dishes to wash in the sink before heading back out to the living room. Before I slipped through the screen door, I pulled my wand out and vanished the damn crisps and rice, then disapparating back to my magical life.
A/N: So, here's where our story 'begins'! What do you think of Taylor so far? What about Lucy, and Taylor's mum? Are you as excited as I am for the date with James? Or are you nervous for it, considering the prologue?
Another big thank you to Elenia for betaing this chapter and being so supportive and helpful for everything!
So, I'd love to hear your thoughts on everything if you have time to leave a review :) Thank you for reading!
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