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Chapter 10 : You should never fake-date cocky people that laugh at you.
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beautiful image of beautiful-ness is by magic_phoenix
“Potter!” I shrieked, and he cocked a cool eyebrow. Oh shit, not the cool eyebrow. I’ m fucked. I might as well move to Nova Scotia and dig myself a shallow grave to lie in. That’s how royally in for it I am – though I have no idea why. I mean... when you think about it, why should I have to inform Potter of my entire dating history? I shouldn’t.
He meant next to nothing to me. And last time I checked, I didn’t go around blabbing my guts to every Tom, Dick and Harry that strolled past me on the streets.
I mean, I know that Potter dated some whacko that is now convinced they are going to get back together and make little demon babies to love and eat, but I don’t know anything else about his old shag buddies – well, other than the stuff that is printed in Witch Weekly four times an issue.
But I don’t even buy that every time it comes out – I just steal a copy if there happens to be one lounging around Molly’s place, or stuffed down the side of the seat in the job centre.
“Hello, darling. You look lovely today.” Potter leaned back a little bit, his eyebrow remaining hitched and his lips curling up into a cold smirk. I resisted the urge to shiver. How can one bloke be so creepy? It’s weird. He’s a twenty-one year old man... and not an axe murderer. He shouldn’t be so creepy.
“Thank you,” I squeaked, knowing full well that Potter hadn’t meant it as a compliment. Damnit. Why did that man intimidate me so much? All those women went and burned their bras and threw themselves under horses to try and gain women equal rights to men – and here I was, squeaking like a freakish little mouse because one happened to look a little angry at me.
What is my life coming to?
“But I don’t understand, my love, why you are so dressed up – this isn’t really a dressy place. And you’ve curled your hair with your wand and everything. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you put that much effort into dressing in the whole time I’ve known you.” Potter’s eyes flicked idly to Dan, who was flushing pinker and staring at the floor as though he wished it would just swallow him up right there and then.
You and me both, buddy. You and me both.
“Well, you haven’t really known me long enough to know how I dress and style my hair when I go out to lunch to meet old friends, have you?” I asked tightly, narrowing my eyes in Potter’s direction. He didn’t seem to care. Honestly, I need to work on being more intimidating. What six-foot bloke in his right mind is going to cower at the sight of short Hufflepuff that is almost shaking herself at the thought of standing up to said six-foot bloke in a room full of people?
Banter is one thing, but this was another. He says one thing wrong, and Dan could – Dan could be done. Done with me. And I might have been confused as fuck and angry and upset with him, but I didn’t want him to leave before I’d gotten used to having him back.
And the way he was staring at Potter told me that leaving was exactly what was on his mind.
“Well, Aimee, aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend?” Potter asked slowly, and I halted. I couldn’t tell what he was doing – pretending to play the jealous boyfriend (and playing it well) or taunting me in retaliation to the fact that I didn’t tell him I was engaged previously, and for going out to meet the guy in public.
Where, I suppose, I could have been photographed – but I could have just told them that he was my cousin! Of course, if we had gotten back together after Potter and I ‘broke up’, then I would also be labelled the incestuous gold digging bitch.
That is clearly the title that every girl strives to achieve before the end of her life.
I nodded slowly and seized Potter’s hand in response to Dan’s questioning glare, before tugging him past the table of gossiping old women and sitting back down in my previously vacated seat. Where, to my horror, the burger meal we had ordered was sitting like a centrepiece. Like I could eat at a time like that. Dan grabbed a couple of fries and shoved them in whole, before resuming his seat opposite me. Potter perched on the arm of the chair and flung his arm around my shoulders.
I tried my best not to wince/scowl/throw up/buck him off like an angry donkey.
“Ahem. Po – James, this is Dan. Daniel, I mean. And erm, Dan, this is Pot – fuck it, James – my... um... boyfriend.” Dan’s eyes narrowed, but Potter seemed quite at ease. He lounged languidly back in his seat and stretched his legs out next to mine.
I, however, was too busy cursing the gods of eloquence, luck, men, money... and well, everything else in my life, for making everything about me so undeniably shit. I mean, how is that fair? Why did they decide to screw over my life – there are seven billion other people on the planet!
But no, they just had to go and fuck around with the divine plan mapped out for this joke that they call my ‘life’. Hey – look, she’s already lost her job and split up with her fiancé... why don’t we slide her into a fake relationship with an anti-social celebrity in desperate need of an ASBO and then have her ex-fiancé come sliding back into her life to meet the pain-in-the-arse? Doesn’t that sound like a bundle of laughs?
Yeah, no. I hate the universe.
“It’s... unusual to meet you,” Dan said slowly, not even bothering to look up from the tablecloth to greet Potter. Potter’s smirk widened a little, and his fingers slowly started to run along my collarbone and down the tops of my shoulders.
“Pleasure to meet you too, my friend,” Potter said, and I couldn’t help but frown a little. Potter’s voice was... buoyant, almost – friendly. He sounded amused, he sounded... cheerful. He was taunting Dan, but it was different. It wasn’t the usual indifferent snap that he reserved for me – it was amused, light... it sounded like something that a normal twenty-one year old bloke would use.
It creeped me out, I’ll tell you that much.
I didn’t like the idea that there might be more than one side to Potter, and I didn’t want to dwell on it. As far as I was concerned, Potter was an angst-y grump that was incapable of change.
“Um... so how long have you known my Aimee?” Dan asked, finally looking up and cocking an elbow against the table, leaning down to balance his chin on the flat part of his fist. I wondered whether using his fist to balance his chin was just an excuse to have it clenched and ready to punch Potter at the earliest convenience.
Now that I think about it, that might have been a very interesting path to have taken.
“I’ve known my Aimee for a long time – we went to Hogwarts together. I was in the year above her, but I played on a Quidditch team with her older brother. You do know Mark, right?” Dan scowled and snapped her head up to gape at me.
“I dated Aimes for a year and a half – yes, I know her older brother.” Dan’s voice was cold, and his eyes hardened at Potter’s condescending question.
“Ah – oh shit – you do know about Quidditch, right? I mean, you’re not a...” I blinked up at Potter, who, despite his expletive and worried sounding tone, was looking completely stoic and indifferent. I shook my head quickly, and the arm that was wrapped around my shoulder instantly relaxed a little.
Looks like Mr Big-Shot Auror gets a little scared after all. Still, he’d probably have lost his job if his dad found out that he’d told a muggle about Quidditch. Not exactly something that an Auror that has gone through three years of training should give away.
“No, I am not a muggle, and yes, I do know Aimes’ family.” Dan’s voice was getting colder by the minute, and his eyes kept flashing angrily to the arm that was still molesting my shoulder.
I pressed my lips together to stop myself from smirking – it was just so strange. Like the world had flipped on its head. I was always the jealous one that got pissed off when Dan leered after another random slag in a short skirt – he was always the one that smirked and asked whether I was going to leave him when someone else flirted with me.
“Wonderful. So tell me, how come you left Aimee if you are still in the mindset of her referring to her as ‘yours’?” My eyes sprung open and my jaw dropped to form a perfect round circle, as Potter’s complete lack of tact bounced around the table.
How could he just – how could he ask something like that to someone that he barely knew?
Dan turned a strange shade of white, the tip of his nose blooming purple (not really sure why it went purple, but there we go) and his jaw dropping into a position very similar to my own. Potter stretched his legs out a little further and settled himself into a more comfortable position on the arm of my chair, looking the picture of ease.
“I – I... what? I – what did you tell him?” That question was directed at me. “What, did you just go and find another bloke the second I left and started to tell him everything that was wrong with me, or something? Is this like a test to see if I know why we split up? Because I know why we split up – and that is not for someone like you to question.” Potter cocked a cool eyebrow and shrugged, tightening his arm so my head was forced down onto his chest.
Do not scowl. Do not scowl. Look happy. This is the bloke you’re supposed to be dating. Smile.
Or, at least if you’re not willing to smile, try not to look like you’re having your tonsils removed by someone that is both blindfolded, deaf and the owner of a set of fingernails that have not been clipped since Albus Dumbledore was a lad.
“I didn’t tell him anything... I – I –” Potter’s eyes narrowed a little bit and he slowly turned to face me. I clenched my eyes shut and prayed that the hostility that had suddenly begun to ooze across the table was not aimed at me.
“No, actually, she’s not lying. She didn’t tell me anything. I didn’t even know she’d been engaged before she’d been with me.” Potter’s fingers trailed across my collarbone again and picked up a single ringlet from my chest; curling it around his finger and then letting it spring back into place. My mouth was oh so attractively hanging open.
Dan’s mouth was also sliding open, and I avoided his curious gaze with all my might.
“I – well, it just... it just never came up in conversation. I mean – erm – how was I supposed to just drop into a chat that... um, I mean the ring was behind the dresser! You wouldn’t have been able to see it, Pot – fuck it, James! I mean – what, do I have to tell everyone every little detail about my life? Why can’t I have any fucking secrets in this place?” I turned my glare onto Potter, shoving myself out of my seat and whipping around to face him. “And how the fuck did you find out that I was here and with Dan if I didn’t tell you – have you bugged my flat?! You have, haven’t you? That is so creepy!”
Potter’s lips were pressed together and his cheeks were bulging out gently, as though he was trying his hardest not to burst out into hysterical laughter. What, can a girl not have a nervous breakdown in the middle of a cafe anymore?
“Molly told me you were here and that you were meeting your ex-fiancé – she’s worried about you, Woods. She thinks you’re just letting yourself in for a hard time.” I pressed my lips together and stared very hard at my feet.
Dan was flushing – he knew full well how Molly felt about him. She once hid in our wardrobe for six hours and burst out when Dan came into the bedroom because she was convinced that Dan was cheating on me and wanted to catch him red-handed.
When she found out he actually was on his own, she pulled open the nearest drawer and started pelting him with his own underwear. After that little incident, I was forced to tell Dan that my best friend did in fact loathe his guts. Not that it wasn’t obvious – just before she left the apartment, she had written ‘YOU SUCK, TWAT’ in shaving cream all over the bathroom mirror.
Because Molly was just strange like that.
“So what, Aimes, your best friend is trying to pit you against me by getting your new boyfriend on her side? Why doesn’t she just fuck off and mind her own business? This is between me and you, not her.” Dan narrowed his eyes at me, and Potter’s eyes fell flat. He looked like he might have snapped at Dan had I not got there first.
“Don’t say a word against Molly,” I said coldly, and Dan’s eyes widened a little bit.
“Oh, fuck off. I don’t need this – all I wanted was to come back and see my bird and see if we could get everything sorted out. I didn’t come back to be subjected to questioning and quizzed by the fucking new boyfriend that I didn’t know she had.” Dan shoved himself to his feet using the table and shot Potter a furious glare.
“Dan! How can you say something like that? You don’t want to be subjected to questioning – don’t you think I have the right to some answers? You just fucking woke up one day and decided to leave me. If I really was your bird and you loved me that fucking much then that wouldn’t have happened, would it?” My chest was heaving, my breath coming out in short, furious puffs, my eyes were glassy and my hands were shaking.
Dan was gaping at me. Potter was still on the arm of my chair, and his smirk has slipped slightly – he was surprised. Yeah, the Hufflepuff has a temper and a past, Potter. Deal with it and move the fuck on.
“You know why I did it – Aimee, we’d turned to nothing, and our sex life was nothing and our relationship was nothing. All we did was fight, we didn’t trust each other – you were so convinced that I was cheating on you that you had Molly hide in our wardrobe to try and catch me!”
“I didn’t ask her to do that! She chose to!”
“See, well you must have had your doubts about my faithfulness if you best friend could sodding pick up on it! If I hadn’t left, the engagement would have been called off anyway – there was no way we could have gotten married and spent the rest of our lives completely miserable!”
“Right, Dan, and after you called off our engagement for the good of our relationship, tell me, how many foreign birds did you shag? Now that you were a nice single bloke, despite the fact you’d told me to keep the ring because you were coming back to me.” Dan floundered a little, clearly not expecting me to ask him something like that.
“Come on, tell me – you did bother to keep track of the numbers, didn’t you?”
“A couple. A couple of girls in each country. Never slept with one girl more than once, Aimes, I promise.” I rolled my eyes back into my skull and laughed hysterically, wiping at my streaming eyes with the back of my hand.
“Oh, well how very gallant of you, Daniel. How very lovely of you to only shagwomen once because you had me waiting like a twat for you at home. How nice of you to not start any relationships because I was still there for you at home. Yeah, go and shag the female population of Tai-fucking-wan, but only do it once because you’re so fucking wonderful!”
The cafe was silent as my screaming grew more and more hysterical, my breath clawing its way out of my throat – I felt sick, I felt manipulated – I felt ill. I need to lie down. I wanted to be away from him, away from everyone, away from Molly, away from Potter with his goddamn smirk...
“Oh yeah? So what, you’re gonna act like a fucking saint and martyr because I’ve slept with other women since we broke up –but so have you!”
“I HAVEN’T SLEPT WITH ANYONE SINCE YOU!” Potter started on the arm next to me and nearly fell sideways, and only managed to right himself by clutching the side of the tabletop. He was glancing at me anxiously, and I realised that I had been on the verge of screeching that I hadn’t even been near another man since Dan – hell’s munchkin, the only bloke I’d kissed was sodding Potter.
“Oh, right – you’re with the biggest manwhore in Witch Weekly history and yet you haven’t slept with him yet. Right, I totally believe that.” Dan shot Potter a glare. “Aimee, I might have slept with other girls but you’ve had a whole new relationship.”
I wished I could scream at him that he was wrong – that I hadn’t been with anyone else, that I wouldn’t until he and I were completely done, but... I couldn’t. Potter was silent next to me. I hoped beyond hope that he felt bad for doing this to me.
“Just go away, Dan. You know what, if this is what married life was going to be like for us, then maybe you were right to end it. I can’t live like this.” I gestured to my pathetic position, tears streaming down my cheeks, my hands clutching the table cloth, my shoulders hunched against what felt like the weight of the world.
“Fine,” Dan spat. “Fine, I’ll go.”
And with that, Dan turned on his heel and stormed across the cafe, leaving Potter and I sitting in icy silence. With a deep sigh, I pulled my bag onto my shoulder, dragged Potter to his feet and hauled the two of us out of the door.
“Don’t say a word, Potter. Don’t say a word.” I muttered as we left.
“Woods? Do you want me to make you a cup of coffee... or something?” Potter was standing awkwardly in the doorway to my kitchen, the second half of the bag of brown rice on a plate in his hand and awkward expression on his face. His button down shirt had been rolled up to the elbows and a large water stain was slopped down his white undershirt.
I blinked up at him from my pathetic position on the couch, rolled up into a ball with my knees tucked up under my chin. I hadn’t cried since Potter half carried me through the door, actually doing what I asked and not saying a word, but I hadn’t spoken either. Not even when Potter helped himself to the last of my food.
“Don’t know how you’re gonna do that,” I croaked. “I ran out of coffee yesterday.” Potter sighed and crossed the room, dropping down on the other end of the couch but leaving a gap between us big enough to fit a whole new person.
“Oh. Alright then. In that case, I won’t be making you a coffee.” Potter stared down at his long fingers and avoided looking at me. I stared unseeingly at the Wiz-TV, my eyelashes cold and wet against my eyelids from the tears. They felt swollen and sore, my throat was burning a little and I was pretty sure my nose was running like a tap. Overall, I was pretty much the human embodiment of the word ‘sexy’.
“No shit, Sherlock,” I grumbled under my breath, and irritation flashed briefly on Potter’s face before it was smothered by his usual mask of stoic indifference. His arm was positioned casually on the armrest, his other flung carefully over the back of the seat cushions, his wrist contorted to keep his hand from going anywhere near my face.
It’s not like I bite – not since I got my braces off, anyway.
“Hey, don’t take it out on me. It’s unfortunate that he had to find out about our... relationship that way, but at least it’s out there now. He’s a twat; anyway, even you can do better that.” I gaped at the side of Potter’s head and shoved myself off the couch, whipping around to shoot him a look filled with as much venom as I could muster.
“If you don’t mind, that happened to be the man that I love – loved. Whatever. So if you can shut your fat gob and not insult him while you’re in my apartment, that would be great. Thanks. And you know what, Potter – I... never mind, it doesn’t matter.” I scowled and shook my head, dropping my gaze to stare a particularly nasty looking crimson stain by the big toe of my right foot. It looked like someone had been stabbed and left to bleed out. I imagined it was Potter. The thought was oddly comforting.
“What?” Potter asked, looking up at me with his stupid melted chocolate eyes, the sun from the window beside him bringing out criminal infusions of gold, boring into me. I gulped.
“I – I wanted to tell him that it was fake. I wanted to tell him that I was just doing this because... because I want a new flat, because you’re Molly’s family... I wanted to tell him it was all a lie and then maybe he’d still love me. But Dan... Dan would tell the press. That would be the first thing he’d do – he’d go straight to the press and tell them it was all false, regardless of whether it would hurt me. But he wouldn’t let me pretend to date someone else – he’s... possessive.” I shrugged as Potter regarded me impassively, his hand relaxing a little on the back of the couch.
“So he’s a jealous bastard, then?” Potter eventually sighed, his face not showing any hint of life. From his stance, you would guess that we were having a conversation about cereal. Not about the weather – people tend to get passionate when they talk about rain. Lots of violent hand gestures and sound effects and whatnot.
“No. No, he’s not really jealous – I think he might have been, actually, but he never let it show. I was always the jealous one – I was always convinced that every girl that spoke to him wanted him... wait, why am I talking to you about this?”
Potter smirked a little and shrugged, swinging his legs forward to prop them up on the coffee table, stretching both of his hands out behind his head in traditional sunbathing pose.
“Because you’ve got no one else to talk to? And I mean that literally because we are the only ones in the flat right now. Because you’re pissed off and annoyed about the run in you’ve just had with the bloke you were planning to marry not too long ago? Because you’re searching for some way to pin this all on me? Because you’re a Hufflepuff who feels too much? Take your pick.” Potter shrugged.
“I – you’re a creep, do you know that? Fuck off.” I scowled and stalked into my bedroom.
The force it took to slam the door into the doorframe took the edge off my anger, as did the echoing kick that I planted into the wall next to the headboard of my bed. I ripped the pillow from the floor, where it had fallen at some point, and threw it at the window. The soft flump and consequent quite flop to the floor was not quite in keeping with my current mood.
There was a bitter creaking as the door was inched open behind me, and a second later Potter’s head poked around it. He looked pained, his eyebrows scrunched together in the centre and his eyes flat and pissed.
“Look, Woods... you’re in no fit state to be left alone right now. I know you don’t like me, but... I dunno, do you want to do something?” Potter winced a little, and I could see from his face that he wanted nothing more than for me to turn him down.
But I didn’t want to. Potter was arrogant and uncaring and flat out rude, but he was better than nothing... by a little bit. His company would be better than being left to stew with my own thoughts, to force myself to not open the door that hid the scrapbook I had been making for Dan throughout our engagement – I had wanted it to be one of his wedding presents from me. It was half finished – a collage of pictures and notes, messages and flower drawings, doodles and poems I had found that reminded me of him, train tickets from certain shows we’d been to, a receipt from a burger meal for two, a menu for the pizza place around the corner... anything that reminded me of him. It was stuffed onto the top shelf of a hidden away cupboard, and I knew that if Potter left then I would be straight there, and depress myself even further looking through it.
“Would you mind?” I whispered, gripping the edge of the bedcovers in an idle attempt to prevent any allergic reactions from actually asking Potter for help.
Potter shook his head slowly, dragged his hand through his hair and pursed his lips. His inner Gryffindor had clearly been piqued after seeing a damsel in distress, and he wasn’t happy about it. But he was his father’s son, and he would stay with me.
“No, no... it’s fine. I tell you what, we’ll go the pub. We’ll have a drink – you’ll forget and maybe once you’ve got a bit of booze in you you’ll loosen up and actually be a laugh.” I scowled at him and grabbed my purse from my bedside drawer, stuffed it in my pocket and stalked past him.
“It’s only half seven in the evening, you twat – I’m not gonna get pissed when little children are still going to be awake.” I rolled my eyes and pushed past him, out into the hall. Potter whipped around to follow me, slung his arm around my waist and pulled me to his chest, his mouth pressing uncomfortably close to my ear.
“Trust me, love, when you go out with James Potter, time makes no difference. I’ll show you how to have fun the Potter way – drink and all.” Dropping his arm from my waist, Potter pushed past me and stepped into the fire, tossing in a handful of the newly refilled floo powder as he did so.
“The Leaky Cauldron,” he said clearly.
And with that, he was gone.
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
haha, i noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of people that started to dislike dan last chapter ;) and we still have people that like him! i quite like reading everyone's opinions on him. oh yeah, that's the other thing i wanted to mention - i have started a new fic, called daddy's girl, which is an albus/oc, which some of you might wanna check out... i dunno. so yeah. and potter was a ~little~ bit nicer in this chapter, which is always good :) okay, so yeah. thank you for reading!
ellie :) xx
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