Chapter 2 : Chapter 2
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The next morning, I was hesitant as I stepped inside Sunny Days. I didn’t want to face Albus. I didn’t want to face the Prince. I didn’t want to make up some story about how my friend had gotten hurt for Hanna. I didn’t want to deal with Vienna. In fact, as soon as I stepped foot inside Sunny Days, I felt like a turning right back round again.
Which was ironic, because it was called ‘Sunny Days’.
“Oh, good morning, Deandra!” Hanna said, taking my coat for me. “Is your friend alright? Will she recover?”
“She’s fine,” I answered. “She’ll be in the hospital for a couple days, but she’ll be fine.”
“Oh, the poor dear.” Hanna said. “Are you sure you don’t want to visit her, honey?”
“No, I really need the money, Hanna.” I said politely. And Cinda would bite my head off if I skipped another day of work and lost another day of pay.
“Nonsense!” Hanna said. “It would be a paid vacation, of course! Go see your friend! She needs you to support her.”
Even though I hated lying to Hanna, I couldn’t turn that one down. A paid vacation? For no reason at all? It was like a dream come true.
“Alright,” I said. “But I’ll be back as soon as she’s out of the hospital.”
“It’s just fine, dear. Tell her I send her my best.”
I pulled my coat back on and trooped out into the street. I sidestepped into the alley that was used solely for the purpose of me Apparating without being seen or heard, and turned on my heel sharply.
I landed with a stumble in Hogsmeade. Nobody would find me here, and I could buy candy and sugar without any disapproving looks from my friends, an added bonus.
I made my way to the Three Broomsticks first, and ordered a butterbeer. I remembered when Lauren had been poisoned because Aidan and I wouldn’t stop arguing. It turned out to be Athena all along… I clenched my fist when I remembered the way she had told everybody in the Common room how I had been stringing them along. Making it sound as if I wanted to. As if I had a choice.
I stood suddenly. Madame Rosmerta looked my way suspiciously, as if she thought I wouldn’t pay up, but I tossed the coinage on the table and stormed out into the cold.
It was nearly October. I remembered the date I had with Tyler that hadn’t been much later in the year than now. With a smile, I remembered the first Quidditch match of the season, in which I was strategist and Al played Seeker. I remembered that Marianna, a Beater, and I had been friendly. I wondered where she had gotten off to. Maybe I should try to reconnect with her.
Then I shook my head, getting angry at myself. Trying to reconnect with old friends wouldn’t do me any good. In fact, it would probably just lead me to more run-ins with Albus, which I tried to avoid at all costs. It was like a constant game of hide and seek with him and I.
And speaking of hide and seek…
Albus walked out of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, which was located across from the Three Broomsticks nowadays. I had been heading into the shop, despite the dangers of seeing the Weasleys, because I needed some trick candles for Cinda’s birthday, which was coming up.
So, naturally, I ran right into him.
I fell to the ground, of course. Luckily—oh so luckily—he didn’t recognize me at first, because my hair had flown into my face. He offered me a hand, helping me up and apologizing.
“Sorry about that—wasn’t watching where I was going—”
I think that, when he dropped his hand, I saw a flash of recognition in his eyes—but then the adrenaline kicked in and I Apparated away, just as he was reaching out to grab my wrist, no doubt to keep me there.
I wasn’t even sure where I was Apparating to until the last moment—so naturally, when I landed in the Hog’s Head—which was stupid, because Albus was only a couple of streets away—I splinched, losing myself a couple of fingernails.
Oh well. Who needs fingernails?
I peeked out the door and saw Al walking by, his face hidden and his hands stuffed in his pockets. I sagged against the wall in relief.
Like a constant game of hide and seek between him and I.
A couple hours later, I was at Scrivenger’s, picking out some quills, when a young woman about my age tapped me on the shoulder. “Deandra?”
I turned around. I had to think back a bit, but I recognized her as Aimee Thompson, the pregnant girl I had met in the Hospital Wing. She had cut her hair to a blonde bob, but other than that, she hadn’t grown much from the time I last saw her.
“Aimee?” I asked. She nodded eagerly.
“Yeah! We met, in the Hospital Wing! I was getting the baby checked, and you were in for a Quidditch injury!”
“Hey, how is the baby?” I asked. It was nice to see her again. She didn’t seem to hate me, like all my other classmates, and for that I was glad.
“He’s fine.” Aimee said with a smile. “In fact, he’s just turned five last July. His name is Michael.” I remembered that Michael was the name of her dead fiancé. I glanced down at her left hand, and gasped.
“Who gave you this?” I asked, grabbing her hand and exposing the diamond on her finger to the light. “It’s beautiful! And huge! He must be rich.” I winked at her.
Aimee laughed. “How about we get a drink? I can explain what’s happened, and you can tell me what you did after you left.”
My face fell. “You heard about that?”
Aimee smiled at me. “Deandra, everybody heard about that. That’s why I even know to call you Deandra.”
“Oh,” I said. “Well, a drink sounds great. Or even a couple drinks. Let me just pay for this and then we’ll go. Let’s say, the Leaky?”
“Sounds good.” Aimee laughed. “The babysitter’s home with Michael, and she’s expecting me to be back in an hour and a half.”
I bought my quills and Apparated to the Leaky Cauldron with Aimee. We both got drinks and sat in a booth in the corner of the pub.
“So, how did you get engaged?” I asked. “Who’s the lucky guy?”
Aimee launched into explanation. “Well, I met this guy. He’s CEO of some big muggle company—yes, he’s a muggle—anyway, I met him two years ago. His name is Isaac Martin. We’ve been dating for a year and ten months now, and two weeks ago he proposed! The wedding’s in April.”
“And CEO of a company!” I complimented.
“I don’t care about his money, Deandra.” Aimee said, grinning. “It’s just a nice addition. But he really loves Michael, and I think Michael likes him too, and that’s really the most important thing, money or not. But he does have this big Victorian mansion—it’s a beautiful spot, I can’t wait to move in—but enough about me.” Aimee said, leaving me grinning. “What’ve you been up to?”
“Well, I have a job as a barmaid in a place just like this, only it’s muggle—” I began. I explained everything to Aimee. How I got my job at Sunny Days. How I lived in the Leaky Cauldron until Cinda and Arianna got out of school, and we got enough money for our flat. How my life was basically devoted to avoiding Albus. And the story that really made her laugh—how I chatted up the Prince of England.
“Of course, Deandra. Of course.” She giggled. She checked her watch. “Oh, it’s almost time for Abby to go—” I assumed Abby was the babysitter. “Say—Isaac should be home in a bit—do you want to meet him and Michael?”
“I’d love to,” I said. Aimee was so easy to talk to—I already felt like I had known her my whole life. Also, she wasn’t judging me like Cinda and Arianna always were, which was a nice change.
Aimee Side-Along Apparated me to her flat. As soon as we got there, a small, blond boy ran at Aimee. “Mummy!” He squealed, and launched himself into her arms.
“Hey, Mikey!” Aimee said, wrapping him into a hug and spinning him around. “How’s my favorite boy ever?”
“Hey, Ms. Thompson.” A girl about eighteen years old followed Michael. “He was really good today.”
“Thanks, Abby.” Aimee said. “How much do I owe you?”
Abby told her the amount while Aimee rummaged through her purse. Michael walked up to me and stared up at me with big blue eyes. “Mummy, who’s this lady?”
“Michael, that’s very rude—sorry, Abby, I think that’s all of it—introduce yourself.” Aimee scolded.
“Hi, I’m Michael Andrew Thompson.” Michael held out his tiny hand, and I shook it. “I’m five years old and I can do maaagiiic.” Michael held out the ‘a’ and the ‘i’ in the word magic, and Aimee turned to him.
“Michael, what did I say about telling people you could do magic? That’s what got you in trouble last time.” Aimee turned to me. “I brought Isaac home to meet Michael, and that’s the first thing that pops out of his mouth. I hadn’t even told Isaac yet—thank god he thought it was a joke. Thanks, Abby. Come back whenever, I could really use the help.”
Abby left just as a young man in his twenties entered the flat. Michael was distracted from me and yelled, “Daddy!” He ran and the man who I assumed was Isaac and launched himself into his arms.
That kid can really jump, let me tell you.
I glanced at Aimee. She shrugged.
“Hey, buddy!” Isaac said, setting him down. “What’s up? Have you been having fun today?”
Michael nodded, smiling widely, and Isaac said, “Good. How about you go to the kitchen and I’ll be there in a bit to make you a sandwich.”
Michael ran off, and Isaac turned to Aimee. “Hi, love.” He greeted. “Who’s this?”
“Isaac, this is Deandra, my old school friend.” Aimee introduced. “Deandra, this is Isaac, my fiancé.” Aimee winked and grinned from behind Isaac’s back when he turned to shake my hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Deandra.” He said smartly. “Did you also go to… er—” Isaac glanced at Aimee.
“Hogwarts,” She supplied.
“Hogwarts?” He asked, turning back to me with a smile.
“Yes,” I said. “I was in Gryffindor. Where dwell the brave at heart!” I laughed.
“Weren’t you in Hufflepuff?” Isaac asked Aimee. She nodded with a smile. It was clear that Isaac was working hard for her to understand a world he wasn’t part of. I smiled. Aimee deserved someone who worked that hard for her.
“Yes, and everyone knows Hufflepuff is the best.” Aimee said with a smile. I snorted. I still had a shred of house pride left, and Gryffindor was definitely, if not best, one of the greatest houses.
“Well, I have to head back.” I said, not wanting to intrude too long. “Cinda and Arianna will be worrying about me, and when they worry about me, generally they feel like they have to babysit me for a week.” I rolled my eyes. “I’ll see you around.”
“See you. We should do this again sometime.” Aimee said.
“Definitely.” I said as I turned on my heel and Apparated out of the flat.
I decided when I got back to the flat that I was truly happy for Aimee and Isaac, and especially Michael. She had been through a lot, and she had finally got her life in order—and obviously raised Michael right, despite being a single mother of 17 when she had him.
I just wish my life was as sorted as hers was.
So, what did you think? Did you like Aimee and Michael and Isaac? Tell me what you think - via review :) Chapter three should really be out soon, I hope :) Next chapter you should see some Prince of England action, and of course, more of Albus :)
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