Chapter 5 : It's Been Awhile
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It's been awhile since I could hold my head up high
And it's been awhile,
Since I first saw you
Staind - It's been awhile
”Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“Yes mum” I said rolling my eyes. “I’m only going shopping with Dom; it’s not like I’m meeting everyone.”
“Yeah, well it’s England. You might bump into someone” Sam said as she handed me my bag.
“I’ll take that risk” I said curtly, tired of having to talk about the same bloody thing all the time.
Three weeks had passed since I got Dom’s wedding invitation, and now I was going to England over the weekend to help Dom find bridesmaid dresses. After those first chaotic days, everything had calmed down and gone back to normal. Sure, I was still a bit nervous about going, but I felt ready.
The past weeks I had worked my ass off (as usual, we never seemed to run out of crimes to solve), hung out with my friends, gone to the gym, watched TV… The same old things I always did.
So really, this wedding didn’t change much. It wasn’t a big deal at all. Well, you know, except for the fact that I had to return to England for the first time in 5 years, meet all of the people I had escaped from, be nice to said people and pretend that my best friend was my boyfriend.
But, er, apart from that it was no biggie.
Okay, so maybe it was, but I would go through all of that and then I would return to America and go back to my normal life. Maybe Al, Rose and Roxanne would begin to visit me but that would probably be the only change.
So when you looked upon it like that, it wasn’t a big deal. And besides, I had Noah.
We’d told our friends about our fake relationship, and they had stared at us for a minute or two before laughing their arses off. Great friends they were.
Although, I could admit that it was a bit funny. I mean, we were twenty two, and were acting like sixteen. But hey, age is just a number. You’re only as old as you act, or something.
Anyway, I had packed my bag and was ready to take a port key to the ministry in London. It was a special port key that I was going to take from my office, hence the destination. I had said goodbye to the guys the night before, but Sam insisted to come the morning of my departure. I guess she wanted to see if I was okay.
I hugged her goodbye and floo’ed to the ministry. As it was Saturday, the place was pretty empty. When I entered the Magical Law Enforcement Department I met a few of my colleagues, which didn’t surprise me. There were many people who worked in the weekends instead of staying late on workdays. I myself preferred having the weekends off, but I guess some liked the quietness on Saturdays.
I nodded to some of them as I walked to my office. When I entered, Theodore was there with the portkey.
“There you are” he said, flashing me a grin. “I almost thought you were going to be late.”
“Please Theo” I smirked. “You know I’m never late.”
He chuckled. “That’s true. This portkey will lead you into the Head Auror office in London. They are aware that you’re coming but there shouldn’t be anyone there right now. There’ll be signposts though, so you’ll know where to go.”
“Okay, thanks” I said, getting ready to leave.
We small talked as I waited for the portkey’s departure time, and when it started glowing I placed my finger on it and gave Theodore one last grin before feeling the usual spinning sensation.
It wasn’t very pleasant to travel by portkey, but it was a lot faster than going muggle style. It didn’t take long before the spinning stopped though, and as I looked around I saw that I was in a big, nice looking office. There were many shelves with files in them, and chest of drawers. The office wasn’t as clean and sterile as Theodore’s (seriously, he was the worst neat freak ever). This one had a more homely feeling.
I turned around to see the rest of the office, and jumped, covering my mouth with my hand to stifle my shriek.
There was a huge desk with hundreds of files and papers on it, and in a chair next to it sat none other than Harry Potter himself. He was watching me with an amused look on his face.
He was the head auror here. Of course, I should have realized that, but I hadn’t even thought about it. Besides, Theodore had told me that the office would be empty. I hadn’t really expected to meet someone, let alone Harry Potter.
“Hello Allison” he greeted, a warm smile on his face. “How are you? I haven’t seen you in years.”
I blushed. I’d met Harry when I was dating James, and he had been nothing but kind to me. I felt a bit insecure in front of him though; he was after all the father of my ex, not to forget savior of the wizarding world.
“Hi, Mr Potter” I squeaked, clearing my throat. “I’m fine, thank you.”
He smiled again. “Please, call me Harry. It hasn’t been that long.”
I nodded, and he leaned back in his chair. “Why don’t you sit down for a while?” he asked, gesturing to a chair next to me. “Or maybe you’re on your way to something?”
I looked at my watch. I had an hour before it was time to meet Dom. I wasn’t sure what Mr. Potter… I mean Harry wanted to talk to me about, but it was better to kill time here than walking around alone. Merlin knows who I might bump into. With my luck, I couldn’t risk it.
“Sure” I said and sat down awkwardly.
He smiled and got up. “Do you want some tea?” he asked, and I nodded. He walked over to a small table, where a teapot and some cups were placed. I watched him mix what looked like several different tea types together, before he walked back to the desk and handed me a cup.
“It’s Ginny’s special tea” he said as he sat down. “Perhaps you have tasted it before?”
I took a sip, immediately recognizing the sweet but spicy taste. “Yeah, I think I have” I said and smiled as I took another sip. “It’s really good.”
He just smiled in response. Harry Potter smiled a lot. It was one of the things I remembered about him. He was very kind, but apparently had a temper you didn’t want to mess with. He was generous and very caring. The weirdest thing about him was that he was so… normal. He was probably the richest wizard in England, had defeated the most evil wizard in history and was head auror, but you could never have guessed that if you met him and didn’t know who he was.
He lived in a big house, but it wasn’t a mansion. Sure, they had loads of spare rooms, a pool and a sauna but with the fortune they had they could have had a castle. Also, he never bragged or thought himself to be better than anyone else. He was just a normal man.
“As you know, I keep regular contact with the head auror in New York” Harry began as we were drinking our tea. “Mr. Hall has told me a lot about his young, talented colleague, but I had no idea that it was you he was talking about.”
I blushed, not really knowing what to say.
“We’ve been talking a lot about your Investigation Department. As you know, we have a different system here, and while it’s working pretty okay we are thinking about adapting your system. England is far smaller than America, but dividing up the work would probably make us more effective.”
I nodded, glad that we were talking about something I could actually say something about. “The program has been a success” I told him. “The Aurors get less work, and they can spend more time educating themselves further. That way, they keep up with all the new hexes, and can stay in good shape. It really is a win-win situation.”
“How about the investigators? Does the program benefit them?” he asked interestedly.
“Well, the investigators have a lot of work” I said honestly. “But the job is varied; we do a lot of different things. Just because field work isn’t my main area doesn’t mean I don’t do it. Also, the load of work depends on the severity of the crime. We only handle the worst ones; the departments for improper use of magic and other less serious crimes still exist.”
Harry nodded, looking thoughtful. “It does seem like a good concept. We are definitely going to think about trying it here, but the question is if it will work as good here as it does in America. Never mind,” he said, leaving the subject. “I just wanted hear another opinion of the program. Now, I’m curious, how did you end up with this job?” he said and smiled.
“Well, I started the Law Enforcement education right after school. There are physical tests and interviews, and the education lasts three years. Just like in England” I explained. “After my education, I got a job at the ministry. At first I handled simple things, but then one day Theodore called me to a meeting. He asked a lot of questions and told me about the new department. A few days later I got a job as an Inspector Agent Assistant, and after that I kind of worked my way up.”
“That is very impressive. You have to be really good to have that post at such young age” Harry said, leaning back in his chair.
I blushed again. “Well, the moment I started the program I knew that it was what I wanted. I just had to fight hard to get it, and I did.”
He smiled. “You make it sound easy, but you can’t fool me. You must be really special to have managed this.”
Getting such compliments from Harry Potter himself was overwhelming. I knew I was good at my job – there was no way I would have gotten it if I wasn’t – but hearing it from him made me feel very special.
“Thank you” I said earnestly. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Theodore, though. He has been a great mentor to me; I have him to thank for the job and the opportunity.”
“Well, I guess he does the same thing as I do” Harry said before pausing. “He finds talented people and pushes them in the right direction.”
We small talked for a while before I excused myself and left for my meeting with Dom. When I left he told me that ‘I’d see him soon’, and while I was suspicious at first I quickly figured that he was talking about the wedding.
You might think that sitting with your ex’s dad for forty minutes would be awkward, but talking to Harry was actually very easy once you got over the whole ‘oh-my-god-he’s-such-a-great-wizard-what-am-I-going-to-say” thing. When I said goodbye to him, I realized that I missed the Potter/Weasley family more than I thought.
They were a bunch of loud, fiery redheads (well, at least most of them) and whenever they had a family get together it always turned into chaos. Many of them were obnoxious, immature and goofy, but you couldn’t help but like them. Once you got to know them, they brought you in and made you a part of their already huge family.
They were great people (once again, at least most of them) and I had kind of felt like they were my family too. Having that taken away from me as well had been tough.
My own family relations had always been messy. My mum left us when I was five, and my dad became depressed after that. It was up to my five year older sister Kate to take care of me, while my dad sulked and refused to get out of bed. After a couple of years, my dad met a new woman. He became a completely different person. Everything was suddenly about Fiona, and he seemed to forget about his own children.
They eventually moved to America, but decided it was best to leave me and Kate in England. Fiona never really liked us and I guess she saw moving to America as a way to get rid of us. Kate and I went to live with my Aunt Evelyn, and dad moved away and started a new family.
Aunt Evelyn was okay, but you could tell that she didn’t really want to take care of us. She was a fashion designer, and she travelled a lot. Taking care of two kids wasn’t something she had time for, so she hired a nanny to deal with us. When I was thirteen, Kate met a guy. After that she spent basically all of her time with him, and I was alone. So I went home with Julie and Henry during the breaks, spending as little time at my aunt’s as possible.
Having such bad family history made me jealous of a family like the Wotters. Sure, they annoyed the living hell out of each other, but they always had someone to turn to; someone who would listen and help them. The only one I had had was my sister, and she abandoned me. We were still pretty close, but after she met her boyfriend, it was never the same.
Even though I hadn’t gotten to know the Weasley/Potters so well, they had kind of felt like family. But that had been ripped apart from me and instead I had met my new family; my friends in America.
They were the closest thing to family I had ever had, and I was very thankful to have them. Without them, I wasn’t sure where I would be.
I was deep in thought as I walked towards the café where I had agreed to meet Dom. It was close to the ministry, so we were going to meet up there and then go shopping. I almost didn’t see her because of my thinking, but she stood outside the café, waving frantically.
As I got nearer, she ran up to me and gave me a bone-crushing hug. “Allie! It’s so good to see you!” she squealed, and I laughed.
Dom was the bubbliest person I had ever met. She was giggly, bouncy and happy most of the time but she had a temper that was not to be messed with. She was a female Weasley, after all. Before I got to know her, I only knew that she was the most popular girl at school. I figured it was because of her good looks (the girl was part veela, for christ’s sake) but when I got to know her I realized that it actually had more to do with her personality.
Dom was genuinely nice to everybody, and gave everyone a chance. If anyone did anything towards her or her friends, she became a person you didn’t want to mess with. But she never judged before she had the chance to get her own impression, and I admired her for that.
“It’s good to see you too, Dom” I chuckled.
“I can’t believe you’re here – in England! It just feels unreal” she said as we broke apart, standing in front of each other grinning.
“Yeah, it does feel a bit weird” I said, looking around. “But it feels nice.”
She smiled and grabbed my arm, starting to drag me along the street. “Well, I’m very glad you’re here. We have a long day ahead of us, so we’ll have loads of time to catch up.”
I didn’t know if I should regret agreeing to come or not: shopping with Dom was… Well, kind of time-consuming. She always found twice as many things as she was supposed to buy, and had severe problems deciding which to choose. Seriously, the girl could spend hours just trying to decide. It was pretty horrible, and I could just imagine how long finding the perfect wedding dress would take.
I shuddered at the thought, but at least I would get to spend an entire day with her. That was always something.
“Okay, so I was thinking maybe we could have a look at Lavender’s and Malkin’s in Diagon Alley, and then maybe go to some of the muggle shops?”
“Sounds great” I said, feeling a bit nervous about going to Diagon Alley. Merlin knows who we might run into there.
We apparated to the leaky cauldron, which was fairly empty (to my relief). It was after all a Saturday, and it was usually very crowded. We were pretty early though; there would probably be a lot more people there around lunch time.
As we walked out on the street, we were met at the sight of a typical Saturday rush: lots of people, children running around and salesmen shouting about their latest product. It was a sunny day, so there were many people out, enjoying the nice weather.
We started walking through the crowd, heading for Madame Malkin’s. As always when you were walking with a Weasley or a Potter, you attracted attention. They were extremely famous in England, and I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t know about them.
“I hope the paparazzis don’t hear about this” Dom muttered as we were walking.
Whenever anyone in the Weasley/Potter family was out in the public, someone snapped a picture of them and sent to the gossip magazines. I couldn’t understand how anyone would find it interesting to read about Ginny Potter shopping for socks or Angelina Weasley buying a coffee to go, but obviously people did.
They weren’t chased around like the stars in Hollywood, but they weren’t left alone either. I felt bad for them, seeing as most of them had been born into the fame. But they were used to it, so they didn’t really care.
We quickly discovered that Madame Malkin’s didn’t have much to offer. They specialized in Hogwart’s uniforms and dress robes, and didn’t have many formal dresses. So we headed over to Lavender’s Lovelies, which despite the awful name actually had a lot to offer.
The shop was owned by a witch named Lavender Brown, who was a nice woman with an eye for fashion. She specialized in formal dresses, and ordered everything from France. The dresses were expensive, but very beautiful.
Dom and I began with the bridesmaids’ dresses. It was hard to decide a color, seeing how different all of the bridesmaids looked. Rose, Natalie and Lily had red hair, Jay’s sister Tegan and I had brown, Celine was a blonde and Jay’s cousin was a strawberry blonde.
We decided to look for colors that would suit the redheads best, seeing as their hair color was the hardest to match. I could wear basically any color, except for really bright ones like orange and hot pink. Celine, as little as I wanted to admit, looked good in any color.
It didn’t take us long before we found the dress that would probably be perfect for everyone. It was a strapless, cocktail length dress with a draped, asymmetrical bodice and a matching waist belt. The skirt was pleated, but fell nicely instead of being puffy like pleated skirts usually were. It was available in many colors, but we decided on a pistage green one that would go well with all hair colors and skin types.
It was the perfect dress, really. It was classic and simple, but had a modern twist to it. All the bridesmaids would look good in it, but we weren’t going to steal any attention from Dom.
After I had tried the dress on and Dom had made a reservation on it (she wanted to wait with ordering until she found her own dress – just in case it wouldn’t match) we began looking for wedding gowns.
And that was where hell begun.
Five long hours later, Dom finally let us take a break and sit down for some coffee. We had been to at least ten different shops after we left Diagon Alley, and we hadn’t even found a prospect. Many of the dresses we’d been looking at had been beautiful, but none of them had been good enough.
And Dom, determined as always, refused to give up. When I said I was hungry she bought us sandwiches. I was thankful that she snapped out of her bridezilla mode to let us eat before I realized that she wanted us to bring the sandwiches with us.
The shop assistant had glared at us when we walked in with food in our hands, but when she realized that Dominique Weasley was looking for a dress in her shop; she seemed to forget about it.
I guess being famous had its advantages.
As we sat down for coffee, Dom was talking to her mother on the phone. She was speaking in rapid French, so I had no clue what she was talking about. Judging on her whiny tone though, I could guess.
I frantically thought about where we could go next. It felt like we had been to every single dress shop in London, but surely there had to be more good places?
Dom hung up the phone and sighed. “I’m never going to find a dress here” she whined. “I’ll have to go to France and it will take loads of time, and I’ll be stressed out and everything will be ruined.”
Dom could be a bit overdramatic sometimes. I suspected it had something to do with the whole French part veela thing, but I’d never dared to ask.
“It’ll be fine” I reassured her. “We’ll just go to some more shops, there’s got to be a good- OH!” I exclaimed, suddenly remembering something. “I know the perfect place, let’s go!” I said and dragged her out of the café.
“Where are we going?” Dom asked, looking confused.
“When my sister got married, she told me about this small shop where they had gorgeous dresses. She found her wedding dress there” I explained, hurrying down the street.
I called my sister and asked for the address to the shop, and we hurried our way to it. When we arrived, Dom looked a bit confused. The shop was indeed, very small, and was situated on a side street which was almost completely empty. There were no other shops, just houses, and there weren’t many people around either.
“Are you sure this is the right place?” she asked skeptically.
“Yes” I said, dragging her inside.
We were met by a woman in her mid-thirties, who smiled warmly and welcomed us. She immediately begun helping Dom, and we found out that she actually was a witch. Apparently, she was married to a muggle and had therefore decided to open a shop in the muggle world.
The woman was very nice and seemed to know what she was doing. When Dom described how she wanted her dress to look, she simply nodded before handing her five dresses to try on. The other shop owners had tried to give Dom other types of dresses, claiming that “they would look even more fabulous on her”. We had been through frills, laces and freaking bows. Some people really didn’t understand the word classic.
Dom went into the changing room while I sat down outside. The couch was really comfortable, and I closed my eyes for a moment. I was pretty tired; we had been running around all day without stopping, and it had been quite exhausting. I hoped Dom would find a dress soon, so we could go home.
As I sat there with my closed eyes, I heard the curtain to the changing room being dragged open. I opened my eyes and saw Dom stepping out of it, a big smile planted on her face.
She walked out and did a twirl in front of me, giggling as she looked at herself in the mirror.
As I saw her in the dress, I couldn’t help but smile too.
“What do you think?” Dom asked.
I grinned. “Well, Dom, I think you may have found the perfect dress.”
... And that was it for this time. What did you think? I'm aware that we're still in the "getting to know everyone"-process, but at least it's moving forward! You're going to have to wait a little bit more for James, but he'll pop up soon enough :)
I'm going to try and post the next chapter sooner, which shouldn't be too hard for me to manage seeing as it's already finished!
Thanks for reading!
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