Chapter 11 : Calling your club "Ice" does not make you cool.
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I dropped down into a nearby booth and slammed my handbag onto the table, rubbing the sides of my pointer fingers over my eyelids to try and fix the smudged mascara. I'd have started scaring little children if I'd walked around like that.
Potter swaggered after me (no, seriously, he swaggered – did the dislocated hip walk and everything) and slammed one of the glasses down in front of me, before dropping down onto the seat opposite me. I seized the long cup between both of my palms and tipped it straight back, pausing only briefly to quickly breathe.
The liquid burned as it seared down my throat and I choked a little, but managed not to spew it all over the twat that was sitting in front of me. He threw his back like a pro and smirked at me, before gesturing to the barkeep to bring us another of the same.
I revelled in the déjà vu, but said nothing.
The barkeeper slammed down another two glasses and shot me a lecherous smirk, revealing the two blackened gaps that once held his missing incisors. I flushed and glanced down at the glass, trying to ignore the fact that it wasn't even dark outside and I was sitting in a family pub with James Potter, planning to get drunk.
"On the count of three?" Potter muttered, and I glanced up at him. He was regarding me shrewdly, one of his thick eyebrows cocked and his hand curled coolly around his glass. Deciding to rise to the challenge, I seized my own glass in one hand and brought it to my lips.
"One," I murmured. Potter's eyes darkened.
"Two," he hissed, leaning a little closer towards me over the top of the table. The cold marble cut into my ribcage as I pressed myself against it. The liquid gold in Potter's eyes was captivating.
"Three," I whispered, and we both tipped our glasses back with perfect synchronicity, gulping back the amber liquid until our glasses were empty and fogged up from our panting breath. I don't know if you have ever noticed, but it is hard to gulp back a lot of drink at once. It takes a lot of sodding oxygen.
"Gah," Potter spluttered, wiping the back of his hand roughly against his mouth. I winced and cleared my throat, trying to soothe the burn. There is a reason it is called Firewhiskey.
"Another round?" I whispered, and as Potter nodded I waved a demure hand at the younger bloke behind the bar, gesturing with my fingers to the empty glasses. "You know, I don't see the point in all this. What do you benefit from getting me drunk?"
Potter snorted and leaned back on his sofa, stretching his arms out behind his head so his muscles tightened under his t-shirt. He was a muscular bloke, Potter – lots of... you know, abdominal muscles. That probably took a lot of work. Didn't change the fact he was a git, like.
"I dunno. Maybe because it might mean you'll stop harping on for five fucking minutes so I can get some goddamn peace and quiet? Or maybe because you're pretending to be my girlfriend, and one day I might need you to do something that you're not comfortable with. And I'll remind you that I did this for you, so you owe me." Potter shrugged coolly and nodded his thanks to the new round that was being delivered.
"How selfless," I muttered under my breath, and a dry smirk twitched the corners of Potter's mouth. "You know, you really are a true embodiment of all the Gryffindor qualities."
"There is nothing in that list about being selfless – that's for the Puffers. Like you. Daring, nerve, bravery, chivalry – I can be as selfish as I like." I blinked at him as he grabbed an olive from the jar in the centre of the table, dunked it into his drink and popped it into his mouth.
"Chivalry – isn't that where you're supposed to do things for women? I don't think, back in the times when the chivalry code was invented, that they planned for it to be used a precursor for getting your fake girlfriend pissed so you can one day ask her for a favour." I shot Potter a look, but he merely smirked at me, as indifferent as ever.
"Listen, love, if you wanna go home, then go. Go and wallow in that pit about the fact Darling Danny left you and you ain't lived properly since. Go and bollock yourself about the fact it didn't work out, or that today's date was shit – I don't give a fuck. But if you want to just do the normal thing and forget about your problems for one night, then shut your fat gob and get that down your throat. Because I for one am bored listening to you breast bang about how shit your life is."
I blanched and blinked at him, my mouth hanging open slightly as he finished the longest consecutive string of words I had ever heard him say. He leant back into his chair and took a deep breath, and I guessed that I'd wound him up a little.
Do I moan that much about how life hates me? Maybe I do. But I'm not being funny, it does.
"I'll stay," I murmured, and Potter nodded in satisfaction. He spat the skin of his olive out onto the floor next to him (lovely...) and tipped back his glass, glugging the first half before scowling and clearing his throat.
And so that's the way we sat – for two hours, knocking back more glasses of Firewhiskey than I had ever seen before in one place. After the first half an hour or so, though, we got bored, and tried to make it more exciting.
I ordered a Shirley Temple as Potter ordered a scotch on the rocks with a twist, and after that I moved onto a pattern of red wine, port, alcopop, as Potter did blue vodka shots and drank many of some strange cocktail that was lime green in colour and let off some kind of greenish smoke. He seemed to enjoy it, because he would smack his lips and stretch his arms out whenever he finished one.
"What now?" I groaned eventually, rubbing my weak fingers over the pounding in my temples, shoving one of the glasses back onto the table to try and make room for the next one. Potter looked half dead from opposite me, his head lolling back onto the top of his sofa and his arms flopping like useless noodles down by his sides.
It occurred to me that I was drinking to forget Dan, but I didn't know what Potter was drinking to forget. Of course, he could have just liked drinking. He was a twenty one year old bloke.
Potter attempted to sit up a little straighter and succeeded to mildly do so, before glancing at the dusty clock above the bar and smiling a slow, burning smirk. He staggered to his feet and held his hand out to me, his fringe flopping into his eyes and a little drink making his lips glisten in the crackling candlelight. I blinked a let him drag me out of my seat, thanking the rabbit gods that I had opted not to wear heels for the day.
We'd all be in A and E dealing with my broken spine and Potter's broken nose (just because) otherwise.
"It's nearly ten o'clock, Woods," he grinned, slowly pulling us towards the tiled fireplace in the corner of the room. I wondered idly what wizards with electric and gas fires did about flooing, in the back of my alcohol hazed mind. "And that means the clubs are opening. You need to loosen up – I'm taking you to Ice."
Ice did indeed live up to its name. With the whole hard and hipster title came a hard and hipster interior – or what middle aged women considered to be hipster when they were given a large sum of money from their stupidly rich husbands and were told they could open a club if they wanted to.
Plush white seats were dotted around a large room, the centre of which was devoid of all furniture to make room for a white, polished marble dancefloor. White curtains made of sheer gossamer hung from the ceiling in rivulets, drifting like waterfalls until they piled up seamlessly on the ground. Glittering spotlights were pressed boldly against every flat surface going, and the workers were differentiated from the customers with their uniform of a sinfully tight white polo shirt and a short white skirt for the girls, tight white jeans for the men.
They really weren't helping with all the problems surrounding gross moral turpitude, having their employees dress like they'd just come off the pole.
A long bar ran the entire length of one white wall, carved out of black marble, a sight for sore eyes after the masses of white everywhere. Never melted ice sculptures of whiskey bottles and wine glasses were placed every so far along, and a large white sign made of three cold plastic letters hung above the electric cocktail mixer, spelling I-C-E.
I had never seen anything like it, never having been presented with the opportunity to get into the most high flying wizarding club in the country. You either needed a sodding letter from the queen, a reservation made three years in advance or to be dating the son of the saviour of the wizarding world to get in. Needless to say, before I had never quite qualified.
I suppose I could have attempted to get in with Molly, but the whole club thing wasn't really her scene – she preferred me to come around to her so she could swathe me in various materials and pin them together, making a lovely dress that she would then store away in a drawer and I would never see again, despite it being custom made for me.
Potter strolled boldly into the pub from the (you guessed it) white marble fireplace and glanced coolly up at the maitre d', seemingly over the bout of alcohol induced unsteadiness he had been suffering from back at the pub.
He regarded the man with an almost derogatory insolent stare, which lasted for around three seconds before the guy straightened up to his full height of tall and plucked two menus out of their holder, signalling for Potter to follow him. There was no movie-style exchange of bank notes or a hissed threat from the customer – just a cool stare from the son of the guy who saved the world.
I scurried after them and smiled awkwardly at the bristling woman in a sinfully short dress that had been waiting for a table when we walked – well, stumbled – in. She shot me a look like I was something unpleasant that had been trodden in from the street, flicking her nose up at me and stretching out both of her long, false-tanned arms.
I followed James and the maitre d' (who seemed to have been dressed to try and continue the hip-new-age-hipster thing that the club had been going on, and was dressed in disgustingly tight white jeans and a white vest with ICE written in block letters across his shoulder blades) to the back of the club, where he dropped down the menus onto one small table, which was stupidly close to the ground, and surrounded by three plush white beanbags.
Yes, beanbags. Because apparently chairs just aren't good enough for this wonderful place.
There was half a clean white candle in the centre of the table (and I mean literally half, it looked like it had been sliced straight down the middle) and silver glitter was drawn in a rough circle around the candle stub. Potter dropped down onto one of the beanbags and clapped a few galleons into the maitre d's hand, who smirked and nodded smugly.
"Thank you, Mr Potter," he murmured, and turned on the heel of his spotless white converse with black soles and squeaked off across the cold floor. I blinked at Potter and slowly dropped down onto my own beanbag.
"Why did you pay the bloke so much money to show us to a table?" I asked quietly, my mind fuzzily whipping around all the things that I could have bought with that money. I could have run to Diagon Alley and restocked the fridge, for one thing. I could have bought a few dresses of my own, now that I was going to be going to random places with Pratter and photographed by bits of slime with cameras as big as my head and flashes brighter than the sun.
"These tables here are the best in the place – it's the VIP section. If you sit here you get the best action, the best girls, the best service and have the best time. Normally you have to book three months in advance and pay fifty galleons per guest. I gaped at Potter, but he just shrugged coolly. "And before your blow your nut, don't – I don't pay. So it's cool."
"What? Why don't you pay?" I only became aware now that my voice was slightly slurred, curling over like wisps of smoke and trailing across the table to put in nothing more than a blended whisper. Potter's eyes were flashing gold in the flashing spotlights on the wall behind me. A mischievous smirk was pulling at the corners of his lips. His face looked oddly pale, washed out – but his cheekbones were as hollow and shadowed as ever.
"Because I'm me," he muttered simply, and picked up the menu in front of us.
It was only now that I noticed the place didn't serve food. I wasn't too happy about that – I had wanted to have something to drink to try and absorb some of the booze that was fucking with the synapses in my brain. The menu was a stark affair, back to plain white with square block writing in an attempt to bring back the Minimalist movement.
Most of the shit was written in French, or named something random that was just an unsuccessful attempt to make a usual spirit seem like something exotic and delicious. The cocktails had all been switched around – instead of a Cuba Libre, or a rum and coke to the average layman, it had been switched to be called 'Burn'. And I only knew that because I had just heard the skinny wannabe-rapper at the next table tell one of his insanely-skinny-boobie-smoobie girls.
Whether that was something to do with the 'so cold it's hot' property of ice I wasn't sure, but it did not impress me. Potter's amused eyes flashing across the table at me told me he had been here before and knew what to expect – but he wasn't going to help me.
"What'll it be?" A woman I hadn't seen before swanned up to us, dressed in her almost non-existent uniform and clutching a white mobile phone and a stylus, which she was using to take the drink orders as opposed to a good ol' notebook. Because they're just boring now, you see.
"Erm, Burn," I said quickly, feeling very self conscious of my, leggings and a long top combo, despite having felt attractive in it not five hours ago. The woman nodded with a single stretch of her neck and scribbled down one looped 'b' onto the phone screen and turned to face James.
"And you?" she asked, batting her false eyelashes at him as he coolly assessed the menu. "Same as your... girlfriend?" He smirked, winked at me but shook his head and gestured coolly to one of the black squiggles on the page. With one more scribble on the screen, she stalked off to fetch the drinks, nearly knocking my off my chair with a giant flick of her hair as she turned around.
"Do you even know what Burn is?" Potter smirked, lounging back and assessing me with amused eyes. Glad I'm such a source of entertainment to him.
"Sure, it's a rum and coke," I murmured, shooting him a cocked eyebrow. His eyebrows shot up again and I reckon he looked a little impressed – it was one of the most positive expression I had ever seen on his face, that's for sure.
"Who told you that?" he murmured, and I felt an inexplicable flush begin to crawl up my cheeks. Maybe it was the heat in the club, maybe it was all the alcohol from before catching up with me or maybe it was just the way Potter was looking at me – with heated eyes running with warmed Firewhiskey, a smirk on his lips.
I didn't answer, but instead turned my attention back to the dancefloor that was still pulsing with light in the middle of the room. It was the same as any usual dancefloor. Couples were grinding shamelessly in the centre, arms flying everywhere and drinking spilling all over the floor. Then to the left were the hyperactive stoners, who were leaping around like insane monkeys to a track that was far too slow for the pace of their springing. And then, at the other side, there was the OAP section. You know what I mean, the section filled with forty year old women coated in slap that were trying in vain to recapture their youth by squeezing themselves into their dresses from the nineties and wearing a couple of pairs of the teenage daughter's false eyelashes.
The women couldn't dance properly (their hips would probably give out, you know) and so they stood there and bopped, their shiny curls sending flashes of light and glitter across the room.
I was watching them in amusement, taking lazy sips from my rum and coke after the waitress dropped it down onto the table, until I saw something that made my blood run cold. Pushing his way through the dark section of the pub, wearing a black button down shirt and black jeans that I had never seen before, was Dan.
I shot out of my chair and onto my feet, nearly spraying the mouthful of coke all over the floor, and staggered out of the VIP section, begrudgingly waiting for a second to let the bouncer stamp a large 'V' onto the back of my hand and stumbled over to where Dan had disappeared.
Potter had stood up behind me and watched me run off with a large crease between his eyebrows, glancing around to see whether any other 'important people' had noticed my untimely and rather rude exit.
"Dan!" I yelled, but my voice was swallowed by the roar of the crowd as a new song, some popular, bobby one, came on the loudspeakers. I glanced around; staring for a bloke in a black shirt, but everything black was swallowed in the darkness of the club.
The lights blurred in my vision and melted into one another, dribbling across my eyesight and making my stagger into the side of the bar. I pressed my hands against the cool marble to steady myself and stumbled forwards. My head was flicking around like meerkat on acid, and people began to glance at me suspiciously.
I was drunk and I couldn't see properly – my head was spinning, my vision was blurry, my stomach was twisting, but I had to see Dan. I needed to say to him what I hadn't been able to say back at the cafe. I wanted to – I wanted to kick him, to be quite honest.
You know what they say – alcohol aids the speaking of the truth.
And that's when I saw him – sauntering across the dancefloor coolly. He didn't look like he was looking for anyone, which was strange. Wouldn't he have only come to this club to try and find Potter and I? But no, he was standing on the dancefloor chatting to some skinny blonde bint without a care in the world. Granted, I could only see the back of his head, but the back of his head looked very care-less.
"Dan!" I yelled, but my voice was once again swallowed by the noise.
I took a deep breath, turned around and tipped my head upside down beneath the tap of the water fountain that sat integrated into the end of the bar. I pushed down the small piece of black plastic and filled my mouth with iced water, swallowing it gratefully and waiting for the spinning in my head to subside.
As soon as I could see properly again, I took a few tentative steps forwards and put my hand gently on Dan's shoulder. He spun around and turned to grin at me – and the smile promptly dropped off my own face. Because the bloke wasn't Dan.
"Aimee fucking Woods!" he yelled, dropping the blonde bint's hand so he could wrap his arms around my waist and scoop me up into a flying hug. My feet left the ground and my chin was resting on his shoulder, and I grinned into the flop of brown hair that fell into my face – his hair was a few shades darker than Dan's, especially now Dan had been jetting off to the land of the sun while the sun was cracking the flags.
"Hey, Barney," I said quietly, grateful for the spinning stopping when my feet once again touched solid ground. The blonde bint stalked off to get another drink, but neither of us paid her any attention. She looked like a bit of a skank, anyway.
"You spoken to Daniel today? He told my mum that he was going to meet you for dinner today, but he might have just been saying that to try and get her off his back – she's fucking fuming that he called things off with you. I thought she was gonna fucking disown the poor lad. Leaving a girl like you to go and party with people in countries whose names I can't pronounce."
"That's what I said!" I yelled into his ear, and he tipped his head back as he started to laugh. He had a nice laugh, Barney, but it wasn't as nice as his brother's. That's how they knew each other, by the way – Dan and Barney were brothers. Barney and Dan's mother were the only members of the family that I ever got along with – his father didn't like me, though we were never sure why, and his three sisters and other brother weren't too fussed on me either. But Barney and I got on very well.
I didn't know why his sisters didn't like me, but I knew why Shane – that's his other brother, FYI – couldn't stand me. It all stemmed from one big unfortunate event when we had all had a little bit too much to drink, but the nub and gist was Shane hated me and Dan gave Shane two black eyes. It's a long story. I'll tell you sometime.
"Yeah, yeah, we met up for dinner," I yelled, and Barney's eyebrows flew up into his hairline.
"Is Dan here, then?" I shook my head, a few curls flopping into my eyes. I beat them away impatiently and frowned at his confused expression. "But – look, not to be crude or nothing, but if you met up with Dan, why aren't you two off shagging right now or something? Why are you here on your own?"
"Who said I was here on my own?" I muttered, getting a little defensive. I wasn't a complete loner, you know – I do have some friends!
"Well, who are you here with, then?" he asked patiently. In a moment of defiance, I spat out the words that I really shouldn't have to one of the only members of Dan's family that approved of me.
"I'm here with my fucking boyfriend, Barney," I muttered. He gaped at me. Shit.
"Was that your ex that you were just talking to?" Potter slurred, looking quite chilled out, stretched out on his beanbag with a drink held loosely in one hand, but I could tell he was angry again. His eyes were flashing at me and his lip was curled up into an ugly smirk on one side.
"No, it wasn't," I snapped back, dropping down onto my beanbag and gesturing angrily to one of the skanks to refill my drink.
"Sure as fuck looked like him," Potter said coldly, and I could almost feel the atmosphere changing as it prepared for what was sure to be another argument – except it wasn't. I was tired. I couldn't be bothered – I was shattered and exhausted and drunk and I wasn't in the mood to fight with someone else. I just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until the dinosaurs had taken over.
"That's because it was his brother – he and Barney only have eighteen months between them." My voice was weary and cracking down the middle, and maybe Potter sensed this because he seemed to let up a little.
"Just mind yourself, will you? Anyone in here could – could take a photo and send it to the press. You need to watch what you're doing at all times."
"You say this like you've done it before, like you know what to expect," I said hotly, but Potter raised one finger and glanced around.
"Rule number one – don't talk about this in public places, and especially don't sodding yell about it. Merlin, how thick can you be?" I scowled at him but dropped my gaze to the table as Potter glanced around to check if anyone was watching us.
"Rule number two," Potter whispered, but his voice was closer to me now. I glanced up in shock to see his face not five inches from mine, his lips pink and his eyes watching me with wry amusement, "is you always have to keep up appearances." Potter took my head in both of his hands, pressed a chaste kiss on my lips and then leant back onto his own beanbag.
The fifteen or so nosy buggers that had been watching us quickly turned back to their own table to make it look like they hadn't been creeping.
"Stop bloody kissing me, git, I'm not a sodding hooker," I crossed my arms over my chest but lowered my voice in accordance to rule number one. I smoothed the expression on my face out into a smile in an attempt to stick to rule number two, also. I prayed there were no more rules.
"First of all, I think I'm the one with the short end of the stick here – I have to buy you a sodding flat, all you have to do is smile and play along. Second of all, sweetheart, if I was buying a flat for a hooker then I would want a lot more than a peck on the lips." Potter scowled at me and leant back properly.
"Shut up," I grumbled childishly, and he ignored me. I would have too.
"Thanks for tonight, Potter," I slurred a long while later, leaning against the doorframe of my flat as Potter nodded and ran his fingers through his knotted hair. His eyes seemed to be circled with purple rings, but that might have been something to do with the fact it was three o'clock in the morning and he had most likely been working all day and had to work all day tomorrow... well, today.
"It's alright – you're actually a lot more tolerable when you're pissed," Potter smirked, and I would have glared but I didn't have the energy. And besides, I was a little begrudgingly grateful that Potter had spent the night out with me when I didn't have to.
"As are you... probably because I can't understand half of what you're saying." Potter rolled his eyes and mussed up his hair once more, before turning on his heel and stalking off down the corridor. I blinked after him for a second, pushed on my door and shrieked loudly when it just fell open behind me.
I stumbled backwards and landed hard on my arse, cracked my head against the wall behind me and clutched at my newly pounding skull with shaking hands. Why had the door opened on its own? Potter had locked it before we left – so someone had opened it. My heart began to thump uncomfortably in my throat as I crawled to my feet and glanced around for the nearest object I could use for a weapon.
"Aimes? You alright, beautiful? You could have hurt yourself." I screamed and whipped around, seizing a rolling pin from the floor (who put that there, seriously?) and swinging it around like a psycho bint out of hell. "Fucking hell, it's only me! Put the sodding rolling pin down, you freak!" Dan squawked in indignation, and my chest heaved as I sagged against the wall in relief.
It was just Dan – he let himself in using his key. I wasn't being stalked or robbed – not that there way anything to rob. I was okay. Right. Taking a deep breath and massaging my fingers around my chest, I slowly stepped forwards and into his open arms. He smelled the same way he always had – musky, like cheap aftershave, and Prowiz shower gel.
"Dan – I," I started, as the tears began to slip out and down my flushed cheeks. When they didn't immediately subside, I hushed up and let him awkwardly rock me from side to side as he floundered for something to say. Dan was never one for dealing with emotions or emotional people, especially not emotional females.
"Shh, it's alright," he muttered between rocks, smoothing down the back of my hair in an uncharacteristically sentimental gesture, "you're going to be fine, Aimee Woods. I'm here. Shh, just stop with the crying." His gentle coaxing and soft strokes to the head eventually worked their magic, and soon my sobbing was slowing and I was calm enough to take dry, shuddering breaths.
"I'm sorry," I murmured thickly.
"No, I'm sorry. It was me who acted like the prick and me who was a knob to your... boyfriend. I mean, it's only fair that you get to move on... I was the one that left you."
I gaped at him and clutched his clenched fist between both of my palms, slightly scared to feel it shaking with repressed anger beneath my fingertips. I pressed a light kiss to the corner of his mouth and he stopped shaking suddenly, and blinked at me with an utterly blank expression on his face. He looked like I'd pulled the rug out from under his feet.
"Aimee, what about your very rich and famous boyfriend? I mean, Aimes –" I cut him off with another gentle kiss.
I knew I shouldn't have been kissing him after everything he did, after everything he put me through, after everything he said today, but I couldn't help it. I had missed him so much, and now he was here, back with me, in my arms – how could I pass that up? I wasn't going to let Potter stand in the way of my happily ever after.
Dan's arms tightened around my back and his mouth became more insistent on mine, one of his hands sliding upwards to fist in the roots of my hair and his tongue slowly tracing the outside of my lips. The breath was wiped from my body as my mind was shocked clean – I hadn't realised how much I'd missed Dan until I finally had him back.
Yes, he was cankerous and stubborn and angry and got in a mood far too quickly and far too often, and yes, he left me, but I loved him. And I'm sure we could work around the rest – we could, couldn't we?
Dan suddenly groaned, broke away and leant his forehead on my shoulder as his chest heaved up and down. I gently stroked through his sun-kissed brown hair and smiled, not minding the strong smell of curry floating down from Mrs Up Above for once in my life.
"You know what? I don't know what I was complaining about. I'm not above being with someone else's girlfriend. You were mine first, anyway." And with that, Dan scooped me up into his arms and half ran through the apartment to my bedroom, slammed his back into the door and tossed me down onto the bed, before quickly yanking his shirt off over his head.
I giggled and leant up on my knees to plant a gentle kiss on his bellybutton.
"What?" he asked, looking a tad offended at my sudden bout of laughter. I tugged him down onto the bed next to me and ran my nose along his earlobe, pressing kisses onto his jaw.
"Oh, nothing," I said vaguely, "I've just missed you is all. Now, shut up and shag me."
And so he did.
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
yeah, aimee is stupid. i'm aware. we should all throw chocolate mice at her, or something like that. though that might be a waste of chocolate mice. but she loves him and she missed him, so we should be feeling sorry for her, really. sorry for the patchy and sporadic updates, i am being spread very thin at the moment. i still love the lot of you. each and every one of you. even you. yes, you.
loveeee and hugs and kisses,
ellie :) xx
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