Chapter 1 : Mid May, 2029 - The Friday Blues
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Mid May, 2029
Was it so much for him to ask for one quiet evening?
He grumbled to himself as he opened the door to his house.
It was quiet. That much was promising.
Every day for the past two weeks, he had been welcomed home from a long day’s work by a small scale catastrophe. Only this week, he’d had to deal with a Quidditch team, an ex-convict and what certainly looked like an illegal animal scampering around his house.
Monday. Half of the Kenmare Kestrels were clustered around his kitchen openly weeping over his teacups. Tuesday. Arrived home to find a well-known blackmarket dealer engaged in friendly chit chat while demonstrating a Catherine wheel that promptly exploded and flooded his entire house in fumes. Wednesday. A Ministry worker was sitting despondently in his living room. Albus entered to find him seated on his seat at the sofa, on about relationship advice. Thursday. Entered at approximately seven o’clock only to be bitten on the leg severely upon entry by what looked like a particularly malicious dog. Was later informed – after a trip to St. Mungo’s - that it was in fact a Blast Ended Niffler.
So now it was Friday. He had had all of his favorite tea pilfered off to Quidditch players, had things explode in his face and been bitten.
Albus lingered carefully near the doorstep. He could hear a soft mumbling from the other side. He exhaled. Perhaps, he thought hopefully, his girlfriend was merely on the phone. Not attracting anymore ex-convicts, Quidditch players or illegally bred magical beasts.
He entered his house.
A large vase went sailing past his head.
So much for that.
“Come on, please,” came his girlfriend’s voice, wheedling. “Calm yourself. Yelling this much can’t be healthy.”
“I’ll calm myself when I want to!”
He recognized the voice and winced.
It was his girlfriend’s crazy friend. Though most of them struck him as crazy, this one was particularly dangerous.
He cowered behind a potted plant as a teapot – his teapot! – crashed against the wall.
Hysterical shrieking followed at such a high octave he mistook it for Mermish.
“Please, it’s not the end of the world. Calm down,” his girlfriend pleaded. ”Listen, you’re just suspicious. You’re not even sure if you are. It’s too early to tell. It might just be nothing.” She considered her words before continuing, “Have you told anyone else?”
“No.” There was ragged breathing. “No. I’ve heard Lucy got back yesterday. I’m thinking of telling her next week at Justin’s birthday party. She’ll know what to do.”
“Okay, good,” said his girlfriend gently. “Now, put down that encyclopedia. Albus actually likes that one.”
Straightening himself, Albus emerged from the potted plant and slowly crept to the kitchen.
They heard his footsteps and the conversation in the kitchen abruptly stopped.
“Albus? Is that you?”
“Potter’s here?” asked her hysterical friend. “Damn it! At a time like this?”
“Is everything okay?” he called. “June?”
“Yes, everything’s fine. You can come in.”
As he approached the kitchen, his girlfriend’s face came into view. She was standing by the dining table, pouring more tea for her hysterical friend. This time, it was her friend from Magical Law Enforcement – Priscilla Fawcett – a girl who he had never been on good terms with, even in his time in Hogwarts.
“Potter,” said her friend coolly.
“Well,” said June, looking nervously between the two. “Albus. It’s nice to see you. Now go upstairs.”
“But – “ he looked longingly at the tea.
“Upstairs,” she said sweetly through gritted teeth.
“Fine,” he said, limping toward the stairs. As he climbed up to his study, he could hear the whispers break out again.
“So, what’re you going to do if – you know?”
“I’ve got no idea,” came Priscilla’s gloomy voice. “I’ll just pray I’m not. If I am, I’m absolutely doomed.”
As Albus set the table for dinner, he threw furtive glances at his girlfriend. She was waiting for him at the table, absorbed in a new edition of Witch Weekly.
“You know, it says here that knee-length robes are very fashionable in Shanghai.”
“Really?” He was used to giving such one word answers when she brought up her work. “That’s good.”
She shut the magazine and smiled up at him. “How was work today for you?”
“Fine.” He sat down across from her and began eating. “Some bloke from Manchester thought it’d be funny to try and Transfigure his friend into a reindeer. Ended up making him sprout an extra leg and antlers.”
“Ouch. How’d you fix that?”
“Took forever.” He puffed himself out. “Managed it at last, though. And the research on Hippogriff Pox’s been going well.”
She reached across and kissed him on the cheek. “Good.”
He smiled at her before promptly returning back to earth. “June. Listen.”
“I’ve been wanting to ask you. Is this going to be a regular thing with your friends?”
She looked at him blankly. “What d’you mean?”
“I mean, am I going to be coming home to the Kenmare Kestrels crying all over my kitchen again?”
“You know that’s only happened twice,” said June. “How can you blame them? They lost to the Wasps and that hasn’t happened in nearly ten years! Of course Trista was upset and had to drop by and she brought a few of her friends along and they’re really very nice girls – ”
“Then what about that bloke from the Ministry? Dunstan?”
“You mean Duncan Podmore,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Albus, he needed help. He’s been fancying this girl in his office since last year! Her birthday’s just around the corner, apparently, so he needed my help. And anyway, you know they’re not just my friends. They’re like my family.”
“Last I checked, no family member of mine ever blew up my house.”
“Desmond didn’t mean to, you know that. Anyway, that was my fault for egging him on to ignite that thing. We’re just lucky the Charms on the house kept it together.”
“We’ve only been living together for two weeks,” he whined. “When’ll I ever be able to come home to find some peace? Remember last week when that loony goblin tried attacking me?”
“He came with Lucy!” she said indignantly. “And he wasn’t loony! D’you know he used to work in Gringotts when your dad and his friends blew it up! He was just explaining to me and Lucy how the very sight of your dad gives him post traumatic stress. And then you chose that moment to come barging through the door and you know how much you look like your father sometimes and I suppose he was just overwhelmed – ”
“I think I’m going to have a word with Lucy about what kind of guests she brings over,” he said angrily.
“No, please, don’t. You know she’s just got back from Norway. Don’t argue with her when you know how tired she must be with work and her family.”
“And that thing that bit me,” he went on. “What the bloody hell was that?”
“Oh, the Niffler? Henry’s friend brought him. The poor Niffler’s been missing Henry ever since he took off for Tanzania. We just thought we’d keep the little thing company. We really had no idea it’d bite you like that.”
“Living in my home should not be this dangerous,” he struggled, waving a fork at her.
She sighed. “All right. I’ll ask them to not visit as much. Is that what you want?”
When he saw her frowning, he grimaced. “No. If it’s going to upset you – “
“It won’t upset me. I can try having less things – you know – bite you.”
He rose and kissed her across the table. It gave him the light, floaty feeling it usually did and she smiled at him.
“So,” he began again. “When’re you ever going to tell me what Fawcett was on about?”
She pulled away immediately. “Never. Don’t even joke about that. I’m just praying I dreamt that part up.”
The entire idea of living with June Bernard even four years ago would’ve seemed laughably impossible. She had been the dim girl who’d tried handing him a love letter in the middle of lunch at Hogwarts. And after blackmailing and coercing him and yelling at him rather loudly, he’d somehow fell into fancying her halfway on accident. He’d spent most of the year reassuring himself that he’d had higher standards than a girl who couldn’t perform a simple Confunding Charm and had a thorough lack of knowledge on magical principles, yet he’d bungled into a relationship. This one, to be exact, that ended up with him getting bitten or screeched at by lunatics.
Still, it had its good moments. Wonderful ones, really, when nobody else was around. It’d been exciting in the beginning – physically, emotionally, all that soppy sort of thing. Now it had become a warm glow . The thought of coming home after a long day at St. Mungo’s and being rewarded with some tea and maybe a snog was enough to cheer him up.
Of course, who was he to know that she and her crazy friends would make everything worse before they could become better?
“Tomorrow. I swear.”
“What do you mean tomorrow?”
“Look Albus, I really can’t talk.” Her voice came as a whisper over the phone. “Victoire and I are really busy right now. We’ve got a lot of orders we need to ship to Madrid. I’ll call you back later. Bye.”
Exasperated, he heard the beep as the call dropped.
“No luck, mate?”
Vincent Thomas, Colin Creevey and Anthony Kirke were staring at him, each holding a glass of firewhiskey.
“She’s not listening to me for more than ten seconds.”
“Ah, that’s what happens,” said Vincent, sagely bobbing his head, “when you’re married for so long.”
The other two howled with laughter.
“We’re not married,” he said irritably. “I never get to see her anymore. It feels like it’s been a month since I last saw her. We’ve both been that busy with work.”
“Right, that’s what they all say. Then suddenly, two months later, someone throws out the suitcases and half of the Wizarding World’s hearing about a divorce over the Wireless,” said Vincent, leaning back with the same look of mischief in his eyes.
Albus frowned. It was Colin who interjected with, “Don’t get married, Al. You’ll end up like poor Wood otherwise.”
There was a moment of silence as they remembered the missing member of their small quintent: Xavier Wood. Stuck at home, babysitting his children.
“Twenty-four and twins,” said Anthony, looking repulsed. He held up his glass. “Gentlemen. I toast to our freedom.”
“Aye,” said Vincent, holding his glass aloft. “To freedom. And to the thought of Wood wearing an apron.”
Albus rolled his eyes. Perhaps his friends weren’t too much better than his girlfriend’s.
It was strange, he decided, as he spent more time with his friends. Seven years had passed since they’d left Hogwarts. In that time, he’d finished Healing school, gotten a job at St. Mungo’s in the Potions and Plant Poisoning Ward. June had kept her job with Victoire in Mademoiselle, but she’d climbed up from a shopgirl to a business associate.
Even his friends had grown up. Colin was a writer now for Transfiguration Today. Both Vincent and Anthony worked for the Ministry; Vincent in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes and Anthony in the Beast Division.
But, Albus decided, not everything had changed. He watched Vincent and Colin challenge each other on who could drink more Firewhiskey. It was Vincent who managed to guzzle down his third bottle first; beside him, Colin took a sip and fell flat on the ground. Vincent began to yell triumphantly before falling down as well. And it was Albus and Anthony that Apparated them back to their respective flats.
It had been the same seven years ago when the two idiots would drink too much after Quidditch matches and it was still the same now.
Yes, some things definitely hadn’t changed.
Author's Note: Hello, my dear BIR readers (if any of you are still there). As promised, the sequel is out! It's much, much shorter than Bathing in Roses and will only be 6 chapters long followed by an epilogue. I've already written it all, so expect weekly updates.
The format will also be quite different. Each chapter will be spaced several weeks or months from the previous ones. Unlike BIR, there will be several chapters focused on just some of the minor characters and their subplots (yay rounding out characterization). Three of these chapters will be focused on June/Albus, so never fear!
I would love to know what you think of this seven year time skip. Most of the characters are now twenty-four/twenty-five, so it's nice to see them a little more mature. I'd love to see your feedback.
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