Chapter 1 : The one with the top hat
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"You can’t argue it’s not beautiful.”
That was true, I couldn’t argue. There’s a first time for everything.
I twirled around so I could see the back of the dress in the mirror and I actually liked it. I willed myself to hate it, detest the navy colour and long length and for the first time in my life I wanted frills. Lots of frills and lace and orange, because then I would have a legitimate reason to hate it. Even the shoes were lovely, if a bit high.
“I guess so,” I mumbled.
“You look great Jess,” said my brother Aiden, his head poking out of the bathroom where he was shaving. At least I could hate the part about sharing a room with my brother.
“This is the one Jess, I know it, this one is going to last. I promise.” My mum squeezed my hand before going into her room to put on her wedding dress. I swear she said that about the last wedding, so I am a little pessimistic. Not than anyone could blame me really.
Half an hour later I was walking down the aisle followed by my mother, who was walking arm in arm with Aiden. She looked beautiful, but my mother always does. I really hope I inherit my mother’s skin that never seems to age. I swear, forty-three and not a wrinkle.
There were about a hundred people in the posh hotel that had been hired for the ceremony and at least half of them were magical. Only a few of them had turned up in dress robes which was loads better than her last wedding where almost all of them turned up dressed like witches and wizards. That made really interesting dinner conversations with my stepdad’s family. Or ex-stepdad anyway, I have a new one now.
This one’s name is Jeremy or ‘Jez’ as he’s asked us to call him. He is a politician, high up in parliament which equals incredibly rich, well connected and quite boring. Which is just how my mum likes them. I’m not saying she doesn’t love him or anything, she probably does, but she’s on her fourth wedding and each of the men she’s married have hit the same criteria with my dad the only wizard.
He must have put her off them for life.
I switch off during the ceremony and instead focus on dinner. The last wedding mum had been when I was thirteen, and she let me plan almost everything from the menu to the table decorations and colour scheme. This time Jez had insisted they get a proper wedding planner in which meant we were having some sort of fish for dinner. I hate fish and so does mum.
Confetti and fake smiles for the camera ensue.
I spot my brothers best friend Freddie and grimace as he takes a picture on his magical camera. This is the third wedding he’s been invited to as our Mum’s work together and he finds them a massive source of entertainment, which is no comfort to me.
“You could at least smile Kenny. My mum’s not going to be too impressed when I show her that last picture of you giving me the finger.”
“Shut up or I’ll tell your parents you broke into my dorm last year and stole all my underwear.”
“Please, my Dad would be proud of that one,” he grinned, “totally worth the hexing from Aiden.”
I muttered an expletive my mother would definitely not be proud of.
“I thought these muggle weddings were long and drawn out? That was only about fifteen minutes long, I didn’t even have a chance to have a proper nap,” said Aiden’s other best friend, James Potter.
“Mum’s not religious so it’s a shorter ceremony,” I muttered, “Though; I am thinking of turning to God, he might help me through this shitty day.” I added as an afterthought taking in the appearance of James, whose family had also been invited.
“I should have brought my Granddad, he loves them,” He gestured around the room, “He’d be in his element with all these muggles.”
“That’s great, I have to go now,” giving him and his strange hair a dirty look. He’d gelled it for the occasion and clearly not looked in the mirror before leaving the house.
My brother was sat on the top table as he was taking on the responsibilities of father of the bride in absence of my granddad, leaving me stuck on a table of old relatives. I survived dinner, (if you could call it that) was asked to dance by two different guys (declined) and listen to Jez give a forty-five minute speech about my mum.
After the top table had been dismantled and dance floor in full swing, I found my brother talking to the newest member of the family.
“Have you seen Potter’s hair? It looks worse than usual,” my brother turned around at my interruption and grinned, “congratulations Jez,” I added unenthusiastically.
“Thank you stepdaughter,” I tried to smile but I’m sure I couldn’t keep the grimace off my face, “I was just congratulating your brother on a wonderful speech he made.”
“It was truly inspiring. Ade, can I borrow you for a sec?”
“Sure, I’ll see you later Jez,” I raised my eyebrows as my new stepdad wandered off to mingle with his guests, “Don’t look like that Jess, he’s ok. He’s definitely better than the last one.”
“I’d say he’s on equal par actually,” I argued. Aiden has never been a great judge of character; you only need to look at the idiots he hangs out with.
“Steve tried to get mum committed to a mental hospital when she told him she was a witch!”
“Maybe he was onto something there though. Just think, we would have never had to go through another wedding, another silly back story about where we disappear off to for most of the year, the owls delivering the mail, the wands, the dress robes, th-“
“Alright, point made. Did you want something?”
“Yeah, I’m bored.”
“Ah there’s something new. Come on, let’s go mingle baby sister.”
“We’re twins Aiden and I’m six minutes older than you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he replied as we made our way back to the table of old, boring relatives I had to endure through dinner.
“Aiden, your speech was just wonderful darling, your mum was nearly in tears,” my Aunty Maggie cooed as we approached, “and Jessie, you look so beautiful, such a lady,” Aiden snorted and I responded by punching him hard in the arm. Hopefully it'll leave a nice, big bruise.
“Jessica, do you think you could pop up to our room and put these away? I think the muggles are drunk enough not to notice the absence of all these props.” My uncle Blake asked dumping an armful of muggle suit jackets, hats and various other bits and bobs into my arms.
“The room key is in my jacket pocket.”
Honestly, does he think I’m a donkey or something?
“Do you think the DJ has anything by the Sexy Witches? I don’t know any of these songs,” Freddie whined as he came up behind us.
“It’s a muggle wedding,” I replied, straining to see over the top of the pile of crap in my arms. I looked around the room and my eyes fell on a familiar girl, “ohh look who’s over there Aiden.” I nodded my head towards the bar where a girl was leaning over ordering a drink. Aiden coughed at my Aunt and Uncle and threw Freddie a smirk.
“If you don’t see me for the rest of the night high five me in the morning.” I heard him say under his breath to which I threw him a filthy look. A few minutes later his arm was around the waist of Nikki someone-or-other, a girl in the year below us at school and occasional snog buddy of my brother.
“Please, just because you’ve never kissed anyone in your life doesn’t mean you have to piss on everyone else’s fun.” James popped his head around my shoulder and grinned. I pushed him out of the way, using my armful of ‘props’ and he fell over, nearly pulling Freddie down with him.
“I do have a boyfriend you know.” James looked like he’d consumed a whole bottle of fire whiskey and his face had adopted an even goofier expression than usual. “Can someone get this idiot a glass of water or something?”
“Oh yes and where is this delightful boyfriend of yours? Your mother tells us he has been made head boy this year, such an honour!” My Aunt exclaimed, ignoring James’s rude comment and my retort. “Maybe next year you will make head girl?” Fred tried to hide his snigger. “Your brother is definite head boy material. Are either of you two prefects?”
James and Fred, I’ll admit, tried their best to hide their revulsion at the thought but Maggie noticed.
“You must be aware that being a school prefect is looked upon very highly by employers and will make it easier to get into a good career after you complete your education.”
“His Dad is Harry Potter; I doubt he’ll have any trouble getting a job.” I hate my life. “I’ll be back later.”
I made my way through the crowd on the dance floor and just got to the door, when Jez’s voice on the microphone stopped us.
“Excuse me, excuse me everyone. Can you all hear me?” There was a general muttering around the grand ballroom where the reception was being held. “I would just like to thank you all for coming…-“
“Didn’t he spend nearly an hour saying thanks earlier?” James moaned loudly as him and Freddie wandered over, James swaying slightly. I shushed him.
“-as my family and some of my work colleagues will be aware, I’ve been working hard to move up in my career. Yesterday I was informed that I had been given a promotion and will be permanently based in Washington as part of the international relations team-“ There was clapping around the room and shouts of congratulations, I looked at my Mum who was standing next to him looking somewhere between horrified and nervous. “We will be moving to the states at the end of August and I can’t wait to start my married life there with my new family.”
My mum rushed over to me, ignoring the crowds on the dance floor offering their congratulations.
“Jessica where is Aiden? I need to explain what Jeremy means-“
“Is he being serious? Washington? As in America, across the other side of the world?”
“Yes, but honey-“
“When were you planning on telling us about that?” I was aware I was shouting and the DJ still hadn’t turned the music back on.
“Let’s just go and find Aiden-“
“We are moving at the end of August? Well it’s the end of July now and you have a three week honeymoon so that leaves you just over a week when you get back to let me and Aiden know-“
She started to cry.
“For fuck sake.” I turned around and stormed out as best as I could considering I was carrying half a wardrobe.
“Are you ok?”
“If you ask my stepdad politely he might introduce you to some of his single relatives. You never know, it might be one of you high fiving Aiden in the morning,” I said dryly to Freddie, struggling with my armful of stuff.
“Nah, already done a quick sweep of the room, there‘s no one hot enough.” Are all men pigs? “Though I must say Kenny, your arse looks amazing in that dress. What do you say we-“ I turned around and stopped Freddie before he got carried away and dumped the pile of my uncle’s junk into his arms causing him to back into James, who promptly fell over again. I may be a beater, but my arms are not made of steel.
“Make yourself useful and carry these. And my eyes are up here perv.” I pointed to my face. James burst out laughing. I yanked my shoes off my aching feet and stalked off ahead of them.
“Don’t let Aiden hear you hitting on Jessie; he’s waiting for the day he can get you back for when you knocked him out for kissing Roxie.”
“Honestly, is this how best mates communicate?”
“Not always, sometimes we high five each other, it really depends on the situation,” James said, wiggling his eyebrows from his position on the floor.
“James Sirius Potter!” We turned to see James’ mum storming over to us with a scary look on her face.
I decided to ignore the pair of them and continued to make my way up to the fourth floor of the hotel which most of us are staying.
America. Typical Mum.
Over the years, we've moved house so many times I've lost count due to Mum's countless relationships. We started in Cornwall where me and Aiden were born, in a house which over-looked the beach; it was gorgeous. Well, what I can remember of it anyway. Dad left when me and Aiden were about four and we moved out when we were about six or seven and mum got engaged.
“James has been dragged home for chucking up his dinner all over my Auntie Ginny a minute ago, doubt I’ll see him for the rest of the summer. How about a dance when we get back downstairs?” Freddie asked with a cheeky grin after catching me up a few minutes later.
“I’d rather spend the night listening to Jez talk about budgets and international relations but thanks for the offer,” I replied sarcastically. Fred didn’t look hurt, instead grinned wider.
“Playing hard to get, they are the most fun.”
“You know I have a boyfriend.”
“He’s not here though is he?”
“Right that’s it. I’m going back to my room to change my shoes and you can piss off and annoy someone else.”
“Aw come on Jess. Aiden’s busy and James has gone and there’s no one else for me to hang out with. Anyway, I won’t get to see you ever again if you’re moving away-“
“I’m NOT moving away.” I threw a shoe at him which he easily dodged. I stalked up to my room and opened the door, hoping to find my flats before my feet split in half. As beautiful as the shoes were I was in agony.
“Well I’m sure my mum will let you live with us, you can share my room with me-“
I stomach heaved and I slammed my hand against my face to cover my eyes. I heard two people swear and what sounded like bodies separating.
I’ll never be able to un-see or un-hear this.
“Get out!” Shrieked a hysterical girl.
“Nikki? Ha-ha, do you want me to high five you now Aiden or wait until you’re dressed?” I have never wanted to punch Fred so much in my life. How could he make jokes at a time like this? “Let’s go and leave these two to ah finish up.”
I nearly vomited.
“Jessica!” my Auntie Maggie called from the end of the corridor, my uncle following her dragging their overnight bag behind him, “I can’t stand to look at your mother after that outburst. We are leaving; I think its best I don’t make a scene in front of all the muggles. It would take too long to obliviate them all and I’ve never been great at that spell…”
“Where are the rest of our things Jess?” My eyes popped open again to see Fred had dumped them onto the unoccupied bed.
“Er, they're in here. I’ll just get them for you.” In one swift movement Aiden and Nikki threw themselves out of the bed, the quilt around them and backed into the bathroom a millisecond before Maggie popped her head in.
“Where is the quilt?”
“Oh eh- it didn’t come with one,” I improvised, “I was just going down to complain actually. Here’s your stuff.” I gathered up their things and dumped them in my Uncle Blake’s arms.
“We’ll talk to your mother about this nonsense honey, don’t worry.”
“It’s fine Auntie Maggie,” I said quickly, ushering them both out of the room, “I’m just going to change my shoes and then I’ll go and talk to her.”
They seemed to buy my obvious lie and left after hugs and a quick goodbye to Freddie. I let out a breath and Freddie burst out laughing.
“Are they gone?” Aiden whispered.
“If they were still here that would be a really awkward question to answer.”
“Can you chuck us in our clothes?”
“Where are they?” The thought of picking up random bits of Nikki’s underwear was making me feel a bit queasy.
“I don’t know,” Nikki hissed, “just hurry up.”
“Alright, alright, keep your knickers on,” Fred said before bursting out laughing. I threw him a dirty look and began scanning the room.
“I’ve found a bra, but I can’t see anything else other than your shoes,” I picked up the black, lacy bra by its strap and lobbed it into the bathroom. I heard Nikki scramble to put it on. I’m honestly never going to be able to look at either of them again.
“I think my dress landed on the other bed,” Freddie mouthed landed and burst out into silent laughter this time.
“There isn’t anything-“ I remembered handing my uncle his things that were on my bed and froze mid-search, “-on the bed.”
“This just gets better and better!” Fred announced realising what I’d done.
My brother poked his head around the door, bright red face and hair everywhere. “I definitely saw clothes on the bed!”
“I think Uncle Blake has them.”
“How the hell would Uncle Blake have our clothes?”
“I handed him his and Maggie’s jackets and bags and things and they must have been on top of your clothes,” I panicked pointing unnecessarily to the empty bed.
Nikki demanded I donate some of my clothes to her but seeing as she was about three sizes smaller than me and a foot shorter and I only had one change of clothes for the morning that wasn’t happening.
“Stop yelling will you, I’ll get you something of Aiden’s.”
“He vanished his bag to mine earlier because he decided to stay with me tonight instead.”
I’d honestly never seen Freddie so amused in all the years I’d known him and I’d seen him at the heart of many pranks at school.
“You better not tell anyone about this or I will ruin all of you,” Nikki seethed, she yanked the quilt from around my brother, who thankfully jumped back into the bathroom without us seeing anything and a second later there was a crack as she apparated out of the bathroom.
“What a nutter,” said Freddie, “So do you want me to leave the high five till you at least have pants on?”
“Look, just summon some clothes from somewhere and get back downstairs, we have a bit of a crisis going on with mum.”
“Don't tell me she’s announced the divorce already? That must be a record even for her,” he said dryly, “Lob me your wand then, I’ve left mine at home.”
“It’s in there, next to the sink.”
“It’s not. Hang on; Nikki used a wand to apparate out.” Aiden groaned.
“She’s took my wand?”
“Well you lost her clothes. Fair game.”
“Shut up Freddie! Why are you still here?”
“Shut up! Just chuck me your wand Freddie and we'll go and get it back.”
“No can do mate. Mum said we had to do the whole thing Muggle so she made me leave it at home. Though I can bet she’s got her wand with her with all the crazy stuff that’s been going on lately,” he didn’t look impressed. He leaned over the side of my bed and came back up with a top hat on his head which must have fell off the bed when I gave the clothes back to my Uncle. “Muggle clothes are seriously weird.”
I snatched the top hat that was resting on Freddie’s bonce and chucked it into the bathroom as I spotted my mum at the end of the corridor.
“Quick, Mum’s coming!” He swore under his breath and mumbled something about never leaving the bathroom again and a second later my mum and Jez were at the door, mum’s face covered in tears and Jez looking guilty.
“Jess where’s Aiden, I need to explain!”
“He’s in the bathroom Mrs Kenny-er I mean Mrs Summers.”
“Aiden, come out I need to talk to you.”
“I can’t mum, I don’t feel well, can’t you just talk to me from out there?”
“No! Get out here now, this is important.”
Whether it was because he could hear the hysteria in my mum’s voice or that he realised there was no way to get out of the situation, I’ll never forget the next few moments of my life.
Slowly, out came Aiden with my Uncle Blake’s hat over his- ah man area. Tears began rolling down Fred’s face as my mother let out a small scream.
“Er mum is there any way I could borrow your wand to summon some clothes, there has been a bit of a misunderstanding with mine?” I took in his appearance; bed hair, lipstick all over his mouth and down his neck where a bruise was now forming and the muggle, traditional black top hat. No one said anything for a few moments.
“Wand? What is he talking about Susan?”
She hadn’t told Jez that she was a witch. I remembered my anger at his public announcement and said nothing.
“Er he’s had a lot to drink,” my mum spun around to Freddie, fuming, “It wasn’t me! I think it must have been James, he’s already been taken home by my Uncle, I’d guess he stole his clothes as well, you know, for a laugh. He’s been babbling rubbish since we came up here.” Thank Merlin Fred is an accomplished liar.
“Oh, well it is a wedding after all and he is nearly old enough I guess. Erm I’ll just go and get you a shirt or something from my room.” Jeremy was still looking at us all strangely.
“No, come on Aiden,” Mum stormed up to my brother, grabbed his arm and dragged him passed us and out into the corridor, with him trying to cover his bare arse with one hand and still hold the hat over his other area. I shut my eyes and Fred took my hand and dragged me out after them.
“I can’t ever un-see that!”
“I know, I took a picture, look!”
“Shut up Weasley!” I gagged. I could hear my brother being dragged down the corridor by mum and down the stairs.
“I can’t wait to show James!”
“You are disgusting!”
I let him tug me along the corridor, eyes still shut, just in case I caught a glimpse of my nearly naked brother.
“No way, I’m not going down there, everyone will see me!”
Freddie laughed again at the horror in Aiden’s voice as he was dragged down the stairs.
“Honestly I don’t know how she can even complain; she’s the one who embarrassed herself and me in front of the entire wedding.” I muttered.
“Don’t worry Jess, I’ll write to you every day while you’re away.”
“Thanks Fred than means a lot to me,” I said dryly, “I mean how could she just drop that on me without even discussing it first?”
“Well, it was your new step-daddy-“
“-Jez, not step-daddy,” I interrupted through gritted teeth. I could hear a shriek of laughter followed by sniggers. I opened an eye cautiously.
The honeymoon suite was situated on the ground floor, just off the main corridor where the exit to the ballroom was. There were several people watching the scene; I noticed including a large proportion of Freddie’s family.
“Where did he find that hat?”
“I bet it’s some kind of dare, you know what Aiden’s like.”
“Did you have anything to do with this?” Fred’s mum hissed, “This is a wedding, not the Gryffindor common room!”
“I wish! I took a picture though, do you want to see?” Fred was promptly dragged away from me by his mum, not before me mouthed ‘owl me’ and I followed the other three reluctantly into the honeymoon suite.
Trying my best to ignore the wedding night props (gag) I listened to my mum give out to Aiden, while Jez tried half-heartedly to stick up for him as he plied him with enough clothes to cover what was left of his modesty. I had a headache.
“We are moving to Washington. Don’t worry, Fred is going to break the news to James, I’m sure he’ll get the crying out of the way before you see him face to face.”
Mum stopped yelling and Aiden paused as he pulled on a muggle football shirt.
“Jeremy has a new job,” Mum said quickly, “We were going to talk to you about it when we got back from honeymoon-“
“-I really am sorry for announcing it, I didn’t even think. I was just really excited about the wedding and promotion and I just-“ He tried to scramble for the words and although I had never felt so shitty in my life I actually believed him. However, it didn’t mean I was going to speak to him.
I imagine the next few hours weren’t exactly how my mum expected her wedding night to go. I cried, Aiden yelled and there was a few ‘you’re not out father so you can’t tell us what to do’s,’ mature as ever. We all went to bed angry and unsure of what was going to happen to us come September the first.
“So, is it a high five for getting her clothes off or do you have to go all the way to qualify for that?”
AN: OK so here's my new one. This first chapter was written for AC_Rules awkward and unfortunate challenge on the forums and I can't stop writing! I'd love to know what you think! xxx
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