Chapter 6 : Chapter 6 - Albus
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‘Do you want anything else to drink?’ I asked. The words pouring out of my mouth before I even had time to think about what I was saying. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to Belinda or anything; I just didn’t see any reason she would want to talk to me. I had run away from her just the other day, and at the party I’d practically stopped talking to her when we had joined the rest of my cousins. Perhaps my request was more out of guilt than anything else.
‘Well... um, sure,’ she replied stuttering, ‘I mean, if you have nowhere else to go?’
‘I’ve not got anything else to do today.’ I grumbled lightly, Belinda laughed.
‘Well now that you mention it,’ she said a little more confidently, taking her seat again, ‘I wouldn’t mind another Pumpkin juice.’
I took that as a sign to go and order, and when I returned to my seat it was with two large glasses full of cool, sweet juice. ‘There you go, your royal highness,’ I winked, placing the glass in front of her, she twirled the straw nervously in her fingers.
‘I would have thought you were closer to royalty than me, being a Potter and all,’ she teased smugly in return, taking a sip of her drink.
‘I would have to disagree there, royalty are supposed to live a life of luxury... I don’t’ I replied bluntly.
‘Hmm,’ she pursed her lips into a small smile, ‘so what brought you into Diagon Alley today, other than the tempting sunlight?’ she pushed the conversation in a different direction.
‘Well other than my living here...’ I began, her eye brows shot upwards.
‘I didn’t realise you live here,’ she jutted in.
‘Oh yeah,’ I mumbled, ‘just round the corner in fact... but I was around for a job interview...’
‘Really?’ Belinda asked, leaning forward on clenched fists, ‘for what job?’
‘An assistant,’ I stuck my tongue out distastefully, ‘in a shop... I didn’t get the post though...’
‘Well I should hope not,’ she said casually. I looked at her, eyes wide with disbelief. ‘Well,’ she explained herself, ‘I guess I don’t know you well enough to judge, but I can imagine you are smart enough to do a much higher class job than an assistant.’
‘What about you?’ I retorted, ‘it’s not as though working at the Leaky is much better...’ I fumbled for a good enough excuse but that was all I came up with.
‘I know,’ she replied boldly, ‘but it’s only temporary, while I work out how to do what I want to do with my life, it’s not as though I imagine myself working there until I’m old and boring.’
I supposed she had a point, which Aunty Hannah would hate but she knew it was true, no one would want to stay in a job like that for long. And Belinda’s reasoning was about the same as Aunty Hannah’s when I’d asked for a job at the Leaky... I was well above those things; my only problem was I’m such a screw up.
‘What do you want to do?’ Belinda pressed, sipping her straw through the corner of her mouth.
‘I don’t know,’ I mumbled, running my fingers through my hair.
‘You do,’ she giggled, ‘you’re blushing!’
‘Nope,’ I said firmly, ‘I don’t.’
‘Do!’ She insisted.
‘Well what do you want to do?’ I shot back at her, smirking when her own cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
‘I want to make Wands...’ she blushed.
‘Wands?’ I repeated.
‘Yeah,’ she nodded enthusiastically, ‘I mean, I have all the right O.W.Ls and N.E.W.Ts, I just don’t have the money at the moment for the proper course and qualifications and stuff. That’s why I’m saving up.’ She sounded rather proud of her plan. ‘I guess working in the Leaky is my equivalent of taking a gap year... only it’s the third year I’ve not been studying so I guess it doesn’t count.’
‘Wow,’ I mumbled, slightly jealous of her knowing exactly what she wanted to do and how to get there. It seemed as though she’d always known this.
‘Yeah, well,’ she sighed, looking slightly embarrassed, ‘my brother always knew he wanted to be an auror so I guess I just take after him in planning.’
‘You have a brother?’ I asked, genuinely surprised, though it wasn’t as though I knew her well enough to be surprised.
‘Yes,’ she giggled, ‘in fact Rose had the same reaction as you did... his name is Ben, he lives in France.’
‘Do you miss him?’ I asked suddenly, shifting uncomfortably in the plastic seat outside the cafe we were sitting at.
‘Yes,’ she replied honestly. ‘We were quite close, as kids, and I miss his being around him... but we still visit and stuff.’
I laughed, ‘I wished I kept up as good a relationship with my siblings.’ I didn’t know why I was telling her this, it was as though my mouth was speaking without a second thought to what I said.
‘You have a good relationship with your family don’t you?’
I practically snorted right there. Good relationship my arse... but I didn’t say that out loud. ‘Um...’ I said instead, ‘well... I mean, I love my family... my cousins, my brother and sister, my parents... we just, get along better from a distance.’ I admitted feebly.
This was impossible to deny, a stranger could tell that I don’t have a great relationship with my family even from the fact that I don’t even live with them and I live with my godparents instead.
‘But it’s not like you hate each other,’ she pointed out politely, ‘you still see each other... maybe if you saw them more often you’d realise you actually miss being around them.’
‘I do miss being around them,’ I mumbled, ‘I just want to fix everything else before I go back to being with them all the time.’
‘Maybe if you went back to being with them you’d realise it’s easier to fix things.’
‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘I just want to do it this way round.’
‘Well I guess that’s your choice,’ she shrugged and slurped down the last of her juice, I half expected her to give a satisfied “ahh” like Sophia did when she drank pumpkin juice, but obviously Belinda was much more lady like that little Soph.
‘How’s your crup?’ I asked suddenly, steering us into a new conversation, rather than waiting for an awkward silence to fall upon us.
‘Who, Monkey?’ she asked.
I cut across her asking, ‘why did you name your crup Monkey of all names?’
‘Because,’ she explained, ‘I had a Muggle friend who had a dog called Monkey, and when the dog died my friend was so devastated I let her name my Crup, and she named him Monkey.’
‘That was nice of you,’ I replied awkwardly.
‘I guess it was,’ she giggled, ‘do you have pets?’
‘I don’t...’ I told her, ‘but my sister has a dog called Snuffles, and when we were kids we had a Puffskein.... that was before the dog ate it.’
‘That’s gross,’ Belinda wrinkled her button nose. She looked... cute, I supposed was the word. A little smile was playing at the corners of her lips and light fell on the creases on her nose.
‘It was,’ I shuddered, remembering.
‘Why don’t you get a pet?’ she asked.
‘Because,’ I muttered, ‘I don’t even have my own house.’ It was quite embarrassing talking about not having my own house to most people, but Belinda seemed to shrug it off and make it seem perfectly normal, as though every one was like that.
‘It’s all those parties you attend,’ she joked, ‘they aren’t going to get you anywhere.’
‘I don’t go to many parties,’ I argued, though this was clearly a lie. The first time she met me I was completely hung over from being at a bar the previous night. She had obviously picked up on this, either from the way I acted or something Rosie had said to her. ‘You should come to one of these parties I go to then,’ I resorted to persuading her to join me, if you would not believe I didn’t go and get drunk every other night, ‘I’m sure you’d enjoy them.’
‘Parties aren’t really my scene.’ She said hastily.
‘Aw come on,’ I begged, maybe I was just jumping at the chance of hanging out with her again, ‘isn’t that what you do with friends, go out and shit.’
‘Well this Friday,’ I demanded, ‘we’ll go somewhere in Muggle London, they have nice places there... and we can invite Rose if it makes you more comfortable.’
‘Okay...’ she trailed off, still sounding a little unsure.
‘You’ll love it,’ I insisted, she didn’t look convinced but she didn’t look too put off by the idea either, and when she said she had to head home to feed Monkey, she reminded me of this plan. ‘See you Friday; let me know the name of the place.’ She hugged me quickly and scurried off down a quiet alley to apparated.
I managed walking home with a smile on my face, a really happy genuine smile. It wasn’t often Albus Potter got these genuine smiles. Even Alice, Aunty Hannah and Uncle Nev’s only daughter noticed when I arrived home.
‘Ooh,’ she teased, making herself a sandwich and watching me from across the kitchen, ‘someone’s in a good mood today.’
‘I’m going out on Friday,’ I ruffled her hair.
‘Is that really something to look so happy about?’ Alice was the same age as Lily, and in fact, she was very like Lily in many ways. She was pretty, clever, and hated the fact that I went out too often and didn’t take her. There only differences were Alice’s unusually pale skin compared to Lily’s and Alice’s pale blonde hair.
‘It is,’ I nodded in reply, leaning over the counter. ‘I’m very excited, would you like to come.’
‘Nope,’ she sounded the P with a pop, ‘I don’t want to intrude on your date.’
‘What makes you think it’s a date,’ I chuckled.
‘I haven’t seen you this happy since I last saw you with Jess... it’s definitely a date.’
Everything crumbled. Everything suddenly didn’t seem so bright and cheerful. It was as though the light was sucked out of the room at the mention of that one name. I could practically feel the pain pulsing through my veins. How could I have been so stupid? I’d been having such a good day I’d forgotten all about what haunted me. Some people would see this as a good thing, but I knew better. I saw a picture of Jess, throwing her head back and laughing, and it seemed like all my boundaries collapsed.
‘I’m sorry Al,’ I muttered to Alice, ‘I have to go and do something.’
I retreated to my bedroom and stayed there, my head buried in my hands, for the rest of the day.
What had I agreed to?
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