Chapter 1 : An Allergy to Flowers
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Everything has gone wrong. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, most things have gone wrong. I asked this waitress out because she’s pretty and has a nice smile, but this date is not going according to plan. We’re at a table in The Three Broomsticks, drinking our butterbeer and looking around the room in silence.
“So, you’re allergic to flowers,” I state, avoiding her stare.
“Yes, but it was a nice thought,” I hear her respond.
I clear my throat, “You have a bunch of cats,” I add, examining the woodwork of the table.
I nod my head and sip on my butterbeer. After a few moments I cough and scratch my nose, “How do you feel about the Chudley Cannons?” I finally look at her. Yup, still pretty.
“Come on, James! What’s life without any risks?” My cousin, Fred Weasley, and I are at the Leaky Cauldron.
I roll my eyes at his cliched statement and frown at him, “I’m not going to go up to her and ask her out. I’m sure every other bloke has already hit on her.” I look down the bar to the waitress with big, brown hair and an even larger smile.
Fred hits my head, “What the hell was that for?” I hiss at him.
“You’re being an idiot. Sure, she’s got loads of blokes pining at her feet, but you’re James Sirius Potter,” he frowns at me.
I rub the back of my head and glare at him, “What does that even mean?”
He shrugs and nods his head towards the waitress, “Why don’t you go and figure it out, mate.”
“I don’t really follow quidditch anymore,” she responds, smiling a kind smile at me.
I mentally kick myself. My mother told me that I’m not allowed to talk about quidditch on dates, “Er, well-”
“I followed the teams when I went to Hogwarts,” she cuts me off, explaining herself.
My eyes widen, “Woah, you went to Hogwarts? What year did you graduate?”
“Three years ago. I was a Gryffindor.”
I think about it and frown, “Wait, you were in the year below me and a Gryffindor? How do I not recognize you?”
She shrugs, “You were the captain of the quidditch team. You had a lot on your plate.”
I shake my head,“That doesn’t even make sense. I went to school with you for six years.”
I can’t believe I’m doing this, I never ask out strangers, “Hullo,” I greet the waitress when I reach her in the pub.
Her eyes widen, “Did I forget to give you and your friend something?”
I blush, “Oh no, nothing like that. Er, you see. . .never mind. I forgot what I was going to say,” I turn around and quickly leave her.
“So? When’s the date?” Fred asks me when I return to the bar.
I drop my head into my hands, “There’s not going to be one.”
She reaches out and pats my hand, “Really, don’t worry about it. I wasn’t the most popular kid there. How about we talk about something else?” she pleads.
I look at her hand on mine, “No, I really want to figure this out. I think I would have noticed a very attractive girl like you in my own house.”
She sighs and lifts her hand from my own, “You tutored me in Transfiguration once.”
“Stop your moping, you’re killing the mood,” Fred whines at me.
I look across the pub at the waitress again, she’s laughing at something another bloke has said. My stomach twists, “I really buggered it up, Fred.”
He looks over at her and frowns, “I bet he isn’t studying to be the next Transfiguration professor at Hogwarts.”
I glare at him, “How the hell would that attract any girl?”
“Did I?” I really rack my brains this time. I tutored a lot of students, but it cuts down the possibilities of who this girl could be.
She nods and runs a hand through her hair, “Yeah, er, it was the scribblifors spell.”
I smile, “Oh, that one is useful. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve needed a quill and I’ve had to transfigure a fork or something into one.”
She laughs, “You always lost your quills! I kept twenty on me at all times because I knew you’d come up to me and ask for one.”
Woah, what? That ought to lower the possibilities even more, but I still don’t remember her, “I did?”
It’s near the end of the night, and Fred’s all but given up on cheering me up, “. . .and then you threw the textbook on the ground and transfigured it into a dog! Oh man, Uncle Percy still has those bite marks.,” he clutches his stomach in his fit of laughter.
I watch him with mild amusement, “I was a crazy one back then.”
His laughter stops, abruptly, and he glares at me, “You are still bloody crazy. I don’t know what that girl did to you, James, but I want my best mate back.”
I groan, he always blames Natasha, my recent ex-fiance, for anything and everything, “She didn’t do anything.”
“That relationship messed you up.”
“Look,” I groan into my hands, “I really cannot remember you. I’m an awful person.”
She smiles a sad smile, but seems otherwise unaffected, “Well, don’t worry about it too much. I just had a small school girl crush on you.”
Woah, what? Merlin’s pants, I must be hearing things, “Hang on. What?”
She shrugs, “Every other girl fancied you, Potter. Relax.”
“I’m not on a date with every other girl,” I exclaim, causing the nearest table of people to glare at us.
Fred and I glare at each other until the waitress comes to our spots at the pub, “Hullo you two, would you guys like some appetizers with your butterbeer?”
“No, but Jamesy here would like to take you out on a date,” Fred announces, beaming at the girl.
I stiffen in shock, but she laughs, “Good one. I’ll just leave you two alone. Let me know if you need anything,” she leaves.
I hit the grinning Fred over the head with my fork, “What the hell?!” I hiss at him.
He holds his hands up, “Ow, It’s not like she believed me!”
“It’s really okay. I’ve moved on since then,” she pleads.
I stare at the table, my mind reeling with this new discovery, “I’m a horrible person. Actually, I’m worse than horrible, I’m Voldemort reincarnated!” The next table over shushes us.
My date laughs, “You aren’t quite that bad.”
I shake my head and look up at her green eyes, “Rebecca, did you ever tell me that you fancied me at school?”
She smiles and pats my arm, “Not in so many words, but, er, we may have snogged at a party, but really, please just forget it.”
I lean forward in pure concentration, trying to remember her, “Which one?” I whisper.
She frowns and blushes, “The last one. You caught the snitch within five minutes.”
My eyebrows shoot up, I know who Rebecca is; however, I didn’t know her name back in my seventh year.
The whole of the Gryffindor house is cheering at me as I raise my stolen snitch, “Another year conquered!” I yell out and throw the snitch into a group of fourth years. They dive for it, punching and kicking each other, “My triumph is over, but the talented children,” Albus shouts a complaint, but I ignore him, “on our team will rise up and continue our streak. Lions forever!”
“Lions forever!” The group shouts back at me.
I drop down from the table I was standing on, and the party begins. These parties are just an excuse for the house to have fun without Professor Longbottom lecturing us. Basically, there are a lot of butterbeer and pumpkin juice drinking, snacking, and dancing, but nothing too crazy. We’re too lazy to “party hard.”
I begin a conversation with a third year about proper beater techniques and look across the room. My girlfriend of two years, Natasha Brown, is laughing with our keeper, Daniel Thomas. I ditch the kid and walk over to the two of them, “Hey sweetheart,” I kiss her on the cheek and wrap my arms around her waist, “what did you think about the game?”
She shakes my arms off of her and gently pushes me away, “It was excellent, as always.”
“You’re not upset again, what did I do this time?” I plead. Our relationship is. . .unusual. Somedays she wants to snog the living daylights out of me, other days she wants me to jump off the nearest cliff.
She sighs, “God, James. You’re so insecure.”
I wince and scratch the back of my head. Daniel looks between the two of us in confusion, “Er, it was nice talking to you Natasha,” he says, trying to lift the awkward silence.
He attempts to leave, but Natasha grabs onto him and pulls him back, “Why the hell can’t you be more like Daniel?!” she screams at me.
“Because I’m not Daniel!” I shout back at her.
She rolls her eyes and drops her grasp on Daniel, he sneaks away, undetected, “Who are you then?!”
“What?” I ask, thoroughly confused, “I’m James, Natasha.”
“Yeah, and what does that mean? You’re not smart, funny, or even attractive. You’re nothing,” she hisses, the common room has gone completely silent as our fellow students stare at our exchange. Natasha storms up the steps to the girl’s dormitories and I face our acquired audience.
I force myself to chuckle, “Just thought we’d add some excitement to the party. You know how dead these things can get,” I joke, “Er, well. . .carry on.” I turn and leave the flabbergasted collection of teenagers, passing through the portrait hole. I suspect that Natasha and I will be the center of gossip, again.
I walk until I find an empty classroom and I let myself drop to the floor. Who am I? There’s nothing going for me. I can’t even keep my own girlfriend’s interest. God I’m such a loser. The door to the classroom creaks open and I look up to see a girl with bushy brunette hair and large, green eyes. She’s the one that gives me quills when I need them, I think.
“Hey,” she whispers and sits next to my huddled form on the floor. She strokes my hair and shushes my quiet whimpers, “You’re not nothing.”
We sit in an awkward silence.
I decide to break it, “Er, so waitressing, huh?”
She nods, “Yeah, I just need the money until I get a permanent Healer’s position at Mungo’s.”
I grunt to signal my understanding, and let my eyes wander across the room, away from her intense stare.
“What are you doing. You know, as a career or whatever,” she stutters.
I rub the back of my neck and stare at the table, “I’m studying to be a Transfiguration professor.” She gasps and I look up to see her blush, “What?” I question her reaction.
She shakes her head, “It’s nothing.”
I frown, “It must be something.”
She scratches her forehead and stares at the table in front of her, “Okay, promise not to freak out?” she winces in anticipation.
I nod, “I promise.”
She puts her head in her hands and mumbles something.
“What was that?” I grab her hands and pull them off her face. She’s beyond embarrassed, her face is as red as Fred’s hair.
She refuses to look at me, “I, er. . .I told you that you were going to be a Transfiguration professor, but you refused to believe me,” she sighs and looks at me, “so we bet on it.”
Oh, “We did?”
She pulls her hands out of mine, I hadn’t realized that I was holding them.
I finally calmed down after a half hour of this girl’s soft words and caresses. We’re laying with our backs against the floor, staring up at the ceiling.
“She’s. . .not a very good person,” this girl says next to me.
I laugh, “That’s the understatement of the year. You should get an award for that one.”
She laughs at my joke, harder and longer than necessary. A smile creeps onto my face when I look at her shaking form. Her nose is crinkled and tears are flowing from her closed eyes, “It wasn’t that funny,” I say to her, but she continues to laugh for another five minutes.
“I’ve never laughed this hard in my life,” she wheezes out between chuckles.
I grin at her, “I don’t think anybody’s laughed that hard at a joke as atrocious as that one.”
She wipes the tears off her cheek and looks over at me, “She wasn’t right, you know.”
I sigh and look away from her, staring at the ceiling and biting the inside of my cheek.
“You don’t believe me? Look, you’re very smart! You’re the best student in Transfiguration, and Longbottom goes on and on about how well you take care of his classroom plants. And my whole laughing scene should convince you of how incredibly hilarious you are. You always get me to laugh. . .” she lets her voice trail off.
I chuckle, “I trick Longbottom into taking care of the school plants for me by asking him to show me how to do it properly. He’s convinced that I’m the one who’s done all the work. He’s even told my father that I am a prodigy student,” I say and she laughs for another obnoxiously long amount of time. I’m beginning to feel better about myself.
“Well, you’re very talented at Transfiguration,” she says, twisting her body to look at me.
I allow this, “What am I supposed to do with that? Fly around London, transfiguring boulders into dogs?”
“You can be a professor, you were really good at tutoring me when I needed help.”
I make a disgusted sound in the back of my throat, “Teaching is not the thing for me.”
“You’re going to be a professor!” she announces, despite my protests, “I’ll bet you on it.”
I look down at her, her eyes are shining in excitement and she’s grinning like a maniac, “Fine.”
She beams, “Okay, whoever wins gets to name the reward.”
“What could you possibly want from me?” I joke turning back to the ceiling.
I hear her cluck her tongue, “That’s cheating. I can’t tell you until I win.”
“Well I would want your collection of quills. You always have one on you, it’s insane,” I say to her, still looking up at the ceiling.
She protests, “I have spent a good chunk of galleons on my collection, I’d rather you not take them.”
“You better hope you win then,” I tease her, “What do you want?”
She groans, “Well if you’re going to take something as precious as my quills, you better be willing to give up something big. I’m thinking your broomstick, but I don’t know. . .”
“If you take my broomstick, I want something even better than your silly quills,” I think about it for a moment, “I would like you to run around Hogsmeade, declaring me the best quidditch player that Hogwarts has ever seen,” I say, smiling at myself.
“That’s dreadful! You won’t even begin training to be a professor for five years after your graduation, at least,” she complains.
“Exactly, it’s perfect,” I reply.
We fall silent as she thinks, “Okay, if that is your demand, I would like,” she pauses and takes a breath, “a kiss.”
I stiffen in surprise and stare down at this girl. Her eyes are still closed and she’s wincing in anticipation for my response.
“Yes but we were, what, sixteen and seventeen? We were children,” Rebecca states and begins to collect her things.
“Where are you going?” I ask.
She gets up from the table and stares at the ground, “Well, I’m allergic to the flowers you tried to give me, you’re obviously not a fan of cats, and I feel like I’m sixteen again, trying to win the heart of a bloke uninterested in me.”
I watch her as she fights her way through the crowd to the exit.
“You want to kiss me?” I ask.
She cringes even more, her eyes still shut, “Yes.”
Something clicks inside of me. I get up from the table and push and shove my way through the crowd to get to the exit. I can’t let her get away.
Closing hour is up and Tom, the owner of the pub, asks Fred and I to leave. As we gather our stuff, I notice the waitress wiping down tables and putting chairs up, “Hey, I’ll meet you at the Burrow, okay?” I ask Fred.
He grins and winks, “You go show her who James Sirius Potter is.”
I nod my head and watch him leave before walking over to the woman. She looks up, startled at my approach, “Did you want something else?” she asks me. Oh, she has green eyes.
“Er, yeah. . .I,” I take in a big breath, “want to go on a date with you.”
Her mouth falls open, “Really?”
I nod my head and bite the inside of my cheek.
She beams, “I would love to go on a date with you, James.”
I return her smile and sigh in relief, “Okay. Oh, er, what’s your name?” I rub the back of my neck.
Her smile falters for split second, making me question whether I saw it falter or not, “Oh, it’s Rebecca Clearwater.”
I nod and smile, “Let’s meet at the Three Broomsticks tomorrow at seven, okay?”
“Okay,” she confirms.
“Rebecca!” I shout her name into the deserted street. I am too late, I’ve lost her.
“Chances are that I won’t actually be a Transfiguration professor,” I tell the girl. Her eyes are still closed. I want her to look at me.
“That’s why we bet on it,” she responds.
I stare at her, waiting for her to open her eyes, but she doesn’t, “Er, why won’t you open your eyes?”
“I don’t want to see your reaction,” she answers.
My eyebrows shoot up, “Oh, why is that?”
“Look, James,” she reaches out and fumbles on my chest until she reaches my hand, “I know you don’t like me. You’ve had a girlfriend, albeit, a psycho girlfriend, but a girlfriend nonetheless for two years. I’m not an imbecile.”
I reach out and stroke her nose, smoothing the crinkled skin, “You should look at me.”
I sit on the curb of the street and place my head in my hands. I don’t know what to do. I feel like something huge crashed through my chest.
I move closer to the stubborn girl. She’s still refusing to open her eyes. I lean down so that my face is a few centimeters away from her own, I can feel her breathe against the skin on my face, “Hey,’” I whisper, “You should look at me.”
“Oh!” she opens her eyes and jumps away from me in surprise.
I grin and shrug, “I might become a professor.”
She returns my grin and scoots back to our former close proximity, “I know you will become one.”
“Getting a little arrogant now, aren’t we?” I tease her and touch her cheek.
We stay like this, just staring at each other before I gain enough courage to pass through the centimeters of space separating my face from her own.
“Hey buddy, are you okay?” A man is towering over me with a concerned look on his face.
“She left,” I whisper at the ground, “She left,” I repeat, louder and looking at this man, “She left and she’s not coming back.”
He shifts from foot to foot, looking around before sitting down next to me, “I’m sure this girl will give you a second chance.”
I stare at him, “This was my second chance.”
We continue to kiss each other for what felt like five minutes, but could have easily been a half hour or more. The door to the classroom flies open with a loud bam! and we pull away from each other. Natasha and a random seventh year bloke are giggling and holding onto each other, she looks over at us, tangled together on the ground in an embrace, and jumps in surprise.
“Natasha, I can explain,” I tell her, untangling our limbs and getting up from the ground.
Natasha begins to cry and runs out of the room. I curse under my breath and grab my shirt from the ground.
“James?” The girl calls to me from the ground.
I ignore her and chase after Natasha.
The man leaves me, probably deciding that he can’t really help me. I watch him go before closing my eyes. Who am I? Nothing. I bugger up everything I touch.
“James?” A familiar voice calls down to my relaxed figure. This must be my imagination,“James, will you look at me?” the voice tantalizes me.
God, it’s happening. Fred is right, “I’m insane,” I whisper my revelation to myself.
The voice laughs and I jump in surprise, opening my eyes. My own imagination can not mimic that laugh this accurately. I stare at Rebecca, “You came back,” I say, “why?”
She sighs and sits next to me, “I don’t know.”
I nod my head and continue to stare at her. I can’t believe she’s here.
She breaks the silence, “Let’s start over, okay? My name is Rebecca Clearwater. I’m allergic to flowers and I have a lot of cats.”
I respond, “My names is James Potter. I’m an idiot and I don’t like cats.”
We stare at the ground, unsure of what to do next.
“Were you really hurt when I, er, left that night?” I ask her staring at the street.
She avoids my question, “Were you really hurt when I left tonight?” she asks me.
I glance a look at her. Her eyes are shut and she’s cringing, waiting for my response, “Yes,” I say to her.
I reach over and smooth her crinkled nose, “You like me,” she beams and opens her eyes.
I grin and wink, “Getting a little arrogant now, aren’t we?” I tease her.
We grin at each other like idiots for a few minutes before I gain the courage to apologize, “I’m sorry,” I tell her, waiting for a reply.
She sighs and shakes her head, “I expect more from you.”
“What?” I ask her, surprised.
She shrugs and explains, “You’re James Sirius Potter, smart, funny, and attractive.”
I turn away and frown at the ground.
“Hey, look at me,” she grabs and turns my chin so that I’m looking at her, “It’s true.”
I stare into her eyes. She really believes that. Something clicks inside of me, I’m starting to believe her too, “I guess I can learn to like cats,” I joke.
She smiles, lightening up her green eyes, "You will, but you do owe me. It seems as though I've won a certain little bet."
“What could you possibly want from me?” I joke, winking.
She laughs and I pull her into my arms, "Hm, I do remember betting on your broomstick. A firebolt, wasn't it?" she teases.
I roll my eyes and kiss the girl. Effectively silencing her silly words.
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