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The Potter Problem by rey
Chapter 8 : The Wedding
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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Disclaimer: Not mine.

A/N: Sorry for the wait, I’ve been updating the chapter images, as you can see, but now I’m back. :D










 

 

The Wedding

 

 

And...?

„And what?“

„And what happened then?“ Willow is staring at me in excitement.

„Nothing. I came over here.“ I shrug.

„What?! You left him hanging, just like that?!“

„What do you mean, left him hanging? I was confused, excused myself, wished him a good night and got home. What was I supposed to do?“

Willow’s eye actually twitches. Ash pats her back in order to calm her a tad.

„He was obviously trying to get that confession out of you so he could make a move.“

„A move?“

„Oh my Merlin, he fancies you, you idiot! Why do you think he invited you to his flat and made you realize that you’re over James?!“ Willow’s breathing heavily again, so it appears Ash’s patting didn’t help much.

„I don’t know. To kill some time?“

I am going to kill you!“ Willow jumps in my direction, but before she can grab any part of my body, Ash flicks her wand and the Protego spell issues a safety shield that holds her back.

I look over to Ash, a little startled.

„I guess I can use you as a room mate a little bit longer.“ She shrugs and I smirk, satisfied that she finally admitted to liking me... sort of.

„I can’t with you anymore, I swear.“ Willow, of course, interrupts our moment of pure friendship.

„I’m sorry, but you’ve got it all wrong, Will.“ I assure her. „Albus doesn’t have the hots for me.“

„And how would you know?“ She spats, clearly pointing out my strike of clueless behaviour.

„Because he’s in love with someone else.“ It slips out before I can contain myself.

Mortified, I put my hand over my mouth as to not let anything else escape.

Excuse me?“ Willow narrows her eyes at me and I gulp. „You did not just say that Albus Potter is in love with someone else.“

„Why does it bother you so much, anyway?“ I mutter, even though I know the reason.

„Because! You idiot, it appears you can’t like an available guy, but always go for the pathetically occupied ones, one way or another! That’s it, I withdraw my sentiment that you’re not crazy anymore!“

I gasp, offended. „You can’t do that! Especially since I don’t like Albus that way. It’s all you people around us that keep pushing it to happen!“

Willow is already prepared to yell out another insult but then she stops herself, clearly realizing something.

„Who’s campaigning for Albus and you to be a couple beside myself and Ash?“ She asks, intrigued.

„Rose Weasley, fiercely so. Not that it matters.“

Willow’s eyes light up suddenly and, I must admit, I’m a bit scared. „Oh, but it does.“

„I’m confused.“ Ash utters finally and I nod my head in sympathy.

„Don’t you see? Rose is obviously close with Al. She probably knows all about his crush. If she’s rooting for you, Jill, that means that Al’s crush is not good for him either, just like James is wrong for you on so many levels I can’t even start to count.“

„And so that automatically means Al and I are somehow soulmates?“ I scoff.

„Well, there’s a far bigger chance for that than his crush being it for him, or James being your knight in shining armour, either.“ Willow won’t back down.

I sigh, motioning to Ash to break the spell. She does so, but Will takes the first chance to run to me and smack me on the head, anyway.

„Ouch! Remind me never to trust her again!“ I yelp to a tired Ash.

„This is the second night in a row you’re doing this to me.“ My room mate complains before she goes to work again, leaving me alone with a raged Willow.

My Ravenclaw friend huffs for a few moments, taking large steps across the room. Finally, she stops at one point, rolls her eyes as if to acknowledge her own over-reacting and embraces me lightly, dropping the anger... for now. „Don’t you see I only want what’s best for you?“

„I know. But that doesn’t mean you’re always right.“ I smile at her.

She smiles back at me, smacking me lightly in the arm. „Although, I usually am.“

„Although, you usually are.“ I agree and she grins, satisfied.

„But I feel like you’re missing the big point in this story.“ I protest. „Whether Albus is suited for me or not...“

„He is.“ Will mumbles.

„...I’m over James.“ I continue, ignoring her little input. „I don’t know when and how it exactly happened, but I’m actually over him. I guess all of this confusion as to what I feel about him since I saw seem again for the first time after years was just a faint echo of the past, meddling with my new feelings for him. And that’s that… I only see him as a friend now.“

Willow smiles at me leaning her head against mine softly. „You know why I was always so against your obsession with James?“

I shake my head, choosing not to question her use of the word obsession.

„It’s not that it freaked me out, because you remember my whole deal with Timothy Hobb-it was even worse, but it’s that I never truly believed you loved him. I think you made it all up in your head, because you admired his mum and it naturally extended to him, even though you didn’t even know who he was, really. The James that you wanted to like you back and be your friend... he didn’t exist. He was merely a fantasy.“

I look at her, amazed. „I think you could probably give Mrs Bolt a run for her money.“

„It’s just a Ravenclaw thing, you wouldn’t understand.“ She says smugly.

Now it’s my turn to do the smacking.

After that, we end up giggling to tears about this and that until falling asleep, leaning on each other.

 

 

 

***

 

 

I smile contently when I notice my article in the Thursday’s number of the Daily Prophet, signed with mine and the name of my superior, Mrs Potter. Colleagues approach me to pat my back or trow a few praises my way. The Slytherin in me is thriving on acclaim, so I pretty much I feel like I’m living my dream.

But something is missing. I realize I haven’t been bugged by James all day and that’s pretty unusual concerning his track. I go to see his mother, to ask about his whereabouts, amongst other things.

„He quit yesterday.“ She informs me, clearly not surprised by his action.

„Oh... Well, I expected that. I just thought he’d say goodbye, at least.“ I can’t deny that I’m a little bit disappointed.

After all, I had a feeling James considered me as a more than a colleague at this point.

„As I understood him, you’re going to see each other at the wedding, anyway, so it’s no biggie, as he said. But yes, that was pretty rude of him.“ His mother sighs. „But, aside my bad mannered son, we have another game to attend. I was just about to call you in to tell you.“

„Oh, where are we going?“ I grin in excitement, the tiny moment of hurt washing away.

„South. No need for a jacket this time.“ She smiles and so we immediately pack our bags to leave.

 

 

 

Wigtown Wanderers and Tutshill Tornados don’t quite provide the same excitement as the previous opponents, since the later are far too superior for Wanderers to give any significant resistance. Nevertheless, it’s fun and I’m left quite amazed by Tornados’ skills and confident they can climb up on the list this year.

Since the game ends pretty fast, Mrs Potter says we can spend some time on sight seeing.

Tutshill is not such a big village so we end up by the famous ruined watchtower rather quickly, with Mrs Potter offering to take a few photos of me. Sitting on the rails near by, we then eat the sweets we bought on the way there. It’s peculiar spending time with someone who inspires you. Eventually you learn that your heroes are human, as well. Which doesn’t mean they are any less worthy of admiration. On the contrary.

„You’re not just James’ friend, aren’t you?“ My boss suddenly says. „Albus has been mentioning you lately, quote a lot.“

I raise my eyebrows, slightly surprised. „Well, after I became your assistant, Rose and James’ suggested I accompany Albus to the wedding and then I had a slight accident around the same time, ending up under the care of, who else, but your son. So we kind of just started... spending time together from then on.“

I realize I’ve gone into far too many details, which probably don’t concern Al’s mother.

„I think that’s great, that you’re friends, I mean. Since Albus has been quite... cheerful as of late.“ Mrs Potter smirks at me.

Oh, Merlin. Is Albus’ mother trying to set us up, as well?

What is happening with the world?!

I laugh nervously, not knowing what to add to that, really.

„He’s always been the quiet one in the family.“ Mrs Potter continues, as if she hasn’t noticed my uncomfortable state. „And, sometimes, that makes me worried that he isn’t enjoying life enough. And I want that for him. After all the studying, he deserves to relax a little. Unlike his brother.“

I try hard not to giggle, but smile politely. „I hope that at least your daughter isn’t giving you much trouble.“

Lily?“ Mrs Potter scoffs through an amused grin. „She’s the worst one.“

„What I’m trying to say is...“ She adds after our joint laughter dies out. „Thanks for making him happy.“

I nod slightly and then look back to the watchtower before us, getting lost in my thoughts. They’re a mixture of James quitting, Chief taking over, Rose and Scorpius in love, Ash not being able to catch any sleep because of me and Will, and, of course-Albus. As days go by, his eyes and smile and that knowing look take up more and more space in my head. And I’m not quite sure how to deal with that.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

The day of the wedding, Saturday-September the thirteenth, has at last arrived. And I feel a bit scared in the face of dealing with the Weasley-Potter clan. But Ash and Willow provide great support (And smacking yet again.) and so I sort out my nerves and get ready. It takes me an hour or so before I leave my room in the knee long, strapless red dress. My hair is falling down my bare back in tamed curls. The make up is light with only my lips being accentuated with dark red rouge, the same undertone the dress has. I’ve also somehow managed to slip into high heels, praying to Merlin they don’t kill me along the way.

„Mrs Padma has impeccable taste.“ Ash concludes upon observing me.

I smile, her comment reminding me of her refusal to ever compliment me directly.

„You look lovely, Jill.“ Willow nods at me and shakes her head at Ash, clearly acting as the good friend this time around.

They switch constantly, as if trying to make some kind of game out of it.

„Thanks.“ I embrace her quickly, before I stuff even more gadgets into my enhanced purse, for what I’ve found inspiration in the magical inventions of Hermione Weasley.

I take a deep breath just when the door rings. Willow goes to open it and, without doubt, it’s Albus. After he exchanges hello’s with both of my friends, he turns his attention to me. Taking a few steps toward me, I realize we’re barely a few inches apart. That’s when I take note of his outfit, a beautiful three-piece suite. It has a light gray tone, a black tie that goes perfectly with my heels and purse, and a single red rose tucked into a small pocket close to where his heart is. In short, he looks beyond handsome.

„Is that rose supposed to honour your cousin or did you put it in to match my dress?“ I smile.

„What do you think?“ He smiles back and takes my hand, which is a first.

He usually offers his for me to hold onto it. But he does it so gently that it actually makes me like the gesture even more than when I make the first move.

„Don’t embarrass us, Jill.“ Willow winks at me and I roll my eyes in response just before we disappear to the place of the reception.

 

 

 

Albus apparates us to the street where the pair’s house stands, a few metres away from the entrance. Children are already playing with numerous Weasley products nearby and flying on brooms in bliss. One boy is sporting giant ears that start to falter just as we pass him. A girl near the garden, on the other hand, is drinking some kind of potion, before her straight blond hair turns to a big curly mess, to what her friends giggle in amusement. Amongst them all, I spot far more red-heads in one place then I’ve ever been able to witness before.

Leaving the employed children behind, we make our way to the Malfoy-Weasley yard steadily.

When I first found out they were going to organize the wedding in their backyard in Hampstead, I was slightly surprised. But in a good way. It wouldn’t be Rose’s wedding if she wasn’t going against tradition in one way or another.

A girl stands at the front looking intently at a long list. We near her and she asks for our names. After we are checked off the list, we enter the court. It looks so much bigger than I remember so I assume that magic must be involved. Serious magic, by that. Thanks to the wonderful weather, the wedding is taking place outside, so small round tables are placed to the right of the house. There’s flowers everywhere and not just in the small garden in front. The dominating colors of the wedding are purple and a faint gray, even lighter than the tone of Al’s suit, so light, in fact, it looks almost white. Mimicking the Great Hall at Hogwarts, they are candles levitating in the air, whose light will be fully effective when the darkness sneaks into the yard. In the far end there are lines of seats just in front of a small wooden shelter, covered in white roses, where the bride and groom are expected to exchange their vows. The flowers on each small table are roses of a lovely white shade, as well, and among them is a purple piece of paper with the names of the appropriate guests. There’s even a small pond to the left, just behind the house, the sunshine reflecting of it softly, and enough space for dancing, when the guests settle in and the vows are exchanged.

Albus leads us to the main table, where the bride and groom will be sitting. Contrary to the other tables, this one is linear and has six chairs-two for the lucky pair, two for the best man and his date and two for the made of honour and her companion. After we look at the name tags, Al and I walk to the left side of the table facing the whole yard.

„As the best man’s date, please take your place at the most important table.“ Albus bows down jokingly to what I giggle.

„You know, a few weeks ago the thought of sitting together with Rose Weasley at her wedding where she’s marrying Scorpius Malfoy, out of all people, would’ve freaked me out. Actually... It still freaks me out.“

Albus laughs as the maid of honour, Rose’s best friend Kendra Stirling, nears us with her boyfriend, who’s name is, I think, Noah Odell. We all greet each other politely.

„Maybe we should take our places in the chapel.“ Kendra notes. „The guests are almost all here and Rose is ready, so the ceremony should start soon.“

We follow her lead and find our places right in the first row.

„I’ll be standing up there most of the time, anyway.“ Al shrugs and then raises his eyebrows in a teasing way. „Will you be bored without me?“

„Yes, to death.“ I grin at him.

That’s when one peculiar looking wizard, who I suspect is the ceremony official, runs down the space between the two groups of chairs, panting. He stands under the wooden shelter, which is, I guess, an outdoor altar, and uses his wand to magnify his voice.

„Everyone, take your places. The ceremony is about to start!“

Even though we’ve already shook hands with most people, some of them are just arriving and finding their places among the lines of wooden chairs, as the official suggested ought to be done.

„Hello, brother!“ James, as one of the late arrivals, spots us and comes over with a beautiful girl following his step. She’s quite tall, lean and has amazing dark skin hard to over look.

„Is that...“ James narrows his eyes at me. „Tatum?

I roll my eyes. „You’ve seen me dressed nicely before, James. It’s hardly news.“

„Right... the ball...“ He drifts off, a guilty look on his face.

Well, will you look at that. James Potter actually feels remorse.

„Aren’t you going to introduce me, James?“ Vanessa frowns at him, pulling him back to reality.

„Yes! Tatum, this is Vanessa, my girlfriend. Vanessa, this is Tatum, my Hogwarts peer and the Head Girl to my Head Boy.“

We shake hands and it’s clear that Vanessa has an air of cold surrounding her. As if she deems all of this far too needless. I can see everyone’s point in hating her. And, it’s not that I’m jealous, ’cause I’ve already established that I’m over James, but I can’t believe he’s with someone so annoying. Although, most of his girlfriends were similar to Vanessa, come to think of it. I guess I’m not someone who can judge him on that, though.

Vanessa pulls him to the other part of the outdoor chapel, namely Rose’s side, and I can’t help but snort when they’re on a safe distance.

„It won’t last.“ Al says with not a single trace of doubt in his voice.

„Why is he with her in the first place?“

„I think he just doesn’t like being alone.“ Al smiles at me, a small shadow of sadness dancing in his eyes.

It takes me a moment to break the gaze, as Al’s eyes have a hard grip on me. „I guess I can understand that. I just wonder... has he ever been in love? I mean, really in love.“

Albus nods. „I think he has.“

I turn to him in surprise. „Oh?“

„I’ve never figured out with whom, though. But there was this period in his seventh year at Hogwarts... when he was... completely lost. I could tell he was hurting because of something. And I believe it was in consequence of a girl. Maybe the only one who managed to break his heart.“

I stare at Albus, lost for words. Could it be...

Suddenly the memory of that Halloween night comes back to me. And how disturbed James appeared, how he begged me to go with him, how he just wanted to have fun... How he... I close my eyes, not able to block the pictures.

 

 

 

The thirty first of October, 2022

 

When James pulled me into the RoR I was expecting to get laughed at because of my ridiculous pajamas.

Well, that didn’t exactly happen, because everyone was bloody drunk. It was a relief and I took it as a chance to focus more on James. He was still erratic and witless, pulling me to the area where people were dancing. Or rather, attempting to dance. It looked like they were about to fall asleep leaning against each other’s chests.

„Let’s dance!“ James yelled at me, trying to over power the loud music.

I felt lost, the beats not something I was used to move to.

„Brilliant outfit, mate!“ A random guy in a disastrous Troll dress up winked at me.

Luckily it was Halloween, so maybe my nighties could pass as some kind of an ironic costume.

James took the opportunity of my abashment to Accio a couple of drinks for us. He pushed a glass of something that looked like Firewhiskey into my hands.

„Oh, no.“ I pushed it back to him.

„Why not?“ He almost seemed offended.

„Well, one of us has to stay sane tonight, right?“

Usually he would had smirked at that, adding a joke or two. But now he just nodded absently and emptied both drinks. There was no point in stopping him. He was already gone, anyway.

In a matter of hours, though, James was laughing so hard to the point of falling down on his back. I tried to keep up, lifting him and supporting him when he stumbled, attempting to snatch drinks from him at times (It didn’t exactly work.) and stopping him from embarrassing himself too much (That didn’t work out, either.).

„I was really happy, you know.“ He slurred into my ear at one point. „Then, it all had to crush and burn.“

We were dancing again, if you could call it that, and James was resting his head on my shoulder. He had to lean down quite a bit, as I was significantly shorter than him, and adding his intoxicated state to the equation, I could imagine how silly we appeared.

„I know.“

„I mean, I have feelings, too. I’m not unbreakable.“

His drunk talk suddenly started to sound more reality based, because he was staring at me with vulnerable dark eyes. His gaze was fractured and tired. His smile long hollow. It made my heart ache. This wasn’t even about my crush on him anymore. This was about one human feeling sympathy for another.

Suddenly, as I was watching him with sorrow, James’ look slipped from my eyes to my mouth. My whole world froze for a moment as he neared my face.

Was I supposed to back off? I mean, he was clearly drunk and possibly over something important that didn’t even concern me. But... It’s just one kiss. If he yearned for it so much, why not take advantage of it? Maybe it was my only chance to do so, anyway.

So I closed my eyes as our lips met. Over my heart pounding madly, the only thing I could take note of was that he tasted like alcohol and smelled of it, as well. It wasn’t spectacular, it wasn’t like from a fairy tale, it wasn’t making my stomach do flips. Still, in that moment, it felt like a dream.

James pulled away quickly enough, positioning his head on my shoulder yet again.

„Thanks.“ He murmured and that was the last thing he said that night.

From then on it was a blur of shock and effort to take him back to our dorm. The last interaction we had that night was when I plopped him onto his bed. He instantly rolled around, his back facing me. I felt strangely sad and happy, all at once. And as I walked over to my bedroom, I couldn’t help but hope, yet again... that this was the start of something remarkable.

 

 

 

Some people just take far too much time to learn.

 

 

 

„Hello, Mrs and Mr Malfoy.“

I’m suddenly brought back to reality when Albus greets Scorpius’ parents. I shift my curious gaze to them. They look just like most long married couples do, perfectly matched and comfortable with each other. I remember a time at Hogwarts when Scorpius seemed like an exact copy of his father, but now he has gained features that resemble his mother more. Although, it’s not like he can lose, either way. Both of the Malfoys are gorgeous.

„This is my date, Tatum Kenward.“ Albus introduces me and I offer them my hand, somewhat nervous.

If the pair notices, they don’t comment on it, but smile politely instead.

„Kenwards, do I know of them?“ Mr Malfoy asks.

„I don’t believe so. Maybe you’ve heard of my mother’s family, though. The Fawleys?“

„Ah, yes. Old wizarding family.“ He nods in agreement.

All right, it’s not that everyone has forgotten what the Malfoys did in the past. But when you have a son like Scorpius, who’s a Ministry darling, people tend to be more open to forgiveness. And, after all, Mr Malfoy is the one who raised him that way. Scorpius couldn’t be so praiseworthy if his parents were monsters.

And, anyway, it is Rose’s father who is causing the most problems with this marriage, not the Malfoys. I wonder if he’ll make a scene while walking her down to Scorpius. Luckily, his wife is usually prepared to keep him in tact.

 

 

 

The official returns yet again, now in a different, more formal outfit, taking his place at the altar. He asks us to quiet down, since the ceremony is starting. Albus winks at me as he leaves to stand in the front. I notice that he’s avoiding to look intently at the crowd, probably scared of spotting his crush. Scorpius soon follows, making his way to the official, Albus and Kendra, Rose’s maid of honour. He looks amazing in a white suite as he smiles at Al and they seem to come to an understanding of some sort, without words getting involved.

And then, suddenly, everyone turns around and gets up on their feet and so I do, as well. Since, standing at the far end, are Rose and her father. My breath gets cut off at the sheer beauty that is Rose Weasley. It’s even more shocking to me because I wasn’t here to witness her turn into a fair, but instead only remember her rough Hogwarts persona. But now... she looks celestial, as if from another world entirely. Her gown is white, matching her future husband’s suit, but it has a trace of a purple undertone, which makes it even more lovely. It’s hugging her figure perfectly, reaching her feet in an effortless flow. It’s strapless, leaving her back more bare then expected, and a black band is placed around her waist, showing just how great a figure she has. After admiring her dress, I focus on her face and you can see just how happy she is. She’s radiating joy. He father is beaming, as well, making everyone’s worries fall into oblivion. After all, you can’t close your eyes to the love that Rose and Scorpius share, no matter how difficult that may be. The two don’t break contact for a second, not even when Mr Weasley gives Rose’s hand to Scorpius, the world long forgotten. They smile so widely, it’s contagious.

I steal a glance at Albus and find that he’s already looking at me, a big grin on his full lips. He mouths something to me which I can’t quite catch. But there’s no time to wonder as the official finally starts speaking and everyone’s attention is back on the happy pair again.

„We are gathered here...“

And so I doze off, taking the opportunity to observe the guests.

I’ve already succeeded in handling Rose’s side of the family, somehow, making me kind of proud of myself. I watch as Fleur and Bill smile at each other lovingly, as well as Hermione and Ron, Harry and Ginny... See, that’s the point in those tempered Weasleys and Potters. When they think no one’s looking, they are actually quite the sweethearts.

It makes me somewhat sad to switch to Scorpius’ side, though. It’s clear that most of his family is missing, replaced by young people, who I believe are his colleagues. I sometimes forget what these two had to go through to make this day happen.

„You may kiss the bride.“ I turn to the altar just in time.

Cheers erupt as the pair snogs a bit too long, smiling at each other the whole while.

Everyone takes the cue and goes to sit at their tables, so I walk over to Albus.

„Was I any good?“ He smirks at me.

„Sorry, I was too busy looking past you.“

He shakes his head at my teasing, after what we sit at the main table. I take the opportunity to chat with Scorpius and Rose some more, a jab at the possibility of having children soon an obligatory must, of course.

„Imagine a red-headed boy and a blond girl, with both your temper and Scorpius’ smarts. They would be the end of you.“ I laugh at the pretty bride.

„Are you suggesting I’m not smart?“ Rose fakes an offended expression.

„Al! You ought to defend me from your cousin.“ I pull at his sleeve jokingly.

But as I take a more careful look at his face, I notice that his gaze is frozen on a single point in the crowd and I know why. I take his hand under the table, squeezing it. He turns to me, a panicked look in his eyes.

„Don’t leave me for a second.“ He pleads in a broken whisper.

I nod my head. „I won’t.“

 

 

 

Suddenly, there’s music playing and it’s time for the first dance, so I somehow manage to convince Al that we join in. As we spin around, his grip becomes more intense. I’m not sure how to help him relax, but then, someone else does it for me. We hear a loud splash behind us and everyone stops to look at James and Vanessa sitting in the pond, soaking wet. Albus can’t help but laugh so I join him. Vanessa gets up (After falling down a few times beforehand.), her face red from anger.

„That’s it! This is the last time you’ll ever embarrass me, James Sirius Potter!“ She twirls dramatically and flees the scene, leaving James alone in the water.

Albus and I take it upon us to help him. Al lifts him up and I use a drying spell on his clothes.

„Did you do that on purpose?“ I ask him, suspicious.

„Was it that obvious?“

„Kind of was, yes.“ Al adds, snickering.

„Whatever. She was suffocating me for a while now.“ James then looks at me, smirking. „Do you wanna dance with me?“

„Um, I’m with Albus, so... no, I can’t.“ I finish awkwardly.

„Blimey. The time has come.“ He puts a hand on Al’s shoulder, smiling proudly. „A girl has finally picked you over me, brother.“

„Oh, shut up, idiot.“ Al smacks him on the head, but it’s clear that it’s out of amusement.

James nods at us with a wink. „Have fun.“

With that, he leaves to sit at his table, all alone. I feel bad for him, for a slip of a second, until Al calls my name. So I take the chance to resume to our dancing. Albus is much more relaxed now, resting his hand on my waist gently. Dancing with him is a whole other experience. He’s quite tall in comparison with my other dancing partners (and slightly towering over his brother) making me reach further for his shoulder, sure in his steps and clearly completely focused on me, without his attention wavering. Although, that might be partly because he’s scared to catch his crush’s eye.

It’s as if he can hear my thoughts since he comments. „I’m really enjoying this and not just because it’s a perfect opportunity to appear engaged.“

He suddenly leans in and kisses my cheek. „Thank you for being here with me.“

I try hard not to appear flushed, even though I am, slightly. „I can think of a way for you to return the favour.“

Albus raises his eyebrows, a devilish grin on his lips.

„Oh, not like that, you perv.“ I laugh. „I was thinking it’s time for me to go around and interview some family members and friends. If you stay by my side as a known face, they’ll be more relaxed and willing to participate.“

Albus looks uneasy so I assure him. „If I start nearing... her, just... pull me away or something.“

He nods, still a little unsure, but it’s evident he doesn’t want to deny me the help. Will you look at that. I can be persuasive, as well. I’m kinda proud of myself, I won’t lie.

We move around and I talk and Albus cracks subtle jokes, which I love. I steal glances his way numerous times, just mesmerized by his ability to calm everyone down and make them smile. In his own, a bit closed off, way.

 

 

 

But in the middle of my interview with Hugo Weasley, who really is the family prankster (He lists all of the WWW products that are his own inventions and the number is quite impressive, I have to say.), Albus pulls me to the side quickly. „We have to go. Now.“

It’s too late, though. A familiar young woman approaches us languidly, followed by her handsome husband.

„Hi, Al.“

He summons enough strength to look up to her smiling face and produce a decent follow up. „Hello, Alice. Dylan. Nice to see you.“

Alice Longbottom.

Childhood friend.

It all makes sense now. I should have figured it out instantly. I guess I just didn’t want to. Having Al’s crush be this... unshaped ghost of a person felt easier than attaching a name to her. And a beautiful face, as well. I can’t possibly deny her varnish: her light brown, almost blond hair, pulled into a pretty braid, with a few locks falling down beside her hazel eyes, a tone eerily similar to the hue of her husband’s bowtie resting neatly around his neck. She almost seems surreal.

„This is Tatum Kenward, my date.“ Al introduces me, as he did every time before.

But now I can hear his voice trembling, breaking, echoing his inner turmoil. And I could positively kill myself for making him stay longer.

„Alice Longbottom, well... it’s Alice Brunsman now.“ She smiles at her husband lovingly as she introduces herself to me. „And this is my spouse, Dylan Brunsman.“

I shake hands with both of them while also looking back at Albus, who’s clearly beyond uncomfortable. I suddenly feel a great urge to calm him, so I rest my arm around his and lean closer into him. He glances at me, an unreadable expression gracing his features, but I like to think that he’s thankful, if only minimal.

„Are you an item, as well?“ Alice asks, after observing us intently, a curious beam lighting up her already pretty face.

„I’ve been trying to woo him, but he keeps escaping me.“ I joke, to what the Brunsmans laugh as well.

It’s only Albus who’s quiet and trying to participate as little as allowed without being dubbed out-right rude.

„Don’t give up.“ Alice winks at me, before they offer a quick goodbye and move along.

 

 

 

It takes Albus barely a few seconds to turn around and start running to the street, seeming as if he doesn’t even know where to exactly. Just... away.

I follow him, afraid of what he might do in such a state.

„Albus, stop!“ I call after him when he’s finally outside the yard, further down the road. Luckily, cars have abandoned it for the day, as if to honour the bride and groom.

Al listens to me, but remains firm, facing the opposite direction. I can see that he’s clenching his fists so hard, they’ve lost all color. He appears as if his world has just been crushed to millions of pieces.

And I know it’s all my fault.

„Look, I’m sorry, ok! I’m sorry I forced you to stay longer. You’re right, it would’ve been better for you to come without a date. You could have been long gone. I just... I thought I was making you feel better and...“

Before I know it, Albus is walking toward me hurriedly, a frantic, almost maniac expression on his features, and, then, suddenly, his lips are crashing mine. At first, I’m unable to move, my eyes open widely. But Al puts a suiting palm on my cheek and I break down.

I let him kiss me.

And then I kiss him back.

It’s long and hot and needy, all at the same time. Not in a desperate kind of way, but as if it’s a deep necessity for both of us.

 

 

 

For a brief moment, though, I let sense crawl back into my thoughts and... Oh Merlin... I’m in the same situation again, ain’t I? I’m a shoulder to cry on for someone who is clearly hung up on another person. It’s all repeating.

I pull away, feeling completely undone. „I can’t... I can’t do this.“

And I vanish from his sight before he can stop me, apparating away in despair.

 

 










A/N: Al in love with Alice Longbottom-this is a call back to my other HP fanfic, The Dursly Freak. I just couldn’t resist it. :)

PS What do you think about this cray-cray chapter? :D

 

 


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