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The Potter Problem by rey
Chapter 11 : Trains
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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Disclaimer: Not mine. HP, I mean. The characters of Tatum, Willow, Ash and some others are, though. But that's about it.

A/N: It's so weird posting this chapter, considering the fact that I'm writing the last one. That will be the sixteenth one, unless I change my mind, but that's not likely to happen. So, you have this one and five more chapters to look forward to. :) And, God, they have quite some humour in them. :D








 

Trains

 

„Well, that was fu-“ Will stops mid sentence when she spots me curled into a ball on the couch, yet again, eating muffins.

She huffs as she closes the door behind her with caution.

„What in the name of Merlin is it now?“

„Albus.“

She sighs. „Wow, how suspiring.“

Her tone is rather sarcastic, which I pick up on. As an equally dreadful response, I  throw a pillow at her, but she reacts too fast, casting a small Protego shield, so the cushion bounces off, right back into my face.

Willow giggles in triumph, while I rub my grating nose. „It’s not funny.“

„No, it’s rather pathetic.“ She agrees. „So, what is it with Al this time around?“

„He thinks I engaged in... a physical action with his cousin Louis at the party.“

Will turns to me, intrigued. „Why’s that?“

„Because he found us in each other’s proximity, with my dress on the floor and my underwear exposed.“

„The care-bear ones?“

„Is that what interests you the most, out of everything I just told you, really?“ I narrow my eyes at her in disbelief.

Willow shrugs. „You get in all sorts of weird situations, I’m used to it by now.“

I do have to agree with that.

„If only Al would think alike.“ I sigh, feeling slightly depressed.

„Why does it bother you what he thinks?“ Willow crosses her arms, a questioning expression on her round face amidst wild, brown curls.

„Because...“ I scoff. „Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?“

„To me, yes. I don’t know if you understand the true reason behind your recent behaviour, though.“ She smiles at me, seemingly rather pleased with herself.

I stay silent for a change, unwilling to argue.

Until I notice something. „Where’s Ash?“

„She’s been sleeping in her room for two hours now, silly.“ Will shakes her head at me, like a mother would at her gullible child. „Came back earlier from our night out with Keyon. Why do you think I’m whispering?“

„Because?“ I shrug.

Willow laughs silently in response.

„Why is she sleeping at this hour, anyway?“

„Right, you don’t know.“ She nods, as if remembering a crucial information not attainable to me as of yet. „Her boss sent her an owl a few hours ago-she got promoted!“ Will beams.

„Promoted?“ I blink.

I didn’t know Ash could get promoted so quickly, what with the competition at Gringotts being insane. I guess I never give her work ethics enough credit. She does have a perfectionist nature, which should have clued me in.

„She’s working in the morning shift from tomorrow. So when I leave, which will be soon, I’m afraid, you won’t be so lonely anymore. Plus, you have Al.“

„Correction, had Al.“ I interject grimly.

Willow rolls her eyes as if not believing me. „Right, I’m going to sleep, as well. Care to join me?“

I shake my head, to what my friend storms off, annoyed.

I can’t blame her. But she wasn’t there. She doesn’t know how embarrassed I feel or unable to come up with a decent explanation to Albus.

Maybe I really should sleep, it can only help me think better, right?

But I can’t. His horrified face is constantly in front of my eyes. It probably mirrored mine, since I was completely aghast. Still am. Because... I’m scared he won’t be willing to stay friends with me after the whole Louis fiasco. Correction, I’m scared shitless. It’s actually frightening how important he has become to me in such a short span of time.

Frightening and luscious simultaneously. Now... what does that description remind you of?

Shut up, brain!

Merlin, from now on, I won’t think when I’m upset. I’ll just stick to eating Ash’s muffins. That’s harmless. If you don’t count my ever expending buttocks, of course.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

I walk into my office with a killer headache and a blurred vision. The staying awake until dawn, thinking about Albus and simultaneously eating sweets habit has started to take a toll on me. I flop down into my chair, huffing.

But I’m not given an opportunity to have some peace, because James enters my office like it’s his own.

„Hello, Tatum!“ He salutes cheerfully.

„Speak louder, please.“ I groan.

„I don’t think that would be a good idea.“ He retorts, the sarcasm flying way over his head.

„Urgh, what are you doing here, James? I recall you quitting some time ago. And, yet, here you are, not forsaking this place for a second.“ I support my throbbing head with my palm.

„Well, aren’t you an unpleasant one.“ He remarks with a frown, but he’s quickly back to his trademark smirking. „I think I finally know what my calling is!“

„Brilliant. Now, why are you telling me this?“

„Because, you’re my future sister in law, duh!“ He rolls his eyes at me, as if that is a given.

„James, no.“ I shake my head, unable to produce a more coherent argument.

„I’ve seen how you two danced at the wedding and exchanged meaningful glances at the party yesterday. It is sooo a yes.“

I hit the desk with my head lightly, frustrated. „Ok, your thoughts on me and your brother aside, what is your calling?“

Well, now I’m intrigued.

„I’m going to be a WiTV host for a show with Quidditch star guests.“ He beams at me.

I squint at him, confused. „I don’t recall there being such a show.“

„That’s the point, I’ll convince them to make one, for me. Innit great?“ He beams even wider.

Dear Merlin, what have I ever seen in James Potter is puzzling to me now.

„Yes, James, it’s splendid.“ I smile at him in a tired manner.

„Well, that’s all. Except....“ He stops to grin at me significantly. „Albus wants to talk to you.“

I perk up. „What? When? Where?“

„Aha, you do have a crush on him!“ James points to me, satisfied.

I trow a pencil at him, but it misses him by a mile. Fuck, I’m a lousy flinger when sleep-deprived.

„Tonight. At cafe Pixie in Diagon Alley. Nine o’clock. Wear something hot. That last bit is my own addition.“ James winks.

„Yeah, like it wasn’t obvious.“ I smirk, for the first time this morning letting myself enjoy the silliness of James Potter.

He waves me goodbye before heading off minutes later. I surely hope not to stalk my boss again. But who am I to give lectures on stalking?

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

For safety purposes, I choose a pair of skinny jeans this time, complete with a yellow shirt and a light jacket, just right for autumn. Besides my clothing, everything else is giving me trouble. By everything else, I mean this date with Al. Well, not date, but you know what I mean. I’m scared he’s going to want to stop communicating with me. And since I have driven people away from myself in the past, that wouldn’t be such a shock.

When I walk up to the cafe, I can’t help but laugh a little, letting myself relax for a moment. It’s electric blue, I guess to honour the magical creatures whose name the owners have borrowed, so narrow it makes me wonder if even two tables can fit on one of the four floors it has, and a man in a Pixie suit is standing in front, blocking people’s paths in order to persuade them to come in. Why in the name of Salazar would Al ask me to come here?

Just as I’m wondering this, his palm rests on my shoulder. I turn around to a happy, cheerful face, which makes me joyful as well.

„Hey.“ I give him a quick hug.

„Sorry, it’s hard looking at you seriously after seeing your underwear.“ He chuckles.

I hit him in his forearm as a response.

„Although, when you get past the bears, you become aware of the hotness.“ He winks at me.

I blush, in spite of myself. „Does this mean you’re not mad at me?“

„Why would I be? I’m your friend, without the boy prefix.“ He says it with a face too stern.

I nod, suddenly feeling a bit disappointed. What is wrong with me? This should delight me!

We enter the cafe and choose a table on the last floor, one of the four at the story, as it turns out. I wasn’t far of, then. I order a butterbeer and Al follows my lead. When the waiter finally delivers and leaves us alone, I speak up, albeit nervously.

„Why are we here? I mean, it’s a bit...“

„Ridiculous?“

„Yeah.“ I giggle.

„Well, I thought it would suit you, as you’re one highly nonsensical person.“

„Hey!“

Al just laughs at my protest. „It’s mostly deserted and I wanted us to be alone, that’s why. Plus, the other reason still stands.“

I roll my eyes, but I’m secretly amused by him.

„I’ve missed you.“ I whisper. „I know that Emma is back and that you had a lot of catching up to do but, yeah... I’ve missed you.“

Albus extends his hand to grasp my palm gently. The touch sends small waves of warmth throughout my body.

„I’m sorry. I know I’ve neglected you lately. But Emma’s finally found a flat so we won’t be glued to each other 24/7, at least.“

„Yeah, at least.“ I whisper to myself.

Albus leaves the issue behind and starts talking about his job, the most interesting cases he had today, since it was a busy day, but mostly full of funny accidents, nothing critical. As he gesticulates wildly and his glasses keep slipping down his straight nose, I can’t help but stare at him. In a weird way, I’ve never felt more fond of him than in this moment right here.

„I don’t want to lose you.“ I suddenly utter, on a verge to cry.

He stops mid sentence to gaze at me with his ridiculously beautiful emerald eyes and it hurts. It physically hurts and I don’t even know why.

He stands up, circles around the table and pulls me in a gentle embrace. „I’m not going anywhere, silly. Even when you marry Louis and have notoriously cocky children with him, I’m still going to pop up in your home, unannounced, hopefully catching you in your underwear. Preferably that bear one.“

I laugh into his shoulder. „I’m not going to marry Louis, you dummy. I don’t even like him like that.“

„Well, I don’t know who’s there left to fancy for you, then. Because, no matter how full of himself Louis is, he’s one of the fittest guys I know.“

As soon as he says this, Al’s nose creases in discomfort. „Ok, that sounded wrong coming out of his cousin’s mouth.“

I shake my head at his frolicsomeness, still laughing.

And it’s always like this with him, it seems. Even when I feel like my world is ripping itself in half, Albus somehow manages to make me smile. And, secretly, that’s the main reason I couldn’t even begin to imagine my life without him.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

It’s the first day of October and an unusually sunny Wednesday. It’s also the day Scorpius and Rose are coming back from their honeymoon, along with Alice and Dylan. And I’m nervous. More nervous than Albus appears to be, oddly. We’re standing at the King’s Cross train station, awaiting the two couples along with many other relatives and friends.

The spouses chose to come back in a train, since all four of them met at the Hogwarts Express, on their first rides to Hogwarts. It’s a symbolic way of marking another beginning in their lives. Then, it was their acquaintance. Now, it’s marriage.

In fact, their train should be here in a matter of minutes. The hustle around us is proving to be a good shelter for speculators like myself. Conveniently, since my thoughts are in a larger disarray then the whole station. As a reflex helping me disguise the imbroglio in my head, I wave the small flag with the sign Malfoys on it, nervously playing with my hair.

The mask is not good enough to fool Albus Potter, though.

„What’s wrong?“ He takes my hand, the one previously busy with my brown locks, and squeezes it.

I turn to him, getting a little lost in his gaze. „Well... it’s...“

I stop, realizing I’m not able to explain. How can I put my sentiments into words when they aren’t even clear to me?

„Hey, guys, sorry I’m late!“

We veer to spot Emma panting her way to us, carrying a flag similar to mine, only instead of silver letters, hers have those of a pretty scarlet color.

See, in this one week that has passed since my date with Al at the Pixie, I’ve learnt to appreciate Emma. For example, she has no clue how to mask her obviously high standard of living. Now, you may think that is just plain vainglory on her part, but it’s not, she’s genuinely, hilariously posh, so it’s a constant source of laughter. And she’s a bit insensitive, too, which, again, could be a bad thing, but Emma makes it be a risible trait. She’s also started working in a small hospital of her own, like, for real-her father has a hospital and has decided to retire, so she’s basically her own boss, which means that Albus isn’t around her constantly, just as he said he wouldn’t be. Because of this, the tension between the three of us has mellowed down and I’m starting to see why he likes Emma so much. And I guess she likes me back, too, since she has a nickname for me, her own sign of affection.

„Bus, TaKen, what’s up?“ She bumps our shoulders forcefully.

Even Al is rubbing his painfully after she lays off.

„Just waiting for the love birds.“ I smile in a slightly overly enthusiastic manner.

„Right.“ Emma nods, catching my tone in understanding.

„Is there something you girls want to share?“ Albus glares at us, offended for being left out.

I always forget how intuitive he is. It’s really hard to keep a secret from him.

„Oh, come on, it’s Alice. We’re just worried.“ Emma reads my mind, word by word.

„Of what? That I’ll profess my undying love to her? I already did that with no result, remember?“ Al scoffs.

„You actually told her about your feelings?“ I wonder.

Albus sighs. „Yes, she rejected me. You know, funny thing is, I think you were there when that happened, actually.“

„Where?“ I frown.

„At the Three Broomsticks. You were with a boy, too. Some tall, dark lad.“

I narrow my eyes at him, trying and failing to recall the person in question.

„Valentine’s Day, fourth year, well... my fourth, your fifth.“ Al adds, as if to help me remember.

Then, it actually does hit me. „Oh, Merlin, I think I know now.“

 

 

 

The fourteenth of February, 2021

 

I was looking anywhere but at my date, as he was jabbering on about his favourite subjects at Hogwarts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Hogwarts (Well, kind of.), but this guy. This guy! It was as if he was out to marry it! But it was all my fault, no one else to blame, really. I was the one who flirted with him in Potions, I was the one who smiled at him in the Great Hall, I was the one who suggested this particular outing. Then again, to be fair to myself a little here, too, I was desperate. I needed to take my mind off of a certain Potter boy.

But it seemed as if Merlin wouldn’t have it, because, all of a sudden, who should come in, but another Potter. Specifically, the middle one.

Albus Potter. An enigma of its own kind. He was someone I never talked to, thus, one of the rare people that didn’t somehow end up being written about in the school’s newspaper, at all. He was in the company of Alice Longbottom, a childhood friend of his, as I’ve been told. They sat far away from us, but they were still in my field of view. I could see them laughing as they sat down. For some reason, I felt compelled to peak in their direction, every so little. Probably because Dean was boring me to death. They appeared to provide more entertainment for me, even though it was mostly all smiles and chuckles and quiet talking.

Until, at one point, Albus just stood up, his expression firm, but clearly dark. Alice was staring at him, her mouth hanging open. And then he just... left. The girl looked down for a moment, before Accioing her bag from the corner and storming off.

Needless to say, the said incident was the most exciting thing that happening to me that Valentine’s Day. And it didn’t even involve me directly.

 

 

 

I gaze at Al in compassion.

„Yeah.“ He nods. „But I’m fine now.“

Just then, the train halts and the cloud of dust gets lifted up from the ground, mixing with the steam. The shrieking sound of the machine stopping resembles a quite loud dirge.

„This reminds me that I’m going to have to come back here on Saturday and send Willow away.“ I say sorrowfully.

Albus cocks his head to the side slightly, clearly confused as to why would Will travel this particular way.

„She really likes trains.“ I explain.

Al laughs and flings one hand over my shoulder, the sudden contact making me shiver. It’s been like this whole week and I’m trying to ignore it with all of my strength, but it keeps getting in my way.

Oblivious to my conflict, Albus points to the four people getting down from the train in front of us. I perk up when I notice Rose and Scorpius with a tanner skin tone and Alice and Dylan looking very much in love. My eyes drift back to Albus, naturally, in order to observe his reaction. Surprisingly, he leaves Emma and myself behind, and is one of the first people to give the couples welcoming hugs.

Emma quirks her eyebrow at me. „Am I in some sort of a parallel universe?“

„Probably.“ I mutter, frankly startled by Al’s bold approach to the girl he has loved half his life.

Alice and Albus take significantly longer to greet each other compared to the others, which makes my stomach drop to its lowest level. He places his hand on her forearm at one point to what she responds with a fond smile. With a kiss on the cheek, the two part ways.

I’m unable to look Al in the eyes at the time being, so I go to say hi to Rose and Scorpius instead.

„You two must’ve spend a lot of your time at the beach.“ I note, after embracing them.

The pair shares quick glances, after what Rose bites her lip.

„Not really. We kind of didn’t leave our room. Even for meals, we had them be brought to us.“

I frown. „Then how...“

„It’s a new charm I’ve been practising.“ Scorpius explains proudly. „It appears convincing, do you concur?“

„Our parents won’t suspect that all we did was... well, you know, right?“ Rose blushes for the first time since I’ve known her, which makes me delightfully happy.

Seriously, Rose Weasley can get flustered, as well. It’s not just silly me.

I giggle at them. „It does seem cogently, no worries.“

 

 

 

After everyone has exchanged hellos, we all start heading back to our respective homes. Al, Emma and I usually part ways when we reach a small wizarding square called Alastor Moody Square, even though most have taken to calling it Mad-Eye Square, about five minutes away from Al’s flat. It’s a place with a quite young history, built to honour the great Auror Alastor Moody. It has a statue of him in the centre of the board space and a tradition of youngsters dressed to resemble the late Auror assembling every so little to celebrate his life. Right now, though, the place is mostly empty, save for an old couple sitting by the fountain with water constantly changing its color. Steadily reaching our exact parting spot, I can’t help but be in an interrogatory mood.

„So, what did you and Alice talk about?“ I wonder.

Albus smiles, looking in front of himself, firmly avoiding our questioning gazes. „I told her I was sorry.“

„What for, Mr Nice Guy?“ Emma voices my exact thoughts.

Clearly, he was in no need to ask for forgiveness.

„For not being there when she needed me, just because she couldn’t love me back.“

The notion makes me nod to myself and then remember Rose’s remark about Emma. My heart skips a beat as I look towards her. She’s still, breathless and too quiet. I can only imagine how she feels as the words slowly set in. It’s not too long before she halts, searching for Al’s arm to stop him, as well.

„Are people supposed to apologize for loving someone?“ She wonders, her look innocent, unsure, as if that of a little girl scared to hear the answer.

„No.“ Al drops my arm now in order to put both of his palms on Emma’s face. „Never. I was apologizing for being a bad friend as a result of my love.“

 „Then... then I have to apologize, too. Because... I was so selfish when I left and I-“

He hugs her tightly, leaving me to stand awkwardly by the side.

Dear Salazar, what do I usually do with my hands?

„Oh, Merlin, I’ve wanted to tell you that for so long, ever since I came back, but I thought that if I ever brought it up, we would lose our chance at a fresh start. I’m so sorry, Albus. I am.“

The rest of it is muffled since Emma buries her head in his shirt.

„And Jill.“ She suddenly lifts her head toward me. „I have to ask you to forgive me, as well. I was scared you wouldn’t let me redeem myself properly, because you’re so much better than me. Al is lucky to have found someone like you.“

She pulls me by the shirt and now the three of us are all embracing each other in the middle of the square. I can sense two pairs of eyes on my back, the old couple surely confused by our outburst of affection.

„I’m not as good of a person as you think, Emma.“ I assure her.

„But you’re a better friend than I am.“ She persists.

„Are you certain? Because I barely have any myself.“

„Oh, shut up and just accept my eulogy already, good Godric!“

I laugh and nod, while Al continues to crush us in his arms.

For a minute, I feel the kind of quiescence that only comes from being consummately and utterly content. And I may be greedy in wishing this, but I hope it never thaws.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

As a stark contrast to the joyous moment I had with Al and Emma earlier in the week, helping Willow pack is expectedly awfully sad. It hasn’t even been a full month since she came to visit and, yet, here she is-going into the unknown again. We sit on the floor carefully Accioing all of her belongings into her trunk, one by one. When one of our pictures lands over the pile, I can’t help but pick it up with a dismal sigh. I get even more rueful upon realizing it’s our first picture taken together. It’s one of my fondest memories of Willow.

 

 

 

Christmas Eve, 2016

 

„Well, that’s it. I’m officially spending the holidays at a school. I don’t know if I should be proud as a Ravenclaw, or sad as a human being.“ Willow flopped next to me at the Slytherin table, sighing.

„Oh, come on, Hogwarts is brilliant! You shouldn’t feel badly about it.“ I beamed back in all honesty.

My staying at Hogwarts story was that dad had a slight accident at work and refused to be treated with magic, he claimed he was too tough for the easier route. However peaceful and rational my father usually was, he sometimes regressed to the level of a fifteen years old boy trying to impress a hot girl. Namely, my mother. It was sweet and embarrassing, all at once. For this reason, he had to rest all through the holidays and mum advised me to stay at school so I wouldn’t miss the festal atmosphere.

 

Well, at least this was the original explanation I got. A few years down the round I found out that dad actually had a lighter case of tuberculosis. And they didn’t want me to watch him suffer at that young age.

 

I accepted staying back with the utmost joy. I was (still) completely entranced by Hogwarts. Willow, however, didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm. It was somewhat understanding, though. While I was looking at the possibility of a modest Christmas at home, Will had just failed to grab onto the potential of celebrating it in Moscow.

„Right, it’s not too shabby, but this is Russia we’re talking about. Why did my parents have to get stuck in Paris, urgh?“

I narrowed my eyes at her for the first time that day. Which was probably a personal record. „You realize how snobbish you sound right now?“

She sighed yet again, launching onto a big piece of chicken. „It’s not really about being somewhere fancy. But just... being somewhere else, you know. I love travelling. If I could make a living out of it, I would.“

„Well, maybe you will someday.“ I smiled, relieved that my initial liking of Willow wasn’t shattered.

Just then I noticed a girl from Hufflepuff, another first year student, with a camera hanging around her long neck. I grinned to myself, an idea coming to my mind.

„And you can even go places starting now.“

Willow frowned at me, confused. „What...“

„Come with me.“ I pulled her by the sleeve and out of the Great Hall.

 

 

 

I instructed her to wait for me outside the Slytherin common room. I felt kind of bad, since it was rather cold standing out in the corridor, so I made sure I was quick.

„Oh, Merlin! It better be something good, I almost froze to death.“

„Oh, it is.“ I smirked.

I led her into an empty classroom right next to the Potions one. It had the ideal setting. The blackboard behind, the high table in front of it, the darkness. It was perfect.

I set two muggle devices on the desk, the smaller one nearer to the board. The whole time, Willow was watching me intently, quiet. It was strange for her to be this peaceful, so I contributed it to the new, unfamiliar objects that clearly fascinated her. As I adjusted everything, I called her to join me in front of the blackboard.

„What are we...“

„Look at the small camera.“ I pointed to the object in front. „And smile, wave, make faces, whatever you want.“

„That’s a camera?“ She frowned. „It’s rather strange looking.“

„Yeah, it’s because it’s more advanced than the ones in the wizarding world.“

Will scoffed. „I seriously doubt that.“

„Ok, shut up and smile!“ I realized I was a bit brassy, but I was also getting unnerved by her smart arse.

Willow sighed and the first few smiles were clearly forced. But when she realized that behind us, there was a large slide show of different locations around world, just like a real life background, she visibly became excited. After hours and hours of laughter, I shut off the devices and showed the pictures caught on camera to my new friend. The backgrounds were of cities all over the world and it appeared like we travelled them all together. In mere hours.

„Well, I have to say it, then, don’t I?“

I nodded, quite pleased with myself.

„That was... bloody brilliant!“ She exclaimed. „When can we get the pictures?“

„I’ll send the camera to my parents, so they can develop the photos. So... in a matter of days. Do you want some of them specifically or...“

„The first one.“ She almost whispered.

I went back to the awkward picture, where Willow was frowning at me and I was waving like a maniac.“

„Why that one?“ I couldn’t help but wonder.

There were clearly far better photographs in there.

„Because...“ She took a moment to smile sincerely at me. „It’s our first photo together.“

I smiled at her, as well, for the first time certain that I wouldn’t lose her.

All up until that moment, it always seemed as though Willow was a bit reluctant to befriend me. Maybe it was the fact that I was a Slytherin, or that we were coming from very different backgrounds, status and ancestry wise. Or just that I was rather, well, odd.

„Besides, it has Beijing in the backdrop and you just know I’ll live there someday.“

„I thought you wanted to live in Moscow.“

„And who said I have to limit myself to one city?“ She grinned.

 

 

 

„Who knew it would be a bit prophetical.“ Willow smiles at me observing the photo over my shoulder.

„Sadly.“ I say sincerely.

Willow rests one of her hands around my waist. „You’re always welcome to join me.“

„I guess that’s one big difference between me and you. I love to come home at the end of the day.“

„No, the difference is that my home is the whole world and yours is just this lousy apartment.“

I push her away from me on the floor to what Will laughs.

„You’re still a smart arse.“

„And you’re still weird.“

I chuckle because, here it is, the real reason Willow hesitated to become my friend. I’m glad to find out she’s not prejudgmental as I made her out to be in my 11-years old mind.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

Saturday, October the fourth, is so rainy and foggy, that I find it hard to see anything in front of myself. But in a bizarre way, the weather suits me just fine. Probably because I feel as if the nature is depicting my sadness in its own marvellous, gray way.

I’m standing at the platform number eight, arm in arm with Albus Potter. Next to us there is Ash, leaning against Keyon, who expressed the desire to come out and say goodbye to Willow, as well.

„Who’s he?“ Al wants to know.

„My neighbour.“

„Her past lover.“ Willow finds it appropriate to meddle and out loud, too.

„Will!“ I hiss at her.

„Past lover?“ Albus seems dumb struck.

„I will kill you one day, Lynch, I swear!“ I growl at my (former) best friend.

She giggles. „But I’m off to see the world. Good luck with finding me.“

Just as she says this, her train starts to whiff. With her luggage already set in the right compartment, Willow runs from one to the other person of the small group sending her away, gives everyone a peck on the cheek and climbs onto the train. Seconds later, as the machine is beginning to move, she pops up at one of the windows. Pushing it down, she sticks her head of unruly brown hair out, grinning.

„Call me when you announce the wedding! I want to be your maid of honour!“

And before anyone can question her about who exactly she is referring to, the train vanishes from our sight.

„Well... that was weird.“ Key breaks the silence.

He then turns to Albus, extending his palm. „By the way, I’m Keyon Eggo, the neighbour of these two lovely ladies. And, yes, Jill’s ex.“

I smack him on the head with my wand angrily. „We’ve barely kissed twice.“

Al observes his hand with a frown for several moments before accepting it. „Albus Potter, nice to meet you.“

„I thought you looked familiar.“ Key laughs.

Albus doesn’t seem annoyed, though. „You look familiar, as well.“

„He’s from Dragon Puffs.“ Ash supplies. „You know, the rock band.“

Albus chuckles to himself upon hearing this new piece of information.

„What is it?“ I wonder.

„Nothing, I just... I have a weird connection to one of their songs... Don’t mind me.“

Ash and Keyon chat a little more with us before they apparate to some cafe in Muggle London, Rouge or something to that effect.

Which leaves me alone with Albus, after days.

I like Emma, honestly, I do, but I miss hanging out with Al, just the two of us.

He looks in front of himself, his hands resting on his back. His posture is quite proper, too constricted to seem natural. It’s clear that his thoughts are wandering about, before he speaks up.

„I’m ready, Ty.“

I look up to his firm face, determination written all over it.

„What for?“ I whisper, almost afraid of what he’s about to say.

Al turns to me slowly, the most warm smile, he’s ever given me, gracing his full lips. And suddenly, all the tension is gone.

He appears utterly happy and resolved when he declares the following. „To move on.“

 








 

A/N: This is a bit of a filler chapter, but it has one crucial development in it-Al’s determination to finally move on. And also-Tatum is starting to realize that her feelings toward Al are developing in unexpected ways. As a result, you should be prepared for a slight change of pace in the following chapters. ;)

 

 


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