Chapter 1 : tea shop.
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Expecting to see another couple of teenagers with their tongues down each other’s throat, I was surprised when the person who stepped into the cafe was none other than James Sirius Potter.
Yelping pathetically, I fell to the floor in a ridiculous attempt that he wouldn’t notice me. I’d already embarrassed myself enough with that boy, if he sees me working here on Valentine’s Day instead of being out with my boyfriend, then he’d start to get suspicious. From the corner of my eye, I saw his feet shifting about and could feel his body stir from where I was sitting on the floor.
The boy emits so much energy that I’m shocked he hasn’t noticed the chemistry between us. I mean, in fourth year when my cauldron exploded because he’d entered the class to give something to his brother, I literally confessed my undying love to him. But he doesn’t know that. You’d think by now that he’d understand that exploding a cauldron is Maya Baxter’s way of saying, “I love you”, but nooooo, he doesn’t.
Every time I’m around him, I start to do stupid things. Exploding a cauldron is one of them, accepting a job at Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop is another, and making it up that I was going to be spending Valentine’s Day with Elgar Fanning, my super (fake) rich attractive boyfriend, was the other.
James Potter might be attractive, but he sure is dumb. I even said that Elgar went to Beauxbatons in France, which is why I hardly ever see him. I think that at one point, I said that he spoke German, because his mother was German and his father was Italian. Yet the boy still didn’t question what he was doing in France.
He’s lucky he’s got a fit body and that he’s the son of the saviour of the wizarding world. Otherwise, he’d have nothing working for him.
Now that was a lie. Even if he didn’t have famous parents and he didn’t have a fit bod, I’d still love him. There’s something about that boy that when he talks to you, he makes you feel like the most important person in the world.
This is why, in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve resorted to hiding under the counter because I’m afraid of the humiliation that will soon come when he sees me. A few painful seconds passed, filled with loud breathing and me trying to adjust my head to an uncomfortable position where I could see above me and still make myself unseen. So far, it’s going well. My neck might be killing me, but trust me, it’s worth it because he cannot see me.
All I need now is a camouflage outfit and I could easily blend in. I could even be a ninja! How cool would that be? I’d be able to fly around and do all kind of stunts around the dorm and still go unnoticed. Then maybe I wouldn’t need to hide under counters at work just to avoid the most attractive guy in school. I could go to his dorm instead and sleep under his bed just so I could hear his soft breathing.
Wow, Maya. That’s not weird.
Shut up brain. Maya normal.
“Er, hello? Is anyone here?” James Potter called, leaning over the counter, his voice thick with sleep.
HOLY MERLIN. HE SOUNDS SO HOT. IT’S LIKE HE WOKE UP AND THREW A SHIRT OVER HIS HEAD AND PRATICALLY RAN DOWN TO HOGSMEADE FOR A CUP OF TEA.
If I wasn’t already cowering here on the floor, I would, without a doubt, melt to a gooey mess of goo right here because of how attractive he sounds.
DOES HE NOT KNOW WHAT KIND OF EFFECT HE HAS ON ME? I MEAN COME ON. I’M MELTING HERE.
Using my hand as a fan, I frantically flapped it in front of my face. Was it getting hot in here? I’m so glad that James can’t see me right now because if he could, he’d probably find me awkward and appalling. Since well, I’m the kind of girl that dreams about sleeping under beds of her crushes. But I’m pretty sure every girl in Hogwarts dreams about that too. So technically, I'm not the only one.
It was then that I realised that if I didn’t get up anytime soon, James would tell Madam Puddifoot that I wasn’t here when he came looking for me. Then I’d get fired and wouldn’t be able to earn enough money for that Love Potion at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Why do I need a love potion, you ask? For James Potter, of course. He hasn’t shown any sign of falling in love with me anytime soon, so it’d just be better to sneak a bottle of First Love Beguiling Bubbles into his cauldron when he isn’t looking.
Smart, right? I think it’s pretty well thought out because, well, James leaves this year and since I’m in sixth year, I only have one more year to prove to him that I’m the perfect girl for him. I have this whole plan. And if you must know the progress, it’s not going well.
“Maya, are you going to get up or what?”
I screeched and lost my balance from where I was sitting. Banging my head on the counter, I quickly got to my feet and faced the person I had been trying to avoid all day.
The first thing I did was chuckle awkwardly as I dusted down my uniform and rubbed the back of my head. “Hehe, hi.”
“What were you doing under the counter?” he asked, crossing his toned arms across his chest, looking both amused and confused. He looked amfused.
Panicking inside, I said the first excuse that came to mind. “Erm, I dropped my earrings.”
“Oh really?” James asked, looking even more amused than before. “Did you find them?”
“No. I erm – I didn’t.” It was hard to respond when James Potter stood right in front of me. Remember when I said that whenever he came near me, I turn into a blubbering mess? Well this was one of those times. But to be fair, my inability to talk properly is understandable. I mean have you seen the boy? He was wearing a faded T-shirt that made him look unfairly good and his hair a tangled mess. Seriously, my ovaries just exploded.
“I didn’t even know you wore earrings.” he pointed out, staring at me. Unabashedly. As if he was trying to figure me out. And just like that, my whole lie came crumbling down. Not life. But my Lie. Maya ain’t that dramatic.
“Yeah, erm, I don’t.” I admitted, dropping my shoulders and turning my attention to my interesting feet. Humiliated.
“Oh okay. I guess that makes sense. I think.”
Oh boy. I’ve made the boy uncomfortable. Might as well stick a post-it note on my head that says: WARNING: WILL MAKE YOU QUESTION YOUR WILL TO LIVE. I’m sure people would be happy to be warned about me before I enter a room.
“Erm, shouldn’t you be with Daisy?” Honestly, I did try my best not to sound rude, but it obviously did not work. I’m pretty sure my question sounded more like: “Shouldn’t you be looking for your girl, Daisy? That’s if she hasn’t slept with the whole Quidditch team already.”
“No no.” James was quick to answer, shaking his head briskly and I felt a flicker of hope rise inside me. “It’s been on and off for the past few months so we decided to end it.”
“Aw, really?” I’m really good at faking sympathy. Seriously. I should win like some sort of award for it. Obviously I didn’t feel sorry for him but it’s nice when someone offers some sympathy. Inside, I was jumping for joy and breaking out my best dance moves to celebrate the wonderful news I had just been told. But outside, I was unfazed.
“Yeah.” he drawled uncharacteristically. “So I guess I’m dateless on Valentine’s day.” he chuckled awkwardly, looking quite uncomfortable.
Dear God. James Potter chuckles awkwardly as well. SEE? We have so much in common! Oh James, can’t you see how perfect we are for each other? Must I jump into a song number to express my love for you or will you soon get the hint?
“Yeah that’s a shame. But you’re not alone!” I added excitedly. “Welcome to the Singles club. I am the chairman, also known as the owner, founder, and only member, since everyone seems to be dating each other nowadays.”
My attempt at a joke to lighten the mood was met with a confused gaze from James.
“Wait, what happened with Elgar?” his eyes seemed to twinkle with concern, if that’s even possible. I wasn’t sure if he genuinely cared about my answer or if he just wanted me to answer so he wouldn’t be the only single one. Either way, he looked interested in whatever I had to say. In fact, his eyes wouldn’t leave mine as I tried to think of a suitable lie.
“Er, things weren’t working out. It was hard for us to be together. We practically lived in different realties.” Yeah, he’s a fiction of my imagination and therefore cannot be with me as he has no human capabilities. Or any limbs for that matter.
“Oh that’s terrible.” James sympathised and I felt stupid for expecting a happier response. But to be honest, I wasn’t really expecting him to leap from wall to wall at the fact that I had just broken up with my imaginary boyfriend.
“But there’s nothing bad about being single on Valentine’s Day.” I prompted, desperate for him not to feel sorry for me. I reached over to him and grabbed his hands in my mine, placing them on the counter.
I’m giving out every single sign that I like you. If you don’t notice, then you need to get yourself checked out.
His eyes never left mine as he said slowly and softly, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly as he removed his hands away from mine, “I guess.”
“Right, then.” I choked, a little hurt and disappointed with his casual response. Just when I thought the chemistry between us was becoming obvious, you go and utter two words and act all careless and what-not, killing all my dreams.
“Yeah, erm, I’m gonna go.” James hesitated, running his hands through his hair, leaving it even messier (and better) than before.
“All right. Bye then.” I said quietly, but it was too late. James was already out the door, swaggering coolly. As I watched him walk past, through the glass windows, I couldn’t help but feel my heart begin to break. Slowly at first, but gradually, I felt my heart shattering into a million pieces like a broken mirror. My chest felt tight and I started to lose my footing on the ground beneath me. I honestly felt like I was going to cry.
But like every other heroin in any other story, I grew some backbone and puffed out my chest. Nothing was going to break me. Not even stupid James Potter.
He can just fall in a pit for all I care.
NO. I TAKE THAT BACK.
Bringing my attention away from my broken dreams, my head jerked at the sound of pink confetti exploding over the people sitting below them from the golden cherubs hovering over each of the tables. I let out a sigh and tossed another tacky Valentine’s Day decoration into the nearby bin.
I really hate Valentine’s Day.
Faintly, I could hear the radio in the corner playing the new Wrong Infection song. I resisted the urge to jump on the counter and serenade the customers because quite frankly, I did not want to. Feeling sorry for myself, I didn’t notice when the bell above the door rung tunefully. I was silently praying that it wasn’t another couple, because if it turned out to be another one, I swear to Merlin, I will hex them right now and there.
They can have their teas to go.
I lifted my head from the counter to see an attractive blonde woman looking around impatiently. It was obvious she wasn’t here for a cup of tea. She, like every other impatient woman who entered the café, wanted juicy gossip from Hogwarts students about the Wotter clan.
“Rita Skeeter. Nice to meet you.” Her smile was wide, but her tone vicious. She held out her hand and I limply shook it.
“Er, you too?” I began, but she was already continuing, voice smooth and alluring.
“You probably know why I’m here. I don’t want a cup of tea, nor do I want to listen to any of your dull specials. I’m here for the gossip. You go to school with the Potters don’t you? A classmate of–er–say, James Sirius Potter, aren’t you? My readers would be interested in knowing what the son of the famous saviour of the wizarding world is up to today and I was wondering if you could tell me about what he’s like in school.”
What? Laughter flushed through me, loud and cunning. “Me?” I asked assertively. My insides twisted with hysteria.
“Yes you!” Rita Skeeter demanded cruelly.
I cleared my throat and pretended to cough to cover up the laughter. Why was she suddenly being so horrible? What had I ever done to her?
“I’m afraid you’re asking the wrong person.” I assured her, trying my best to muster a smile. A cunning reporter like Rita Skeeter was not going to ruin my reputation as a brilliant employee. I had to be kind and kill her with me sweetness.
“Well my sources tell me that you two are very close.” she informed me and I wondered who her sources were; probably her nephew, the creepy kid in third year that’s always counting leaves.
“I’m sorry but I know nothing.” I told her, smiling sweetly.
Rita tapped her long crimson nails on the edge of the counter, looking irritated. “Aren’t you his girlfriend?”
I choked on my own spit. Coughing dramatically, I tried to grasp the question she had just asked.
It was like a slap to the face. She was practically laughing at my misery and scribbling the lovely new information down. Her expression was bitingly unapologetic as she continued scribbling away with one hand; there was a slight, smug lilt to the corner of her mouth, a challenge sparking in her gaze.
Desperate to keep my job (and my dignity), I lowered my voice and looked her in the eye. “I’m not his girlfriend.”
Rita Skeeter was no longer smirking. Her face betrayed no emotion—just the slightest darkening of her eyes—as she turned around and scanned the room. I fought back the urge to holler something nasty at her and kick her out. It seemed like her main priority was to humiliate me and make me feel like the smaller person.
When she turned around, she was watching me with sharp, beady eyes.
“I have the ability to ruin you, embarrass you and crush you.” she spoke, harshly and viciously. “Your fate depends on what you tell me today. You can either choose to be the nice friend of James Potter or… the plain Jane next door – the wannabe, the poor girl that’s in love with someone who doesn’t love her back.”
I gaped and felt absolutely sickened. How on earth was I meant to respond to that?
Judging by the ghastly smile on her face, I knew I had to respond soon. “James Potter isn’t my boyfriend. He just recently broke up with a girl.” As I uttered the words, I felt like a traitor. I was ratting out a friend of mine. But I guess he deserved it.
“I see.” she said, voice silky and acidic.
“James is amazing...” I added immediately, scared that she would think I was just someone who betrayed her friends.
“That’s sweet.” she drawled, not paying any notice. Her attention was already back to the notepad in her hand as she scrawled everything down.
“I hope you don’t think that I’m some the sort of person who talks about her friends to just anyone, you know.” I voiced, fiddling with my nails, looking frightened and weak.
In one effortless swift movement, she faced me once again. Slowly, a smirk crawled onto her face, contrasting with her heavy-jawed face, as though she was born with that smirk on her face. And then she snapped her notepad into a crocodile case, gave a simpering smirk, and stalked right out of the café, aware of everyone’s gaze on her.
Er, what just happened?
On one hand, I maintained my reputation as a brilliants employee (proud of myself) but on the other hand… did I just talk about the son of the famous saviour of the wizarding world… to a reporter – the main thing I’m taught to never do from James and his cousins?
James will definitely want me now.