Chapter 25 : Paparazzi
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James knew that avoiding his family and friends was cruel, but he couldn’t help himself. He was normally an insensitive boy, he visited his mother, owled his brother, and tolerated his father, but nothing about this was normal.
His sister was missing and everyone seemed more concerned about him and the rest of the family than they did about her. She was the one who was missing, but the articles in the paper barely mentioned her, except for saying that she had disappeared. They were all more concerned about his father. About him.
Thankfully Al and his mum seemed to have stayed out of the Prophet and Witch Weekly for the most part, as those were the two main papers still carrying the story. He suspected that was because Al was away at Hogwarts and his mum rarely left the house, but he was still grateful.
There was very little harder than picking up the paper and seeing yourself stumbling around, except for maybe picking it up and seeing large letters announcing your baby sister was missing.
He read the papers almost every day now, not all of them the way his father did, but he read Witch Weekly and the Daily Prophet. It was somewhat sickening to hear about Lily, his father, and himself, but it was all necessary.
James had to keep up with his family somehow, this just seemed like the only way to do it anymore.
He was walking down the streets of Diagon Alley when out of nowhere a reporter popped out and snapped a picture of his face. “James Potter, care to answer a few questions?”
James turned around instantly and walked away, trying to keep his cool. He hadn’t been as besieged by reporters in the daytime recently, but they still appeared every so often. And he still had to force himself not to go for his wand.
Most of the press seemed to respect his space now and walked away, or at the very least followed him quietly until they grew bored, but this man was persistent.
“James, tell me what it’s been like for you since your sister went missing,” his said, the quick quotes quill poised to write. He was an older man, thirtyish, already with a receding hairline. He wore thin glasses that were bright gold, too flashy to be trendy.
“Get the fuck away from me,” James muttered as he picked up his pace. He would have apparated away, but it was impossible for him to concentrate enough to focus on a location. He had no desire to splinch himself as it appeared incredibly painful.
“There’s no need to be rude,” the reporter said, his nasally voice getting on James’s every nerve. His quill made a several scratches on the parchment when James was sure would show up in Witch Weekly. The Prophet reporters knew when to back off for the most part. They were too closely affiliated with the Ministry to break any trespassing or harassment laws.
He kept walking, his hand clenched in a tight fist in the pocket of his robes. It was all he could do not to turn and hit the reporter with some kind of curse, preferably one that was painful and lasting.
“It’s a bit suspicious that you’ve been out partying ever since your sister disappeared, ran away, whatever happened. Care to comment on that?”
James lost it. His vision burned red and he couldn’t clearly see, although that didn’t stop him from grabbing his wand and pointing it at the rat like man. He muttered a hex under his breath which the man parried with an easy sweep of his own wand. James hadn’t even seen him draw it.
The quick quotes quill was still writing rapidly, but James hardly noticed it. “Keep your fucking gob shut about my sister!” He shouted, drawing attention from people all over the street. Some even exited their shops to see what the commotion was about.
“Can I quote that directly or would you prefer me to paraphrase?” The reporter asked, looking gleeful at James’s rage. He lifted the camera from around his neck and shot a quick picture of James brandishing his wand.
This only served to anger James further although when he went to hex the man again, he found he couldn’t move. His body was locked into place as though bound by invisible chains.
It was just like in the pub that night, although in the pub he could move everything above his waist. Now he couldn’t even form words. His whole body was locked up.
A cool, familiar voice approached him and he would have cringed had he been able to move. “Why is it that I always see you when you’re about to get your arse kicked?” Keelie asked, striding confidently into his line of vision. His eyes were the only part of his body that he could move, although that didn’t help him much.
“Who are you?” The reporter asked greedily, knowing that for the first time he might be able to get one of his stories on the front page. His editor wouldn’t be able to turn down James Potter trying to attack him and a secret girlfriend. “Are you two dating?”
“Get lost, loser,” Keelie snapped at him, clearly having no patience for the games the paparazzi liked to play. “And you can quote me on that.”
She grabbed James’s arm and apparated him to a quiet, dimly lit room. “Finite incantatum.” James stumbled as he was able to move again and she held him up by his arm. “You alright?”
He shook his head. Away from the reporter the rage was beginning to ebb away, but he was still breathing hard and shaking. “That bastard-”
“I know, but you’ve got to learn to control yourself. Attacking him is going to make a whole horde of them come after you.” Her logic was infallible, but James shook his head.
He couldn’t think logically when arseholes like that reporter came around telling him that Lily had run away. He didn’t know what he was talking about.
“How do you know?” He asked. “They might get scared and lay off.”
“They didn’t get where they are without tenacity.” Keelie shrugged, tucking her hair behind her ears. “I interned at a newspaper once. You don’t get to the top without being vicious and bloodthirsty. Cured me of ever being a reporter.”
“You- you-” James stumbled over the words, taking a step back. “You’re a reporter?”
“I interned for a summer, that hardly makes me the enemy here.” Keelie crossed her arms.
With a sigh, James sank against the wall, knowing she was right. “It’s just so fucking hard to let it go.”
Keelie shrugged. “I never said it wasn’t. Just said you had to.”
James ran a hand down his face in frustration. “Shit, now you’re going to end up on the front page right beside me. I’m sorry. You should’ve just let me take him out.”
“And get in trouble over that slimy scumbag? Surely you would know I wouldn’t let someone do that.” She smiled and for the first time since seeing the reporter the tension began to ease in James’s stomach.
He began to look around the dank room. “Where are we?” He asked curiously. There weren’t any windows which made him think it was some kind of cellar and the smell in the air suggested someone had been brewing potions inside.
“Underneath a shop I work at. I was on break, so this was the first place that came to mind.” She opened the door and gestured for James to follow her up the steps.
“I feel bad I interrupted your lunch,” James said. He was still angry, but trying hard to keep his cool with Keelie. She’d saved his arse twice, he could at least attempt to be polite.
“Oh it’s no problem at all. My mum won’t be thrilled if she sees me in the paper, but chances are she won’t as she’s in Sweden this month.” Keelie shrugged and smiled at the man who was fiddling with some large bone James didn’t recognize. “Hey ‘Sander,” she said.
The blond man looked up and James immediately recognized him. “Lysander,” he muttered, trying to keep a plastered a smile on his face. “Hello.”
“Hello James,” the older man said with a smile. “I never knew you were interested in the hidden secrets of our world.”
James glanced at Keelie, wondering what she was into with Lysander. The man, as well as his mother, had always disturbed him a little. They always seemed half in this world and half living in their own, something Lily had adored.
His twin may have been self obsessed, Slytherin reporter, but at least he was sane. That was more than James could say for Lysander. He looked around the shop and noted that it was full of random objects Lysander probably thought attracted nargles or whatever the hell he was researching now.
“Er- I’m not,” James said, realizing he hadn’t answered Lysander’s question. “I was just- with Keelie.”
“Can I have a longer lunch break?” Keelie asked, interrupting James’s rambling. He was grateful for that, as well as everything else she’d done.
“Of course,” Lysander said in his slow dreamy tone. He turned back to the bone and lifted it closer to his eye.
James inched out the door with Keelie close behind him. He was surprised to find they were just off of Diagon Alley on a small back street. He’d never been back there before which was probably why he didn’t know Lysander had his own shop.
“You know ‘Sander?” Keelie asked as they were walking down the street.
“Our parents were old friends,” James mumbled, not wanting to go further into it. Luna and Rolf made him think too much of Lily.
“He’s a good bloke, a bit odd sometimes, but a good bloke.” Keelie grinned. “You don’t have to go for everything he believes him to like him. Or accept the salary he pays.”
“Oh.” James was a bit relieved to know that Keelie didn’t take stock in nargles and things like that, although he wasn’t sure exactly why. “I’ll buy you lunch. To thank you for helping me with the reporter. And the other night when you took me back to your place and didn’t let your big friend beat me up.”
Keelie’s ears turned bright pink as she blushed deeply. “It’s really nothing. I can pay my own way.”
“My treat,” James said. “It’ll make me feel better.”
“If you insist.” She smiled at him as they walked together to get lunch.
A/N: Thanks for the continued interest, guys! It means so much. :)