Chapter 18 : And just when everything looks like it's going to be alright...
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"No," I grumbled, turning my head into a strangely fluffy pillow and pulling the duvet up over the back of my head. The hand shaking my leg slapped my hard on the arse, and I shrieked as I whipped around and kicked my leg up at a 90 degree angle to my body. There was a loud curse and then Potter, hissing and clutching his jaw, swam into focus as I opened my eyes.
"You little – you were awake fifteen minutes ago! I've made you coffee!" Potter slammed a mug down onto the bedside table and backed away from me, checking his jaw in the mirror next to the bed. I rolled my eyes and pulled the mug to my lips, hoping the caffeine would wake me up properly. And that's when I noticed my state of undress.
"Potter – what the – why the – where the hell are my clothes, you – you hellion?!" Potter's eyes snapped from the mirror to me as his jaw fell slack. He gestured wordlessly to me, then the floor, before bending down and tossing some flimsy lace bra at my head. It took me a second to realise it was mine.
"They're on the floor – where you left them!" I glanced down at the bed and found that indeed, my clothes were dotted in various places on 'my' half of the room. Potter was wearing nothing but a pair of loose fitting joggerbums and that distracted my attention for all of a minute before I grabbed one of his shirts from under the bed – thank Merlin all men are the same and think that the space under their bed is a store cupboard – and dragging it over myself. I pursed my lips and tried to shake the worst of the knots out of my hair but it got stuck in a tangle and I pulled it out with a grimace. It was going to need washing to sort out.
"Oh, I see – we slept together, right?" Potter nodded, dropped down onto the edge of the bed and took a deep gulp from his own mug of coffee. I shrugged and went back to drinking my own, both of us as chill as cucumbers. After the initial rape-alarm went off, everything settled back down to normal speeds in the brain of Aimee Woods.
"So it would seem," Potter said dryly, clearly not happy that he was not the most memorable shag of my life. Thinking on it, I decided that the most memorable time of my life was the night I lost my virginity. We were both clueless virgins, so it may not have been the most… breath-taking experience, but something about the night was sweet and it always stayed with me. It made me glad that I waited until I was in love – or at least, until I thought I was. That guy went on to come out as gay six weeks later. He and his boyfriend are now happily married (honestly).
"Ah, yeah, I remember," I shrugged, as bits and pieces of the night floated back to my sleep-addled brain. I grinned sheepishly and Potter chuckled into his coffee cup. "You weren't bad, Potter." I winked, blowing upwards to try and flick some hair out of my eyes.
"Thanks. You weren't too bad yourself," he smiled, and he looked so – different when he did it that I climbed out from under the covers and plopped down by his side.
"So what was last night?" I asked, wondering a little bit why neither of us was more freaked out than we were. For some reason, I felt totally calm. Potter was grinning and smiling, but something seemed a little off about his smile. He kept glancing towards the bedroom door, and I wondered if he wanted to scarper on me – because that would have been embarrassing.
"Dunno. I mean, I don't… I dunno. It's not like it has to mean anything. It can just be a cool night between two chill people and… so on and so forth. Like, it doesn't have to mean anything. But just because it doesn't have to mean anything doesn't mean it shouldn't mean anything. I mean – I dunno. Ignore me." A slash of pink blush topped both of Potter's flushed cheeks and my jaw dropped open and the novel (and adorable) sight of James Potter stammering.
"Right. Want to make some breakfast?" I asked, stepping off the bed and tugging down James's shirt so it actually sat at a much more modest mid-thigh. Well, modest for a woman of ill-repute, maybe. I pushed past him into the living room as he checked out his jaw once more in the mirror.
When I stepped into the living room, I noticed something off about the normally perfectly clean living room. Potter had shared that he was particularly proficient with household spells, and it showed. Even the windows were spotless. A black leather jacket, too worn to possibly belong to Potter, was thrown casually over the glass coffee table, one of the arms draping down onto the cushy carpet. I wandered over to it.
It was worn, but not the kind of worn you see all over the streets these days – why anyone would want their clothes to look beat up is beyond me, by the way. It was worn in the sense that it had been worn to death, and so it was full of scratches that removed the colour from the leather and patches where the dye had faded away. One of the zips on the pockets was broken, and the collar hung down slightly to the left on one side due to a permanent crinkle. There was no way this beat up excuse for a coat belonged to anyone in the Moneybags Weasley/Potter Empire.
"Why is Mark's jacket on the coffee table?" I asked slowly, grabbing it and turning around to face Potter. He instantly looked ten times more awkward and therefore ten times guiltier. I unleashed the Aimee Woods Demon Stare and watched him flounder and sputter. Gone was the cool and arrogant James Potter that I had once known.
"Not really any of your fucking business, is it?" he snapped suddenly. And he's back. I frowned and took a step forwards, shaking the jacket about like it was some kind of weapon.
"Potter, why the hell is my brother's jacket here? It wasn't here last night! Has my brother been around? You do know I told him we weren't sleeping together, right? I might be twenty, but if he found out I was here then he is going to peel the skin from my bones when I get home." Potter shot me a cold glare, snatched the jacket off me and threw it onto the couch.
"I borrowed the damn thing, alright? He has no idea you spent the night. Calm your panties. Do you have to get so uptight about every little thing?" I let my expression fall into a flat grimace as he shoulder-shoved past me and stalked into the kitchen. I followed quickly so I didn't get lost.
"Panties, what are you – American?" Potter scowled at me and slammed a box of fifteen eggs into my arms, along with a box of season salt. He grabbed a loaf of bread and pulled open the grill, before pulling his wand out of his boxers (ew) and charmed the toast into the oven. I snatched the wand off him and pointed it at the eggs, charming them hot and then charming the tops off of them so that I could charm salt into each of them. I then flicked them onto plates as Potter spread the toast between the pair of us, giving himself a significantly larger portion than myself.
He then headed over to the fridge, pulled out a beer and poured it into two beer glasses, only giving us half a pint each. I suppose it made sense – it was breakfast, after all. He grabbed both plates and I grabbed both drinks and together we headed over to the dining room, where we sat opposite each other on an enormous 18-seater table (pretty sure Potter doesn't know eighteen people, btw) and I conjured up a cigarette.
"No smoking in my place," Potter grunted. "And you shouldn't be smoking at all; it's a fucking awful habit." I frowned and dropped it between us, letting it roll towards Potter's plate as he hoovered down his eggs and soldiers. I took a sip from my beer and took a bite of my toast slice before both grinning and smirking at the same time.
"We may be in a beautiful apartment with a table that costs more than what the entire Government of some African countries are worth, but could we be anymore white trash right now?" I said, as Potter bashed the top of his egg with his thumbnail and I glugged back beer like it was going out of fashion. Our odd clothing choices aided my argument. I actually managed to coax a smile out of a previously-frigid Potter.
"Nah, we'd only be white trash if one of us was wearing a baseball cap the wrong away around and another overlarge sunglasses. Oh, and you don't have rollers in your hair." I patted the knots on my head and offered him a weak grimace. "This isn't a trailer park, either." I frowned at him.
"There's nothing wrong with people that live on trailer parks – a good friend of mine, Perrie, grew up a gypsy trailer park and she's as funny as anything. Works in an office and everything." Potter raised an eyebrow but carried on hoovering down his breakfast without question.
"Woods? We ever gonna talk about last night?" I choked a little on the crust of the slice of toast I was chewing on and squint at Potter through the leftovers of the night before's mascara, which was clinging in unattractive thick clumps to my eyelashes. I wasn't sure what to say so I floundered for a moment, buying time, and then cleared my throat.
"What is there to talk about?" I asked dumbly. Potter frowned at me.
"Well… like, what did it mean to you? Does it mean you're expecting us to date or something? Are you going to get pissed with me if I go out and screw another chick tonight? Are you going to start seeing someone else or – like, what. Do you like me or something? I – fuck – erm… yeah. I dunno. I just want to know if you're expecting anything from me just because we screwed each other." Potter lost the vulnerability he started with about halfway through his speech, becoming suddenly arrogant and obnoxious. My nostrils flared.
Even though the thought of Potter sleeping with someone else turned my stomach for some unknown reason and made me want to slap the lilt from his lips, I forced my expression to remain nonchalant and shrugged my shoulders up once and then let them drop.
"Sleep with whoever you want – it's no business of mine. It's not like it's going to happen again."
Potter's jaw dropped marginally, such a tiny movement that I wouldn't have even noticed had I not already been staring at his lips, still slightly pink from a night full of violent kissing (turns out Potter is a smoocher – who would have known?) and his eyes flashed with something that looked like anger – most likely at his male ego being poked with a giant stick by yours truly – and to my great confusion, hurt.
"Ah, so I was just a fuck, was I? Not going to happen again, I get you. You'll go back to your cheap one night stands in the apartment that I finance for you and I can go back to not being able to sleep with any chicks because they'd sell their stories to Witch Weekly to make me look like a cheater, since our 'relationship' is in that rag on a daily basis."
"Screw a muggle, then," I suggested crudely, throwing my toast down at my plate in annoyance.
"You know what – you're a…" he trails off, his lips pinched together in anger. "I didn't have to sit in a fucking hospital with you and your ex-boyfriend yesterday, you know! I didn't do it because I thought that it would be a fun day out! I did it because – well, you know what, if you can't figure it out, that's not my problem. You'll do anything for that useless idiot Dan, but-" he cuts off again and then slams out of the dining room, and eventually, the apartment. I finished my breakfast in silence.
"I feel like I'm being squeezed into a corset six times too small," I gasped as the cruel demon behind me, disguised as a seemingly sweet woman in her late fifties, pulled the small pearl buttons on the back of my bridesmaids dress with a surprising amount of strength for her frailness. The waistband felt like it was digging grooves into my stomach.
"Well it's probably the weight you've gained recently," Molly remarked tactlessly from the plush couch behind me, where she is thumbing through a bridal dress magazine despite already having to chosen her dress and veil.
"Excuse me?" I shrieked, whipping around and pressing my hand to my stomach. I grab my phone off the spindly little table behind me and tapping out a message to James.
Potter, be honest – did my stomach look fat last night? Apparently I've gained weight! Have I? Do I look too fat to be a bridesmaid? ANSWER ME. Molly snatched the phone out of my hand suddenly and stared at the message with an amused expression. She deleted the whole message and then tossed the phone onto the couch.
"Aimee, you have gained weight since you started dating James – it's fantastic. After Dan left and you started struggling with your bills, you stopped eating. Partly because you were depressed and angry and partly because you were struggling to pay for food. You lost so much weight it was unreal – we thought you had an eating disorder or something. You dropped about twenty pounds in two months – and you were skinny to begin with!
"You looked gaunt, I'm not kidding. Your ribs poked out and your cheekbones like thrust out of your skin. You looked really ill, Aimes – your whole family was worried. Even though you're quite olive toned, you were really pale and your hands shook all the time. But then you started dating James, and I reckon you've gained ten odd pounds in the last month. You look great.
"I mean, you're still a little too skinny, but you look so much better. Your parents wrote to James to thank him for getting you to eat again." I frowned. I hadn't even noticed that I had stopped eating – I stopped feeling hungry after a while. I certainly hadn't noticed that I'd started eating more or that I'd gained weight. Dan certainly didn't notice I'd lost anything that night we spent together after he first came back.
"So now I'm too fat to fit into my bridesmaid's dress?" I muttered, feeling a little annoyed even though I now looked healthy instead of starving. I think it may have just been a typical woman's reaction. I poked at my stomach.
"Well the measurements were taken when you had lost every ounce of flesh on your body, so yes." Molly grinned at me and then pulled me into an unexpected hug, her chin coming to rest of my shoulder so her red hair spilled over my shoulder and clashed with my hot pink dress that was straining against my chest, which had never been large, but had gotten slightly larger over the last month or so.
Curled up on an expensive couch in my new apartment, I was rooting through a box of photos that I kept of Dan and myself. While they would have invoked floods of tears two weeks ago, I was now grinning at them and remembering the memories for what they were – the past – and not as what I no longer had.
There was one of Dan and I sitting next to each other at a Quidditch game, some old omnioculars hanging around my neck and a large drink clutched in Dan's hand. He'd told me at the time that it was just a jumbo coke, but since I had to drag his pissed ass home, I assume that it was actually more vodka than coke.
There was another one of me in a stunning red dress than Dan rented from some store that rented you thousand-galleon dresses for the night, looking a million bucks but still sitting on a plastic bag on the grass (grass stains are a bitch to get out, even with magic) holding a bottle of supermarket wine, glugging it straight from the neck. Dan was sitting beside me, a suspicious cigarette stuck in the corner of his mouth while putrid blue smoke swirled around our heads.
Another featured Dan and his best friends sitting around a small marble table in a bit of dingy dive bar, with a few girls held up by some small scraps of Lycra draped over their shoulders. I'm pretty sure that it was one of their nineteenth birthday's, but I'm not really too sure. You can see me in the background, sitting on the car with Lorcan sitting on a stool between my legs. I'm pouring wine – this time not supermarket brand – into his mouth while his head is tipped back onto my leg, and if the picture had been taken just three seconds later, you would have seen 'sweet' and 'innocent' Molly lob a coaster at my head. I didn't see why until the next morning.
Another of Dan and I at a festival, me in frayed shorts and a stringy shirt and him in nothing but tight jeans cut to his knees by my dad's gardening shears, pink body paint splattered pretty much everywhere since we were bladdered to all hell. We looked like teenagers, because we were. Because Dan was a teenage love relationship for me. The problems only started when we had to start acting like adults and found that we no longer suited one another. The love is still there but the understanding is just… gone.
I shoved the rest of the photos into the box and kicked them under the couch, planning to flick through them another time but wanting to sate my wine craving first. I was halfway to the fridge when there was two loud thumps on the door and then it slammed open. A highly irritated looking James stalked in, a picture frame shoved under his armpit. Little weird…
"Erm, hello?" I said, though it sounded more like a question. Potter stomped his way in, hopped up onto the counter and grabbed hold of the bottle of wine that I had left next to the fridge the night before. He gripped the cork with his teeth and then spat it into the sink. Glugging down my wine like an alkie, he tossed the picture frame at me. I narrowly caught it.
Flipping it over, I saw a photo of the pair of us in a silver frame. It seemed to have been cut out of a magazine – it was printed on thin, glossy magazine paper, anyway. It seemed to be from that night when that Bethany chick ended up getting her nostril blood on my knuckles. Thankfully the frame cut out the disgusting clumpy heels that I had convinced myself to wear. Potter's arm was slung around my waist and a light smile was turning up the corners of my mouth, though I seemed to be looking at something out of the shot. Either way, Potter and I looked hot. Part of a hot Wizarding power couple = me. Take that, snotty bitches from my year at school.
"My mum dropped that off at my place a few weeks ago, thinking it would be cute or some shit. I put it up on my bedside table. You never noticed. Since you seem to be having a bit of trouble figuring it out, what do you think that tells you?" I blinked at the frame several times like a freak.
"Oh…" I breathed. "No, I still have no idea."
Potter rolled his eyes and pulled two crystal tumblers out of a cupboard I was yet to open, and slopped a little brandy into each one clumsily. The extreme amount of alcohol that boy had suddenly got me drinking was probably where the majority of the calories in my day came from. So when I look like a fat shit on Molly's wedding day, I'm pretty sure we'll all know why.
"Fine, if you don't know, and I'm not going to tell you, then I'm going to have to show you, you thick little-" Within two seconds of muttering the word 'little', Potter had crossed the space between us and grabbed me around the waist with a little more force than was strictly necessary. Pretty soon I was sitting on the kitchen counter with my head knocking against the bottom of the crystal tumbler cupboard. Oh, and James was moulded so tightly to my mouth that you would have thought he had been surgically attached there. Two minutes later we were having sex on the couch I had kicked the pictures under not five minutes before.
A short while later I was lying on his chest, my ribs heaving up and down as Potter tried to find some way to get his tumbler of brandy to hop off the kitchen counter in the next room and enter his hand.
"Ahem. So that was… what, exactly?" I asked, trying to shift so that James's spiky leg hair wasn't digging into my thighs. James just grunted at me and let his head loll back onto a pillow, looking the image of lethargy. Potter's arms clamped around my waist to stop me from shifting away from him.
"That was me trying to tell you that I like you, you thick shit," James said, as though it was no big deal. You could practically hear him do the 'no big deal' shrug.
"That was you doing what now?" I asked in mild horror, trying to push off his chest to reclaim my personal space, but Potter's iron girder arms didn't seem to agree with that plan. He most likely left bruises on my ribs he squeezed me that hard. I kicked him in the shin a little bit but he wouldn't relent, and since I have the average strength of a noodle that's been left in the boiling water for too long, I thought it might be best to quit before I end up actually trying to wrestle with him and then have to suffer through a miserable loss.
"Telling you I like you. I have for a while. Could you really not tell? I did tell you the other night, but I didn't realise you were asleep until you turned over and decided you wanted to make me into your cuddle bunny for the night." I flushed a little but carried on staring him down.
"And what do you mean by 'like me'?" I asked suspiciously, allowing one of my eyebrows to rise in a questioning manner that I perfected when I was thirteen. Brent could never stand up to it.
"I mean that… well, that I like you. What else could it possibly mean?" Potter sat up slightly, so that his shoulder blades were pressed against the top of the armrest of the couch, my knees shifting so that they were comfortably tucked into either side of his body.
"It could mean that you like me, like me – yes, like we're in high school – or you could mean that you like me in the sense that you don't want to cut out my small intestine and use it to string party lights up at the next party your parents host. You know, one or the other." I shrugged as James rolled his eyes and pushed a chunk of my hair behind my ear, accidentally knocking the new one stuck through my tragus. I let out a hiss and he grinned guiltily at me.
"Well, to go back to the thirteen year old way of saying it – I like like you." One of my eyebrows cocked as Potter leaned forwards to recapture my lips with his, but pulled back before I could really get into it. When I let out an embarrassing whine, he tapped me on the back of the head and then leaned forwards to suck on the end of my nose. "No more kisses for you until you answer what I said," Potter murmured, kissing my nose and then leaning back into a position that was more comfortable for him but colder for me.
"Fine, I like you too," I decided. Planning ahead was never really my forte – I never imagined what life was going to end up like for me if I stayed with Dan, and that blew up in my face, I never imagined what my life would be like if I never really tried to get another job, and I ended up nearly starving, if you believe Molly's exaggerated version of events.
"You do?" Potter asked, looking surprised. Maybe he doesn't think I'm capable of feeling something as nice as like, the tit. I pouted at him in annoyance but he took it the wrong way, and so thirty seconds later I was on my back on the floor (maybe we tuck and rolled off the couch, I'm not really too sure) when Potter groaned and pulled his lips off my neck.
"Hello," he grunted into his phone, looking severely annoyed. His expression smoothed out slightly a few seconds later and a smug grin seemed to tilt up the corners of his mouth. "No way in hell, you little cow," James chuckled, smoothing his hand along my back and allowing me to lean my head down so I could listen to Lily jabber away at him on the other end of the line.
"James! You have to come down! We've got Aimee's family down here and everything!" My eyebrows flew up into my hairline as James grinned good naturedly and shook his head.
"I don't have to do anything, and neither does she. Not my fault you arranged a surprise 'merging of the families' party without bothering to ask either of us whether it was even something we wanted to do." James rolls his eyes at me as he begins to drum the intro to 'Eye of the Tiger' on my spine. I was sorely tempted to break out into a loud rendition of the chorus featuring jazz hands.
"Please James! I promise not to show Aimee your baby book – besides, you know that mum stuck little ducky stickers over your –" James started making loud seal noises to drown out Lily's next word, "when you were in the bath! Besides, I'm sure she's already seen it, you're not exactly-"
"Alright, you enormous pain in the backside, we'll come. But we're only staying for half an hour and I want some sausages made and ready for when I arrive, okay?" Lily shrieked with excitement and then hung up on us, leaving Potter sighing and grumbling about how his father should have gotten clipped after making him so he could have lived a peaceful life as an only child. I know it's all talk – he adores his sister. No idea why, she's a chipper (albeit sweet) pain in the rump.
"So, ready to go and kick some ass?" I asked, pulling on Mark's leather jacket – it's comfier than mine – and shaking my hair out in a last ditch attempt to make my knotted sex hair look like some kind of shabby chic fashion statement. I was just praying Mark knew little enough about female fashion to be fooled.
"Sure, why not? Though if you actually have to kick ass, can you kick someone's that I don't like? Louis is kind of pissing me off at the minute, and Lucy threw another fit the other day about the colour of her bridesmaid dress, so I quick punch in the back of the head wouldn't go amiss there either…" Potter suggested, lightly placing his hand on the small of my back so that he could lead me out the apartment in an oddly intimate gesture.
"I'm not actually going to kick anyone's ass, James, unless they notice the state of my hair, in which case I will sucker punch them to get them to shut their mouths. Can't be ratted out to my darling big brother now, can I?" James shook his head and leaned down to kiss me gently on the mouth.
"It's strange to think that this time when I call you my girlfriend, I'm actually going to mean it…" Potter murmured, and my eyes widened to proportions so wide they would have put the fucking moon to shame. He kissed me once more on the mouth; a soft butterfly kiss that left my head filled with a heavy kind of aromatic fog, and then started pulling me towards the lift.
"So is that what I am?" I asked, swinging our arms between us like an obnoxious teenage couple.
"My girlfriend? Yeah, I guess. It's what you were before, so I don't see why it won't be what you officially are now. I guess. I don't really know how fake relationships transition into real ones so you're asking the wrong doll. Try Albus, he knows loads of random facts. Like you can only call Cornish Pasties 'Cornish Pasties' if they're made in Cornwall." I blinked at him for a second.
"Thank Merlin you're pretty…" I muttered. He smacked the back of my head.
A minute or so later, Potter had used his fancy skills in Side-Along Apparition – which it turns out, I don't mind. Might have something to do with the tensed eight-pack I get to cling onto – to zoom us into the living room of the Potter Mansion abode. My Dad was looking awkward on the couch.
"Hey, Aimes-a-dame," he grinned, holding up a cup of tea in a china cup probably worth more than he used to earn in a month during the peak of his career. Mum sat awkwardly next to him, making small talk with Angelina Weasley, who was fiddling with the ends of the new cornrows she had just had put in that morning.
Lily and Ginny were fighting over the magical boom-box, both wanting to play something different, while Harry chatted quietly to Fleur Weasley, who was filing her nails down with something that sparkled like diamond. I wondered for a second if it actually was diamond – it seemed like the kind of thing that this mad family would have done. But no, it turned out that Roxanne had just stolen it and bedazzled the end of a nail file when no one was looking. George nearly disowned her.
Hugo and Louis were hunched over a roll of parchment, one's head glowing silver and the other a deep shade of red. It was an odd looking pairing. Hermione Weasley was poking her husband in the chest, making odd gestures that seemed to involve pointing at a singe mark splashed on the wall behind her head. Ron was looking sheepish.
But at the sound of my father's greeting, they all turned to look at us and then the room fell into an oddly silent state, other than the crackling of the poor, confused boom-box.
"Well you two look… different," Molly eventually said, and Lorcan stuffed his fist into his mouth to stop the bout of laughter that I could see bubbling up on his lips. The guy would laugh hysterically if a light breeze caught him the wrong way, sometimes. It drove Molly up the wall – especially when it happened at inappropriate times, like during her Great Aunt Muriel's funeral. His laughter earned him brownie points with the majority of the family, though.
"In what way?" James asked, grabbing a croissant off the plate in the middle of the table. I bit the end of it off before he could bring it up to his mouth. That earned me another slap on the back of the head. I licked the crumbs off my lips as Molly stopped snickering long enough to root in her gorgeous new handbag and pull out a tortoise-shell comb. She tossed it at James.
"Since both of you clearly did not bother to look in a mirror before you left the house, brush your hair. You both look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards by a goat with directional problems. Last time I checked, apparition did not mean that your hair ended up taking on the human form of a particularly vicious pineapple. So, tell me, how did it end up looking like that?" Molly widened her eyes at us and Lorcan laid his head down on his knees as though that would stop us from being able to notice his back shaking with silent laughter.
"Well, see…" I started, as my dad looked up from his mug with raised eyebrows and my mother pursed her lips out like someone had snuck a squirt of Jif lemon into her drink. But most annoyingly of all, Brent was smirking at me from the armrest of the couch, flicking his hair around like a Pantene model. Like, I'm just going to flick my hair around all shiny and gorgeous so that I look fabulous when dad ties you to your bed and doesn't let you out until you're forty.
"Right, what happened was…" Potter chipped in unhelpfully, running the comb through the front of his bird's nest, which admittedly was a little bit more dishevelled than usual.
"Well, we were on our way here when I noticed a large… squirrel making its way across the road towards us. And let me just reiterate that it was a fucking massive squirrel. It was two foot tall!"
"Exactly! So we were just standing there, all… cool and neat with perfectly brushed hair and whatnot, when this squirrel starts speeding up so that it's proper racing towards us like it was going to try and take Aimee's head off her shoulders."
"Exactly, that's… that what was happening! And so Potter realises that he has to protect me… and all that… and so he leaps in front of me as this squirrel closes the distance between us. And then – then – the noise that the squirrel was making…"
"- attracts the neighbourhood dog!" Potter chips in, and I turned to look at him in consternation. Why would he bring yet another neighbourhood animal into this already unbelievable story?
"Yes – and this is where the story gets… funny. Funny in that it is almost hard to believe. But you should believe it because it totally happened. The dog – the dog decided that it didn't want to go for the squirrel –it wanted to go for a different kind of nuts, if you catch my drift." Potter turned to look at me with wide eyes and winced, like it actually happened and he was actually remembering it.
"Ouch!" Albus spat out, crossing his legs and offering a condoling glance at James. James nodded as though he was trying not to remember it, and took the small crystal glass of scotch as his father passed it to him. "What happened then?"
"Well… As I was recovering from the unprovoked dog attack, Aimee picked up the squirrel, sucking up the pain that came from the rabies-ridden bite he sunk into her hand, and tossed it into the woods across the road, where the dog chased it and then proceeded to clean the world of one of the glorified vermin creatures that pollutes the trees." Lily raised her eyebrow at him in question and he sighed. "You people never understand me. The dog chased the squirrel away." They all sigh and nod, finally understanding what he meant.
"How is the bite, Aimee? Do you need some disinfectant for it? I've got some wound-wash in the bathroom upstairs. Here, let me have a look at it." Ginny held her hand out so that she could take hold of my hand and have a look at my 'rabies-ridden bite'. Potter's eyes widened and then, before any of us could blink he clutched his chest with one of his hands and let out a loud coughing noise.
"James?" I asked as he landed on the ground with an echoing thump, making choking and coughing noises like he had a pygmy puff lodged in his windpipe. Mark, with Jack propped on his hip bashing him on the neck with a stuffed dinosaur teddy, pushed through the front door just as Potter stretched out one hand up in the air and made squeaking pants like he couldn't breathe.
"James, are you alright, mate?" Mark asked, and it didn't occur to me until it was a moment too late that Mark was fully trained in first aid. He shoved Jack into my arms, so that I started to get bashed in the face with Danny the Dinosaur, and then dropped down onto his knees in front of Potter.
Three seconds later and Mark, in all his First Aider Glory, was giving James the Heimlich Manoeuvre, causing Potter to turn an odd shade of blue and wave his hands out like a seal drowning in the ocean. I kicked Mark in the ribs by a way of stopping him. You know what they say – you can take the girl out of the teen years, but you can't take the teenager out of the girl.
"I'm good, I'm good," Potter coughed, waving his hands at Mark. "Thanks, mate. I owe you one." Mark's expression clouded over suddenly and he patted James on the back like they were old pals.
"Nah, you don't owe me anything." Mark took Jack back off me with an oddly sombre expression and then sat down on one of the armrests of the couch, ignoring the funny looks that the rest of the Potter and Weasley family were shooting him. I suppose he didn't quite fit in with the kind of look that the family exuded.
For one, his clothes were worn, and not in the fashionable way – they were worn from being worn all the time. But somehow, Mark managed to make it look like he'd just stepped off some kind of runway in Paris. His jeans were frayed along the hemlines and the zipper on his fly and pockets had long since snapped off in the washing machine. His grey t-shirt was faded to the point where it just looked like a dirty white colour, but it stretched across his chest in a way that I'm sure would be attractive was he not my older brother. The printed picture of an eagle flying over a lake had faded completely off the front over three years ago. The stretched out piercings in his earlobes caused Nana Molly's eyebrows to rise, but Mark didn't seem to care – he looked the part of a bartender in a local dive bar. The barbed wire tattoo just above his elbow caused Percy and Audrey Weasley's nostrils to flare out in disapproval. My stomach stirred in anger.
"Give us a hug, you," I said, leaning forwards to give him a big bear hug. He barely patted me on the back before he let go of me, and then turned his attention away as though he didn't want to look at me. I shot a confused look at James who raised his eyebrows oh so innocently at me.
Just as I was about to open my mouth and ask Mark what the matter was, there was a loud knocking noise coming from the door and Harry jumped to his feet and go and answer it. Jack curled his fingers in my hair and started gurgling in my ear, chattering away about some toy or game or something, but my attention wasn't on him. All my attention was pinned on the two members of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad that had stepped through the door.
One man and one woman, both slim with dark hair, where staring at the two of us with formidable expressions, looking sombre enough to fit in at a funeral. I shuddered a little bit and even Jack silenced. They consequently found themselves standing in a coldly silent room.
"I'm Detective Jackson, and this is Detective Willows of the Muggle Crime Division of the Magical Law Enforcement Squad," the man said, loosening his shoulders by swinging them backwards and forwards. The woman pulled out a set of Anti-Apparition handcuffs from her back pocket and then a piece of paper that I assumed was a warrant or something similar. I wondered what the hell someone had done to bring the coppers down on us.
"How can we help you?" Ginny asked, standing up and smoothing down the front of her navy blue dress, which clung to curves that she should not have maintained after having three children.
"Mark Woods?" the woman asked, and I literally watched the colour drain from Mark's face, his hands clenching into white fists. Potter swung around with his mouth dropped into a small 'o', looking either uncomprehending or unsure how to proceed. Seeing who it was, the woman stepped forwards and clipped Mark's hands into the handcuffs before he could move or even blink.
"You're under arrest for the attempted murder of Daniel Richardson, including counts of dangerous driving, hit and run and abandoning a crime scene," Detective Jackson finished for her, opening up the letter and handing it to Harry, since he was nearest to the door. Harry glared down at it and then shot me a helpless look. There was nothing he could do to help.
"The attempted fucking what?" I breathed, and Mark turned to look at me with wide eyes that were either filled with horror or fear, I couldn't tell which. "You – you? It was you? You're the reason that – you – what?! How the fuck – why would you do that?" I screamed, and before I knew what was happening, Brent had snatched Jack out of my arms and I had launched myself at Mark, fists forwards, tears blurring my eyes as I wanted to – I don't even know what I wanted to do.
"I – I," Mark stuttered, trying to reach for me but finding his arms bound tightly behind his back. Mum had gone shockingly white and Dad had closed his eyes, his years showing in the deep lines engraved onto his face. Brent's cheeks were sucked in, but he didn't really look surprised. He looked… disappointed. And just a little bit worried.
"What did you do?" I screamed again, and just as I leaned forwards again, Potter wrapped his arms around my waist and tugged me back into his chest, clamping my arms down to my sides so that I couldn't get hold of Mark and throttle him until he told me what the fuck was going on.
"He didn't do anything," Potter said quietly from behind me. The attention of the entire room turned to focus on him, including Mark's.
"James, don't do this," Mark said, looking quite horrified.
"I'll do whatever I want. Mark didn't run Dan off the road – I did. I can tell you exactly what happened. It was me." Detective Willows shot a look at Detective Jackson and then let out a deep breath, turning to look at James while chewing her lip. Meanwhile, I gaped like a twat.
"Daniel Richardson woke up three hours ago, Mr Potter," Detective Willows said. "He told us that Mark Woods, the brother of his fiancée, ran him off the road. Tried to kill him. Chased him down the highway. Care to explain that?"
"He saw wrong. It was me. I'm admitting to it now, before you arrest an innocent man."
"James," Ginny moaned, one hand over her mouth and the other resting on her stomach. Harry closed his eyes and leant his head against the wall behind him. "James, what are you doing? You haven't killed anyone."
"No, you're right. I didn't kill anyone. But I tried to. Now let him go." I turned to look at James, but he wasn't looking at me. When he finally did catch my eye, there was no remorse in his expression. He just stared back at me, his expression horribly blank, and then turned his attention away from me.
"James?" I whispered. He didn't even turn to look at me. "James?"
"Sorry, Aimee," he muttered without looking at me, "but I will do what I think is right."
And that includes trying to kill my ex-boyfriend? I clutched my stomach as it rolled. I pushed past him and the detective, heading for the door, but turned to look back at him just before I stepped out.
"Don't even contact me again, Potter. I knew you weren't worth jackshit." And with that, I stepped out of the house. For good.
disclaimer: nothing in this chapter belongs to me.
heyyyyy. i don't even want to think about how long it's been since i posted, so i'm just going to say sorry and smile charmingly. anyway, i hope you liked it! only two chapters left of this story now.
ellie :) xx
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