Chapter 2 : Awkward Moments and...
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Chapter Two: Awkward Moments and...
“Gwynneth, dear,” Mrs. Wood said from the doorway to her grand manor. “Are you going to come in?” She had walked quickly past the doors and then backtracked after noticing that I was still out here. Looking a tad stressed, blonde wisps of her hair were beginning to fall out of her tight bun. Tall and thin, today she wore a navy dress with a matching blazer over top. Despite the fact that she was nearing her 50s, she always looked good.
It was the evening of Dom and Vince’s engagement party and I was currently trying to stall outside as long as possible. I've been going up and down the stone staircase pretending to be interested in the autumn floral arrangements, but let me tell you, one can only admire sunflowers for so long. I had to go in eventually. And besides, it was bloody cold out.
“Yes, Mrs. Wood,” I said trying to hide the nervousness in my voice. I flashed her a wide smile as reassurance. She nodded and continued on her way.
The smile dropped from my face. I might as well get this night over with. Sighing, I squared my shoulders and stepped inside the grand home, quietly shutting the french double doors behind me. I took the familiar route to the coatroom. I had spent countless summers running around this place, so I knew it well.
Despite being ten minutes early, the coatroom was already packed. I slowly took off my thin, red pea-coat and hung it up on a gold hanger. Unlike Mrs. Wood, I was in no rush to get to the ballroom where everyone was now gathering. On the contrary, I wanted to postpone it as long as possible. To be precise, I wanted to postpone seeing a certain someone for as long as possible. Which would explain why I decided to waste even more time by evaluating my appearance in the ornate floor length mirror.
My brown hair hung in loose curls that ended half-way down my back and my blue eyes were framed by long, dark eyelashes, courtesy of the new WitchGirl Eyelash Enhancing potion. My fingers nervously played with the hem of my short and fitted cream-coloured lace dress which had quarter length sleeves. I had paired it with plain nude pumps.
“Dominique is looking for you,” said a voice from the doorway.
So much for wanting to postpone seeing him. I had been dreading this moment since Dom had floo'ed into my home, announcing her engagement on that rainy July day. That voice... I could pick out that voice from a crowd of a million people.
My heart hammered in my chest and my breathing increased drastically as I turned around to face James Sirius Potter.
Come on Gwynn, say something and stop staring.
But that was easier said than done. My eyes roamed over his perfectly shaven face and fit body. He stood tall, wearing a crisp grey suit that showed off his impeccable shoulders. His dark brown hair looked, as always, like he had just walked out of a tornado. His dark eyes were staring quizzically at me, waiting for me to say something.
“Oh, erm – right. Thanks,” I stammered before trying to leave.
Unfortunately, he was still standing in the doorway. As if noticing this, he took a step into the coatroom and to the side, his shiny dark grey shoes making a loud tap on the white tile floor as he did.
“You look nice,” he said in his husky monotone voice, no trace of actual emotion present.
I didn't know what to say to this. Should I return the compliment? Obviously he only said it to be polite. I mean, it didn’t even sound like he meant it. So, he probably didn’t mean it. Right?
“Gwynn, I meant it."
A shock rippled through me when he said my name. It had been so long... And what is he, a mind reader? And why the hell was he being so... civil?
I shuffled out of his way. “Erm – thanks, I guess. You as well.”
He turned away to take off his blazer. I knew I ought to leave, but my legs were like jelly, so instead, I watched him. With his blazer now removed, he was wearing a white dress shirt that was tucked into his grey dress pants. He started to unbutton his cuffs and roll up his sleeves, revealing his toned forearms and making the evidently expensive outfit appear more casual.
“Enjoying the show?” he asked with his back still to me. An awkward chuckle escaped from him.
My face immediately flushed the colour of a tomato. Fuck. I should have left when I had the chance. Just like how I really should leave now... Yet my stupid feet remained glued to the ground.
Done with rolling up his sleeves, he finally turned around to look at me, waiting for a response. I stood there gaping like a fish out of water, unsure of what to say.
“James, have you seen —” Dominique appeared in the doorway wearing a long, dark silver dress that was adorned with sparkles. It shimmered every way she turned. Her face showed shock when she saw both James and I in the coatroom together, but she recovered quickly and flashed us both a much-too-cheerful smile. “Never mind! Thank Merlin, I’ve been looking everywhere for you Gwynnie! I need you for the speech. Come on! James, come as soon you’re done!” She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me out of this shit-uation.
I let out a breath that I hadn't realized I had been holding. Thank Merlin for Dom. Judging from her pursed lips however, I knew she had a million questions for me. Fortunately she has enough tact to wait until a better time to ask. So instead, she began filling me in on a near-disaster with some desserts (apparently Louis Weasley had thought it would be a good idea to accio the massive bowls of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans across the ballroom to the dessert tables, which resulted in everyone getting showered with the beans).
Her grip on my arm didn’t budge as she led me through the main hallway of the Wood Manor and into the ballroom. It was packed, primarily with red heads. Together, we walked swiftly across the marble floor towards a large rectangular table at the front of the room where the wedding party sat. When Vince saw us, he broke out into a dazzling smile.
“Gwynn!” Vince’s voice boomed happily as we approached. He stood up (revealing his dinner handkerchief already tucked into the collar of his shirt) and knocked over his chair in the process, causing Bill Weasley who was sitting next to him to jump.
“Alright there, son?” Bill said, smiling in amusement as he picked up Vince’s chair. Vince didn’t hear though because he had leaned over the table to give me his signature bear hug, literally lifting me off the ground before setting me back down again.
Mrs. Wood appeared from behind him. “Vince, honey,” she said sweetly, gently grabbing his broad shoulders and turning him around to face her. She swiftly pulled the handkerchief out of his collar and smoothed it down on the table as she continued, “Have you seen your sister? She’s late."
Leave it to Viviana to be late when the party is at her own house.
“’Fraid not, mum,” Vince replied, oblivious to the swift removal of his dinner handkerchief. “But we’re supposed to start now, aren’t we?"
“Yes, we are,” Dom spoke up as she scanned the ballroom. “We’re just waiting for James to –”
Just then, James himself entered the room, shutting the door gently behind him. He glanced around the ballroom and spotted the wedding party at the front. Our eyes met for a brief second – my stomach did a flip – before he turned away. He made his way to us, weaving discreetly through the tables rather than taking the shorter route across the ballroom floor.
“Are we all here?” he murmured when he got to us.
“Everyone but Viviana,” Molly muttered under her breath.
“James, you sit beside Zander,” Dom said, gesturing to the toned fellow next to Fred, both of whom were in a deep conversation judging by their flying hands. No doubt about Quidditch.
We all hurriedly sat down as Mr. and Mrs. Wood raised their hands to gather the room’s attention. Mr. Wood stood up and the room grew silent almost immediately, except for George Weasley’s boisterous laughter, which was followed by a loud thwack! sound that came from none other than his wife, Angelina. Everyone in the room turned to look at them, only to find Mr. Weasley rubbing the back of his head.
“Sorry!” he said cheerfully, still wincing from the hit. “Do continue, Olly!”
Mr. Wood smiled. “We would like to start off by thanking you all for joining us here in our home to celebrate the engagement of my son, Vincent, and lovely soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Dominique. At this time, I would like to invite Vince and Dom to say a few words.” He sat back down and Mrs. Wood patted his shoulder and smiled at him.
Vince stood up and held out his hand to Dom. She beamed and took his hand to stand up as well. After the tumultuous cheers and woop's died down, they began.
“Once again,” Vince said, “we would like to thank you all for being here today.”
“Before we indulge ourselves in this exquisite meal,” Dom said, glowing with happiness, “we would like to introduce our wedding party. Of course, we have both of our parents.” Both sets of parents raised their wine glasses and smiled. “Then we have James as best man, and Freddie and Vince’s teammate, Zander Windsor, as groomsmen.” James and Zander raised their wine glasses whilst Fred stood up and took a small bow. “As for maid of honour, we have my best friend Gwynneth Hastings, and for bridesmaids, we have Molly, as well as Vince’s sister, Viviana –”
Suddenly, the sound of a wine glass shattering on the marble floor caused everyone to turn around to look at the bar. There, Viviana stood in a short, black lace dress with long, see-through sleeves. Her hair was in a messy side braid.
“Shit,” she cursed. When she realized everyone was looking at her, she quickly smiled and waved.
Not missing a beat, Dom smiled sweetly, “Viviana, perfect timing! Why don’t you come join us up here?"
“Yes, perfect timing indeed,” Molly sneered from next to me. I nudged Molly to quiet her and smiled at Dom reassuringly when she glanced over at us.
Viviana sauntered up to the wedding party table and took her appropriate seat next to Molly.
"Now that we’re all here,” Dom continued (at this, Viviana waved her handkerchief in the air, plastering a fake smile onto her face), “let us dig in to this delicious meal we have all been waiting for!”
She and Vince sat back down to a round of applause, and without any warning, steaming hot food appeared on our plates.
After the meal, people began to get up from their seats to visit others and to congratulate the happy couple on the engagement.
A drunk Uncle Charlie, with his shirt untucked and his tie askew, ambled up to our table. His hair was greying, and scars from all the dragons he had once tamed ran up and down his arms. He beamed as he grabbed Vince’s hand and shook it with far too much energy.
"Congrats you two! I’m looking forward to this wedding!” he said as he let go of Vince and gave Dom a hug. He mussed up her hair. “Blimey! My little Dommy all grown up and getting married! I remember when you were just a wee little girl!"
I stifled a laugh.
“Yes, it’s quite something isn’t it, Uncle,” Dom said in a strained voice as she tried to extract herself from his embrace. She looked panicked as she glanced at me, desperate for a distraction. “Erm, Uncle! Have you met my best friend, Gwynn? She’s going to be my maid of honour.”
“Ah, yes! Gwynn! Beautiful Gwynn!” he cried, letting go of Dom. Now it was her turn to stifle her laugh. I smiled uneasily at him as he now gestured wildly at me. His liveliness was beginning to draw the attention of everyone within a five-foot radius, and I didn't know whether to laugh or hide under the table.
“You’re getting married also, aren’t you?" he said loudly. "To my Jamesie boy! Isn't that right? James! That cheeky little bugger! Where is he? Oi!"
I felt my jaw drop.
For Fawkes sakes, he did not just say that. I definitely wanted to crawl under the table now.
Heat rushed up to my face as an uncomfortable-looking James looked at me, then at Uncle Charlie. I noticed a blush beginning to creep up on James' neck as well, which was very rare for him. Like me however, he was speechless. Everyone was gaping and I could feel all their eyes on me as I stared down at my half-eaten dinner. All conversations had stopped, as did the sound of cutlery clinking on plates. A tense silence had filled the room.
This would happen. It's the first time in years that I’ve been in this close vicinity with James, and all it takes is a drunk relative to stir things up and make things 10 times more awkward than they already were. Of course. Yes. Good.
“Well!” came a loud voice to my left, breaking the long silence. It was Viviana. “This is awkward. Gwynn, will you accompany me to the bathroom? I need to take a shit.”
“Viviana! Manners, young lady!” Mrs. Wood sputtered from somewhere down the table.
Viviana ignored her mother and got up from the table, throwing down her handkerchief as she did so. Mortified, I followed suit, grateful for the escape, albeit a bad one. I concentrated on the back of Viv's blonde head as I made my way out of the ballroom, trying my best to block out the murmurs that had now broken out.
This was like the engagement mishap all over again. I had never intended on reliving it. Once had been more than enough. Just when I was getting used to all the stares and murmurs of pity or judgement that followed me everywhere I went, Merlin decided to remind me all over again.
I followed Viviana through the manor in a dazed state, unable to believe what had just happened. Neither of us said a single word. It wasn't until she burst through the bathroom door did she finally speak.
"For Fawkes sakes!" she cried, throwing her arms up into the air. Her dark purple clutch swung wildly around her wrist. "It's only been three hours and I've already had it with this shit! I can't believe we have to impress and associate with these bloody people!"
She fumed as she stood in front of the silver framed mirror, fixing her hair. When she realized that I was still standing frozen by the door, her hands dropped from her hair and she walked over to me. She reached behind me to lock the door, then gently grabbed my shoulders and steered me over to the plush sofa in the corner of the bathroom. She sat me down and I heard her let out a long sigh.
"He looked just as shocked as you did, Gwynn," she said, rubbing my back. I didn't even have to ask who he was. "Don't even worry about it, honestly. Everyone here is drunk or will be by the end of tonight, so no one will remember this anyway."
"I know," I said tiredly, that all-too-familiar feeling of frustration coming back to me. "I'm just... sick of it. Sick of everyone talking about it. I don't even feel sorry for myself anymore. I'm just annoyed now, you know?" We sat there in silence for a few minutes with her rubbing my back. I sighed and leaned my head onto her shoulder.
A lot of people think Viviana's a cold, hard bitch, and I guess she can be, but that's the thing: she can be, when she wants to. Which, okay, is most of the time. But there's also a soft side to her that only a select few have the honor to see, and I was glad that I was one of them.
"You know what?" she spoke up finally. The hand that had been rubbing my back went to squeeze my shoulder. "I know exactly what we need."
I turned to look at her and saw that her head was cocked to the side, a thoughtful expression on her face. I couldn't help but admire that even with more than a few drinks already in her, it was amazing that she was still able to keep her make-up perfectly intact. She had always been good with make-up spells and potions.
"New guys?" I suggested.
She cracked a smile and looked at me. "Yes, but something else as well."
I lifted my head from her shoulder. "What do we need then?" I asked her, curious now.
"Drinks," she said simply.
"Drinks," I repeated.
I thought about it for a second and strangely enough, the idea grew on me. I felt myself begin to smile.
"I think," I said, standing up, "that you are absolutely right."
"Yeah?" she beamed, standing up as well. "That's what I like to hear!"
We quickly touched up in the mirror before leaving the bathroom and making our way back to the ballroom. Our heels click-clacked on the tile floors. As we neared the mahogany double doors to the ballroom, Viv slowed down as if knowing that I needed a couple seconds to recollect myself before re-entering. I took a deep breath and let it out just as she opened one of the doors.
Inside, the room was abuzz with talk and laughter, as if nothing mortifying had taken place. I saw that several long tables full of desserts had been set up on the side of the room and that there was a long queue of people with plates in hand, waiting to get some.
After a quick scan of the room, I determined that Dom and Vince were at the front of the dessert table socializing with their guests; Molly was chatting with her parents at their table; Zander and Freddie were guffawing over something with George and Ron Weasley, and James was sitting by himself at the wedding party table. I watched as he picked up his glass of wine to take a sip, only to stop with the glass half way to his mouth when he saw me. I felt my stomach flop again and I looked away swiftly, but not before seeing a strange look cross his face.
Before I could dwell on it however, Viv grabbed my hand. With her other hand, she grabbed two bottles of Firewhiskey off the shelf of the bar without so much as a glance at the bartender who, luckily, had his back turned to us.
"Erm — Viv, are you sure you're allowed to do that?" I asked. She led me behind the bar where crates of liquor and alcohol were stacked. She pushed some aside, leaving two crates for us to sit on.
"Don't know, don't care," she said with a shrug. Then she gestured for me to sit down. "Besides, you're the maid of honour and I'm a bridesmaid. Not to mention this is my bloody house. I think we're entitled to do whatever the fuck we want, no?"
I couldn't argue with that, so I sat down. She plopped down next to me and crossed one leg over the other (we keep it classy, obviously) and handed me one of the Firewhiskeys she nicked. We popped the bottles open.
"Cheers," she said, clinking her bottle against mine before we both took long sips. The Firewhiskey burned and tingled as it went down my throat.
Viv was in the middle of telling me a funny story about some guy named Chester when Fred peered around the bar. A look of surprise flitted across his face when he saw us and our half-empty Firewhiskey bottles, which then changed to that look you give someone when you've caught them doing something bad. "Ladies," he said as he came to stand in front of us with his arms crossed. His biceps bulged under his red dress shirt. "What are you doing back here?"
"We could ask you the same question," Viviana shot back.
"Hey, hey," he said, putting his hands up in surrender. "Before you jump to any conclusions, I'll have you know that I only came back here to give the bartender a hand with one of these crates. Ol’ chap said he’s out of Firewhiskey, but I think I know now where it all went." He gave us a knowing look before continuing, "Besides, my binge drinking days are over."
A pause. Viv and I glanced at each other warily. Did we just hear correctly?
"Actually?" Viviana asked him skeptically.
"Yep," he said proudly. "Clean as a whistle. Seven months and two days. I've got a job at the Ministry now, too, as the assistant of the Department Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports. Life is good." He looked smug.
Viviana and I were both silent as we let this all sink in. Who would have thought that Hogwarts' party boy of the century would ever clean up so nicely? I had to say, I was impressed, but I couldn't help but feel a sudden tinge of awkwardness. Fred and Viviana had both been known as the king and queen of partying back at Hogwarts. Clearly he had grown up, whereas Viviana has yet to, and I knew she was thinking the exact same thing. Fred seemed oblivious to this fact however, because he was still standing there looking proud.
I cleared my throat. "Erm, wow. That's great, Freddie," I said sincerely. "Really. I'm proud of you."
He shrugged as if it was no big deal. "I still smoke occasionally though, but like Momma Angie always says, one step at a time! I'm quitting slowly but surely."
“Oi! Freddie! You get lost back there or something, mate? You got that crate for me yet?” called a voice from the bar.
“Got it, Frank! Be there in a sec!” Fred called back. He smiled at us, picking up one of the nearby crates with ease. "If you'll excuse me ladies."
I waved at him as he turned and left, taking the crate with him.
Viviana and I sat there in silence for a few seconds. She was staring straight ahead with a blank expression on her face. Her knuckles were white as she gripped her bottle of Firewhiskey.
"Well," I said finally. "That was awkward. Want to go take a shit again?"
She laughed and turned to look at me, the grip on her bottle relaxing. "No. But we should probably stop hiding, eh?"
"Yeah, probably." I stood up and ditched my Firewhiskey on the crate while she chugged down the rest of hers.
We walked out from behind the bar as casually as we could. Lucky for us, no one was paying any attention because everyone was getting drunk. Together, we made our way through the rambunctious guests and over to the unoccupied dessert table.
The dessert table was laden with delicacies of all shapes, colours, and sizes. Each dessert was decorated tastefully and looked pristine as they sat on elaborate doyleys on tiers. Most, if not all, had been made by Nana Weasley, Ginny Potter, Lily Potter, Rose Weasley, and Dom’s mum. There were tarts, trifles, puddings, blancmange, French Fancy, Merlin’s chocolate mousse, cauldron cakes, caramel, fudge, and toffee squares, pumpkin pasties, chocolate gâteau, exploding cheesecake, rock cakes, chocolate éclairs, and large glass bowls full of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Jelly Beans. Every time we grabbed a new dessert to add to our plates, the dessert dishes refilled themselves.
“Ow!” I exclaimed as someone roughly knocked into me, causing my hip to hit the corner of the table. “What the hell –”
I turned to see who had pushed me, only to find that it had been James. “Sorry,” he said distractedly, not even realizing it was me. I didn't even have the chance to reply because he kept going and didn't look back. His brows were furrowed and his gaze was set on a group of people in the corner of the ballroom who appeared to be in a heated argument.
Confused, my eyes followed him as he hurriedly dodged tables and chairs to get to the group of people. Between the sparkly dress and the flaming red hair, I didn’t even have to guess who the people were or what the situation was.
“Viv,” I said grimly over my shoulder, not taking my eyes off James. By now, he had calmly joined the group and was trying to reconcile them. “We have a slight problem."
“Hmph?” Viviana said with a canary cream in her mouth.
“I think they’re at it again,” I sighed.
“Well, shit, let me grab another cauldron cake,” Viv said, grabbing three and marching towards our friends and her brother.
Just as we approached, Molly smacked Dom across the face. Viviana and I gasped and stopped in our tracks, whereas James shook his head and grabbed both girls by their elbows, escorting them out the room without hesitating.
“Vince, what the hell just happened?” I cried, walking right up to him.
“It was Dom. She, erm –” he stammered, looking flustered, “She said Molly missed her chance and, uh – that – that she needs to grow up and get over... you know.”
Suddenly, a crash came from the hallway, causing a few people in the ballroom to startle. Others looked confused and concerned, one of them being Mrs. Wood.
"Carry on, everyone! It’s just the cat!” she smiled falsely, before rushing up to us with gritted teeth. “What on earth is going on out there?”
“Sounds like the cat needs to go for a walk,” Viviana said cheerfully, grabbing both Vince and I. “No worries, mum, we’re on it!”
We left the ballroom only to find James struggling to convince Dom to let go of the ballroom doors. (“I need to get back to my party! Let me go, James!” "Dom, let go of the door and take a breather, will you?") He had a hand on her shoulder and a hand trying to loosen her grip on the door. One of her arms was flailing all over the place, almost knocking down another vase nearby. Molly, on the other hand, was storming down the hallway to the glass sliding doors which led to the courtyard outside.
Sighing, Vince scooped up Dom. Surprised, she shut up for a moment as we all followed the sobbing Molly.
The second I shut the door, Dominique started screeching at the top of her lungs, “Put me down, Vince! Now! This is ridiculous!” Vince reluctantly set her back down and took a step back.
"I cannot believe you would say such a thing!” Molly wailed at Dom. Her face was flushed and her hair was beginning to frizz. She looked like a mad-woman as she advanced towards Dom.
"Well, I can't believe you would hit me! At my own engagement party!" Dom retorted. "What kind of cousin are –"
“Okay, that’s enough!" I yelled, stepping between both of them. That shut them both up. I turned to Molly. "Molly, you agreed you wouldn’t do this.”
“That’s a bit much coming from you, Gwynn! You promised you wouldn’t hide from James! I saw you and Viv go behind the bar!"
My jaw dropped and blood rushed to my face. Her comment stung me so much that she might as well have slapped me across the face, too. Here I was trying to be the peacemaker and she throws that out into the open? I didn’t dare glance at James to see what his reaction to that comment was.
“Don’t you dare bring Gwynn or James into this,” Dom said dangerously, pointing her French manicured finger menacingly at Molly.
My shock at Molly's comment subsided and was instead replaced with anger. "That's different, Molly, and you know it!” I countered.
Molly took a step towards me, looking beyond ferocious. “You always take Dom’s side! Always treating her like a fucking princess! Get a backbone, you –”
Suddenly, a cauldron cake hit Molly square in the face and she gasped. Of course it had been Viviana, who took a step forward, ready to pelt another one. Even when she’s drunk, she has perfect aim. “Say one more thing, Molly, and I swear to Merlin.”
“Don’t even get me started on you, Ms. I-promise-I-won’t-drink-or-be-late!” Molly snapped, rounding on Viviana.
We all turned to look at the sliding glass door to see Fred rubbing his forehead as he now slid open the door. “Dammit! Who put these doors here?"
There was a collected pause as we all stopped to stare confusedly at him.
“All right!” Vince yelled, stepping forward, as if Fred had sparked him into his senses. “This has got to stop right now. You two have got to stop fighting! Seriously, this is getting way out of hand. I'm marrying Dominique because I love her. Molly, you're my friend and you will always be my friend. With that said, Dom, please, stop bringing up the past. It’s called the past for a reason. And Molly, even if you’re not happy, will you at least pretend to be? For my sake? You two are cousins and best friends! This shit is getting real old and I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that we’re all tired of it.” He glared at each of us, daring any one of us to contradict him.
An eerie silence lingered after Vince’s rant. Dom had her arms wrapped around herself and was wiping away the last of her tears. Molly looked a little worse for wear: she had wiped most of the cake off her face, except for the few bits that clung to her hair which was now hanging limply on her shoulders, and tears continued to flow down her face. Viviana stood with her hip cocked, examining her nails, looking annoyed and unimpressed. Fred, who had joined us to hear the end of Vince's rant, looked confused. James stood with his arms crossed, his face unreadable as he stared off into the distance.
Finally, the silence was broken by Dom as she sniffled, “You’re right, Vince.”
“Great," he said, straightening out his tie. He turned to the rest of us. "Now, if you’ll all excuse us, we have a party to get back to.” He held his hand out to Dom who took it quietly. Together, they walked back into their party.
As the door slid shut behind them, Molly sobbed harder and fell to her knees as she covered her face with her hands. “Gwynn, Viv – I’m so, so, s-sorry. I'm an awful f-friend and I – I'm so sorry for saying all th-those things –”
To my surprise, Viviana stepped forward. Sighing, she crouched next to Molly. “It’s okay. Let’s just get you home.”
Molly nodded and Viviana helped her up. Together, they walked back inside the manor without looking back.
While we had been inside partying, the brisk autumn evening had turned into a cold night. I shivered as I stood there with James and Fred.
“Well, this turned out to be eventful.” Fred put his hands on his hips, looking from me to James and back again. I think he was waiting for a response, but neither James nor I offered him one. Instead of being thrown off by the silence however, Fred smiled and said, “I think I’m going to head back in! Either of you care to join me?”
“Erm... I think I’ll stay out here for a bit.” I needed a minute or two more to gather my jumbled thoughts.
“Yeah, same here,” James said quickly. I glanced at him suspiciously but he avoided my gaze.
“Right! See you two inside then!” Still smiling, he walked back to the house with a bounce in his step. That is, until he smacked right into the door again. “For fuck sakes, not again!” He grabbed the sliding door and flung it open. “Take that you piece of shit!” he said before dramatically slamming it shut.
And then there were two.
There had to be a reason behind James choosing to stay out here with me. Thing is, I wasn't sure whether I should stay and find out what that reason was, or if I should avoid it all together and go back inside.
I could feel his eyes on me now, but I refused to meet them. Instead, I looked around the courtyard, taking in the sleepy flower beds and the large marble fountain which was spouting water quietly in the background.
As stupid and pathetic as it was, I literally felt my heart skip a beat as he said my name. I looked up and into his guarded, honey brown eyes, waiting for him to continue. His expression was still unreadable.
"So... I think we can both agree that we’re the only sane people here. And... As Best Man and Maid of Honour, we will have to work together. " He stopped and cleared his throat before continuing. "Having said that... We should probably stop avoiding each other then.”
Out of all the things he could have said, I was surprised – but relieved, nonetheless – that he had chosen the topic of the wedding. I cleared my throat. “I agree.”
The tension on his face eased which made him appear more like the James I knew. After the struggle with Dom, his hair had gotten even more tousled.
His eyes probed mine as mine did to his. The tension between us was obvious. He was giving me a look I knew all too well: it was the one he always used to give me right before a kiss. As if the same thought was running through his mind, he quickly dropped my gaze and ran a hand through his hair.
My fingers were tingling, my chest was aching, and my legs were shaking. Annoyed that I felt this way, I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself.
But it didn’t work. I had to leave. “I’m going to head in,” I muttered, staring at the ground.
He nodded his head, still looking away, so I took this as my cue to leave.
Each step I took was wobbly. When I reached the door, I stole a glance back at him to discover that he was watching my every move. This time however, he didn’t look away. He held my gaze for what felt like ages before he slowly began walking towards me. Warning bells went off in my head, telling me to run. Hide. Go inside.
But I stayed where I was, frozen to the spot. I subconsciously held my breath as he finally stopped in front of me, and I watched as his eyes skimmed over my face, pausing at my lips. My heart was beating so hard and fast that I felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. My mind was blank. All warnings, barriers, and cautions faded away. This was the closest to each other that we had physically been in years. I took in his long lashes, his strong jaw line, and his smooth skin, tanned from years of playing Quidditch in the sun. He took another step forward and I felt butterflies – no, dragons – in my stomach. Simultaneously, the light above the door flicked on.
Dom stood on the other side of the glass door, looking taken aback. Her expression changed to a look of disapproval and annoyance. She slid the door open and said sharply, “You two should be inside. People are leaving. It’s time to say good bye.”
I nodded numbly. She gave us a pointed look and without another word, she turned on her heel and left. I followed her and didn’t look back.
Terribly sorry for the late update! We both just started university so things have been a bit hectic. We'll continue writing this story though, so no worries. That being said, thank you for reading this chapter and we hope you enjoyed it! If you have any comments, questions and/or suggestions, please leave a review. Chapter three will be posted around Halloween so keep an eye out :)
~ Maysie & Jenny
Disclaimer: We do not own anything you recognize. It all belongs to the lovely J.K. Rowling!
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