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Chapter 2 : Drunken States and Sober Confessions
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I ended up meeting Freddie at an old muggle pub in the middle of London: The Cheshire Inn. It was a Saturday morning and it was surprisingly empty. As often as I come here to escape from everything, I’m still not accustomed with muggle drinks. And I doubt I ever will – I thought fire whiskey was strong. Boy was I wrong.
Freddie had bought this round, two pints of something or other. It was ok, it tasted a bit like apples.
“How’s the married life?” Freddie asked me as he took a sip of his own drink. I glared at him, I wasn’t married yet. But the way they were planning it wouldn’t be too long. I didn’t bother telling Freddie that he had a foam moustache from his drink, the marriage comment provoked me.
“If I make it to the wedding with my sanity still intact, it will be a miracle,” I told him honestly. He let out a low chuckle.
“That bad?” he questioned.
“Put it this way, her Mum and best friend are at mine planning away like there’s no tomorrow”. I shuddered at the thought of how much the conversation had progressed since I’d left. They were probably having the wedding now – without me.
“Leave them to it,” Freddie said waving it off, like he had all of the experience in the world. If you were wondering Freddie had none, his last serious relationship was two months after we left Hogwarts, and that last for six months. It’s been almost eight years and he’s been happily going from one girl to the next, not that I can say anything, I was exactly the same until seven or eight months ago. I actually can’t remember when Ashleigh and me got together, probably doesn’t say much about us that we started off as a one night stand. Or maybe that’s a good thing, shows we were made for each other, the fact we stayed together. Probably not though.
“I am, don’t worry”. I’d learnt enough from Lily, that when a girl wants something, she’ll get it. So I know, no matter what my input Ashleigh will get her way. Apart from the whole autumn wedding, that’s my decision in all of it.
“When is it?” he asked, directing the subject.
“Sometime in the autumn,” I told him. Freddie jumped up in his seat sounding surprised; he almost spat his drink straight at me.
“This autumn?” he shouted. He looked around at the unwanted onlookers apologising, before he said again “This autumn?” in a much lower tone. I nodded solemnly at him and his only response was: “Well shit”. He got in a second round after that, we were both drinking now on the behalf of my engagement and end of my bachelor ways.
I strolled into my apartment not even eight hours later from when I left this morning. I lost count of how much I had, had to drink after the fifth pint. Let’s just say Freddie and me were having a drink for every girl I would no longer be allowed to sleep with. I believe Freddie used the term YOLO several times while attempting to down his drink. It just ended with him spilling most of it down him, and the barmaid shaking her head in amusement.
This for Freddie wasn’t actually a bad thing, because you’ll never guess who he ended going home with…
I smiled to myself as I shut the door. I couldn’t hear anything which hopefully meant Ashleigh’s Mum and friend were gone. Either that or they had talked too quickly and ran out of oxygen. Knowing my luck I’ll walk into the living room now, to find them all unconscious.
I didn’t. They were nowhere in sight which honestly I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I looked at the clock on the wall and laughed to myself. It was only 9’oclock. Eurgh I groaned. 9 bloody o’clock that’s pathetic, I’m actually embarrassed. I shook my head as I walked slowly into the kitchen, the light was already on.
Ashleigh was sitting with her back to me at the kitchen island, a bottle of wine and glass at her side and a folder in front of her. She hadn’t heard me come in I realised. I grinned mischievously, there was on one thing I could do.
I crept forward, not being able to stop the grin from spreading across my face. “AHHHHHH!” I shouted as I hugged her from behind. She jumped up screaming, almost elbowing me in the face. I couldn’t stop laughing.
“James you prat!” she screamed slapping me on the arm.
“Sorry,” I gave her a sloppy kiss on the cheek. She shook her head and tussled out of my loving grip. She was smiling too.
“No you’re not” she said. Despite my insecurities and doubts about the wedding there was no denying that Ashleigh knew me well. Because the truth was, I wasn’t sorry. Not in the slightest. “You’re back early” she noted as looked at the kitchen clock, it was a Christmas present from Al (he’s terrible at giving presents honestly. I bought him two tickets for Music is Might and he got me a bloody clock!)
“Yeah, well I missed you!” I said unintentionally giving her the biggest goofiest grin I could muster. Ashleigh shuck her head.
“Bullshit!” she called laughing, as she took a swig from her glass. “Did you get turned into a third wheel?” she asked. I nodded, Freddie, the barmaid and me the new trio.
“What are you looking at?” I questioned, nosily peering over her shoulder. They were photographs: both muggle and wizarding photos.
“Family photos, Mum bought them around earlier” she added nodding towards them. I pulled up the stool next to her and started looking through them. There were photos of Ashleigh from her time at Hogwarts. She’d changed so much it was laughable. She was a hufflepuff back then, a year below me. In this photo she was pouting at the camera with Karen (a fellow hufflepuff). They both had long hair; Ahsleigh’s was slightly a different shade to what it was now – darker. Maybe Lily was right.
“You looked adorable” I said laughing.
“Are you kidding, look how fat I looked!” she said outraged. Sure she had puppy fat, the chubby cheeks, but what thirteen year olds didn’t?
“You were never fat” I told her honestly “Look at you,” I said pointing to the picture “a little natural beauty”. She nudged me from where we sat. I laughed; it was moments like this when I thought maybe married life wouldn’t be that bad.
“Who’s this?” I said motioning towards the next one; it was an old m
uggle picture from a Polaroid camera. She stood next to an older Ashleigh – possibly fourteen or older. She had long wavy dark hair, brown eyes that were shining gold in the sun, unlike Ashleigh who was pouting; she was smiling fully at the camera, her dimples on full show. She was beautiful; they both were in their own different ways.
Ashleigh picked up the picture; she ran her free hand through her hair sighing sadly. “That’s my sister” my mouth dropped open there and then. How the hell did I not know she had a sister?!?
“W-w-what?” I stuttered, not even attempting to hide my surprise.
“Noah” she said it softly, but I could hear the resentment behind it. I looked at her, none of this making any sense to me. The Lightwoods were famous, how did I miss that there was a second child? How didn’t I know Ashleigh had a bloody sister?
“How do I not know her?” I asked more annoyed at myself for being oblivious of Ashleigh’s past.
Ashleigh laughed like this was the thing she most expected. “Nobody knows her, even I don’t bloody know. Well not anymore”. Again her voice was soft, but laced with anger. “We used to be close you know, there’s only a year between us. We were inseparable. And then… well Hogwarts happened and she just changed completely – that was the last photo we had together”. The way she was speaking, it was like she had lost her, that she was dead. But then her tense suggested that she was still alive. I wanted to ask but I knew better than to pry. I stayed quiet, motioning for her to continue.
“After Hogwarts… she was going to take a gap year with her boyfriend: Lucas Eaton,” I recognised his name he was a chaser for the Ravenclaw quidditch team, two years below me, a pretty decent chaser strategically he just wasn’t the best flyer. “But something happened between them. And between her and my Dad too. She flipped out and she ran away. That was six years ago. I haven’t seen her since”.
Her confession hanged there in the air. I put my hand on her lower back. I could tell she was doing her best not to cry, to hold in her emotions. But I could also see that she’d already had half the bottle of wine to herself. And she was just as out of control with her emotions as I was - if not more.
A single tear rolled down her cheek, I used my thumb to wipe it off. I’d never seen this side to her, she was always in control. Strong and confident – just like her mother. I realised if it wasn’t for the alcohol she wouldn’t be confessing all of this to me. But I’m glad she did, with the mascara running down her face she seemed more vulnerable, more human. It wasn’t the untouchable glamour model charade she had built up, she was just Ashleigh.
“I miss her, James” she choked I pulled her into a long needed hug and as she cried into my shirt, I knew, I knew that’s when I needed to do something. No, I wanted to do something. How upset she was, I knew I couldn’t let it continue, it was my job now, to keep her happy. And that’s exactly what I was planned on doing.
I was going to find her sister and make sure she was at our wedding. It was going to be my gift to Ashleigh… now all I had to do was find her.
AN: i don't own anything! any hp references are J.K's. Also alcohol is bad for you so don't drink it...
but what do you think about Asleigh and James? like them? What about Ashleigh's past... and her sister... TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK!!
You're going to meet Noah soon! Who's excited... I am
come one guys, you've already read so you might as well drop off a little review. Good or bad let me know! i can only improve :))
Minor edit 7/7/2014
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