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Chapter 72 : Goodbye, Old You, When Love Is True
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Miss almost grown
. . .
What is this feeling taking over?
. . .
Goodbye, old you, when love, is true
“Darren Wood! You open this door right now!” I hadn’t heard Anna’s dulcet tones in a few weeks, but they were unmistakable.
“Open up!” And accompanied by loud pounding on the door.
So I did. “What brings you here?” I asked as I pulled the door open.
When we graduated Hogwarts, the first thing I did was collect my son Oliver from my Mum and move to Scotland. Why? Well, I’d always wanted to live there. We lived in a pleasant, two-bedroom house in Sutherland, which was one of the northern-most points.
And Anna, being a bit shaky in her Apparating, didn’t often come to visit unless she was going Side-along with Sirius. And she never took Aldan or William with her.
However, this time, she was standing on my doorstep with William balanced on her hip and Aldan running around the front yard like a madman.
“Bloody boys and their bloody dumbarseness,” she grumbled, glancing at Aldan briefly to make sure he hadn’t severely injured himself yet.
“Well, that’s not exactly the way to get me to invite you inside,” I reasoned, smirking.
But when Anna glared at you, you knew she wasn’t kidding. So, I opened the door wider and went to collect Aldan as she walked in.
And, unfortunately (or fortunately, one might say,) I got stuck walking in behind Anna, admiring her every curve, and noting that her body was just as perfect as it was before her two kids. And on that early August afternoon, she was dressed coolly in a pair of modest shorts and a tight t-shirt.
Down, boy! Down! I felt like an overexcited dog that just wanted to jump up on a new visitor and give them a big bear hug.
I had been working on keeping my thoughts in check. I’d been doing quite a good job. I may look at other girls once in a while, but I was proud to announce that I was still faithfully dating -
“Connie!” Anna practically dropped William into my hands when she saw Connie. (Who had come to visit - her strict morals prevented her from moving in . . . Dammit.)
“Anna!” Connie cried. She ran straight from the kitchen into the entrance, where we were all standing. “My goodness! I haven’t seen you in forever! How are you?” She engulfed Anna in a hug. I was quite proud of Anna to see that she actually returned the hug, and didn’t cringe away from affection as she sometimes used to.
“Actually, I’m going crazy. Or, I might be the only one still sane . . . Where’s Oliver? I’ve got to say hi to my favorite little godson.”
And, on cue, Oliver ran in from the playroom. “Aunt Anna!” he cried.
“Oliver!” She knelt down and Oliver ran straight into her arms to give her a hug. “How are you, buddy?”
“I’m good . . . Guess what Daddy did the other day?!”
Oh, dear. Anna raised her eyebrows at me and gave me a patronizing look. “What did Daddy do the other day?”
“He crashed a car!”
I sighed. Anna laughed. “Yes, I did. But it wasn’t my fault. I was trying to parallel park and I hit the gas a little too much.”
Then, Anna shuddered and groaned. “Don’t talk to me about parallel parking. My Mum decided I couldn’t confund the examiner and has decided to teach me how to do that. Apparently, I’m not allowed to drive around without a license.
“Do you know how crazy my Mum is? Insane.”
So, after Anna ranted about her crazy Mum for a few more minutes, we all adjourned to the kitchen. Connie (who was quite possibly the most incredible chef/baker I’d ever had the pleasure to meet) brought out a tray of cookies from the oven and cooled them so that they were just pleasantly warm.
Anna - in a fit of stupidity that one could only expect - broke off a piece of the soft cookie and fed it to Will. The poor baby wasn’t even half a year old. However, he did seem to enjoy it.
We were all eating quietly (there seemed to be something about our group that quieted down and had to concentrate fully when food was put in front of us) when Aldan decided to engage me in conversation.
“Unc Darren!” he cried excitedly.
“What?” I asked, shoving an entire cookie in my mouth.
“Why people get naked?”
Oh, shit. This is definitely the child of Anna and Sirius. I looked towards said female who simply shrugged and laughed at my misfortune.
“Um, well, Al . . . People get naked for lots of different reasons. Sometimes it’s to take a shower, and sometimes it to put new clothes on and sometimes, it’s, er to . . . Have fun . . .”
“Oh.” But the little kid still looked confused. “But why did Mummy and Daddy be naked?”
Anna, who had been laughing hysterically up to that point sobered up quite quickly.
“Yeah, Anna?” I decided to play her into a trap - not that it wouldn’t matter much; Aldan wouldn’t understand either way. But, it could be a funny story to tell him when he got older. “Why did Mummy and Daddy be naked?”
Rarely was there a chance to see Anna so completely and utterly speechless. But that was one of them. “Er . . . Uh - well, you know . . . I mean it’s - uh . . .”
“Tell us, Anna.” Oh, I was so going to get hit.
“Well, Mummy and Daddy got naked to -”
And then, I got the biggest surprise of the week.
“Have sex!” The outburst came from little five-year-old Oliver.
Connie and I were both shocked. Anna simply found it funny.
She kept laughing for a good minute or so.
“This is definitely your son, Darren,” Anna remarked.
“And Aldan’s definitely yours - awkward questions, sex-obsession and all.”
Our little game could have continued for quite a while, but Anna and I called an unspoken truce.
We were digging into a second batch of the cookies when Connie jumped up suddenly. “Oh I’m almost late I’ll take the boys for a ride; they’ll like that ” And without further explanation, Connie grabbed the three little kids and jetted out of the house.
“Where’s she going?” Anna asked.
“Oh, did we not tell you? Bria and Greg are visiting from America and they decided to fly in. She’s going to pick them up in the car.”
“Oh, really? That should be nice.” She smiled.
Glancing at Anna in the short moment of silence, I couldn’t help but laugh.
“What’s so funny?” she asked, not seeming to be affronted at all.
I shrugged. “Well, it’s just how much the same you are. Yet, you’re completely different.”
“I am not!” Anna quickly jumped to her own defense. “What makes you say that?”
I shook my head, chuckling at her still-in-denial. Well, she was definitely still the same in that way.
“Come on, I’ve seen you with Sirius. You’re so in love with him it’s crazy.”
Anna opened her mouth - probably to deny like crazy. Then, she closed it and neither confirmed it or denied it.
“I mean, really. . . Anna, I’ve got to be honest. When you and Sirius started going out that second time, I never thought it would work out. I could have sworn you two would break-up because you went with another guy, or something like that. Dude, now you even let Sirius hold your hand. I think you would have broken down in tears if I ever tried to do that when we were together.
“You went from little Miss Crazy and Independent to, well, Little Miss Crazy and only Semi-Independent.”
“And if you never saw Sirius again what would you do?”
Anna thought about it for a while. “Be really bored and sex-deprived.”
“And?” I prompted.
She sighed. “And probably get really sad, too.”
“You love him.”
“I admitted that a while ago.”
Anna was obviously perturbed by the conversation and turned her head angrily away from me. And, of course, (because things like this always happened,) her crossed arms pushed her cleavage up even more and gave me a fantastic eyeful of it.
Thank you, Anna! I thought sarcastically.
“So, what brings you here?” I said, finally asking the question that had been on my mind for a while.
She sighed heavily. “Bloody boys.”
“Well, what did they do to you?” I inquired.
Anna then launched into a tale of an epic feud. From what I could tell, it went like this:
Sirius was a dumbarse and listened to a total prick (McLaggen) and now thinks that Remus is the traitor in the Order that’s leaking information to Voldemort. He also accused Remus of kidnapping Peter.
(Personally, I thought he just wandered off one day and forgot how to get home.)
Remus then revealed, after being accused, that he thought Sirius was the bad guy.
Neither boy was making sense, and they’d tried to make James choose sides. The poor bloke was going crazy and Lily had her hands full with Harry. So he was often shoved on Anna. So then she had four babies to take care of: Aldan, Will, Sirius and James.
And Remus refused to visit while Sirius was home.
“Bloody hell, what a mess,” I marveled.
“Yep,” she concurred. “And all because Sirius decided to go and be a complete and total fuckhead.”
“Yeah, that sounds like Sirius.”
We sat eating cookies for a little while, while Anna scowled at the wall and grumbled.
I first met Anna when she was sixteen years old. I’d known her for five whole years. And never had I seen her so hooked up on one thing. But the feud was quite obviously not faring well with her.
“Anna . . . Is this really bothering you?”
She’d had a cookie in her hand, half-eaten, but threw in down onto the table, looking at it in disgust. “Yes. Those bloody twats have so much to be grateful for, and they’re letting their bloody brains get in the middle of their hearts.”
Awww. How adorable. Anna’s thinking with her heart . . . Probably not the time to point that out.
“They’re making me sad,” she added.
“Well, then kick their arses! Follow through on that threat for once!” I exclaimed. It always seemed to be that whenever Anna was in a foul mood, it was contagious. Therefore, I was desperate to get her happy again before the mood spread through the house.
“Hey, Anna. Just chill. You’re here to have fun and brush it off for a little while. Want a drink?”
Good job, Darren. Make her think you’re trying to get her drunk.
“Yeah, you know it.” I didn’t even have to get up and pour. Anna got up herself and made herself a drink. “Want one?”
“Yeah, why not,” I replied.
We sat - Anna much calmer - drinking for a little while.
“This is nice.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “It is.”
“Ahh! Oliver! No! Bad! Stop!” Anna had been lying down on the floor, chatting happily with Bria and Connie when Oliver had decided to crawl on top of her and dance.
“Anna, stop talking to my son like a dog,” I joked, watching in amusement as Oliver jumped on her (still curvaceous and lovely) arse.
Come on, Darren. You’ve got a fiancé now. You can’t be looking at other women.
But it’s Anna. It’s like the epitome of a female goddess incarnated. Except shorter.
. . . Yeah. I guess it’s okay.
By listening in on the girls’ conversation (not that I was not allowed to - I was just across the room playing with the three little kiddies,) I found out that Bria and Greg had gotten engaged. Just as Bria and Anna found out that Connie and I had gotten engaged.
As soon as it was out of Connie’s mouth, Anna jumped up and ran over to me. Not sure what was going to happen, I cowered in fear. Then, she slapped me lightly upside the head. “That’s for not telling me, dumbarse!”
Well, not as bad as I thought it would be.
Anna went back to Bria and Connie, but she was obviously bored. Periodically, she would look back at me and make a funny face.
That girl has the attention span of a fruit bat.
The rest of the day went famously. We all messed around and played. And Oliver and Aldan went mud-diving; they were a terrible pair already.
And - as shamed as I am to admit it - I flirted with Anna a bit. I couldn’t help it. It was old habit.
But, she flirted back, a little bit.
It was harmless, though. And I wasn’t the type to lie to myself; it really was.
Not all flirting was of the purpose to get someone into bed, and that kind certainly wasn’t.
Later that night, after Anna had left, mumbling and grumbling about having to go home and listen to, ‘that bloody girl’ whine and bitch about Remus, and after Bria had gone to meet up with Greg at his parents’ house, Connie and I were laying on the couch.
She was in front of me and I was running my hands through her silky blond hair.
“Darren?” she asked suddenly.
“What exactly happened between you and Anna . . . She hinted at it back in Hogwarts, but she never came outright to say it.”
Well, apparently Anna grew a heart long before I noticed. She must’ve. There was no way Anna would withhold information to make someone else feel better.
“I’m not going to accuse you of lying or withholding information,” Connie added quickly. “I just want to know . . .”
I sighed. “Well, it started out as fun for both of us. We both wanted the same thing out of another person: nothing. We, uh . . . We went a little ways, but not all the way. If you were wondering.”
“I was,” she admitted.
“Well, Anna wasn’t as into that stuff back then. Godric knows she is now . . . Not that I’d know! Sirius tells me things!” I quickly corrected myself, but Connie didn’t seem perturbed by it.
I suppose I was still used to the old girlfriends I used to have, back before I went to Hogwarts. The crazy ones that reacted badly to the slightest thing.
“Anyway,” I continued. “We were kind of ‘together’ without actually being together. Neither of us would admit it. But somewhere along the line I got attached. I took a chance and told her I loved her, and then she ended it. We ended up becoming good friends somewhere down the line, though.”
Connie didn’t say anything for a while. “You’re not . . . with her now, are you?” Connie asked carefully.
Oh my god.
“Connie. No, Connie, of course not. I may have gotten around back then, but I never have and never will cheat on someone. Never. I’m sorry if anything I’ve ever done has led you to think that.”
You are so whipped, Stephen - who had definitely become my best mate - sounded in my head.
Yep. I agreed. I am. And I like it.
“Connie, I love you so much. And I will forever and ever.”
Connie turned around on the couch so that she was facing me and kissed me lightly on the lips. “I want to be with you,” she whispered.
“What are you talking about? You are with me.”
“No, Darren, want to be with you,” Connie whispered. This time, there was an oddly strange (for her) note of seduction in her voice.
“I know. You a-” I gazed, wide-eyed at her. “What?! Wait! Really!?”
Connie laughed at me and kissed my nose lightly. She tended to do that whenever I did anything ‘silly.’ “Yes, really.”
If Connie wanted to be with me, it went against all her morals. “Are you sure?” I asked.
Whipped, Stephen chimed in again.
Yes! Gettin’ some!
Stephen! Stop thinking for me!
And as I picked Connie up gently and carried her off to my - our - bedroom, I marveled in how different I was, once again.
And you know what? I like it.
A/N: It's Friday! Now, since I just finished this, like, two minutes ago (thanks to writer's block at the most inopportune time,) it is un-betaed. And I've only looked over it once. I'll be editing it sometime in the near future, though. Hopefully I didn't make any mistakes that were too big.
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