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Chapter 23 : dancing eyes
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“They’re still in America,” I said, flicking on a passing lamp switch as I walked down the hallway. He followed me into the kitchen. I filled the kettle as he looked around the place, and I gradually, but surely, growing conscious of our soaking bodies.
“Why don’t you just use your wand for that?” he wanted to know. “Or to ignite your fireplace? Unless your house is wholly powered with Muggle electricity-”
“I don’t turn seventeen until next week.”
I don’t know why he said of course. I don’t think I ever discussed my birthday with him, only complaints that I couldn’t learn how to apparate until I was in Seventh Year, in a class with the year belows. It then occurred to me how little we knew about each other, really. I became acutely aware of how I had only known James Sirius Potter for the past year of my life, and how he was- had- graduated and this was, likely, the last time I would speak to him.
On a hideously rainy summer evening drinking tea. Classic.
“What kind?” I asked.
“We have builders’, earl grey, green, green jasmine, green and peach, green and lemon- my mum’s obsessed, ha- camomile, chai-”
“Wilderson,” said James, rising from his position on a stool by the breakfast table and moving to stand by me. It was only when he held my wrists I became aware I was shaking. “You’re soaking.”
“Well- so are you.”
“That wasn’t meant to be an insult,” he said, the corners of his lips lifting, and I smiled weakly. “Why don’t you go dry off-”
“I’m fine,” I said, taking my wrists out of his big, firm hands. I kept my gaze low, and suddenly felt fascinated by the small little veins in my palms, the same colour as the sky outside. My eyes flickered over to James’ hands, avoiding his gaze like a primary school video game.
“Then I’ll take earl grey.”
“Only a dash of milk, semi-skimmed, half a sugar sugar, tea bag still in-”
“James!” I cried, slamming the spoon on the counter. “What are you doing here?”
He was still standing close to me, leaning against the kitchen countertop strewn with tea boxes, but dropped his smirk and looked down at the ground, before looking back up at me.
“Effy,” he said, gently. “I fucked up.”
“Yeah, and we made up,” I said.
“Not really,” he said, and I knew we were both thinking of that night we kissed after the England match. “Look. You have to know- I’ve been thinking about it, thinking about it a lot- and, fuck, I really fucked up.”
“Let me,” he said gently, and the thunder boomed outside. “You were completely right about everything. And I- I was right about some things too, Effy.” He frowned slightly, and glanced to my left. “When did I start calling you Effy?”
“I know,” I said. “It sounds weird in your voice.”
He looked down at me, my eyes just reaching his lips, and I became conscious of how wet the two of us were. And I stared at his lips, tinted red with berries, like spring time at Hogwarts, when I thought the world of him.
“We’re not doing this,” I said, pushing myself away from him.
“You’re too-” I struggled, thinking of the right words. I sat down on a seat, and watched him pour boiling water from the kettle into two mugs he had taken from the shelf, watched him place the mugs on the table, watched him draw up a chair and sit opposite me.
I watched him, incapable of finishing my sentence.
“I’m sorry, Effy.” he said. “For everything this year.” I looked at his face, completely devoid of his usual arrogance and humour, his usual smirk and dancing eyes.
“It’s okay, James-”
“It’s just, like-” he paused, and I cut in.
“You’ve graduated, and I still have a year left. We weren’t going to work out-”
“That’s not necessarily true,” he argued. “We weren’t going to work out because of me.”
“No, it wasn’t you, it was the circumstances-”
“Plenty of couples work out when someone’s outside Hogwarts- look, Wilderson, I’m the reason-”
“Stop making everything about yourself!” I cried loudly. “You weren’t that bad-”
“Yes I was- I told you I was in love with you and then acted like a prick about you being a virgin-”
“Well I snogged Mikey Lancaster even though I knew it was you standing in the shadows outside my common room that night-”
“Yeah, because you’re you,” he said fairly. “I don’t think I would like you if you didn’t do stuff like that.”
I paused, and his present tense floated the air between us.
“James,” I said. “I appreciate you coming, I just- I don’t think I can do this right now.”
“I told myself that we were over-”
“Before or after we kissed?”
“You said such horrible things to me-”
“I didn’t mean them-”
“Fine. I meant every single word,” he said, standing up. “I still mean every single word. Every argument, every kiss, every time I’ve ever used your name and a swearword in the same breath- Jesus fucking Christ, Effy, I meant it all.”
I stood up too, our mugs of steaming tea left forgotten. “All of it?”
“All of it,” he said, frankly. “And- shit- I’m sorry, I’m sorry for everything I put you through. You were a bitch too, but you didn’t deserve it. But honestly, Wilderson, I don’t think I regret a single second of it.”
He paused, and I tilted my head at the ground, forcing the words out.
“I’m not doing this again,” I said weakly. “You’re too much, James. And you’re just not going to change, I don’t think.”
He nodded in agreement, standing tall, standing soaking, with his head held high.
“Alright then,” he said, slowly. He nodded at me, and I nodded back. “I better be going, then.”
I walked him to the door, just as lightning struck again, and the house was momentarily lit.
“Good bye, Effy,” he said, as he stood by the door. The hallway was dark, darker than the kitchen, and I could see the outline of his body through his soaked tee-shirt. I looked at his arms, remembered how they felt around mine when he used to hold me in them as our bodies lay entwined together on lazy Sunday mornings at Hogwarts. Did they always feature such prominent goosebumps? Did his adam’s apple always bop so low?
There was a lump at the back of my throat, as I looked up at him. “Bye, James-”
And then suddenly his hand left the door handle and cupped the back of my head, whilst his other hand held my back, and I was kissing his berry-stained lips, entwining my fingers in his hair, still wet from the rain outside.
“You’re so not over me,” he said, and his old tone of arrogance back.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be over you,” I muttered into his mouth.
“Do you still not want this?”
We were both panting, and I tried to scowl at him, but he laughed as a massive, massive smile erupted on my face. “I want this.”
“Urgh, Say what-”
“James Potter- actually, James Sirius Potter- I am not over you-”
I laughed, wrapping my arms around his neck, and I could feel his laughter on my neck as he pulled me closer to him, so close that I couldn’t hear the thunder outside anymore.
“Oh, come on-”
“No, not like Ravenclaw blue- like a summer sky blue, you know? A 5pm summer sky blue.”
“Classic,” James said, drily, absent-mindedly stroking my hair. “Favourite… film?”
“I don’t know, how well do you know Muggle films?”
“Well enough,” he said, sounding slightly offended.
“1900 by Bertolucci.”
“I hate that film.”
“You’ve just never heard of it.”
“Honestly, why couldn’t you have said Mean Girls- or fine, maybe She’s the Man- like every single other girl I’ve dated?”
I laughed, and he smiled down at me. The storm had departed, and the early morning sunset of 6am pink skies and violet clouds was arriving through my bedroom window, casting my room in dancing rays of golden pink lighting.
I had told James that despite everything, I really didn’t know much about him- and likewise him with me- and after initial protests of that’s so not true he admitted defeat after not knowing my middle name.
I lay with my head on his lap, and watched his face as he stared out around my room, the walls slowly soaked in the lavender tinted sun, the smell of dew and fresh flowers drifting in through the windows, left slightly open overnight. The sun turned his naked torso into gold, his faint chest hairs into strands of bronze, and he looked almost ethereal, almost majestic, almost magical.
“I’m done asking you questions,” he said, yawning. “I don’t care, I think I know you very well.”
“It’s your turn to ask me,” he said, massaging my temples with his coarse thumbs, looking down at me and smiling gently. “I love talking about myself.”
“Okay then,” I said, sitting up, and he put his arm on me as we watched the rising sun from window together, leaning against my painted wall, cool against my bare body. “How did you lose your virginity?”
“Come on,” he said. “Boys don’t have virginities.”
“You really do not want to get into this conversation with me.”
“Honestly, Wilderson, one day I’m going to sit down with you with a long list of things I apparently don’t want to discuss with you- abortions, sexual liberation of women, contraceptive rights in Ireland- and we are going to discuss every single one of them.”
And I smirked, because I knew he would.
“I’m curious now,” I said into his shoulder. “Go on.”
He sighed, squinting slightly as he turned towards me, and I saw his irises dance gold and brown in the sunlight. “Really?”
“Yes!” I cried, laughing slightly. “What was it? A veela seventh year when you were in your fourth? A model when you were on holiday aged fifteen-”
“A thirty two year old woman,” he said, looking at me, and I was struck not for the first time how deeply brown his eyes were. “I was thirteen, and drunk- well, thirteen year old drunk- for the first time at my dad’s Ministry party.” I watched his face, and he frowned, as he turned away from me and stared right into the window. “She took me into her office because I was interested in magical law at the time.”
He stopped talking for a second, and I stroked his shoulder, watching his eyes scrunch up.
“Who was she?”
“No idea. She transferred, apparently, the next month to Spanish offices.” He paused again, and spoke before I could. “Look, it’s just not something I talk about.”
“James,” I said, stroking his hair. “That’s rape.”
“No,” he said- not harshly, but a touch too quick to be described as firm. “It was consensual. I didn’t say no.”
“You were totally underage-”
“Do your parents know?”
“I think you’re the only one I’ve said this out loud to,” he said, turning from the window to me. “I mentioned it in a game of truth or dare, although by that point Eve was the only one listening.”
I began to open my mouth, but then he spoke before I could. “It’s not a big deal, Wilderson. It’s just something that happened. I’m over it.”
He was right. Not about the story, but about knowing each other more than I initially presumed. I could tell he was lying by the way he spoke showing his teeth, and moreover, I knew why he was lying- I don't think, in retrospect, James himself knew he wasn’t being truthful. I just think, aged only eighteen, James was too scared to contemplate not being over it.
James started talking about magical law internships for next year, and the possibility of application to American internships. I watched his face, glow from pink to orange to gold, as the late summer sun rose opposite us.
It had turned into a beautiful morning, and we decided to put James’ driving skills to the test by driving the three hour drive from my house in Kent to the Potter house in Kensington, West London.
“Easy,” said James, as we sat at the front of my house, our bums perched on the doorstep, my legs stretched out on the pavement. I wondered how long I would have to sit in this position to get a tan. We worked out, over several attempts of making pancakes- first with magic, then the muggle way- that we could use my parents’ car, they left the keys in the top drawer over the stove: there was no potential roadside accident, James proclaimed, that couldn’t be fixed by magic. And I, choking on orange juice in the late summer sun, decided it wasn’t worth the argument.
“It’s one straight road from Bexley Heath onto the M25, and then from there we hop onto the North Circular-”
“Honestly, James, I’ve been in Mermish orals that’ve made more sense than you do now-”
“Uncultured swine,” he swiped, looking over at me and grinning. He was wearing black wayfarer sunglasses and his clothes from yesterday. “Look- it’s two o’clock now- if we leave as soon as possible, and allow an hour for getting lost-”
“So you admit we will get lost-”
“We’re going to end up on the train line that takes the Express up to Hogwarts- maybe we can make a pit stop and visit Danny Alton in Liverpool-”
“Do you have any concept of the geography of Britain?”
“Look, I barely have any concept of the geography of Hogwarts,” I said, twirling my legs over in the harsh summer sun as he laughed. I inhaled, and the air smelt of the lavender bushes planted around our front garden, the smell of summer, the smell of James.
“Perhaps we forgo the North Circular, that’ll take us ages to get up to that part of London- we can make a dash through Brentford, and then cut around Shepherd’s Bush…” James studied the A-Z we found inside the car thoughtfully, and I turned to him, my eyes squinting against the sun.
“I vote we use the muggle gadget my mum uses.”
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I am dogmatic on that.”
“You’re dogmatic on everything.”
“I think it just adds to my charm.”
I tried to bite back a grin, and replied we should rock paper scissor it, to which he replied, absolutely not, Wilderson, I heard Lady Grey was secretly tutoring Ravenclaw house in the art of mind reading, and as a Gryffindor, he plays fair- to which I replied, fair? You knocked out our Keeper in our last match- and this, of course, went on for a whole half hour, until he kissed me silent, and I batted him away, and he grumbled defeat: okay, fine Wilderson, you won that one.
And the whole time, I was slowly, but surely- I was sure of this, and even more sure when I remember this day in retrospect- falling for him.
It was everything, whilst being absolutely nothing in particular about him. Perhaps it was the way he gleamed golden in the August sun; perhaps it was his throaty laugh, and the way his bright white teeth shone when he smiled, not smirked. Maybe it was his way of grabbing my wrist when he was excited about something, and his way of apologising for talking over me, but then continuing anyway. I liked that, because he was so keen on hiding his passions from people, and when he really was passionate about something- like magical law, or politics, or medieval wizarding history- his eyes lit up like a child on Christmas morning.
And then just little things- like listening to me go on for hours about silly things, trivial things in the early hours of this morning, entwining his big fingers through mine and rubbing his thumb over my collarbone- or freaking out because he thought he broke the muggle oven and “fuck, fuck, I really wanted your parents to get a good impression of me”- dancing in the 7am morning sunlight, when the sky was still kind of peachy pink, and dew glistened on the grass like fallen stars because the radio was playing his favourite Beatles song- I don’t know, but it wasn’t something, I think it was everything.
It was gone 4pm by the time we managed to get into the car- at this rate, I calculated, we wouldn’t get to London until 7 at earliest.
“Fine,” he said.
“I vote apparation.”
“I vote the car, and we listen to the Beatles. I’m in the mood.”
“I vote absolutely not, you’ve been playing the Beatles all day-”
“They’re the Beatles-”
“The Beatles? Sorry, who? I’ve never heard of them.”
He turned to me- by this point, we had walked to the car, and I slid into the passenger seat as he sat himself down by the wheel- and said, oh Wilderson, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“How about drive?”
“Baby,” he said in an awful John Lennon accent, lowering his sunglasses, “you can drive my car.”
He burst out laughing at my face, and started the engine.
By the time we arrived at the Potters’ house in London- after stopping for an early-dinner-late-lunch at a pub, getting lost three times and screaming at each other over appropriate timing for toilet breaks, an argument that concluded with James pissing in an empty water bottle until we had to stop so he could throw it all away, and then I decided it would be funny to change parking space in his absence, leading him to believe I had driven away- but, of course, I couldn’t drive, and I almost crashed my parents’ car I was so useless, which set him into total hysterics- it was just turning seven, and the cornflower blue sky above us was slowly turning a shade darker, a shade purpler, and Shiny Happy People rang in my head as we found a place to park on this Georgian architected street.
“Oh my God,” said James, raising his black sunglasses on top of his head and closing the car door, as we walked towards his house. “Is that Lily?”
I followed his gaze, and noticed Lily Potter, a vivacious fifth year with cascading red hair, holding another Gryffindor girl of her year’s hair back as the latter threw up something that looked green and slimy.
As we approached, I could hear music thumping from inside the house, and a few people milled with cigarettes and joints between their fingers, stood on the stairs leading up to the front door kept ajar. I looked over at James, who had already flocked to be with Lily and her friend.
“You go on in,” he called, putting his arm around the girl. “I’ll meet you inside.”
I smiled, but he had looked down to talk to Lily, who was waving her arms frantically. I didn’t really know any of the four smokers outside; one was a Ravenclaw year above, who, with a pursed lip of reluctance, offered me a smoke, but I had never taken to hash, and besides, I wanted to find Aspen.
I turned around, and beamed at Albus, running down the staircase, with Scorpius right behind him. I closed the door behind me and hugged him, as Scorpius did his little Scorpius smirk beside me.
“Hey Effy,” said Scorpius, sounding dreamy.
“You’re baked,” I stated, and then burst out laughing. “Does Rose know?”
“Rose would kill him,” said Albus, earnestly.
“Ah, yes,” I said, taking the beer bottle out of his hands. “Weed. The famous killer drug.”
Albus snorted. “I’m glad I saw you before you got drunk-”
“I’m glad I saw you before you got drunk-!”
“You’ve only had one swig of beer, Eff-”
“I’m not tipsy, I’m just excited to see you-”
“You saw him yesterday-”
“Thanks, Scor,” said Albus, shooting his blonde best friend a look of annoyance, a look I had seen mirrored to precision on his older brother. “Effy, let’s go.”
I followed him into the garden, where the stars were making dimmed appearances in the lilac sky and fairy lights hung from tree to tree. His garden wasn’t big- he lived right in Kensington, it was really quite small, especially compared to some of the gardens near me out in the country- but it was pretty, and notably quieter than inside. I saw a huddle of Hufflepuff girls talking at the back, and some Slytherin and Gryffindor boys chugging down beers beside us.
“Is it about Poppy?”
“It’s about James.”
I opened my mouth to tell him about- well, everything- but he beat me to it.
“He’s my brother,” said Albus, taking the bottle out of my hands and gulping it down. “And you’re one of my best friends.”
“He was ridiculously cut up when you two broke up the first time, let alone after his graduation- no! No, I am not blaming you, Eff, I know what he’s like and I also know what you’re like and I know he’s going to fight for another chance with you-”
“But if you two were upset the first time, imagine how upset you’d be the second time, with him out of school and you sitting your NEWTS-”
Is this a thing? That carrying the Potter surname and having a penis entitles one to turn a conversation into a Hamlet monologue?
“To be or not to be,” I said drily, interrupting him.
“Fuck off. Look- you’re at school with Mikey every day, he’s in this big, wizarding community that is obsessed with him- it really can only end badly,” he stated.
“And I’m not sitting through one hour with him bitching about you and the next hour with you bitching about him again- honestly, you two were like the worst divorced parents-”
“It’s just not worth it,” he said. Besides him, the lad crowd of our year burst into cheers, as Ruddy Walcott started thumping the air. “I really, really, don’t want you two to get back together. Stay civil, obviously, but- like- just don’t, Effy.”
He looked at me so earnestly, standing under the light of the golden rose sun in his white tee-shirt, clutching his bottle of artisan beer, a few friendship bracelets clapped upon his wrist.
“Since when did you wear friendship bracelets?” I asked, inspecting the rainbow threads knotted unevenly along his thick, veined wrist. Albus was slightly taller, narrow, leaner than his broad-shouldered brother, but Poppy Atticus would be lying if she said she didn’t noticed his muscular arms, his pronounced veins. I think all girls have a thing for veins on boys.
His sincere face became bashful, and he looked up at the sky to laugh.
“Scorpius… made it for me… When he was in France last week.”
I burst out laughing, and he chortled at my reaction.
“But seriously, Eff,” he continued. “Don’t go for James again. Please,” he said, and a note of pleading entered his voice. “For me? I mean- if after this academic year you’re still not over him, then obviously, go for it. But just not this year. It just won’t work, and you’ll both end up as messes.”
I nodded. “I get you,” I said. “Yeah, fine. You make total sense.”
He smiled at me, and pulled me into a hug.
“I was scared you’d think I was being a dick-”
“No, you’re right,” I said, numbly. “It isn’t fair on you-”
“Oi Atticus!” he trilled, looking over my shoulder. I followed his gaze, and saw Poppy Atticus walk into the garden, clearly headed for the huddle of Hufflepuff girls at the back. I took that as an excuse to leave, and ducked under his arm, right into the house.
As it happened, I ran right into James himself, who was stood in the kitchen with Louis Weasley, discussing something that made James look amused and Louis look even more indignant than Poppy Atticus when somebody accuses her of harbouring secret feelings for Al.
“Wilderson!” said James, his smirk splitting into an easy beam. Oh my God- I was only a half way through this beer bottle, was I already tipsy? How embarrassing… He was so fit, James Potter. Standing there, in the loud, loud kitchen, wearing a faded grey tee-shirt and black jeans, his brown eyes dancing in the amber setting sun. House music blared from the living room next door, and I could barely hear myself tell him I needed to speak to him privately.
“Okay,” said Louis, nodding earnestly.
We both stared at him. He stared back.
“So we going to find somewhere quieter?” Louis asked.
“Louis, mate,” said James, giving him another amused smirk. “When Effy asked to speak to me privately, she meant without you.”
“Why would she want to speak to you privately?” Louis wanted to know. He really was oblivious to the world beyond himself and Ruddy. “Didn’t you break up-”
James opened his mouth, but I got there before him.
“It’s about… Al’s birthday present…”
“His birthday’s in December-” but thankfully, Louis must have noticed Ruddy and their gang of Gryffindor knuckleheads outside in the garden stood around, oh wow, that must have been the biggest joint I had ever seen in my life, it was almost the size of a First Year.
“Save some for me!” he cried, running outside.
“As if they were going to run out,” I muttered, and James snorted.
“Al’s birthday present?”
“We need to talk,” I said, taking his arm. My fingers slot around his warm, muscular forearm, and I could feel his hairs stand on end under my palm; we walked through the throngs of people, the two of us smiling and saying hi to those who initiated the greetings first, until he suggested the toilet under the stairs. We walked inside, and he sat down on the toilet seat as I locked the door.
“Albus,” I said, leaning against the door and crossing my arms, trying not to notice how enticing his lazy smirk was. “Came up to me and told me how much he didn’t want us to get together. He said that we were inevitably going to crash and burn, and he didn’t think either of us would quite recovery from it. I think he also said something about my NEWT results. Or maybe his.”
“So sensitive, my brother.”
“James,” I said, giving him a withering look- I’ve been told I’m quite good at them, I’ve been practising in the mirror- which only widened his smirk. “He’s one of my best friends. I- I kind of see where he’s coming from.”
He raised his head, crossed his arms, and looked at me, one eyebrow raised. “What?!”
“Did you just use me for sex, Wilderson?”
“This isn’t funny- okay, that was quite funny- oh my gosh!” I said, distracted. “We have the exact same Jo Malone hand soap!”
“The individualism of the British middle class,” he said drily. “Look, Effs, what is this all about-”
“Albus was right,” I said again, this time feeling a slight more sober. “He was right- James, what are we doing? I’m going back to Hogwarts, and you’re not. Our relationship would be restricted to the weekends at most, and- and- oh my god, James, what are we doing?”
“I like you too much,” I said, my voice speeding up and my heart throbbing, “to do this again. I don’t want to have to feel like I’ve just been shot every time I see your face, hear your voice. I-”
“I was so cut up this summer, James- I was really, really upset- and Albus is right, when we crash this time round, it’s just going to be so much worse-”
“So what are you saying?” he said, standing up, crossing his arms. “We just call it all off?”
“I don’t know, but-”
He laughed, and pinched his nose, in that way he always did when he was annoyed. “Oh my God.”
“I cannot believe this-”
“You know I’m right-”
“Is it Mikey?”
I rolled my eyes and put my hands on my hips. “You know what, with the way you’re acting, you’re lucky it’s not-”
“Oh, I’m lucky-”
“Don’t you see?” I said, impatient with his lack of foresight. James was rash, James was impulsive and spontaneous and never thought to consider the future. “Mikey’s doing a Healer internship with Rose- your cousin, right now- and you still assume he’s the root of our problems. What are you going to be like when I’m at Hogwarts with him and you’re in London?”
He opened his mouth, and then closed it, glaring at me like a five year old.
“Wilderson,” he said, pointing a finger at me. “We are not breaking up just after last night.”
“I like you too much,” he said, his voice rising, “too just give up. Surely, Wilderson, it is better to try our hardest than not try at all-”
“And then what? When some magazine publishes a photo of you getting into a cab with a model after some party? When you hear some rumour about me at school? We’d fight-”
“Exactly,” he said, frustration saturating his voice. “We fight, Effy- that’s us. That’s us, that’s us, we’re James and Effy. We fight, we argue, we say things we sometimes mean, sometimes don’t. But we never just- give up, fuck’s sake, Effy- is that what you want?”
“I’m being realistic!” I screamed. “You’re being impossible! I don’t want to end this- I’m crazy about you, and that is exactly why we can’t do this!”
“That is exactly why we do do this!”
“Oh my God, James,” I cried. “Can’t you see? At the World Cup, you could barely look at me- imagine how bad it’ll be the next time round. I don’t want to have to feel like I’ve been knifed every time I hear your name mentioned- which is a lot, by the fucking way-”
“It wasn’t easy for me either-”
“I’m not saying that-”
“Oh come on, Wilderson-”
“Look,” I said, screaming over his voice. “Think about it. Think about it! Something will happen, and then another, and then another. You’ve got your Law Enforcement internship, I’ve got my NEWTs.”
“I graduate in a year,” I said, taking advantage of his pensive facial expression. “But come on, James. This is totally unrealistic.”
There was a silence, until he nodded. “Fine.”
I frowned at his cool demeanour. “Oh, go on, spit in out.”
He didn’t even take a second. “This is so not fine! Oh my God- Wilderson! We’re James and Effy! We are better than this passivity! We-”
“And it’s not just us,” I injected. “It’s Albus, it’s everyone who gets caught in between. He’s your brother, he’s my best friend.”
I knew that hit a chord. Albus and James must have one of the most complex relationships of all siblings I know, but James was fanatically loyal to his family. Such a Gryffindor. On the contrary, if push came to shove, I think I would push my older brother Jack in front of the Knight Bus for Weird Sister reunion tickets.
A moment later, he spoke up. “True,” he said, in such a way that I knew in his head he believed he was the one that came up with that point, not me. “True.”
There was another silence, until he nodded again. “Fuck’s sake, Effy. I think you’re right.”
“When am I ever not-”
“You never stop, do you?” he said, looking up at me and smiling, in such a way that the skin around his eyes creased and his features softened.
“We should go,” I said, suddenly feeling intensely melancholic. I made to turn the door handle, before I felt his hand grasp mine, stopping me from opening the door.
“Come on, Wilderson,” he said, and I could feel his body behind mine. “I think we can do better than that.”
I turned around, and felt his warm arms engulf my body. He smirked down at me, and I looked from the top of his black hair, his twinkling brown eyes, his strawberry stained lips- it felt like years ago when I watched him eat strawberry after strawberry in my kitchen- and I kissed him, like it really was the last time.
“Let’s not break up,” I muttered into his mouth.
I could feel his mouth widen and I knew he was smirking. I drew away from him slightly, still wrapped up in his arms. “Wilderson.”
“You know we have to do this.”
“Oh my god, you always do this, you always take an idea of mine and decide it’s your own-”
“From what I recall,” he said sharply, “it was actually my brother who initiated it, and as I share a gene pool with him, I would argue I have a greater claim to the idea of breaking up than you do. Wilderson.”
We looked at each other like that for a while, and his hand moved to stroke my temple, tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. I looked up at him, watching the movement of his hazel coloured irises, the thickness of his nose, the chapped pinkness of his lips, as if I was trying to commit it all to memory.
“Bye, James,” I said, taking his hand off my face, opening the door and walking into the party unfolding before us.
What a weird, surreal chapter to write & proofread. Effy's life has always paralled mine but as it's taken four years to get her through Sixth Year (super sorry about that btw- and endless thanks for those who've been patient enough to stick around with me and my AWFUL updating) this chapter, with themes of James' graduation & growing up & moving on into the world channelled more of my current issues and experiences than Effy. Even as the first year of university comes to an end it's as bittersweet as it is lovely looking back at the year and how much I've grown, how much growing I've got yet to do. So that's what I've been playing with in James' character, and it's what you'll be seeing in James for the upcoming chapters!
But what do you guys think? I want to hear everything. End of Jeffy? End of Chapter 1 of Jeffy? Effy going back to school; Mikey's absence? I want to hear it ALL.
And as always. I don't own the Beatles, nor any song associated with them mentioned; Baby You Can Drive My Car, Imagine, etc. Apple studio records.
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