Chapter 1 : Slip Away
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He ran away from home about two weeks into my summer holidays. When I say ran away, he left really, he's perfectly legal. But he ran from mum and dad. From all the pressure and responsibilities, they put on him, and all of us, he just wanted out. Like me. The problem was, he was meant to send me letters so I'd know he was safe, but he hadn’t sent any yet. It had been months. I was beyond worried, I was out of my mind.
Mum and dad were worried too, I could tell. They didn’t know I knew, or was supposed to know, where he was. But they were worried. And they didn’t show it like normal people would. They called him a coward, a layabout, lazy and ungrateful. But when mum thought no one was watching, she'd stare out the window with a deep furrow in her brow. And dad paced in his study. And me? Well I focused on my homework and tried to think of pranks to play on Albus Potter. It took me three weeks of Luke being gone to realise I didn’t actually care about Albus Potter and the stupid prank war we had going. So that’s when I decided to call it quits. I put my prank book on my bookshelf and left it to be covered in dust.
I spent my holidays being the best daughter I could be, doing everything my parents asked and trying excruciatingly hard not to fight with them. And it was incredibly hard. I let my mother buy me dresses, and I actually wore them. I got a job in Diagon Alley at a small second-hand bookshop and I stopped playing Quidditch so I wouldn’t have anything to fight with my parents over. I went to every party they wanted me at and I spoke animatedly to all their social friends and their children.
But it was lonely. My best friends, Matt and Mickey, were abroad with their families. Luke had run away; my eldest brother Ben was working all the time and had moved out a few years ago. And Leon my ex-Quidditch captain/ex-boyfriend was training twenty-four-seven.
It was so lonely. So, I went running and I worked, I read and I went to dinner parties with my parents. I held intelligent conversation and I cooked, I cleaned and I waited. Waited for news from my brother, or for school to start, or for a letter from my friends. Until, finally, it was the end of August. August thirtieth and my parents were invited to a dinner party at the Potter's house. Which, of course, meant that I had to attend.
Thankfully James was there. He was Luke's best friend and two years older than me. He pulled me into a hug as soon as we arrived.
He must have seen the worried expression on my face. Or maybe he just noticed how thin I’d gotten because when he hugged me he whispered “so you haven’t heard from him either then?”
“No,” I whimpered in return.
“Don’t worry too much,” he replied, giving me an extra squeeze. I laughed and greeted Mr and Mrs Potter with a kiss on the cheek.
James dragged me into the living room.
“What are you doing here?” Albus Potter scowled as I walked through the living room door.
“I'm dating James now,” I replied, grabbing James' hand, “just so I can bug you for the rest of your life.”
“Ha ha,” he replied, deadpan, “wait my life?”
“I figure you'll die first,” I shrugged.
“Sounds about right,” James grinned, flopping down on to the couch. Rose Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy were sitting with Albus on the floor. Lily Potter and her cousin Hugo were playing chess by the window.
“Where's your brother?” Albus asked.
“Abroad,” I sucked my teeth, “or at work. Depending on which one you are referring to. What have you been up to?” I asked James, shoving his feet off the couch and sitting right at the end.
“The usual,” he grinned, putting his legs onto my lap, “Quidditch.”
“Yeah,” I grinned back, “how's it been?”
“Pretty much like practice back at Hogwarts,” he laughed, “but like, all the time.”
“Wow,” I put my head back on the couch, “sounds wonderful.”
Albus snorted. I rolled my eyes and looked at James who shrugged.
“You're so old now Jamesie,” I cooed, reaching out and ruffling his hair, “like thirty.” I stuck my tongue out.
“Oi,” he jabbed my side, “I'm not even twenty,” he laughed, “you'll be coming to my birthday party in December, yeah?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I grinned.
“Dinner,” Mrs Potter called, poking her head around the door, “and Teddy will be here with Ben in an hour or so.”
“He's going to be teaching this year,” James told me, rolling off the couch, “Defence class.”
“Cool,” I grinned, I'd always liked Teddy, “how was the wedding?”
“They put it off, again,” James rolled his eyes, linking arms with me, “I think they said Easter.”
Teddy Lupin and Victoire Weasley had been engaged for three or four years now and it seemed like all they did was plan and re-plan their wedding. It was like they wanted to be engaged for as long as possible.
“Here,” James pulled out my chair for me, slipping into the one next to me.
“Thanks,” I smiled at him. He was always like this, James was the kindest person I'd ever met. He was hilariously funny as well, and never took anything too seriously.
“You look really nice tonight by the way,” he put his napkin over his lap, “even if you do look a bit thin. When was the last time you had a decent meal?”
“Just because I don’t eat like a Hippogriff,” I rolled my eyes.
“You used to,” he laughed.
“Shut up,” I shoved him. Albus was glaring at me from across the table. I blushed and looked down.
“Just ignore my brother,” James said obnoxiously loudly, “he doesn’t have a fun bone in his body.”
Everyone piled food high onto their plates and tucked in. I started picking, but I wasn’t actually very hungry.
“I am fun,” Albus pouted at his plate.
“Well I’ve never seen it,” James stuck his tongue out.
“You might hurt his feelings,” I stage-whispered to James, “you'd best stop.”
“Shut up,” Albus snapped. James and I giggled.
After dinner, James took me up to the spot on the roof we'd always sit.
“You need to eat,” he told me seriously, “it's not helping him. He's not here to notice.” I did eat, just not tonight. I felt uncomfortable with Albus staring, or glaring, at me from across the table.
“I'm just worried,” I sighed, looking up at the stars. I lay back and James lay next to me.
“He should be in Costa Rica by now,” I turned to face him. He was studying my face.
“I’m sure he's fine,” he said, “he can look after himself. Most of the time.”
“But he should’ve checked in,” I said quietly, “he promised.”
“He's probably partying it up,” James shrugged, “you know what he's like. He doesn’t mean to not
write to you, he just.... forgets.”
“But what if something has happened to him?” I asked, “mum and dad are worried too.”
“My mum is worried,” James laughed.
“You'll tell me if he contacts you,” I held my pinkie out to James.
“Promise,” he shook my pinkie with his own and we lapsed into a comfortable silence.
“Got a girlfriend yet?” I asked after a moment.
“Have you?” he raised his eyebrows. I whacked him in the chest, “suppose that's for the best,” he nodded, “considering how much you love my brother.” He grinned evilly at me as he rolled over slightly out of my reach.
“I don’t,” I rolled my eyes.
“Sure sure,” he raised his eyebrows, “I mean you wouldn’t spend so much time on him if you didn’t, but if that is what you choose to believe then good on you.”
I didn’t like Albus, but James loved to tease me about it every chance he got.
“Should we go inside?” I asked, after a few more moments.
“Probably,” he shrugged, “or we could just stay here forever.”
“Stay here till Luke gets back,” I replied quietly.
“He'll be fine,” James said after a moment, although he didn’t even sound like he believed it. He reached out and grabbed my hand, squeezing it lightly. We stayed like that for a little while longer before we sat up and climbed back into James' bedroom.
“Where have you two been?” Albus' voice came from the door, “and what were you doing? It took a while.”
“Sex,” I replied, not missing a beat before turning to James and planting a small kiss on his cheek, “thanks.”
“Gross,” Albus made a face.
“Just because you've never done it,” I replied, pushing past him into the hallway beyond. I could hear James laughing as I continued back down the stairs to where my parents were sitting. Nothing could describe the pleasure I got from annoying Albus Potter, but his red face at my comment was an entirely fulfilling satisfaction. It almost made me forget about Luke. Almost.
AN/// Hey peeps. Jeez its been a while. Hope you liked the start of this new one :) love youse xxxx
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