Chapter One: Advice on Weddings
absolutely beautiful chapter image by savoed at the-dark-arts
Here’s a piece of advice for parents: Don’t let your kid have a ‘pretend marriage’, seriously, don’t. Don’t let your daughter dress up in a pretty white dress, don’t get one of her twin cousins to walk her down the aisle, don’t even think about letting her other cousin act as the vicar and don’t even consider letting the groom be her best friend. Because she will regret it. And please, for the love of god don’t take photos and whip them out whenever you get the opportunity.
Sound sour, don’t I? Scarred for life perhaps? Possibly emotionally traumatized due to parental shenanigans and overly wistful fantasies? You bet. No arguments here, especially when your mother says things like this: “Connie, come down, your husband is here!”
Just to let you know, I’m going down. You do not start an argument with my mother, not if you want to keep your toes. My mother’s cool, she doesn’t yell, she doesn’t punish, she plods on my toes.
Begrudgingly, I trudge down the stairs in the most melodramatic, mardy, poetry-writing, teenage way possible. And the awkwardness ensues.
James towers next to my mother, looking lankier than ever. It’s been so long, but I still momentarily lose my breath. He’s good-looking, disconcertingly so. He has that classic dishy crooked smile that ridiculously handsome beautiful boys have.
My mother looks at me with a bright enthusiastic smile with a sly glint in her eye that vaguely translates to say something that has to do with grandchildren. Now, comes the tricky part, the greeting. I want to punch him, run back to my room and watch Star Wars. Then, I'll try to pull my hair in to Leia buns, which won't work.
I go for a handshake. James goes for a hug. My hand flattens against his rock solid chest (it’s unnatural) and my nose slots in to the weird cranny formed between his arm and his chest. This is obviously what I have been fantasizing about since I was five, gawkily sandwiched to my ‘husbands body’. It’s spiffing.
We retreat. I thank God, not Merlin, because if there really was a deity or man with a magic stick who existed, I wouldn’t be Connie Walsh the squib, I would be Connie Walsh, the Hogwarts’s student.
So, you’re probably wondering, why the awkwardness Connie Walsh? Are you overly resentful because you are cat-loving squib who is angry with everyone because they are not magically handicapped like you?
Let’s clear up some of the misconceptions you have about squibs, they do not smell bad, nor do they all love cats. My cat, Bernard, is a bitch, who mocks me. He’s not loyal or loving. We do not all have facial hair; we are not stupid. We aren’t all ugly, our parents do not all lock us up in cellars, nor do we all suffer from abuse and writhing torment. Technically, it’s emotional anguish.
Now for the answer to question you asked me. Well, this will be a tad awkward. Forgive me, but when things get awkward my natural response is too overuse and abuse the word awkward. Awkward, right? James Potter is like that dodgy vase, sculpture, gnome-thing that your mother has in the house, which you hate. Unfortunately your mother worships it. And it’s always there, in the background watching, waiting. You want to smash it, because one time you tripped over it and it left a big fat ugly scar.
“Hey up me duck?” I ask, biting my thumb.
My mother scowls at me, I scowl back. She shuffles closer to me, as much as she loves me (though this in itself is highly questionable) , she hates my accent, especially when I lay it on thick like marmite. I love the stuff, bet you hate it. Don't you?
I translate for James, who looks bemused. I forgot that he was southern. “Sorry, I mean how are you? How’s school?”
“Oh, great, if I can keep up with my good grades, hopefully I can get into auror training,” he says smugly.
My mother swoons; I try not to gag. To be fair, I’m not fully aware of what the job of an auror entails, to me it just sounds like an overpaid glorified policeman. But I go to a ‘muggle’ sixth form college, so I’m not exactly what you would call well versed in the culture of the wizarding world.
“Anyway, what about you, you know what’s going on about me since you’ve been getting my letters, what’s going on in Connie-ville?”
I blanch. His subtle attack is noted. James 1- Connie 0.
My mother is going to pass out, in my defence, there were only two letters, one was a generic letter that he sent out to everyone and the other, well I had never bothered opening it.
“Yeah, sorry about that, haven’t got an owl.”
My mother is livid, she has an owl (which I use). I can see the cogs spinning around in her brain.
Then, she stomps on my foot succinctly and suavely, so James doesn’t notice anything but the ridiculous expression on my face as my lips twitch, twist and turn and my pupils dilate. I think of my precious toes, each with a name, Fred, Kevin, Bob, Phil and Baby Enrico and their untimely death. I purse my lips together, withholding a moan. If you ever moan or groan in the middle of someone else’s speech, they will get the wrong idea.
Bless my mother, really. She’s written this fairytale and she’s desperate to have it. She wants me to marry this boy; she wants me to ride off into the sunset with him. She’s under the belief that she understands me on some psychologically deep level that I cannot comprehend and with her magical knowledge; she just knows that James is perfect for me. The saddest thing about all this is someone has to break it to her that she’s delusional, so naturally it’s going to be my Dad.
“Connie, are you ready to go?” she asks.
The plastic smile on my face melts. I jerk as her words slap me in the face. She is serious, really serious, serious as serious can be. She’s sending me away; she’s kicking me out to spend time with people I don’t know anymore. My cousin and their friends, she wants me to reconnect with my childhood friends. She wants me to fit in; she wants me to experience magic, when I don’t have a drop of magic in my blood or a wand to my name. She thinks I’m a failure, she knows I can’t do anything about it. But she’s still sending me away, so I can change, so I’m not so muggle-ish, so I’m not so Connie-like.
It stings. It stings really badly. I snap out of my reverie, and the smile returns.
“Yeah, I’m packed. Everything’s on the settee.”
She pulls me into a hug, and I stiffen up completely. I’m not in the mood to be a loving daughter, if she can’t be a loving mother.
Her plan is that if she sends me to spend three weeks with my cousins, Lysander and Lorcan and unfortunately their arrogant, pretentious, I-can-do-magic friends, that I’ll drop the attitude and… I don’t even know.
Bags in hand, I step towards the fireplace with James in tow. I hate using floo power. It’s alien. Everything about magic is alien to me. James goes first, smiling as if he’s doing me a favour. He is, but he doesn’t need to show it off.
He speaks and then violent green flames engulf him. As soon as he’s gone, my mother says, “have fun,” in a soft voice, finally realizing that I don’t want to go.
Refusing to look at her because I know I’ll cry and I don’t want to arrive crying, I clench on to my bags harder. Before I can feel the whoosh of transit or a stray tears can escape, I’m standing in another fireplace; this one’s bigger and cleaner than my own. I haven’t been to the Potter’s house for a few years, but it’s still as big and homely as I can remember. I step out of the alcove of the fireplace, brushing myself off.
No one’s here, except for James. Great. My throat feels dry. I drop my bags, stretching out my fingers.
James looks at me for a couple of moments, before he finally speaks, “Connie, I'm sorry and I want you to know I’m not that guy anymore, I’ve changed.”
What I want to say is, how I don’t care what happened, how he doesn’t cross my mind ever and I’ve moved on, which I have. But the words can’t formulate themselves and my tongue-ties itself in knots.
I sigh and what must be after an entire eon, I say, “where is everyone?”
Really, I should acknowledge that he had the decency to apologize, but he doesn’t need to remind me what happened two years ago, so I push up my glasses with my index finger and wait for an answer.
“They’re outside,” James replies, picking up my bags and putting them to the side.
I follow him out and when I said everyone, I mean his family. James, however, literally meant the entire Wizarding World is in his back-garden having a barbeque. The sheer number of carrot tops before my eyes throws me off balance.
And by the entirety of the wizarding world I mean the Wotters, the Longbottoms, the Scamanders and me.
I’m taken by surprise as someone leaps on to me, giving me what must be the world’s tightest hug.
I feel bad immediately for being such a mardy bum and not wanting to come, I completely forgot about Molly. Molly who has been my prime accomplice since I was baby, the only person who I have kept in contact with from my childhood, the one who always floos up to see me, my actual best friend and I was too caught up in bathing in my teen angst to remember her.
“Connieee!” she squeals with excitement. “Since, when do you wear glasses?”
“Oh, they’re fake.”
I take off my big nerd glasses and pass them to her. Childishly, she puts them on, blinks a few times and passes them back.
“They’re in fashion,” I explain.
“Well, they look good, you look good, really fit, like a muggle model fit,” she says, gushing out compliments as if I had paid her to.
She doesn’t give me chance to speak, she just keeps going, yanking on my arm, pulling me into the crowd of people, “Aunty Gin, practically invited everyone here to see you, since you haven’t visited for two years since all that stuff-,“ Molly tries to correct her mistake, but I’ve already noticed. “Well they haven’t seen you for ages.”
I laugh, languishing in the August sunlight like a vampire, but Molly is relieved and she smiles.
Finally, she stops in front of Ginny Potter, who pulls me into a big hug.
“It’s so lovely to see you, Connie. You’ve grown so much,” she says.
This is a typical adult thing to comment on, what did you expect? Was I going to shrink during my formative years?
Then we go on to have the typical adult to a child that isn’t their own conversation, where she asks me about school and what I want to do with my future, to which I reply I want to be a film critic, she nods hastily, and swiftly moves on to ask me about my parents, who are fine. They're always fine.
And then she drops a bombshell on me, “so, there’s been a change of plan, you’re staying here instead of at your cousin’s. Actually,” she starts and I brace myself for more bad news.
“You, Molly, Andrew should all stay here, like when you we’re little, like the wedding. You remember the wedding don’t you?” she says, smiling a little too widely, with a glint in her eye that reminds me of my mother too much.
She leans backwards and pulls her wand from her… dragon hide boots? I’m not really sure. I feel uneasy as she swishes her wand and a book materializes out of thin air into her hands.
I have an awful feeling that I already know what it is. I search around to find Molly, but she’s already disappeared, sheltering herself from embarrassment.
“James,” she hollers across the garden, “come see these gorgeous photos, you and Connie made such an adorable couple.”
I'm the last person who should be starting a new story, but this plot bunny attacked me months ago and tried strangling me last week, so it just had to be written.
I don't own Harry Potter, nor do I own Star Wars and any other nerdy references that I will make in future chapters and have made in this chapter. This story is inspired by the works of Stephanie Perkins
(author of Anna and the french kiss/ Lola and the boy next door) , who is a YA Chick-lit contemporary goddess, who y'all should read, so any references such as parents sending children away, desire to be a film critic is all inspired by her. Also, I'm trying to be extra British-y/English in this story, so I hope some of the slang doesn't throw some people off. :)
For those of you who didn't get some of the slang: hey up me duck is away to say how you doing in a very specific regional accent, here in England. :)
and of course, I would love to hear your opinions on Connie, James, their situation, the writing. . Review! ♥