You are viewing a story from harrypotterfanfiction.com


(in)famous by PINKhairedLOVER

Format: Novel
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 22,121
Status: Abandoned

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Humor, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ginny, Oliver, James (II), OC
Pairings: James/OC

First Published: 03/13/2009
Last Chapter: 08/08/2009
Last Updated: 08/08/2009

Summary:
Photobucket


Sorry folks but I had to abandon it... 4 years of denial was long enough. :(
Sequel to "Famous by Association"

Add one part meddling grandmother, with two stressed best friends, divide by unemployment, and times by one dysfunctional boyfriend and his superstar stalker... and you get the life of Alex Wood.


Chapter 1: New Year, Same James
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Alex is back! **silent cheer** Not much to say now... so I will leave you to your reading. Please R&R :)

Photobucket

Chapter One:
New Year, Same James


The clock was ticking down slowly towards midnight; excited chattering filled the room and happy couples stood around in anticipation.

10… James squeezed my hand, and I looked up to see his face. I realized how lucky I was to still have him. He looked dashing in his black suit and tie, even with the devilish look on his face.

9… Ace stumbled into the room, completely plastered, the drink in his hand sloshing onto the carpet. Naomi still hadn’t shown up, and though the rest of the party had given up on her, Ace hadn’t been able to handle it.

8… My parents stared moodily at one another. Something is going on between them, and I had not the slightest idea as to what it was. I could practically hear my mother grinding her teeth from here and my dad looked uncomfortable.

7… Halie and Charlie hadn’t been able to wait for zero—they were already kissing on the sofa. Some of the older guests were giving them looks of disgust while others snickered softly.

6… My grandparents exchanged meaningful glances in James’s direction; something I would ignore for tonight because I didn’t even want to know what it meant.

5… I shifted uncomfortably in the dress my grandmother had forced me into. My feet were tired and sore from the heels that I had been wearing for hours.

4… Mona Sharp stared moodily at me from across the room. I had noticed her frequent glances toward James the entire evening. It had taken every ounce of my being not to scratch her eyes out for even looking at him.

3… Crap! I haven’t made any resolutions. (1) Go a week without being in the tabloids, (2) Get an actual job, (3) Get along with my parents, (4) Stop worrying… yeah, I think that’s it.

2… The feeling of change overwhelmed me. Something was changing, and though, I had not the slightest idea what—I was concerned.

1… James grabbed me roughly by the waist and spun me around to face him.

0… He kissed me, and if I hadn’t known that I was 23, I would have sworn it was the first time.

And then, my life went back to how it’s always been…

He went to stand her upright, but she tripped over his shoe. As Alex began to fall, he managed to catch her waist, but the sudden action had caused her rather tight dress to shift. So with the sound of a popping seam, the back of her dressed ripped free, exposing her rather granny-like knickers to the rest of the ogling crowd. Then, Alex’s heel wobbled and sent her reeling into a punch bowl, which drenched her in eggnog.

I could hear the crowd beginning to gather, and I could see the flash of a few stray cameras. Then, the muttering began and I was fifteen again and flashing the press on the red carpet.

New Year’s resolution number five: Go a year without flashing the press.

As James lifted me unceremoniously from the punch bowl, he made sure to block my backside from the rest of the room. It was only thirty seconds after midnight, and I realized that my life was exactly the same as it had been since I was born. Change might be in the air, but some things (like my lack of grace) would always remain intact. Happy f*ing New Year’s to me!
====================8 HOURS EARLIER====================


Alex’s mother had always had great taste; the lobby of “Witch Weekly” was lavishly decorated. The place was pretty much deserted, considering it was New Year’s Eve. Halie had put some work off until last minute, so Alex had promised to pick her up when she was done.

Sighing, she strode over to the lift and took it to the floor on which Halie was supposed to be working. Only one cubicle was lit among the two dozen or so that littered the office. A phone rang and she jumped at the sound. Soon, Halie’s voice drifted to meet her, “WHAT?! What are you talking about…No, we will not run that story! Witch Weekly does not publish such unproven dribble!”

Alex had made it to the cubicle in time to see Halie slam the phone down, “You certainly told whoever that was.”

Halie jumped about a foot in the air and looked around with wide eyes full of guilt. Her stomach sank as she asked, “Halie is everything okay?”

“Yes,” but she had answered a little too quickly. “What are you doing here anyway? I thought we were meeting in the lobby.”

“We were…about twenty minutes ago…”

Halie looked down at her watch, “Merlin, sorry! You know the news never sleeps.”

Halie had been writing the gossip section for a few months now; but you would have thought she was writing speeches for the bloody Minister of Magic by how seriously she took her job.
Something still wasn’t right; she could feel it.

“Come on, let’s GO!” With that, Halie had grabbed her coat and headed for the lift.

Alex stood frozen for a moment in response to her friend’s odd behavior, but quickly followed suit. When the lift reached the bottom floor, it was deserted, as it had been before. “Umm…Alex, have you been outside in a while?”

Alex paused before opening the door to the office building, “I haven’t been outside since I came to get you, why?”

Murmuring voices rose from the other side of the door, and Alex turned and looked at her. “Halie?” Alex accused.

“You know, why don’t we floo to the bar. I really don’t want to walk.”

“Halie, the bar is a block away…What’s going on?”

“I, ummm, well, you see…I got a call and…” She pushed the door open and cameras began to flash like mad.

Alex sighed, “What did he do now?”

“Well, you know Mona Sharp?”

“You mean that ridiculous blonde witch on that wizard tele drama all the kids watch?”

“Yes, that one…”

“The one who looks like a ten-year-old prostitute?” She asked.

“Yep, that’s her,” Halie sighed.

The cameras continued to flash and Alex smiled, “What about her?”

“Well, they were seen kissing somewhere; the press had been following her. Now, the press is following you in order see what your reaction will be…the typical rubbish…”

Halie had said all this very quickly, which led Alex to believe that the situation was far worse than it seemed or her friend had had too much coffee. Sighing, Alex pushed into the crowd and continued down the street. Something like this happened about once a month and almost every time, the tip had been wrong and the chaos was for nothing.

Halie was following close behind her, “Alex, there are pictures.”

They both stopped, “Have you seen them?”

Halie reached into the pocket of her pants and pulled out a folded photograph. Alex took it and unfolded the paper. The picture was moving, and James was indeed kissing Mona Sharp. Rubbish, it was complete and utter rubbish.

“This is the cause for all the drama?” She sighed and threw the paper on the ground, “complete rubbish.”

“You’re not upset?” Halie asked as they reached the bar.

“There is a logical explanation for all of this,” Alex smiled and walked in.

The bar, which had been bustling moments before, went completely silent as Alex and Halie walked inside. The door swung shut, and they walked to the corner where their group was seated.

“Hey, Alex, have you seen Naomi today?” Ace asked from the far corner.

“She said she would be here tonight. Why…Is she not here yet?”

“She’s not picking up her phone either,” Ace muttered.

“I’m sure she’s just running late,” Alex smiled and turned to James, who looked nervous.

Giving him a quick peck on the cheek, she asked, “Can I pull you away for a moment?”

James followed after her guiltily into the secluded hallway that led to the loos. “Alex, I swear-” But that was all he could get out as she kissed him fiercely.

Normally, James would pray for her to react like this, but now that it was actually happening, it just seemed odd. After a few moments, the kissing slowed, and she finally pulled away, only to pull him into a tight embrace, “Please tell me tonight is almost over…”

“Alex, it’s only four in the afternoon; we still have to go to your grandparents’ party…”

She groaned, and chuckling, he kissed the top of her head, “and here I thought you would be mad at me…”

“I know there’s a logical explanation as to why it happened. Would you like to tell me?” She pulled away and looked up at him.

“Well, I had stopped in the “Witch’s Brew” to get coffee after work, and she was there. We talked for a minute, but I hadn’t realized the hag had intentionally stood underneath some mistletoe. The press was there, and I really didn’t want to kiss her, but I couldn’t just blow her off. Anyway, I went to kiss her cheek, and the psycho practically attacked me. I’m fairly positive I can file assault charges…” He said this all so fast that Alex had to suppress a giggle.

“I swear, if I see that witch, I’ll tear her eyes out…” She smiled.

“You’re cute when you’re jealous,” said James as Alex pouted. “You’re not mad?”

“Sure, I’m mad…just not at you,” she smiled as she reached up to kiss him again. It had been seven years since she had gone to Hogwarts, but he still made her toes curl when they kissed.

James broke the kiss off and chuckled when Alex sighed in frustration, “We should get back before they start to think you killed me.”

Groaning, Alex was pulled back into the bar.

“Oi, James, I was just about to check to see if you were still alive,” Charlie chuckled from his seat in the booth.

“I’m fine, and I so happen to be very lucky to have such a patient girlfriend.”

Alex snorted and took her seat. “Next time, you won’t be so lucky.” But the statement was ruined by her slight grin.

The conversation was light and friendly; Ace didn’t participate much as he kept obsessively checking his cell phone, “Hey, somebody call my phone…”

“Your phone isn’t broken, Ace,” Alex sighed. “She’s just running late…Don’t worry about it.”

James continued on about tales of his latest quidditch ventures. It was true that after Hogwarts Alex had hoped her fame would start to wane, but then, James was asked to join Puddlemere United. After that, growing out of being famous wasn’t quite an option when you had a superstar boyfriend.

A choking noise brought Alex out of her contemplation. James looked like he had been punched in the stomach as he spit a mouthful of firewhiskey across the table.

“James, what is it?” She asked as she turned in the direction he had been gapping in.

Standing in the doorway was none other than Mona Sharp.

“Bloody hell, she must have overheard me talking about my plans tonight. The psycho’s gone and stalked me!”

Alex was frowning.

“Ohhh! Jamesie, is that YOU?!” Mona exclaimed as she tottered over to the corner booth in her over priced shoes. “Can you imagine this…Twice in the same day!”

“Ha, ha, so unexpected,” Alex muttered as she glared.

Mona turned in Alex’s direction, “Oh, ALEXANDRA! I didn’t even see you there. You simply must forgive me; I’m afraid I got a little carried away when I kissed Jamesie earlier…I do hope you aren’t too mad at him.”

“I’m not mad at HIM in the least,” Alex said sweetly. Everyone except Mona understood the double meaning.

“Well, I’m off. I have SO many parties to attend to…”

“Oh, so soon?” Alex pouted.

“Well, maybe I should use the little girls’ room first,” she giggled and Alex pointed her in the right direction. Before Mona walked away she said, “We’ll see each other again…Don’t worry.”

Then, she was gone, and Alex heaved a sigh, “I certainly hope so.”

A few seconds passed then, Alex stood. Looking up, James asked, “Where are you going?”

“The loo…Can you order me another drink while I’m gone?” Smiling, she jogged in the direction of the bathroom. She made it just in time to see Mona coming out of the stall.

“Oh, ALEXANDRA, long time, no see…” God, her voice was annoying.

Alex scowled, and Mona faltered, “Well, I can see this isn’t a social call. I told you, Alexandra; I just got carried-”

“If,” Alex stepped closer, “you ever stick your tongue down my boyfriend’s throat again, I will curse you into the tiny pieces you deserve to be.”

Smirking, Alex turned and left the bathroom. When she returned to the table, everyone looked at her suspiciously. “What?” She asked defensively.

“Was that necessary, Alex?” James arched a brow.
“If she comes anywhere near you again, I will feed her through a wood chipper.”

The table broke into laughter as Alex downed her drink in one sip. Looking down at her watch, she sighed, “Bugger, we’ve got to leave.”

~


The Callista mansion loomed into sight as Alex, Halie, and James walked up its front drive. James let out a low whistle, “Blimey, Alex, I knew your grandparents were loaded, but this place is even bigger than my parents’.”

“It just goes to show you all the money in the world doesn’t buy you a personality,” Alex was already frowning.

“Come on, Alex, your grandmother is a really nice lady,” Halie admonished.

“Yeah, nice…like a starved Basilisk at dinner time…” She said as she raised her hand and knocked on the front door.

The door opened to a maid with a pained look on her face. Then, a voice loomed from behind the door, “Margret, who’s at the door?”

“Cue screaming and running now,” Alex muttered, “It’s me, Grandma, we’re here to get ready for the party.”

The door flew wide. “Is that my Alexandra? You look so grown up. Oh, and this young man must be James…I have heard so much about you.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you,” James said, taking her hand.

“Alexandra! Where is your brother?” Grandma Callista snapped.

“Not my day to watch him, Grandma,” Alex sighed and walked past.

“You always did have a rotten attitude,” She huffed. “Well, anyway, Halie’s and your dresses are up in your old room. James, your tux is across the hall.”

Alex led the way up the stairs, and James caught up behind her, “Why do you have a room in this place?”

“Yeah, I ran away from home a few months out of Hogwarts…My mother was driving me mad,” Alex sighed.

“Why don’t I remember that?” James asked, looking confused.

“We were in a rough patch…” Alex waved the question away.

Halie snorted, “Which one?”

“The Shelly Peterson/Sharon Waters debacle.”

“Weren’t those the Quidditch fanatics?” Halie asked lightly.

“No, they were the reporters for the Prophet,” James said shortly, “Can we not talk about this now?”

Alex stood up on her toes and kissed James softly, “You’re going to change in there,” she pointed at the door directly behind her, “Knock if you need help with your tie.”

Alex sighed and turned towards her door, “Come on, let’s see what we’ve gotten ourselves into.”

Halie pulled away the covering on her dress and smiled, “Your grandmother has great taste.”

The dress was a deep shade of green, almost black, floor length and backless. Alex pulled away the plastic from her own, “Oh my god, what was she thinking…?”

“Alex, what’s wrong- Oh…” Halie stammered to a stop, “Maybe she just got the wrong size. Check the tag…”

“The tag, Halie? This thing wouldn’t fit a toothpick, let alone me!”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad…Just try it on…”

It was that bad…

“Moooommm!” Alex whined.

“Alexandra, you are whining like a four-year-old,” Mrs. Wood frowned. “What precisely would you like me to do?”

“So, you don’t have a dress hidden up your sleeve?” She asked miserably.

“Nope,” Alexandra’s mom smiled and walked away.

Alex sighed and leaned against the hallway muttering to herself, “Can this get any worse?”

A wolf whistle rose from somewhere nearby, “Don’t even start, James.”

“What?” He swaggered closer and smirked, “I so happen to think that you look incredibly sexy…”

“I so happen to feel incredibly ridiculous,” Alex closed her eyes.

“Well, sexy trumps ridiculous,” He smirked and Alex frowned. “You’re not convinced?”

James forced Alex flat against the wall, placing hands on either side of her head. He leaned so that his lips were only inches from her own and whispered, “You don’t look ridiculous. You look great…”

He kissed her slowly and felt her heart rate quicken beneath her chest. Alex frowned and said, “You’re biased.”

James smirked, “So, what does that matter?”

He deepened the kiss, and Alex let her hesitation slide away, “You are too good at this.”

A small cough arose from the other end of the hallway. “Really Alexandra, is that how a young lady behaves?”

Looking guilty, James and Alex turned to find Mr. and Mrs. Callista walking toward them. Mr. Callista was staring out the narrowed slits of his eyes. Mrs. Callista with her hands on her hips said, “Or perhaps this is just the influence of Mr. Potter, our resident Quidditch star.”

“Well, we’ve been dating for seven years,” James smirked, “it was bound to happen sooner or later.”

The brows of both Mr. and Mrs. Callista disappeared into their hairlines, and Alex elbowed James in the gut. As they turned and walked away, Alex whispered, “The grandparents don’t really get sarcasm.”

That’s when Ace chose to stumble down the stairs, drunk with half of his Tux on backwards. And from there, the night just seemed to get worse…

First, she walked into an argument between her parents in a spare bedroom she had hoped to escape to. Then, Mona Sharp made her grand entrance, something that had Alex nervous and on her toes. James had capped the evening with several of his favorite jokes, of which only he found funny.

~


The clock was ticking down slowly towards midnight; excited chattering filled the room and happy couples stood around in anticipation.

10… James squeezed her hand, and Alex looked up to see his face. Alex realized how lucky she was to still have him. He looked dashing in his black suit and tie, even with the devilish look on his face.

9… Ace stumbled into the room, completely plastered, the drink in his hand sloshing onto the carpet. Naomi still hadn’t shown up, and though the rest of the party had given up on her, Ace hadn’t been able to handle it.

8… Alex’s parents stared moodily at one another. Something is going on between them and she didn’t have the slightest idea as to what it was. She could practically hear her mother grinding her teeth from here and her dad looked uncomfortable.

7… Halie and Charlie hadn’t been able to wait for zero and they were already kissing on the sofa. Some of the older guests were giving them looks of disgust while others snickered softly.

6… Alex’s grandparents exchanged meaningful glances in James’s direction; something she would ignore for tonight because she didn’t even want to know what it meant.

5… Alex shifted uncomfortably in the dress her grandmother had forced her into. Alex’s feet were tired and sore from the heels that she had been wearing for hours.

4… Mona Sharp stared moodily at her from across the room. Alex had noticed her frequent glances toward James the entire evening. It had taken every ounce of her being not to scratch her eyes out for even looking at him.

3… Crap! She hadn’t made any resolutions. (1) Go a week without being in the tabloids, (2) Get an actual job, (3) Get along with her parents, (4) Stop worrying…yeah, that sounded about right.

2… The feeling of change overwhelmed her. Something was changing, and though, she had not the slightest idea what…She was concerned.

1… James grabbed Alex roughly by the waist and spun her around to face him.

0… He kissed her, and if she hadn’t known that she was 23, Alex would have sworn it was the first time.


And then her life went back to how it’s always been…

He went to stand her upright, but she tripped over his shoe. As Alex began to fall, he managed to catch her waist, but the sudden action had caused her rather tight dress to shift. So with the sound of a popping seam, the back of her dressed ripped free, exposing her rather granny-like knickers to the rest of the ogling crowd. Then, Alex’s heel wobbled and sent her reeling into a punch bowl, which drenched her in eggnog.

She could hear the crowd beginning to gather, and she could see the flash of a few stray cameras. Then, the muttering began and she was fifteen again and flashing the press on the red carpet.

New Year’s resolution number five: Go a year without flashing the press.

As James lifted her unceremoniously from the punch bowl, he made sure to block her backside from the rest of the room. It was only thirty seconds after midnight, and she realized that her life was exactly the same as it had been since she was born. Change might be in the air, but some things (like her lack of grace) would always remain intact. Happy f*ing New Year’s to her!

~


James and Alex had climbed their third flight of stairs when James tripped. He and Alex laughed hysterically as they continued to climb. “You should really find a flat with an elevator,” James whined.

“Well, when I have the salary of a Quidditch star, I’ll do just that,” Alex smirked.

Old Mrs. McGovery appeared at the top of the stairs, looking as old and as grumpy as ever. She gave James one dubious look before disappearing into her own apartment.

“Never thought she liked me much,” He laughed.

James was bare-chested beneath his tux jacket, and his trousers were dragging under his heels because he had sacrificed his belt. Alex was wearing his extra large dress shirt and was using his belt to cinch it at the waist. James smiled, pointing at Alex’s ear, “I think you have eggnog in your ear.”

He laughed as they climbed the last step toward Alex’s flat. He pushed her clumsily against the wall and began to kiss her. The breath caught in her chest as he trailed kisses slowly down her neck to her collarbone, “J-James…James, we aren’t in my flat yet.”

James flashed a devilish grin and slid his hand up the length of Alex’s thigh, “We can give old Mrs. McGovery something to remember.”

Alex held fast to either side of James’s face and kissed him firmly. She could feel the smile on his lips, “What makes you think you’ll get so lucky?”

James kissed her again, allowing his hands to travel down her ribcage to her hips. They walked slowly back toward her door, “Oh, I don’t think I’ll have a problem with luck-”

Then, amidst the passion, a quivering voice loomed from the darkness “A-Al-Alex?”

Startled, Alex spun on the spot to find Naomi sitting on the floor, her eyes bloodshot from crying. The look on James’s face was priceless; he never did handle emotion well. He staggered backwards a few steps, “Umm…I’ll leave you ladies to do your, umm…thing.”

Alex slid down the wall and sat a few feet away from Naomi. Leaning forward, she spoke, “Naomi, what’s wrong?”

“I-I umm…” she shook slightly, “Well, it’s not something that did happen…It’s something that didn’t happen…” Naomi stared down at her hands.

“Naomi, what didn’t happen?”

“My period is over a week late,” she finally looked up to meet Alex’s eyes, “Alex, I think I’m pregnant.”

A/N: Sooo….? Was it all you hoped for and more? I certainly hope that no one is disappointed. Okay, so we have some old characters and a smattering of new and interesting ones. All I can say is that we’re up for another adventure.


Chapter 2: Singing the Baby Blues
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: Yeah, chapter two! Sorry for the wait, but school is a witch right now… and anyway. There is a lot of back and forth in this chapter; some from Alex’s POV and then some from James’s POV. It shouldn’t be too hard to keep track of… but if you have questions, just ask. In case you were wondering, this chapter pretty much sets up the rest of the story… no pressure or anything. Okay, hope you enjoy; please R&R.

Chapter two:
Singing the Baby Blues

Photobucket




Alex sat with her back against the bathroom door as she rapped her head backwards, the thud resonating throughout the tiny flat. Alex sighed, “Naomi, the tests said five minutes. It’s been over an hour.”

The door opened and Alex fell backwards onto the floor. Her eyes flickered up to look at the upside down face of Naomi; her mouth was pushed into a tight frown, her usual clean blonde hair now stuck out in odd directions. Four pregnancy tests lay on the sink counter, they all stared back with glaring blue plus signs.

“I-it could be a false positive, Lex. The back of the package says that sometimes that happens…” Naomi stammered.

“All four?” Alex asked doubtfully.

Naomi swept her hand over the counter, scattering the tests all over the floor. Alex stooped to pick one of them up, “I don’t think that will make them change their answers.”

Naomi slid to the floor, and placing her head in her hands, she whispered, “I can’t be pregnant…”

Alex gripped her beneath her elbow and hoisted her upright, “Come on, we’re going to St. Mungo’s.”

“What . . . Why are we going there?”

“Because the package says that sometimes it can be a false positive,” Alex smiled.

~


James knocked on the door to Alex’s flat, “Alex, I’m really hoping that you’re home because we were very rudely interrupted last night,” He knocked again. “Alex… Open up or Mona will come kidnap me…”

Old Mrs. McGovery turned the corner and gave James a nasty look. He turned back to the door and whispered, “Alex, old Mrs. McGovery looks like she’s going to kill me…”

After the third knock, he decided that it wasn’t that Alex was ignoring him… she simply wasn’t home. So, he stood on his tiptoes and felt around the top edge of the doorframe. At the very end, his fingers closed around a small, thin key. He slid it into the lock and decided to wait until Alex got back.

About two steps into the room, his stomach gave a nasty growl so, he headed toward the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he looked at the top self; a plate covered in tin foil had his name written on it in black ink. James sighed and opened it up; inside was a rather large helping of Shepherd’s Pie. He threw it in the microwave; then, went to the sofa and flicked on the TV. Mona Sharp’s face filled the screen as the microwave beeped in the kitchen.

Groaning, he stood from the sofa and went to grab the plate from the microwave. As he went to sit back down on the sofa, half the plate spilled into his lap, “In the name of Merlin!”

He jumped off the sofa and walked to the bathroom. Taking off his shirt, he ran it under the water. Using some toilet paper, he wiped down the front of his pants and, looking down; he tossed it into the trash can. He was about to walk back to the TV when he froze.

Slowly, he turned in terror back to the trash can. It was mostly empty except for a few plastic devices in the bottom.

Swallowing hard, he reached down into the can and pulled out one of the pregnancy tests. As he looked upon the small blue plus sign, the breath caught in his chest. He dove to the floor and pulled out the other three tests, all confirming the first. Then, the horror slide into his stomach like cement . . . Alex was pregnant…

Forgetting to put his shirt back on, James bolted from the apartment, completely forgetting to lock it.

~


Alex practically needed to drag Naomi to the front desk in the OB office. The young girl behind the desk beamed radiantly and sang, “Good afternoon, how can I help you?”

Naomi scowled at the girl as Alex spoke, “Hi, we need an appointment for Na-”

Naomi spoke over her, “Natasha, Natasha Black.”

Alex turned and gave Naomi a look that plainly said, “Really?!”

Shrugging, Naomi grabbed the clipboard from the poor receptionist’s hands. Alex shot her a look of apology as they returned to the waiting area. “Naomi, what the hell was that?” Alex whispered.

“Have you met my family?” Naomi nearly screeched, “My mom will never, and I mean never, forgive me. You know the things my dad did during the war… What do you think he’ll do to Ace when he finds out?”

“So, your solution is to use a fake name?” Alex sighed, “It’ll be kind of hard to use that excuse three or four months from now.”

Naomi stared blankly forward, “I thought we were working under the assumption that the tests were a false positive.”

Alex turned in her own seat and stared blankly ahead, “Oh yeah… I forgot.”

~


James threw open the door to the flat that he shared with Charlie and Ace. Charlie was at the kitchen table shifting through the paperwork he had brought from work. Ace was passed out on the couch; an ice pack on his forehead, moaning slightly. With a dazed expression, James threw himself on the couch and stared up at the ceiling.

Charlie spoke without looking up, “Hey, I thought you went to have a quicky with Alex…”

“That’s my sister,” Ace mumbled pathetically.

“She wasn’t home,” James voiced flatly.

Noticing the tone of James’s voice, both Charlie and Ace looked up. Ace spoke, “Dude, where’s your shirt?”

“I-I don’t think I should tell you,” James gave Ace a worried look.

“James?” Ace grumbled, “I’m not in the mood to weasel it out of you.”

James swallowed and closed his eyes, “I don’t know what happened …we were being so careful…”

Ace and Charlie both sat up at precisely the same moment. Charlie paled, “James, please don’t tell me what I think you’re telling me!”

“I-I found a positive pregnancy test in the flat,” James mumbled.

It was like someone had turned the volume up on the silence. Ace was slowly becoming the color of a tomato as he rose from the couch, “You got my baby sister pregnant?!”

James stood up from his seat, “Ace, I-I mean I don’t k-know.”

“Run,” Ace whispered.

“What, Ace? Don’t . . . Don’t,” James backed toward the door as Ace growled beneath his breath. Shooting one last worried glance back at Charlie, he bolted from the room; Ace, still in his boxers, hot on his tail.

~


Naomi was sitting in a paper gown with her feet dangling over the edge; she was tapping her fingers impatiently against the examination table.

“Naomi,” Alex whispered exasperatedly.

“What, Alex!” Naomi burst out.

Wide-eyed, Alex looked away and muttered, “Never mind?”

After a few seconds, the door to the examination room opened, and a doctor walked in while flipping through a chart. He looked up and took the last seat in the room. Sighing, he spoke, “Well, Miss Black, the tests have all come back positive. You are indeed pregnant. In a minute, one of our OB nurses will come in and give you the prescriptions for your prenatal vitamins. Then, they will help you schedule your next appointment… If that’s what you choose to do.”

“What do you mean, ‘If that’s what I choose to do’?” Naomi spat.

The doctor looked up nervously, “What I am trying to say, Miss Black, is that you are very young and many women in your position choose not to have the child.”

A fire glowed behind Naomi’s eyes, “So, you’re saying just because my boyfriend is too stupid to put a condom on right I should kill my baby?!”

Alex bit back a laugh as the doctor stood nervously, “No- no, that’s not what I’m saying at all… Do you want me to get the nurse?”

“YES!” Naomi practically screamed.

The doctor turned and practically ran from the room. Alex stood and walked over to Naomi, who was rapidly turning into a puddle of tears, and gave her a hug saying, “Do want to kill Ace or do you want me to?”

Naomi sniffled, “He is so mine.”

~


The chase had ended in the Leaky Cauldron. James panting for breath and Ace clutching a stitch in his side; they moved towards the bar. They got funny looks from the other customers—mostly because James was still shirtless and Ace was just in his boxers. The bartender smirked as they sat down and asked, “What can I get for you?”

“Firewhiskey,” James mumbled through his hands that were covering his face.

“Dude, I can’t believe I just chased you… What was that? Eight blocks?” Ace laughed darkly.

“Yeah, I thought I lost you with that detour through Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes,” James nodded, knocking back his first shot.

Three chairs down from James a young woman peeked over the top of her menu. Her bleach blonde hair was curled tightly to her head and jeweled glasses framed her small dull eyes. Her name, Bridget Skeeter, was not feared among the masses for the sharpness of both her pen and tongue, but for her ability to make a photocopy. With aspirations to be like her dearest mother, she had begun work at the Daily Prophet; but as of late, progress to stardom had slowed substantially.

She had, of course, spotted the notorious James Potter the second he had walked into the room with none other than Ace Wood. They had appeared to be fighting before they sat down; but now, they just looked determined to drink. She listened raptly as James spoke softly, “I mean I- we were being so careful. I can’t imagine how this happened…”

“Yeah, well, just wait ‘til my mother finds out—your parents will be picking up the tiny pieces that are left of you.”

“I mean, I love Alex; and there was never a doubt that she was the one, you know… but this, I don’t know how we’ll handle this.”

Ace shook his head slowly, “I have no idea what I would do if Naomi got pregnant—I’m nowhere near ready to be a father. And you know how bad she is when it’s her time of the month; could you imagine her with pregnancy hormones raging through her system?”

James and Ace shivered in unison. James mumbled, “Either way, I am so dead…If not by my own mother, then yours.”

“Cheers,” Ace raised his glass in sarcasm, and the boys both took another shot.

~


Alex stopped dead in front of the door to her flat. Naomi looked up, “What is it, Lex?”

“The door to my flat is open,” She walked into the flat and stopped by the couch, “and there’s Shepherd’s Pie all over my couch.”

“Merlin, did someone break in?” Naomi gawked.

Alex bent and picked up the discarded plate, “Why would anyone want to break into my piece of crap flat? And how did they get past old Mrs. McGovery?”

Naomi threw herself onto the clean part of the couch, “Yeah, that old bat scares the crap out of me.”

Alex frowned, the light to the bathroom was on, and the door was left open. Shaking her head, she rinsed the plate off in the sink. She turned back to Naomi, “So, not that you won’t always have a place on my couch, but what are you going to do?”

Naomi groaned and covered her face with a pillow, “I suppose time travel is out?”

Alex laughed, “Well, yes, assuming time travel is out, how are you going to tell my brother?” Alex frowned and put the kettle on the stove.

“I could, you know, bake him a cake,” she smirked, “and put little letters on top that said ‘Surprise! Your girlfriend got knocked up!”

Alex laughed, “You could leave the pregnancy tests lying around for him to find.”

“Yeah, that would go over miraculously. If you haven’t noticed, your brother is extraordinarily unobservant, and he only ever comes to my flat when he wants to… you know…”

Alex covered her ears, “Eww, please just stop there.”

“I mean, is there really any good way to tell someone?”

“Tell someone what?” Halie said as she walked into the apartment.

Alex and Naomi turned to the door, looking slightly guilty, and Halie repeated, “Tell who, what?”

Alex sighed, “Well, I’m done fielding uncomfortable questions for the day… I’m going to get the post.”

She pushed Halie into the room and shut the door behind her. Old Mrs. McGovery gave her a dirty look as she descended the last step to the front of the building. She opened her mailbox to find the usual stack of bills and an impressive-looking parchment envelope. She began climbing the stairs, flipping through the mail—heating bill, electric bill, water bill, credit card bill, a flowery card from her grandmother. She split open the letter, and a matching sheet of stationary fell out. It read, “Alexandra Callista Wood you are cordially invited to Tea at the Callista mansion on the 3rd of January.”

Sighing, she pushed open the door to her flat. Halie was sitting talking to Naomi animatedly. Naomi, with an all too innocent look, turned to Alex, “Alex, you won’t believe it! Halie has the most exciting news!”

“Yeah, what is it?” Alex gave Naomi dirty look.

Halie took no notice and started, “So yesterday, Charlie wanted to take me somewhere after your grandparents’ party. He had been acting weird all day and well…he proposed.”

Alex nearly dropped the mail, “Charlie proposed?”

Halie nodded with an excited smile, “And I said yes!”

“Congratulations!” Alex gave her a hug and turned to Naomi, “Has Naomi told you her news?”

Naomi looked angry and Halie looked confused saying, “What news does Naomi have?”

“Bugger, Alex, I hate you. Halie, I went to the doctor today and I’m….”

“You’re preggars, aren’t you?” Halie gawked.

“What?! How’d you know?!” Naomi jumped up defensively.

“Merlin, Naomi, you were supposed to be the one who did okay.”
Alex turned to Halie, “What the hell does that mean?”

“Look at me, I write some shit column for the Prophet; and Lex here lives in a stingy rat trap apartment. You were going to be the respectable one.”

“Well, I’m not exactly thrilled about it either,” Naomi yelled.

“So, how did Ace take it?”

“She hasn’t actually told him yet,” Alex sighed and sat down, “So, you and Charlie are getting hitched?”

“And Naomi’s pregnant,” Halie sighed.

“And Alex has no job and lives in a grimy one room apartment,” Naomi finished.

The girls broke down laughing and Naomi spoke; “Now, I can’t even drink!”

“That does suck,” Halie shook her head sadly.

“No, if I don’t get to drink, neither do you two!”

Alex smirked, “If you haven’t noticed, we haven’t managed to get ourselves knocked up.”
“I’m going to order pizza. What do you guys want on it?” Halie stood.

“Extra cheese…Naomi’s eating for two now,” Alex smirked.

The girls continued to bicker as they waited for the delivery guy.

~


James and Ace had managed to make it back to the flat and had thrown themselves on the couch, which sagged under their joint weight. Ace groaned, “So, what kind of dad do you think you’ll be?”

“Dunno, I mean I would love the kid, which I guess is half the battle, right?” James sighed.

“What do you want, a boy or a girl?”

“Isn’t it a bit early for that? I mean is it even a girl or a boy yet?”

“I didn’t ask you what it was; I asked you what you wanted it to be.”

“I dunno, a boy, I think,” James shook his head.

“I think I would want a girl, you know, if Naomi was pregnant.”

“So, you’ve thought about it. What? Do you even have a name picked out?” James kidded.

Ace shrugged, “I have a great grandmother whose name was something like June or Juni… Wait, it was Juniper, always thought it was a pretty name.”

James laughed, “Your kid will hate you if you give her that name.”

“Yeah, well, lucky me. I’m not the one who’s going to be a daddy in nine months,” Ace kidded back.

At that point, Charlie, who had been standing in the doorway for nearly five minutes, coughed and said, “You two are totally smashed, aren’t you?”

He only heard laughing from the couch so he continued, “Not to spoil the fun but have any of us seen Halie, Naomi, or Alex yet today?”

“Nope,” James sighed.

“And you think that your best way to spend time is to be smashed on a couch and talking about baby names?” No response came so he continued, “James, you are going to Alex’s and you are going to talk this out. And if the other girls are there, you’re going to send them here. Ace, you’re going to find Naomi and apologize for being a drunken git. And when you’re both out of this flat, I’m going to have one uninterrupted night with my fiancée… Now go!”

Ace and James staggered upright from the couch. “Y-yes Sir!” James slurred.

The pair got as far as the door before Charlie called out, “You’ll be wanting a pair of pants and a shirt won’t you?”

The pair looked down and realized that Ace was indeed still in his boxers and James was still shirtless. “Right,” Ace sighed and staggered off to his bedroom.

~


All three girls looked up as James walked through the door with his hands in his pockets. He smiled and said, “Good evening, ladies.”

“Hey James,” they chorused in unison.

“I have been sent, as a messenger, from your collective boyfriends-” James stopped.

“Fiancée,” Halie corrected.

James nodded, “My apologies, sent by your boyfriend and fiancée to tell you that you have had enough girl time, and your presence is requested.”

“And if we don’t want to go,” Naomi sniffed.
Halie grabbed Naomi by the elbow, “We’ll be off then; I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Oh wait, will you guys go to tea at my grandmother’s tomorrow?”

“Tea?” they both looked shock.

“I don’t know, but I am thinking it will be better if I don’t go by myself… She can’t disembowel me if there are witnesses.”

“Okay then, see you tomorrow,” Halie smiled and shut the door behind her.

James grabbed a piece of pizza from the box and lay down. Alex lay down next to him, “So, do you have any idea how my flat got left unlocked and the sofa covered in the Shepherd’s Pie I left for you in the fridge?”

“I may have had something to do with that, but I admit to nothing…”

“Merlin, James, are you knackered?”

“Totally,” James giggled.

“That’s just great, James. So now you’ve taken to getting totally plastered by yourself?”

“I wasn’t by myself,” James sighed, “Ace was there with me.”

“That’s just fabulous, so my brother’s knackered too?”

“Yep,” James laughed again.

“God, you’re useless like this,” Alex sighed. “You can sleep on the couch. When you’ve sobered up, you can come find me.”

~


The sun came up and shone into the bedroom. Alex stared at the parchment envelope and turned it over in her hands. The Hogwarts crest was on the other side. She wondered if they could really revoke your diploma if you managed to still not get a job five years after you’ve graduated.

She looked up as the floor creaked. James was standing in the doorway. She smirked, “Do you have a headache?” He nodded but didn’t move. “Good, you deserve it.”

“So, what should I apologize for first?”

“First?”Alex said shortly.

“You haven’t seen the morning paper?” James asked.

“Nope.”

“Well, then, I only have one thing to apologize for.”

“And…?”

“You’re really going to make me say it?” Alex arched one eyebrow and he continued, “I’m sorry that I got plastered then came over…”

“So, are you going to tell me why?”

“Why?”

“Why you found it necessary to get drunk for the second night in a row?”

“I would have thought it would be obvious.”

“You know what? I’ve had enough drama in the last day to last a life time. Let’s just finish what we started on the new year.”

She stood up and began kissing him. When his lips did not comply, she began to plant some small kisses down his neck. He started to struggle, “Alex… Alex, I don’t think we’re supposed to do this.”

“You haven’t had a problem with it for the last five or so years, have you?”

“Well, it’s all a bit different now, isn’t it?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, James.”

Alex tried to kiss him again, but he fought the kiss, pushing her to an arm’s length away. James turned to face her, holding his hands on either side of her face, “Do you know how much I love you?”

“James, I love you, too”

“-and you can tell me anything…I would never get mad.”

“Except I don’t have anything I really need to tell, but I do have something I really need to show you.”

Alex stood slowly on her toes and leaned in, kissing his lips very, very softly. She led him over to the bed and sat down. She began to kiss him a bit more, but this time, he stood up. “James, what –is –your –problem?!”

“What- What is my problem? Have you completely lost your mind?”

Alex just looked at him with a look of confusion, so he finished, “I can’t handle this; when you’re ready to talk you can call me.”

With that, he turned on his heels and walked from the room. Alex listened, and as she heard the front door to her flat slam closed, she fell backwards against her covers. She covered her face with her hands thinking…has everyone lost their minds?

She felt the corner of something digging into her back and she pulled the parchment letter from beneath her. Without hesitation, she slit the letter open and started to read, “Dear Ms. Wood, It is with the resignation of former Headmistress McGonagall that I, Headmaster Marks, would like to extend to you the position of Professor of

Transfiguration until the end of the semester and a full-time professor can be hired. Thank you for your time. Please respond before the term restarts on January sixth. I apologize for the untimely nature of this invitation and hope to see you in Hogwarts once more. Sincerely yours, Headmaster Marks.”

Alex gawked; the sixth was in four days… Had Professor Marks completely lost his mind? There was no way she could pack up and be at Hogwarts in four days. Still, it was what she always wanted…
Her brain wave was cut short when she heard the front door of her flat open and close. She briefly wondered if James had remembered to lock the door on his way out when two voices called, “Lex, you there? You really need to come see this.”

Alex hoisted herself from her bed and walked to where both Halie and Naomi were waiting. She spoke, “Don’t both of you have jobs to be at?”

“Called off,” Naomi shrugged.

“Your mum told me to leave,” Halie sighed.

“Why?”

“How long has it been since you were in the papers twice in the same week?”Naomi asked.

“I dunno, a couple of years.”

“I think your records been broken,” Halie sighed, throwing down a news paper.

The headline read, “Wild Child No More: Alexandra Wood, Mother to Be.”

Alex looked up with a mixture of anger and disgust and said, “I am going to kill James!”






A/N: So, what does everyone think? A very interesting chapter if I do say so myself, but I want to know what you all think. Next chapter is in the works…until then, byes!

Chapter 3: T-Minus 4 Days
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: As a reward for your super patience I give to you a semi long chapter for your pleasure. Really sorry for the wait but now that I am home for the summer I should be able to update faster. Just so you know the person dipicted in the picture below is Bridget Skeeter. Okay thanx for your time, remember to R&R.

Chapter Three:
T-Minus 4 Days

Photobucket


Journalists and sharks have a lot in common—mostly a love for utter carnage and destroying lives. Alex was sitting upside down on the sofa with her head resting on the floor. Halie parted the blinds and peeked through, “I don’t know, Lex, the crowd just keeps getting bigger…”

The sound of vomiting came from behind the bathroom door and Alex sighed, “how many?”

Halie turned around, “Two dozen or so, maybe we should cut our losses and just go for it.”

Naomi shuffled from the bathroom, looking ashen, “Who doesn’t have floo powder?”

Alex nearly growled, “What’s the point of having floo powder if you don’t have a freaking fire place?”

“If we don’t leave soon we are going to be late to your grandmother’s.” Halie sighed.

“What’s worse: a horde of angry story-starved journalists or your grandmother?” Naomi asked, leaning over the couch.

There was a moment’s pause.

“Let’s go,” Alex muttered, flipping herself upright. “Hell hath no fury like a grandmother scorned.”

Old Mrs. McGovery was standing next to the door like a hawk ready to strike. She spun on the spot at the sound of the approaching girls, a deranged look on her face. Alex rolled her eyes, “They’ll leave when I leave, and you can just keep my deposit to make up for the damage.”

She huffed in agreement and waddled away. Naomi snorted, “Sure, now she leaves her post.”

Alex paused before the front door, “I got a job…”

“Really?” Halie asked incredulously.

“Yeah, at Hogwarts…”

Naomi snorted derisively, “What…They needed a new caretaker?”

“Has it been nine months yet?” Alex shot Naomi a dirty look, “as the transfiguration professor.”

“That’s great…” Halie said cheerfully.

“I leave in four days,” Alex continued.

“That’s timely,” Naomi said flatly.

Placing her hands on either side of the door, Alex finished, “So it would seem.” Sighing, she pushed the doors open to an onslaught of camera flashes and loud voices.

~


Alex paused before the front door to her grandmother’s house. The press paced impatiently behind the locked iron wrought gates at the end of the drive. Alex sighed; the feeling was similar to being surrounded on all sides and having nowhere to run. After about five minutes, Halie ignored Alex’s squawks of protest and pushed through the front door.

The front hall was full of Alex’s family, James’s family, and even some people she had never seen before. James stepped forward to meet her—his hair in a state of disarray that was incomparable to recent memory. His eyes were shadowed with exhaustion and his mouth set into a thin line of unhappiness. Continuing to frown, Alex spoke, “Care to explain?”

“So you’re still in denial?” James bit coldly.

“What exactly are you accusing me of?” Alex asked shrilly.

James just shook his head and walked away, the Weasleys’ trademark crimson seeping into his cheeks. Alex whipped around, a dangerous look in her eye. She stared down Naomi, who was suddenly quite interested in looking at her feet. In one quick movement, Alex grabbed her by the top of her arm and whirled her into a nearby closet. Naomi squealed, “God, Lex…Get off me.”

Alex pulled the cord to the light, and Naomi took a sudden step back as she noticed the death glare that her friend was shooting at her. Chest heaving, Alex seethed, “This is getting out of control!”

Naomi shuffled her feet, “What do you want me to do about it?”

Alex threw her hands into the air, “Tell- them- the- truth!”

“I can’t! I haven’t even told Ace yet,” Naomi cried back.

“You were supposed to do that last night!”

“Well, sorry, I couldn’t find the right moment.”

“Merlin, Na- my entire family is here, and they think I’m PREGNANT!” Alex shouted. At the last few words, the door to the closet opened and a dozen or so faces peered in. Alex’s grandmother moved into the doorway. “Alexandra,” she stared down her nose, “We need to talk.”

Alex shot Naomi with a menacing look as she was pulled haphazardly from the dark comfort of the closet. She and James were forced down onto a sofa side by side. She shot James a dirty look before turning to face the crowd that included an ashen-looking Ginny Potter. Grandma Callista spoke from her perch amidst the crowd, “So, Alexandra do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Alex narrowed her eyes, “No, not really.”
James jumped up from his seat, “Are you kidding me? I found the positive test in your apartment.”

Alex shook her head, “You are such a jackass.”

“Young ladies don’t use such language,” Grandma Callista cried shrilly.

To her horror, Alex’s father leaned forward and asked, “Have you and James been having sex?”

A few people in the room snorted and the heat rose in her cheeks. “We’ve been dating for seven years…What do you think?”

Ginny spoke up, “Have you been safe?”

“Yes,” James answered hollowly.

Grandma Callista stood up, “My God, Alexandra, how could you be so irresponsible? You have been given everything in this world. A great education, yet you don’t have a job. A steady relationship, yet you’re not married. You’re 23, and what do you have to show for it…some dingy one room apartment!”

Alex shot Naomi a desperate look and Grandma Callista continued, “Look at Halie. She has a great job with your mother and she is engaged. And Naomi, she has a job at the Ministry and is dating your brother…Why can’t you be more like her?”

“Alex isn’t pregnant!” Naomi burst out. Every head in the room turned to where she stood as she promptly turned green and vomited spectacularly on the oriental carpet beneath her feet. Wiping her mouth, she looked up to find Ace, who was frozen in an expression of horror, and continued, “It’s me. I’m the one who’s pregnant.”

The room exploded; Ginny nearly fainted with relief and James paled. He turned to face Alex and stuttered, “Lex, I…I’m…”

Alex gave him a cold look before she swept from the room. James caught up with her near the front gate, where the press waited with excited stares. He yelled from behind her, “Why didn’t you just tell me?!”

Alex rounded on him, “It’s not like you ever gave me the chance. You never even asked me if it was true—You just started accusing me of hiding things!

James stood there dumbly as she continued, “and it’s not like I’m the one who hides things in this relationship, James. I’m sorry that the idea of me being pregnant is so catastrophic to you that you had to freak out and tell every reporter on this side of the date line; but don’t worry about it, we won’t have another pregnancy scare because I’m never sleeping with you AGAIN.”

Chest heaving, she turned to glare at the reporters, who had all drawn back a step. Huffing angrily, she spun on the spot and apparated away.

~


Her apartment was dark and silent as Alex stared moodily at the pint of ice cream she had eaten. For the fourth time that hour, her phone rang, and James’s face flashed on the screen. Alex hit the ignore button and tossed it blindly across the room, where it bounced and skidded into the far corner.

The program Alex had been pretending to watch on the wizard tele ended, and the opening credits for a new one began. Mona Sharp’s face filled the screen. Alex groaned and flipped off the TV. She rolled her head toward the ceiling and stared blankly at it. After a few minutes, a fervent knock came at the door. Alex looked up, “Go away; I’m not interested.”

“Alex, it’s me, Naomi,” A muffled voice called.

“Still not interested—Go AWAY!”

“Lex, please let me in. I need to talk.” The pounding stopped and Alex glared at the door. With a sigh, she pulled out her wand, and without bothering to stand up, unlocked it. Naomi peered into the room from the doorway and spoke, “Is it safe to come in?”

Alex rolled her eyes and continued to glower at the cracks in the ceiling. “Lex, I’m sorry that this got so out of control.”

She sighed and with a little smile spoke, “It’s fine. It’s not really your fault, but I’m sure James has something to do with it.”

“Well, it got interesting once you to left…I thought your mother was going to have a conniption in the middle of your grandmother’s living room.”

“Yeah, sorry, I missed it,” Alex replied sarcastically.

“The weird thing is, once your grandmother found out it wasn’t you who was pregnant, she got really excited.” Naomi frowned slightly. “She offered to start a Hogwarts fund for me.”

Grandma Callista’s response wasn’t all that surprising…Ace had always been the golden child—some things never changed. Naomi took a seat at the end of the sofa, taking care not to sit on the Shepherd’s Pie stain and asked, “Look, Alex, I know I have no right to ask, but…”

For the first time, Alex noted the tears that strained Naomi’s voice. Alex sat up, “Merlin, Na- what happened?”

Naomi sniffled quickly; dissolving into tears, she cried, “Ace and I got into a fight, he stormed off, and now, he won’t answer his phone, and…and…I don’t know where to find him!”

Alex sighed, “Did you fight about the baby?”

“Alex, I think he broke up with me!” Naomi let out a heart-breaking sob as she lost the ability to control her tears. Alex pulled her into a tight hug. Patting her gently on the back, she whispered, “Don’t worry, he’s just upset that’s all.”

“Can you find him?” She managed to choke out before a steady flow of tears started again. Alex gave her a tight squeeze and stood up from the couch. Silently, she summoned her cell phone from the corner and spoke quietly, “You can stay here, and I’ll be back in a little bit.”

~


Ace was a fairly simple guy; there were only so many places he went on a regular basis. Still, he wasn’t at his apartment, the Three Broomsticks, the Leaky Cauldron, the Callista Mansion, or their parents’ house. Alex apparated to a random street in Diagon Alley where she vaguely remembered seeing her brother and threw her hands dramatically into the sky. Sighing deeply, she dropped her hands and went to walk from the alley. After only a few steps, she froze for a moment, and then backed up a few paces.

There, sitting at the bar, was Ace, his head hung in the direction of his drink. Alex, sighing in relief, walked into the unnamed bar that was empty except for her brother. Not even the bartender looked up as the door chimed; Alex took the seat beside her brother and hailed the keep, “Two coffees, please.”

The gruff barkeep nodded.

Without looking up, Ace sighed, “So, who sent you?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m here for you.”

“Sorry about the confusion…it wasn’t cool how they cornered you like that.”

Alex smiled, “Just a typical day in my life, wasn’t so surprised.”
“Have you talked to James yet?”

“Let’s just say James is going to have to work for it this time.” Alex turned to look at him and continued, “So, did you really break up with her?”

“I think I may have accidentally managed to do that. Is she really upset?”

“The hormones don’t help much.”

“I was just trying to figure out how this could happen.”

“Does it matter? It happened…So, how are you going to deal with it?”
Ace hung his head, “I’m 25! I can barely get up for work on time…How am I supposed to take care of a child?” Ace banged his fist against the bar, “This isn’t fair, and this isn’t fair to Naomi either.”

“You know Naomi has never been the type to run away from things,” Alex put her coffee cup down, “but she is pretty freaked out by this.”

“We’re kids! How are we supposed to raise one?”

“You wouldn’t have to do it by yourself; there are people who can help.”

“Who?” Ace laughed, “James and Charlie? They have their own lives.”

“Them.” Alex smiled, “Grandma Callista sounded pretty willing to help.”

“Could you imagine Dad with a grandchild?”

Alex finished her coffee and replied, “Well, they’ll be flying a broom before they even learn to walk, but I don’t think you’re giving yourself a lot of credit.” She nudged him and smiled, “Buy an alarm clock and who knows, you could be a great dad.”

Ace cringed, “That sounds so strange.”

“Think of it this way, you can’t do worse than our own mom and dad and we turned out normal or…mostly normal.”

Ace snorted, “Yeah, I’m about to have a child out of wedlock and you’re unemployed.”

“Well, that’s not exactly true, you may have a kid on the way, but I have a job.”

“No way!” Ace let his jaw go slack, “Hannah finally gave you a job at the bar?”

Alex stuck her tongue out, “No, I got a teaching job at Hogwarts…don’t look so shocked.”

The bartender shuffled forward and snarled, “Closin’…get lost.”

Ace threw some cash down on the bar and they walked out onto the nearly abandoned street. Alex stopped Ace, “Look, she’s sitting in my apartment. If I hadn’t already eaten everything in the kitchen, I’m sure she would’ve gotten to it. She’s concerned and upset…just talk to her.”

She sighed as he apparated away; and then, she turned to find a small news stand closing up for the night. Her eyes narrowed in concentration when she noticed a near empty stand of the evening Prophet. On the front cover, just below a moving picture of her screaming at James, a headline read, “Former Witch Weekly cutest couple calls it quits.”

~


The early morning sun shone through the ancient grimy windows of Alex’s flat. She stood in the middle of her apartment, completely surrounded by boxes; in fact, as someone knocked on the door, she had no way to answer it. Peering over a box to the door, she called out, “It’s open!”

Alex dropped the plate she’d been packing when her grandmother stuck her head through the door. It shattered into a million pieces as it hit the floor, scattering pieces across the floor. Grandma Callista came to a halt in the middle of her cramped living room with a young blonde girl on her heels, “Alexandra, aren’t you going to say hello to your grandmother?”

Alex narrowed her eyes and flicked her wand at the shards of the bowl. As they flew together to reform in her hand, Alex muttered, “What do you want?”

Grandma Callista huffed angrily, “I merely came to introduce you to an acquaintance of mine.”

She turned and indicated the girl standing behind her. The short bleach blonde-haired girl only came to Alex’s chin (and that was with three inch heels on). The girl smiled falsely, “Hello, Alexandra. My name is Bridgette Skeeter, reporter for the Daily Prophet.”

Alex continued to frown, “You’re the one writing the articles about me?”

“Yes dear, Ms. Skeeter has agreed to interview you for an article for the Prophet.”

“What article?” Alex asked coldly.

“The one that’s going to clear up this pregnancy nonsense. Plus, now that you’re free of the quidditch-playing nitwit, we want the eligible bachelors to know you’re available.”

Alex heaved herself over several cardboard boxes seething, “First off, I won’t be interviewing for any article; secondly, whatever’s going on between James and I is complicated and I am certainly not ready to date; and thirdly, I don’t care if people think I’m pregnant. I’m not and that’s all that matters. I have been dealing with backstabbing reporters and people thinking ill of myself for years and it’s not about to start upsetting me now.”

Both women had taken a clear step backwards amidst Alex’s furious rant. Mrs. Callista responded angrily, “That is not how you were raised to speak to your elders.”

Alex rounded on her, “I was raised by two attention-starving crazy people, but what I have learned for myself is that elders are those who are intelligent and earn their respect on a daily basis. Both qualities you clearly lack. Now, I need to pack and you are in my way. If you will kindly remove yourself from my ‘dingy one room apartment,’ I will be out of your life sooner than you will suspect.”

“ALEXANDRA!”

“OUT!” Alex screamed brandishing her wand. With a noisy huff, Mrs. Callista stormed from the tiny flat, leaving the blonde reporter to scurry in her wake.

~


James stared blankly at the ceiling; Charlie and Ace were looking at him with concern. Charlie leaned forward and whispered, “I don’t think he’s moved since yesterday.”

“She didn’t really break up with him, did she?” Ace frowned, “If Alex and James can’t work out their problems, is there hope for any of us?”

“I can hear you,” James muttered morosely.

“Come on, mate, tell us what happened…” Charlie leaned forward.

“Did you read the paper?” James asked. Charlie and Ace nodded so he continued, “Well, they had a front row seat for the whole cursed argument, so for once, they’re pretty much correct.”

Ace shook his head, “Just because she won’t sleep with you doesn’t mean she’s breaking up with you.”

James and Charlie gave him dubious looks, but the conversation was cut short when a knock sounded at the door. Charlie jumped up to answer it, but fell back when he realized it was Alex at the door. He stuttered, “I, umm…have to go pick up a few things from the store.”

Ace sprung to his feet, “I…am going to help him.”

When the front door closed, James finally looked up to find Alex still standing in the doorway clutching a large cardboard box. The color drained from his face, “So, we’re not even going to talk about it? You’re just going to break up with me?”

Alex glowered down at her box, “I got a job and I’m leaving in a two days. This is the stuff from my flat that belonged to you.” With the sound of shattering glass, Alex dropped the box to the floor and kicked it to the center of the room, “I’m not breaking up with you, James. Every time we run into trouble, I’m the one who fights for us to make it work. I have done nothing to lose your trust and yet you question me every time you have a doubt. James, seven years ago, I told you I was in this for the good and the bad, and I’m not going to lie, lately it has been a whole lot of bad. But now, you have to decide. Either you’re with me or you walk away because I’m done trying to fix something that seems to be broken.”

Alex turned stiffly and left without another word, leaving a stunned James frozen on the couch. His jaw slackened but no words came out. With a sigh, his head fell into his hands.

~


Alex flooed her last box into her parents’ living room, and her dad quickly relieved her from its weight. Sighing, Alex noted the cold silence between her parents before she threw herself on the couch and sighed, “Thank you for letting me keep my stuff here…”

Mrs. Wood took the seat by her daughter’s feet and smiled, “You know I’m going to miss you?”

Alex looked at the sad smile that stretched her features, “What is going on between you and Dad?”

“I’ve wanted to tell you since New Year’s, but with all the trouble you’ve had in the past few days, I didn’t want to burden you with it,” Mrs. Wood heaved a mournful sigh and continued, “Honey, your father and I are getting a divorce.”

Alex looked up at her mom, “Did something happen?”

“I think it has been in the works for a while…We just kept going this long for you and Ace...”

Alex sat up and gave her mother a hug, “I’m sorry, mom.”

“It’ll be okay,” she smiled briefly, “Have I told you lately how proud I am of you?”

Alex stared off at nothing in particular and sighed, “I’m not sure everyone agrees with you.”

Mrs. Wood laughed, “You never cared what anybody thought…I always admired that about you.”

Alex’s phone chirped, and she looked down to find her grandmother’s number flash across the screen. Alex frowned and stabbed the ignore button with vengeance. Mrs. Wood smiled, “Yeah, she called me last night. Whatever you did made her very upset.”

“I kicked her out of my apartment. She wanted me to do some ridiculous interview for the Prophet.”

“Well, she wants to have lunch with you tomorrow to apologize…and I don’t care if you mean it, but if you leave her in this state and go off to teach, I may kill you myself.”

Alex sighed and rolled her eyes, “Fine, but you have to tell her.”

~


Alex sat in one of the more upscale restaurants of Diagon Alley as she impatiently checked her watch for the third time in ten minutes. Per usual, her grandmother arrived fashionably late in a fanfare all her own. Without a doubt, every patron in the restaurant saw her enter and take a seat in front of Alex.

“Alexandra, thank you so much for joining me.”

Alex gave a still nod as the waiter stepped forward to take their order. Throughout the meal, Mrs. Callista blathered on about what’s her face and so and so, none of which Alex found important; so she feigned interest during the superficial chatter. As the waiter cleared the dessert dishes, Mrs. Callista waved at someone near the front of the restaurant. Alex turned to see who it was. The restaurant was mostly empty except for a man about her age standing in the doorway. He had curly brown hair, was well-built, well-dressed, and wore an easy-going smile as he sauntered forward. The reality of what was happening sunk to the pit of her stomach and Alex turned a critical eye on her grandmother.

Her worries were confirmed when the man came to a halt before their table. His easy-going smile widened, “Mrs. Callista, thank you so much for inviting me.”

“Oh no, dear, the pleasure is all mine. Please have a seat, and let me introduce you to my granddaughter, Alexandra.”

He took the seat across from Alex and extended a hand, “Hello, Alexandra. My name is Hunter, Hunter Green.”

Alex arched a brow, ignored the hand he offered, and smiled, “Your parents had an interesting sense of irony when they named you.”

He laughed and put his hand down, “So it would seem.”

Alex moved her stare to her grandmother, “So, this is how you apologize? By doing exactly what I asked you not to do.”

“Alexandra, I have complete faith that, in time, you will notice that your time with James was a childhood dream, and you will be able to move onto more mature relationships.”

Alex stood abruptly, making all the dishes on the table jump. Those patrons remaining in the restaurant all stared at the spectacle as Alex’s cheeks colored. “James and I have not broken up. Like I told you yesterday, things are complicated right now; and when I told you I needed time, I meant it.”

“ALEXANDRA CALLISTA WOOD, you will sit down this instant! We are in public!”

“NO!” Alex seethed, “You have no right to interfere with my life. You invited me here to apologize, and here’s your chance.” Mrs. Callista said nothing, so Alex directed her direction to their lunch guest, “Hunter, I’m sorry if my grandmother brought you here under false pretenses, but I am already in a relationship. And if not, then I’m just getting out of a seven year relationship. Either way, I’m in no condition to be meeting anyone new. I apologize if I have come off hostile or rude; but I assure you, my grandmother has overstepped a boundary. I wish you the best of luck.”

Alex gave her grandmother one last burning glare before storming from the restaurant and into a mob of waiting paparazzi.

~


Alex, Halie, and Naomi lay on the floor of Alex’s empty apartment, each staring contentedly at the ceiling. Naomi sighed, “I can’t believe this is your last night here.”

“You guys, it’s Hogwarts not Antarctica. I’ll be around.”

“Who’s going to plan my wedding?” Halie sniffed.

“A wedding planner,” Alex sighed.

“Who’s going to go to my doctor’s appointments with me?” Naomi frowned.

Alex turned to look at her, “My brother…You guys, in a few weeks, you won’t even notice I’m gone.”

There was a knock on the door and James stuck his head in, “Hey guys. How are you feeling, Naomi?”

Naomi grumbled, “Whoever named it morning sickness should be crucioed because let me tell you, it doesn’t just happen in the morning.”

Halie stood, grabbing her purse in one hand and Naomi in the other, “Alex, we’ll see you in the morning before you leave. Have a goodnight, James.”

James nodded at Halie and Naomi and closed the door behind them. Alex still hadn’t turned to look at him. He dropped the five or so bags he had been carrying and pulled a blanket out of one. Laying it on the ground, he turned to her, “Do you remember your first night in this apartment? You didn’t want to spend it alone, so you asked me to stay.”

Alex still hadn’t moved as he bent down and pulled some pillows from another bag. “You had absolutely no furniture, so we nicked some pillows and a blanket from your parents’ house.” He knelt down and pulled an old fashioned record player from another bag, “We found this in the closet, and we spent the night listening to that one ridiculous record we found.”

After starting the record on low, he bent to the final bag and pulled out a few cartons of Chinese food, “We ate and danced and laughed the entire night and before we even thought of going to bed, the sun was coming up.”

Losing patience, he grabbed her by the waist and hoisted her to her feet, “You want to know why I always second guess us? It’s because, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why you’re still here. I do nothing but screw up and you always forgive me. I guess I just forgot that you weren’t in this out of obligation, but because you wanted to be. So, I get why you asked me to choose; it was because every time before this, I was the one to make you choose. That first year you lived in this apartment was one of the best I can remember. So I’ve made up my mind, I choose you. And not because I have to, but because I love you and because, for the girl who had everything, the happiest I’ve seen you was sitting on a stolen blanket, eating Chinese, and listening to someone’s old record. I can’t promise it’ll be easy, but I can promise that I’ll try.”

Alex frowned, “James, I’m still leaving.”

“I know.”

“We’re barely hanging on as it is; how are we going to do the long distance thing?”

James sighed and pulling her close, they began to sway back and forth. As Alex rested her head on his shoulder, he whispered, “It’s not going to be easy, but if anyone can make it work, we can. For the last few years, you have patiently waited at the sidelines of my quidditch career and now, it’s my time to support you…We’ll just have to take it one day at a time.”

A small smile played across her lips as they continued to dance, “I love you, James.”


Chapter 4: Circle the Welcome Wagons
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: A lot happens in this chapter; the new Hogwarts cast is revealed, and we meet some crazy new characters. There is one point I fail to explain; I assure you it is completely intentional…I just want to make you all excited before the story explodes in a few chapters. If you think this story will be predictable…think again. Don’t hate yet because I promise it will make the story more interesting later on. Any who, I will let you get back to the reading. Please remember to R&R :)

Chapter Four:
Circle the Welcome Wagons

Photobucket



Alex was staring at the ceiling, fighting to suppress the feeling of dismay eating at the pit of her stomach. James let out a snort in his restless sleep, and she envied his ability to sleep through just about anything, including the wooden floor beneath them. Alex was completely wrapped in the covers, and James was sprawled out in nothing but his boxers. Without the curtains on the windows, the early morning sun poured through. But it didn’t matter; it wasn’t like she had been able to fall asleep anyway.

There was this inescapable feeling that she was leaving; and that when she came back, nothing was going to be the same. She wondered briefly if it was too late to change her mind, that she could unpack her stuff remain unemployed…at least that way things could be easy. But if there was one thing Alex had learned about her life, it was that things were rarely ever easy.

Pulling her eyes away from the water-stained ceiling, she turned on her side to look at James. Reaching out her hand, she brushed his untamed hair away from his forehead. With a sigh, she kissed him softly; and in his sleepy state, a smile managed to stretch his features. She couldn’t help but smile as she kissed him again, “James-”
He grunted and rolled over onto his stomach, “five more minutes.”

“We need to be at my parents’ in twenty minutes.” When she wasn’t able to elicit a response, she took the more aggressive approach, “Well okay, I was just going to take a quick shower before we left…but if you want to sleep, that’s fine with me.”

Alex was already halfway across the room before James managed to jump off the floor and was running in her wake.

Alex and James arrived in front of her parents’ house just in time. She let them in but found the house deserted except a dozen or so boxes that she could not recognize. Before she could investigate, her father came down the stairs carrying another box that he set aside before he hugged his daughter. "Dad, are you moving out?"

Oliver merely shrugged his shoulders, "Got an apartment in London; it'll be easier this way."

Alex struggled to find words but was spared the necessity as her mother came out of the kitchen. They both looked older than they should and both looked like they needed a decent night of sleep. Alex looked from one adult to the other, trying to wrap her head around the state of her parents’ relationship. Behind her, the front door opened and Alex turned to see Halie, Naomi, and Ace walk in.

Saying goodbye had never really been Alex’s thing; so after a few awkward hugs, Mr. Wood walked outside to summon the Knight Bus. The procession was moved to the front porch, and after a few more hurried hugs, she found her family and friends discretely attempting to give her a moment alone with James.

She briefly noted the violently purple bus as it mounted the curb and came to a screeching halt. James pulled her close, placing his hand on the small of her back. In a low voice, he whispered, “We’re going to get through this.”

Alex sighed, only managing to nod lightly. It wasn’t the first she had faced doubt, but somehow it never seemed this insurmountable. He lifted her chin with a finger and she looked up into his eyes. A sad smile played across his features as he bent down and kissed her softly.

The air was suddenly filled with the clicking and flashing of a camera and a familiar condescending sigh. James looked up and groaned softly. Alex turned to find a short unfamiliar man holding a camera, Bridgette Skeeter, and her Grandmother stepping in front of the bus.
“Mr. Potter,” Grandma Callista’s voice was crisp and cold.

Alex turned to her family and friends and gave a small wave. She faced James, giving him a brief peck on the lips, and then, completely ignoring her Grandmother, she handed her trunk to the conductor and mounted the stairs to the bus.

The driver’s mouth gaped open as she passed. Alex intentionally averted her gaze and aimed for one of the tables near the back of the bus. A half dozen or so people stared wide-eyed as she passed and muttered words at her retreating back. She groaned as her grandmother, Bridgette, and the camera guy mounted the steps. The conductor, wide-eyed, appeared at the top of the stairs. As he shut the door, the bus shot forward at a breakneck speed.

Alex suppressed a laugh as her three person shadow was sent flailing in opposite directions, but quickly straightened her face as they all managed to take seats around her.

Bridgette pulled out a quill and a sheaf of parchment with a flourish. With a intense gaze, she asked, “So Alexandra, is it true that you and James are calling it quits?”

Alex arched one brow; the woman had to be blind. Had she not just seen and taken pictures of them kissing not but thirty seconds ago? Alex turned her frigid gaze to her grandmother, “So when I told you I had no interest interviewing for an article, you decided that I was just playing hard to get?”

“Alex, you are being impossible.”

Alex seethed, leaning across the table, “I am not the one pretending to be deaf!”

Her anger was interrupted as a camera suddenly flashed mere inches from her face. She turned her angry glare to the poor cameraman who managed to shrink by inches. Alex grabbed the camera that dangled around his neck, causing him to jerk across the table. Despite his whines of complaint, Alex popped the back of the camera and unwound the film.

She managed to tear it in two as she stood and walked toward the front of the bus. She turned to face the conductor, who was suddenly sweating bullets and shifting nervously in his seat. Alex saw an opportunity and plastering a fake pout across her features, she simpered, “I was hoping to get to Hogwarts in peace, but those people are bothering me. Is there anything you could do to help me?”
“S-sorry miss- they paid the fair same as you, there is nothing I can do.”

Alex continued to look helpless but flashed a dazzling smile, “Please! There has to be something you can do?” He shook his head in dismay, and Alex lost all her nice pretense, “Look, really, just name your price.”
A small smile crept onto the conductor’s lips, “Will you sign my head?”
Alex’s eyes went wide, “Sign your what?”

The conductor pulled off his hat, and he was indeed completely bald. Alex balked slightly but folded, “Fine, you’ve got a deal.”

The bus suddenly came to a stop. Alex toppled to the side, but when she managed to stand upright again her grandmother was being ushered off the bus…much to her displeasure. Alex smiled for real when the door closed and silence settled over the bus. The conductor took his seat, pulled off his hat, and held out a pen.

She took it with a grimace but, with a flourish, signed her name on the hairless scalp. She did her best to smile, “I am going to go sit back there; thanks for your help.”

Both men nodded eagerly and Alex returned to the back of the bus where she picked up the remnants of the film. She looked up to find a man completely turned in his chair, staring at her with a frightening degree of intensity. He was blonde with plain, unassuming eyes. He wore an odd lopsided grin and was gripping a pen like it was the only bottle of water for miles of desert.

Alex tore her gaze away with an awkward sigh, “It’s rude to stare…”
He stood and took the chair beside her, beaming, “Sorry, but it’s nearly impossible to turn away…”

**cue dramatic eye roll**

“Is there something you need?” Alex hissed, losing patience.

“Can I have your autograph?”

Shocking. She looked into his eyes. He was innocent enough, but he had fallen victim to her perpetual bad mood. She smiled stiffly and signed the paper, silently shooing him back to his seat. She slide her gaze to what she thought would be a safe direction, only to find the gaze of a precocious five-year-old who was staring over the back her chair. How could she had forgotten—infamy and public transportation never mixed.

~


Both men found it necessary to get off the bus when they had pulled to a stop outside of Hogwarts’ front gate. With a permanent frown etching her features, Alex refused their help to get up to the castle and bid them goodbye. She levitated her trunk and pushed through the gate. She didn’t remember the walk to the castle being quite as long as it was but she found herself winded when she reached the bottom of the stairs.

She gaped openly at the enormity of the structure; it had been little over five years since she had graduated…but now, it seemed like an eternity. Snow covered her shoes and the hem of her cloak and as her teeth began to chatter, she remembered that maybe she should walk inside instead of waiting out here like a fool.

The entrance hall was warm and Alex loosened her cloak as she paused outside the Great Hall. It was late morning and the hall was full of the students who hadn’t gone home for the holidays. She managed to smile as she picked up her trunk. Just then, four figures came dashing from the hall.

They slammed into her at once, her trunk went skidding across the floor and Alex, herself, skid back several feet. Only one of the boys actually cared to stop. He looked to be about fifteen or sixteen, with choppy blonde hair. He clicked his tongue, snapping a finger in her direction, “Sorry, Hot-Stuff!”

Alex’s mouth fell open as the boy turned heel and continued down the hall in pursuit of his friends. She sighed when a hand reached down to her—it was Professor Marks, several years older, but she could still make out the severe-looking frown.

“Sorry about that, Professor Wood. Most of the school’s miscreants decided to stay here for the holiday…I am afraid you just ran into a few of them, or rather they ran into you.”

Alex smiled as he helped her up, “It’s okay. I think I may have been one of those miscreants once.”

“No, no, you always had more of a dramatic flare—purple slugs and fabulous quidditch saves.”

Alex grimaced, “Yeah, well…What do I need to do first?”

“I have some paperwork you need to fill out. Then, I will introduce you to your precept, and she will help you get settled in.”

Alex’s heart began to race when she stepped into the Headmaster’s office. This was weird, yep, definitely weird. Why did she ever think she could do this? Professor Marks indicated for her to sit down and a serious frown crossed his face, “I have to be honest with you, Ms. Wood…”

Oh, how quickly he dropped the ‘Professor’ bit. Alex felt her stomach sink as he continued, “You are very young, possibly one of the youngest in the history of the school. You will be under constant scrutiny and there is a very real chance you will not be asked back for the next school year. You are incredibly gifted with transfiguration, but you have very big shoes to fill, and there are several people who believe that your young age will cause you to fail…”
So long self confidence.

Alex shifted nervously, “Sir, I look forward to the challenge.”

Several lectures and contracts later, Alex began to remember why she didn’t like the headmaster in the first place. Eventually, he ran out of things to say and decided to lead Alex from the office to the teachers’ lounge on the second floor.

Alex cringed away from the door as it opened and a primal squeal of girly joy clawed through—a noise Alex was sure she had never made. The door was ripped open the rest of the way and in a flurry of curly blonde hair and pink cardigan she was nearly tackled her to the floor. In the commotion, Professor Marks announced, “Alex, this is your Precept, Jane Patience.”

Alex suddenly found herself free of the chaos, and the woman named Jane beamed, “That’s me, Jane, the school counselor. You must be Alexandra Wood. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you for like forever.”

“I took the job four days ago,” Alex replied blankly. Jane was expending so much energy and joy Alex felt numb…and grumpy, “Since when has Hogwarts had a counselor?”

“Since we ran through three nurses, two caretakers, and four professors in a school year,” Marks noted darkly as he retreated down the hall.

Jane did an odd sort of dance that made Alex wonder if she had to use the bathroom and continued, “Well, let’s get this show on the road. I’ll give you the grand tour.”

Alex frowned, “Umm…that won’t be necessary. Not that much could have changed in the five years since I graduated.”

Jane stopped dead with a frown so pronounced that Alex wondered briefly if she had multiple personalities. She looked down at the woman, “Umm, is there something wrong with that?”

“You went to school at Hogwarts?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, well, Professor Marks failed to mention that-”

“I’m sorry. Is there something wrong with that?”

Jane shifted uncomfortably, “Well, no, not specifically, it’s just that in the past, teachers who returned to teach at their old school encountered more difficulties with establishing authority with their students. That coupled with your very young age, and your recent brush with the press…it’s just concerning.”

Alex understood that she had two ways to respond; she could either explode (which considering the morning she’d had, seemed like the obvious option) or she could ignore the semi major insult and pretend like she hadn’t noticed, “You were going to show me around?”
Jane beamed, “Well, that’s the spirit! Come on; but first, let me introduce you to the gang…”

She pushed open the door to the lounge, and with another frightening squeal of happiness, pulled Alex into the room. Seven exhausted faces looked back her, apparently Alex wasn’t the only one to find Jane’s charm a tad grating. “Everyone, I would like to introduce to you the newest member of our staff, Alexandra Wood.”

“Alex.”

“Sorry, what’d you say dear?”

“Alex-everyone calls me Alex, not Alexandra.”

A short, squat man, who was going mostly bald, allowed his mouth to drop into an unflattering ‘O’ shape. Jane seemed to take no notice of the awkward silence that now filled the small space. She indicated the man, “This is Professor Cohen; he teaches Defense.”

Alex worked to control the shock that threatened to stretch her features. He looked far too frail to teach such a dangerous subject. Jane continued, “Of course, having only graduated five years ago, you will know Professor Mansfield of Potions and Professor Longbottom of Herbology.”

Alex smiled and waved at the two very intimidating, very familiar people. “The Muggle Studies teacher, Professor Dylan,” Jane indicated an ancient withered-looking old woman. An older gentleman who looked like death warmed over sighed, “Professor Tane, I teach Ancient Runes.”

“For the love of Merlin,” a husky male voice gasped, pushing away the hands of another woman who was dabbing at a serious gash that marred his forehead, “Did you say she only graduated five years ago? What are you…some kind of genius?”

Alex cringed; it had been a while since she had heard that particular sentiment. She was spared the need to respond when the woman kneeling on the ground seethed, “Merlin’s pants, Finn, If you don’t let me clean this cut on your head, I will make sure it gets infected. And while you writhe and seize in my hospital wing, I will do absolutely nothing to save you; in fact, I will make you sit your own-”

“KATIE!” It would be one of the rare times Jane would ever raise her voice, “Katie, I thought we were working on the patience thing.”
Katie, the dark-haired blue-eyed beauty, huffed sourly. With a dramatic roll of her eyes, she threw herself into an empty chair. Jane smiled serenely, “And this is Finn, the flying instructor and quidditch referee.”

Alex attempted a smile, “It’s wonderful to meet you all.”
Jane linked arms with Alex, and with another spine-chilling giggle, “Well, okay, we’ll catch up with you guys later; I am going to give Alex the tour.”

As Alex was pulled from the room, she heard Katie sigh, “If she graduated five years ago, why would she need a tour?”

~


Yep, it was weird, undeniably strange, to be back in the halls of Hogwarts. Things were pretty much the same as they had been; she spotted familiar shortcuts, moving paintings, and suits of armor that made good landmarks. What was weirder yet were the few students who roamed the halls. All stopped to gape at her openly, precisely the same as it had been when she graduated five years before. If she hadn’t felt so tall, she could have sworn she was still fifteen and awkward, instead of twenty-three and awkward.

Eventually, Jane showed her to the classroom she knew all too well. How many hours had she spent in there tutoring people? What she hadn’t seen before was the small room adjoined to it; it had a nice-sized bed and a wardrobe, it was all decorated with deep reds and gold, which Alex found oddly comforting.

Jane was leading Alex to the Great hall for dinner when the woman named Katie showed up, “Jane, I have the four children of Voldemort in my office, one is bleeding and another has a tail…What do you want to do with them?”

“I want you to stop calling them the children of Voldemort; they are just four troubled boys…” Jane admonished as she continued to lead Alex forward.

Katie continued to follow, “Well, your troubled boys are bleeding all over my ward; so what do you suggest?”

“Do your job Katie; and I will do mine.”

All three women stopped dead when a fourth woman stepped out of the library. In Alex’s life, she had had the opportunity to meet people that others considered to be good-looking, but the level of confidence this woman exuded was mind-boggling. Her dark hair danced behind her back and she wore a rather tight-fitting pencil skirt and button down blouse. Alex wondered briefly if it was advisable to dress like that in a school half populated by hormone-infested boys.

“Should you be dressed like a cheap hooker?” Katie asked boldly. Alex couldn’t suppress her smile. She liked this Katie, for nothing more than the fact that she spoke her mind. The woman came to a halt, and with a condescending glare replied, “Where did you learn to talk like that? Azkaban?”

Katie rolled her eyes and turned to Jane, “Deal with those boys before I have to or you’ll be looking for a new nurse.”

As Katie retreated down the hall, the smug woman smiled down at Jane. Jane shifted uncomfortably, even though she was easily better-looking than the dark haired beauty who wore a nasty and superior look.

You know that moment…the perfect moment of calm before the storm you could never have anticipated or prepared for? Well this was it; and in about thirty seconds, Alex would wish she could remember it, but no one ever does. Completely unaware of what was about to hit, she looked down at Jane with concern.

Jane seemed to finally find her voice as she indicated the woman, “Alex, this is Olivia Welthin; she’s the Charms Professor.”
Being confronted by your worst nightmare isn’t what you would call expected or enjoyable…Olivia Welthin was Ale’s nightmare. Alex’s eyes widened as she went to reexamine the woman she had found so un-extraordinary.

Jane seemed to be unperturbed by the stony silence as she continued, “Olivia, this is-”

“Alexandra Wood,” Olivia drawled in her sultry voice.

“Alex,” Jane corrected mildly, “She likes to be called Alex.”

In a moment of silence, the women had already began to draw the lines in the sand; the lines, if crossed, would cause turmoil. Olivia stretched out a hand, “It’s very nice to finally meet the great Alexandra Wood.”

Without taking her hand, Alex managed to plaster an obviously fake smile on her face and responded, “Likewise.”

Alex turned to Jane, her mind fighting the angry haze threatening to descend in it, “Look Jane, go to dinner without me. I’m tired and I think I just want to get some sleep before tomorrow…”

Jane smiled, “No problem; I’ll see you later then.”

Alex gave the Charms professor one last piercing gaze before she walked down the hall. She ghosted through the halls, lost in her own haze, not even noticing the occasional student who froze in excitement as she passed. Before she became aware, she found herself in her room collapsing into her new bed.

She remembered that morning; waking up with the dread of leaving, knowing she wasn’t going to be the same when she came back. The cold dread settled into her stomach as she stared at the ceiling…things were never easy.

“Olivia,” she tested the words out on her lips, “Olivia Welthin-”

Anger and desperation finally broke the well-built surface; Alex screamed, a blood -curdling, bone-breaking, agonizing scream. She jumped off the bed and hurled her fist with all her strength against her headboard; except, she missed and punched the wall instead.

She heard the bones in her arm snap, and the scream of anger turned into a scream of agony, “God dammit! How could you do this to me; how could you?”

Using her good hand, Alex shoved her wand into her back pocket and walked out of her new classroom, cradling her broken arm. When she arrived at the hospital wing, she watched Katie literally throwing four boys from the infirmary. She recognized them as the same four boys that had bowled her out of the way earlier in the day. The sly-looking blonde one stopped dead at the sight of her, “Hey, hot stuff, we meet again.”

“Call me that again and I will turn you into a rat and feed you to a hippogriff.”

“It’s okay; I like a difficult woman, just ask Katie,” he winked at the brunette, who appeared in the doorway.

Katie completely ignored him, “Come on in, Alex, and I’ll have a look at that arm.” She led her into the room and smirked, “What? Did you punch your trunk or something?”

“No, I hit the wall after I missed the headboard…”

“So what made you angry…Jane or Olivia?”

“Jane is harmless…”

“So it was Olivia then. Don’t worry; she has that effect on pretty much everyone.”

“Yeah, I’m not so sure,” Alex cringed as Katie tried to rotate her wrist.

The nurse disappeared into her office and reappeared several seconds later with a small potion bottle, “Can I ask you a question?”

“I doubt I’ll have any way to stop you.”

“You live with one of the richest families in the wizarding word. Why on earth…why would you take a job as a teacher?”

“When you live under my parents’ roof, they run your life. Before this job, I lived in a one-room rat trap. I have been unemployed since my apprenticeship ended. It was either this job or a life of my mother’s cocktail parties; and if you think Olivia is bad, wait till you meet my grandmother.”

“I guess I could understand that.”

The clock tolled somewhere in the school and Alex sighed. Katie handed her the potion, “This will heal the bone?”

“No, that will just make you not realize the pain as I heal your arm.”

Alex set aside the bottle, “It’s okay. I’ve had worse, plus that stuff makes you groggy for hours.”

“Suit yourself,” Katie grinned, and Alex braced for the pain.

After a few bad seconds, it was done and Alex could move her arm again. As Katie began to clear up, she smiled, “The miscreants will all be back. Now, let’s go get some dinner and get the awkward gawking out of the way.”

Alex hesitated so Katie continued, “If you really want to stick it to Olivia, you’ll go to dinner and pretend like she doesn’t bother you at all.”

Alex nodded and the pair walked up to the Great Hall together. The room was once more full and buzzing, warm fires were lit and the school colors were draped everywhere. Alex took one step into the hall and every pair of eyes turned in her direction. For a second, silence reigned. Then, nervous whispers broke through the crowd, and finally, the hall exploded with screams of glee and astonishment. Alex grimaced, some things would never change.


Chapter 5: You Were Forewarned
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

A/N: So sorry for the delay in posting, but this summer is thick with writer’s block. This chapter isn’t a very action-packed one, but you will learn some important things for the coming chapters. So bear with me—the next few should be fairly interesting. Thanks for taking the time to read. Please remember to review!

Chapter Five :
You Were Forewarned
Photobucket



Alex pulled her robes tighter around herself as she, Katie, and Jane made their way down the high street of Hogsmeade. The night was cold and the snow drifted from its banks and danced across the dimly lit street. The door to the Three Broomsticks opened and warm light and noise reached out to meet them. Katie held the door open as Alex and Jane made their way inside. The Christmas decorations were still strung about the room, a tree blinking merrily in the corner, as Jane and Katie went to go get seats, and Alex went to the bar to order drinks. She signaled the bar keep, “Three butterbeers please and . . . and a firewhiskey.”

“Hard day?” a mocking voice to her left asked.

Alex turned toward the voice and who she saw made her jaw drop. Hunter Green was sitting at the bar beside her! She turned to face forward and pay, “So, my grandmother has you stalking me all the way here on the off chance I may come get a drink?”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Alexandra,” he smirked, “you’re not that good-looking.”

Alex stared in silence for a moment then raised a delicate brow, “In that case, why are you so conveniently here?”

“Because my shop is in the village, what’s your excuse?”

“I work up at the school-”

“What, they needed a new caretaker?”

Alex turned to face him, “Wow, I have no idea how I missed that clever wit the first time we met . . . but no, I am the Professor of Transfiguration.”

“You never heard my wit because you stomped out of the restaurant like a three-year-old about thirty seconds after I walked in.”

“You’re sweet, but if you don’t mind me asking . . . my Grandmother doesn’t usually associate with shopkeepers, so how . . .”

“I’m not a shop keeper.”

“Do you own a shop?”

“Yes.”

“Do you run that shop?”

“Yes-”

“Do people come to your shop and buy things you sell?” He gave her a dark look. “Then, you’re a shop keeper.”

“Your grandmother and my grandmother are friends. I was looped into the devious plot when I accidently interrupted their weekly tea. You look different,” he said suddenly.

“Very astute,” Alex rolled her eyes as she went to find Jane and Katie.

He followed after, “No really, did you change something?”

“Goodbye, Hunter,” she sighed and walked over to the booth in the corner.

Katie moved over to let Alex in, and holding up her glass, she sighed, “Here’s to the first day back-”

All three raised their glasses and Alex added, “Here’s to being employed, even if it was just for a day.”

Jane clicked her tongue, “It wasn’t that bad, Alex; all first days are hard.”

Alex snorted into her drink, “I’m sure you’re right.”

Katie smirked, “Probably one of the more memorable first days in Hogwarts history.”

Alex’s look darkened, “I’m going to get more firewhiskey.”

***TWELVE HOURS EARLIER***



Alex circled the Quidditch pitch for what seemed like the hundredth time. She panted to a stop when Jane, whom was far to awake for the early hour, stopped at the sidelines. Jane frowned and crossed her arms, “I’ve been searching for you everywhere. How can you run out here; it’s the middle of winter . . . You look different.”

“Very astute,” Alex sighed and reached for her water bottle.

“No, no, it’s not anything drastic, but you look more resigned, or rather . . . determined.”

Alex arched a brow pointedly before the pair began to walk back towards the castle, “So, why have you been searching for me?”

“Now that you mention it, you do look different; did you do something to your nose?”

“My nose? Get to the point, Jane?”

“Oh, yes, well, I wanted to talk to you about your approach for the first day.”

Alex sighed, “Introductions I suppose and then, a review to see where they are and what things need to be covered before finals. I really can only hope to prepare them enough for their exams.”

“It sounds like a good plan, but you shouldn’t be so negative. I’m sure you’ll do fine. Did you want to get breakfast?”

Alex looked down at herself pointedly and then looked back at Jane, “I have to get ready for classes, but I can meet you there in a little bit.”

Alex was halfway to her room when four boys rounded the corner. The blonde-looking one smirked, and Alex rolled her eyes as he said, “You look different. Did you do something with your eyebrows?”

“My eyebrows-?”

“You look-”

“One more word and you’ll have detention for a week,” she interrupted.

His smirk widened, but saying nothing more, he rounded the corner with his friends and disappeared from sight. Alex huffed and jogged the rest of the way to her room.

Thirty minutes, and several gawking first years later, Alex made it to the Great Hall just as Jane was leaving. Jane smiled and waved, “Good; I was looking for you . . . I may have forgotten to warn you about something.”

They began to walk in the direction of the Transfiguration classroom, “Do you remember Headmaster Marks saying that we ran through three nurses, two caretakers, and four professors in this past school year?”

“Yes.” Alex looked confused.

“Well, what he didn’t say was that it may have been the direct result of certain students—four boys to be precise. Since then, we’ve had to change hiring practices. You’ve met Katie . . . not much can steamroll through her. The new caretaker is deaf and mute. And well, you . . . well, we thought that you were used to juggling the chaos.”

“Did you say four boys? I think I may have already met them. I’m sorry, but how does this warrant a conversation?” Jane shifted nervously, and Alex narrowed her eyes. “Jane?”

“The sixth year class is abnormally small, and well, we couldn’t warrant making two classes out of them. So, you’ll have all the sixth years in the period after lunch.”

“Let me guess, the four children of Voldemort are all in that class?”

Jane stopped short in the hallway and huffed, crossing her arms, “I really wish people would stop calling them that.”

Alex frowned, “Well, your four troubled youths ran through nine staff members and warranted this whole conversation, so I think they earned that title.”

“I’m just warning you. Just be prepared for the period after lunch-”

“JANE!” Alex screeched, grabbing her by the arm and whipping her out of the way. The first balloon that incidentally was filled with black ink hit the ground; the second, Alex caught in her outstretched hand. Ink was splattered over her legs and all over the floor. From behind a nearby suit of armor, a chorus of gasps rang out. Turning on her heels, Alex strode over to the suit in question as someone whispered, “We should make a run for it…”

Alex smirked, “You can try, but I would only catch you in the end…”

“Bloody hell!” a different voice sounded, “I told you we were too old to haze the teachers.”

“You call this hazing?” Alex rolled the balloon between her hands, “My eighty-year-old landlady could do better than this.”

“Did she just insult us?” a third voice sounded.

“The trouble is . . . I could see the guide wire. If you had taken three extra seconds to plan, you would have remembered to put an invisibility spell on the wire. ” Alex sighed, “and then, maybe I would be slightly impressed rather than being slightly annoyed.”

“Merlin, I knew we forgot to do something,” the first voice sounded.

The smallest voice of them all finally spoke, “Guys, maybe we should stand up…”

With a shuffling sound, four bodies appeared from behind the display. The looks on their faces ranged from guilt to smug arrogance. “Okay, I want to know your name, year, and house…”

The smallest stepped forward, and with a swallow, spoke, “Jasper Fowl, Professor, sixth-year Hufflepuff.” Alex recognized his voice as the last she had heard.

A sandy-haired boy stepped forward next, his hair combed neatly and his uniform pressed, “Anthony Rudner, Ravenclaw, sixth-year.”

The smug-looking one swaggered forward, his blonde hair falling into his eyes, “Gabriel Lowe, Slytherin, sixth-year.”

Lastly, the boy at the end, the one still bearing a look of shock, stepped forward, his brown hair quite literally standing on end, “Charles Rowland, Gryffindor, sixth-year, but everyone calls me Chuck.”

Alex smiled falsely sweet, “Well, that’s just sweet, so you’re the brains behind this little scheme?”

He opened his mouth, but Alex spoke over him, “It was a rhetorical question, Charles. But for future reference, if you’re going to play a prank on me . . . try not to insult my intelligence in the process.”

Gabriel snorted something under his breath that sounded a lot like, “What intelligence?”

Jasper perked up on the end, “You’re Ms. Wood, Professor of Transfiguration.”

“Former Hogwarts Head girl,” Tony added.

“Currently, the arm candy for one James Potter and was voted the number one hottie in Quidditch Monthly.” Gabriel drawled.

“You played keeper for the Gryffindor Quidditch team for three years and won three cups, of which you played a significant role for each win. Eventually going on to invent the move entitled the ‘Wood Drop Roll’.” Chuck added enthusiastically.

Alex stared blankly at the boys for a second before shaking her head, “You guys really do your homework.”
Gabriel smirked, “We don’t do homework . . . You’re just really famous.”

Alex frowned, “Okay, go get to class.”

“What, no ‘I better not catch you doing anything like this again!’ or ‘detention?’” Chuck gawked.

“I’m smart enough to know that there’s no stopping you—just know, there is very little you can pull off that I won’t be able to prevent,” Alex added ominously.

With a shiver, each boy turned to leave. Then, with a nod, Alex turned and began to walk up the hall. After a second, she froze; and reaching out, she tripped an invisible wire and caught the ink-filled balloon that followed. With a smirk, she walked back to the frowning Chuck. Depositing both balloons in his hands, she said, “And I see everything.”

First period was the first-years; they were small and too scared to actually say a word the entire class period. They barely had the courage to whisper the incantation to turn their match sticks into needles and their beetles into buttons.

She had an hour break before she had the N.E.W.T. level seventh-years that seemed to care less that they had a new professor. The only thing they seemed concerned about was impressing her with how much they knew about cross-species switches and human transfiguration.

As the bell for lunch rang, the seventh-year students stood, packing up their belongings. When most of them were finished and heading out the door, Katie stuck her head in the room.

“Hey,” Alex sighed.

“Hey Lex! If you have a second, I have something you’ve got to see.”

Alex watched as the last of her students exited the room, “Sure, what’s up?”

Katie grabbed Alex’s hand and pulled out of the classroom, “You’re going to love this.”

~


Alex stared wide-eyed down at a boy lying in a hospital bed. Katie smirked, “what did I tell you?”

“W-what happened?” Alex gasped.

“This is what happens to a fifth-year when they try their hand at becoming an Animagus.”

The boy shifted in an uncomfortable sleep; he had scaly arms and legs, his eyes were a strange reflective green, and a four foot tail snaked to the floor, “His Animagus is what…? An iguana?”

Katie shrugged, “He got pretty far considering he’s only sixteen.”

“Yeah, but why is he asleep?”

“Freaked out and started licking everything in sight . . . I’m going to be cleaning for a century.”

Alex gasped, “You mean he transfigured his tongue?” Alex grimaced as the foot long tongue lulled out of the boy’s mouth. “Katie, why am I here?”

“Well, you are our resident Transfiguration expert, except for the Headmaster, and I don’t feel like sending this poor kid down the river until we figure out what happened…”

“He tried a spell that was outside his ability . . . what else is there to know?”

“Well, there are certain students who would be capable of this kind of mayhem, and Marks may have a coronary.”

“These would be the four delinquents I saved Jane from earlier—the four students I have next period.”

Katie grimaced, “Yeah, good luck with that. So, can you help the poor kid?”

Alex sighed and pulled out her wand, “Yeah, but it’s going to take time.”

After a few minutes, Katie sighed i boredom, “Did you change something? You look different…”

Alex looked over her shoulder, “Really?”

“What?” Katie asked shrilly.

“You really don’t know?” The bell tolled over head, ending the lunch period. Alex’s head snapped up, “Crap, I’m going to be late for my own class. Look, I did what I could, but the kid is going to have to live with the tail until the end of the day.”

~


In the entrance hall, Alex ran into something solid. The figure growled, “Can you watch where you’re going- oh Alexandra…”

“Olivia-”

“How is your first day going?”

“Great; the students are really- surprising.”

“And how is James?”

Alex froze, slowly looking up to meet Olivia’s gaze, “I’m going to be late for my next class.”

Alex began to jog up the stairs as Olivia called after her, “Goodbye, Alexandra.”

She shot Olivia a dark look as she continued her way up the stairs. Alex was slightly out of breath when she walked into the classroom, and every head of the sixth-year class turned to look at her. She balked slightly at the door and whispers broke out around the room. She steadied herself with a breath and walked to the front of the room. “Hello everyone, my name is Professor Wood. I will be working with you all until the end of this school year. Today, I just wanted to go over the stuff you guys have already learned so-”

A hand shot up in the back, it belonged to Gabriel, “Is it true that you and James broke up?”

Alex wasn’t entirely shocked, but it took her a few seconds to find her words, “As I was saying, I really just want to see where you guys are-”

Chuck threw his hand in the air, “So, it’s not true . . . you aren’t pregnant?”

Alex frowned, “Five points from Gryffindor. This is Transfiguration, and In Transfiguration, we study only that. If you find you have any questions related to me or my personal life, you may ask them in detention; or if you prefer, the headmaster’s office. Now, if you will all pull out your wands, I would like you to vanish the objects before you.”

Alex sighed, taking the seat behind her desk as the students began to mill about. A girl sitting a few rows back gave a slight wave. Her red hair cascaded down over her shoulders, and she had a slight smirk on her face. Alex gapped, “Roxanne?”

The girl stood and swept up to the desk, “Hey Alex- I mean, Professor.”

Alex smiled, “Roxanne, I can’t believe Halie didn’t remind me you were still in school.”

Roxanne smiled, “It’s okay; she’s been busy with the wedding and all.”

Charles swaggered to the front to the room, “Well, if it isn’t ‘Foxy Roxy;’ how was your holiday?”

Roxanne rolled her eyes, “Good Chuck . . . yours?”

“Splendid.”

Alex sighed, “Shouldn’t you two, I don’t know . . . be vanishing something?”

Roxanne beamed and shuffled off to her table; Charles sighed and wandered back over to his friends. Alex smirked, “Tough luck, Chuck.”

~


Alex jogged up the stairs to the Owlery with three letters clutched in her hands, one for James, Halie, and Naomi. The floor crunched beneath her feet as she looked around the room. Frost layered the walls and she shivered slightly. She clicked her tongue and a school owl swept down to rest on her arm as she tied the letters to the bird’s leg.

She watched the bird disappear on the horizon before she turned around and headed for the stairs. On the top step, she hit a patch of ice and slid down the stairs on her butt. At the bottom, she sighed, not even bothering to stand up. A deep gravely voice reached her ears from around the corner, “I thought famous keepers were supposed to be graceful.”

Finn swaggered around the corner with a lopsided smile; Alex glowered, “Where have you been living? Under a rock?”

Finn stretched out a hand and helped her to her feet. Alex sighed, “Well, I better get going . . . dinner started like an hour ago.”

Finn stepped between Alex and the door back to the castle. “I-I was thinking,” he placed a hand on her shoulder and smirked, “did you want to go get a drink or something?”

Alex laughed hollowly, "That’s really funny, Finn."

Finn moved to block her again, "No really, I find you enchanting."
This time, Alex stopped, "Okay, Finn, we both know I have a boyfriend, and that you have a thing for Jane . . . so, what's the deal?"
He folded his arms in front of him, "I do not have a thing for Patience; why would you say such a thing!"

Smirking, Alex's hands found her hips, "How about the fact that nobody else calls her Patience, and you know she hates it; plus, some guys just get a kick out of the librarian type."

"I do not like the librarian type; I like the Quidditch-playing, butterbeer-drinking type."

Her eyes narrowed, and Alex sighed, "Right, well, if that’s all-" Alex made to step around him again, but he stepped to block her path.
"Now, just hold on a second, Wood; give me a chance to finish..."

"What then?"

"Well, as you know, I’m the Quidditch coach and flying instructor and the word around school is that you’re a pretty good flyer . . . could have gone professional; if it weren't for your aspirations to transfigure."

"The word around school?" Alex repeated doubtfully.
He shook his head nonchalantly, "you know, just the Quidditch captains arguing over which team you would help out now that you’re teaching here."

Alex frowned, "and what makes them think I’ll be helping with any of the teams?"

"Well, they knew that I was going to ask you," he shuffled nervously, "So, Alex, what do you say? Do you mind helping?"

"I haven't been on the pitch in years."

"Lie!" Finn screamed, dramatically pointing a finger, "I saw you out there this morning; you still keep up with your old training schedule!"
Alex rolled her eyes. "Fine, I’ll help you with a Quidditch team, but just one," she added with a menacing glare.

"Great, you can help Gryffindor; the captain is Chuck Rowland. I'll make sure he talks to you about the training schedule."
Alex growled, "Great! Now, if we’re done, I really would like to get dinner."

Finn blocked her path yet again. This time, Alex made no pretense at manners, "Okay, Finn, I know when someone is just trying to stall . . . tell me what’s going on."

He averted his gaze in guilty fashion and stammered, "N-nothing, you should just wait a few more minutes before heading back into the castle."

"Why?" she asked sharply, trying to step around him.

He grabbed onto her shoulders with both hands, "Just trust me!"

For the first time, Alex noticed the piece of paper tucked into the pocket of his robes. The small slice of a picture that was available for her to see was moving. A bad feeling sunk to the pit of her stomach as she snatched the paper from its hiding place. Finn fumbled to get it back, "No, don't!"

Alex stared at him dryly as she pulled the paper open. Ten or so clippings from the Daily Prophet had been collaged onto the page, all of which showed her tripping and flashing her knickers. In blocky letters, towards the center of the page, was written, "Transfiguration Professor exposed."

Alex ground her teeth together, pushed Finn out of her way, and marched into the castle. In the entrance hall, she found a frenzied-looking Jane, who was clutching dozens of the brightly colored flyers to her chest, "Alex, I’m sorry; I didn’t think they would do something like this."

Ignoring her, Alex walked into the Great Hall where the multitudes of teachers and students alike fell into a dead silence. She walked purposefully to the table where the four boys sat with their heads bent, trying to restrain their laughter.

Tony was the first to regain his composure, "Good evening, Professor."
"Good evening, Anthony."

Gabriel looked up, shaking with silent laughter, "So, how was your first day, Professor?"

Alex smirked, "Well, it was going wonderfully; but I have to admit, tonight wasn't the best."

Chuck beamed, "We should thank you, Professor. With all the time you saved us earlier today, we were able to do something much more constructive."

Alex's smile faltered as she pulled out the flyer, "Somehow you managed to get my good side."

Gabriel snorted, "That’s a matter of opinion."

Jasper looked up gravely, "So what will it be then, Professor..."

Chuck grinned, "Detention?"

"Suspension?" Gabriel drawled.

"Flogging?" Anthony added with a comic note.

"Disembowelment?" Jasper concluded.

Alex waved her hand dismissively, "No, no, what’s a little extra press at the end of the day? Plus, it isn't like you all haven't seen this before—it was in all the newspapers."

Chuck frowned, "You mean you aren't mad?"

Alex managed a tight-lipped smile, "Not at all, enjoy your dessert then, boys!"

She continued up toward the staff table. Then, she paused and turned around with a menacing glare, "Oh, Chuck, I’m overseeing the Gryffindor Quidditch team from now on. I’ll need you to catch me up on the schedule." Chuck paled slightly as she continued on her way.
Professor Marks was several shades of red when she finally made it to the front, "Ms. Wood, I will expect an explanation-"

Alex held up a hand to silence him, "Professor Marks, I mean no disrespect, but you knew full well my past when you hired me. You need someone those boys won't get the better of . . . and we both know that's me. But if you can't handle a little bad press, let me know so I can start packing."

Marks muttered something under his breath, but continued, "Not necessary, Professor; please have a seat, and join us for dinner."
Alex walked around the table and settled into the seat between Jane and Katie, who both smiled in welcome.

Katie smirked, "So what . . . no punishment?"

"They just feed off the attention; why prolong my own agony anyway? Plus, there are plenty of other ways to make them uncomfortable."

She looked up to find the four boys glaring at her, and with a smile, she waved.

They turned as one and began to mutter. A few seats down, Finn leaned forward, "So, Alex, I’ve been meaning to ask; have you changed something because you look different?"

Everyone nodded in agreement. Alex rolled her eyes and started eating her dinner, ignoring the dozen or so stares in her direction.

***THE PRESENT***


Jane and Katie waved from the door, and Alex finished the last of her butterbeer. She looked up to find Hunter sliding into the, now vacant, seat opposite her. Alex rolled her eyes, “What could you possibly want?”

“Well, I haven’t exactly met my bitch quota for the day; I figured you would help me out.”

“You mean you haven’t walked into any of your grandmother’s tea parties today?”

“Did you just call my grandmother a bitch?”

“No, I was calling my grandmother a bitch; yours is just guilty by association.”

Hunter laughed, and he and Alex leaned, subconsciously, closer to one another. A camera flashed, and Alex and Hunter turned to find its source—it was her grandmother’s camera guy. She flashed him a menacing glare. The man squeaked in fright, turned, and ran from the bar. Hunter smirked, “So, that happens to you a lot?”

“You have no idea. They’re absolutely shameless, and when you try to fight it, they just get worse.”

“Have you ever just wanted to run away to a place where no one knows you and change your name?”

“Yeah- I did that once.”

“How did that go for you?”

Alex smiled, “It was possibly one of the most disastrous, most rewarding mistakes of my life . . . never have I been in so many newspapers.”

“So, you had a bad first day?”

“It wasn’t one of my finest moments, and that’s coming from a lifetime of shame and humiliation.”

He narrowed his eyes, “Really, did you change something because you look really different?”

Alex rolled her eyes, “That is like the hundredth time I’ve been asked that today.”

“So, something is different.”

Alex’s smile tightened, “It’s the hair; it’s not red anymore.”

“Oh- Well, the red was nice, but the brown . . . it seems more you-”

“You’ve only met me once before . . . how could you possibly know me?”

“No- all I’m saying is that you’re far too sarcastic to have such a cheerful hair color; the brown matches your dark portance. If I may ask . . . why the change?”

Silence followed the question. The bar, which was nearly empty, echoed the silence with only the gentle clinking of glasses. Alex grimaced and looked up at him thoughtfully, “It- it was just time.”



http://www.harrypotterfanfiction.com