The Power of Suggestion
Alexandra was gazing out one of the living room windows, watching the snow fall gently onto the ground. In the background, she could hear her brother opening another Christmas present.
“Alexandra you open the next gift!” said Mrs. Wood as she passed Alex a long and skinny gift-wrapped box, “it’s from your father.”
Alexandra pulled the gift into her lap and began to pull away its thick paper to reveal something unexpected.
“Now before you argue Alexandra, that broom is a prototype that came into my office the other day… its called a Thunderbolt.”
“Dad it’s… it’s- it’s perfect!” she said with wide eyes as she beheld a silver broomstick with pink scroll work on the handle.
“If you noticed, they modeled it after the old Firebolt; but it has all the modern spells- wait, you like it?”
Alex launched forward and gave her dad a rib-cracking hug, “Thanks dad… my Firebolt was giving out anyway, plus it was time for a change.”
Alex carefully placed the broom back into the box and fondly set it aside as the rest of the family continued to open their gifts. All in all, she was satisfied with what she had gotten; a broomstick from her dad and a diamond choker from her mother (nice, but totally not her), earrings from her brother, the usual from her grandparents (clothes, books, etc.), and Halie and Naomi had bought her a book entitled, “10 steps to becoming a Professor.”
She snorted and set the book aside and turned her attention to her family. Her mother was speaking, “Okay, the Potters’ party starts at five so, we all have a couple of hours before we have to be ready.”
Alex ran up to her room to change out of her pajamas; she wanted to get a ride on her new broomstick before she had to get ready.
A few hours later Alex was putting ringlets into her hair using her wand when she heard a tapping on one of her bedroom windows. Extinguishing the heat charm on her wand, she set it down and walked toward the window in question. Amidst the billowing clouds of white snow, she barely made out the tiny messenger owl that was sitting on the window sill. Opening the window, Alex allowed the small bird to hop into the room and she detached a letter from its leg. Giving a feeble hoot, the owl hopped out of the room to, once more, face the elements. Closing the widow, Alex broke the seal on the letter and read:
Halie and I can’t wait to see you at the Christmas party at the Potters’; just writing to warn you that James came around my house this morning with Josh. He kept asking me about you…don’t worry I didn’t say anything. But Alex, maybe you should put the poor guy out of his misery and forgive him. I can tell he is really sorry and I know that doesn’t help you feel better, but this is your chance to be the bigger woman, something Cali Sapphire knows nothing about. Well anyway, it feels like forever since we last talked and I can’t wait to see you tonight.
Your friend forever,
Naomi Longbottom xoxo
Alex was in the middle of refolding the letter when her bedroom door flew open and Ace entered unannounced and threw himself upon her bed.
“What’s up little sister!” he said in bored tones.
“Did anyone teach you to knock?” said Alex annoyed.
“Nope, but I have a favor to ask of you.”
Looking worried, Alex said, “Oh really… I never would have guessed that.”
“That cute blonde you’re friends with at school, her name’s Naomi, I think…can you put in a good word for me?” he continued, ignoring her snide remark.
Alex frowned and said with a look of disgust, “Ewww, Ace! She is two years younger than you and she is my best friend!”
“Sooo… she has a boyfriend you arse!”
“Since when has that mattered to Ace Wood?” he added causally.
Alex picked up her wand and spun it between her fingers menacingly, “Get out of my room Ace.”
He stood up from the bed and walked toward the door, “So you’ll do it then?”
“No I will not bloody well do it!”
Alex went to cast a spell to banish her brother from her room but before she could get the words out, he bolted from the room screaming, “Thanks for the help little sis!”
Sighing, Alex made to shut her door when her mother’s voice drifted up the stairs, “Alexandra… Alexandra!”
Alex frowned and headed down the stairs, “What mom?”
Mrs. Wood was situated in the family room where the Christmas tree sat decorated and surrounded by gifts.
“Hello dear, the dressmaker just brought by your fitted dress and your jewelry came about an hour ago,” she said as she handed her daughter the boxes and once again continued her work.
Alex headed back up to her room and set the boxes down on her dresser. She still had time before she needed to be ready for the party. Sighing, she threw herself into bed and reread Naomi’s note…forgive James Potter, was it even possible?
“Alexandra… Alexandra! How is school?!”
“Alexandra, where have you been for the last four months?”
“Alexandra how is the relationship with James Potter?”
“Is it true that your parents have had you on house arrest?”
“Alexandra how is your baby doing?”
Alex couldn’t ignore that one. She spun on the spot to face the squat middle-aged reporter; who was insinuating she was pregnant? Her dark curls cascading down her back, she clutched her pocketbook and posed for a picture.
“I am sorry, sir…what was that question?”
“Rumor has it Miss Wood that you were in Switzerland having the baby of James Potter!”
Alex laughed derisively and looked the man in the eye, “Honestly, I am only fifteen I am not or have I ever been pregnant.”
“Prove it!” he shouted back while taking another picture.
Alex flashed a brilliant smile and continued, “Look at this body,” she said as she popped out a hip, “Could a woman who just had a baby look this good? And anyway, last time I checked, it took nine months to have a baby not four!”
With a playful wink, she continued her way up the red carpet; a trail of camera flashes following as she did so. So far so good, just a few more feet and she would be home free and with no James in sight, she may actually make it.
Alex caught back up with her mother. “Nice save with that reporter,” said Mrs. Wood.
“Well, I learned from the best,” she said, smiling falsely.
“Well, keep up the good work. We can’t afford another embarrassment.” She said as they entered the vast entrance hall to, once again, be greeted by the Potters. Quite surprisingly, James was standing with the rest of his family but looked none too enthused.
She shook the hands of the family but was careful not to meet Lily’s eyes. Lily gave Alex a searching look; but shaking her head, dismissed the familiarity of the person before her. Alex came upon James last but he wasn’t even looking up to notice.
“Hello James,” began Alex stiffly.
He looked up at her and in slight shock, he took in her appearance. Stammering slightly, he said, “Alex…Alexandra, nice to see you.”
A smile cracked his lips but Alex could tell that it was only a half-hearted expression. She made to pass him, but paused a moment to say, “I guess I will see you inside the party.”
James watched her leave; now that was strange…Alexandra Wood being nice to him, never did he imagine that would happen.
James was standing in a circle of his “friends,” who were talking about one thing or another but he didn’t really care. He felt a hand run down his chest and he looked down to find a very attractive blonde girl staring back at him.
“Hey James,” she said in a seductive voice, “do you want to dance?”
James looked startled at first then, removing the girl’s hand, he said, “S-sorry I can’t.”
The girl looked highly affronted and, not caring, James turned on the spot. What was wrong with him? Parties and girls were his two favorite things in the entire world…so why wasn’t he having fun. Deciding that he would rather be alone, James walked out of the party and in the direction of his bedroom.
“Earth to Alex!” said Naomi snapping her fingers in front of Alex’s face.
But Alex wasn’t paying attention; she was too busy watching a blonde girl shamelessly throw herself at James, but why would that bug her…was she jealous?
“Alexandra!” said Halie, inches from Alex’s face.
Alex watched as James denied the girl his attention, turned, and then walked away, looking thoroughly depressed. Now she was intrigued; something was definitely wrong with him…but what?
“What do you think is wrong with him?” asked Alexandra.
“Who?” said Halie confused.
“Why do you care?” responded Naomi curiously.
“He just totally ignored that hot blonde girl.”
“I still don’t know why you care,” added Naomi.
“I don’t…it’s just that parties and girls are his two favorite things and he looks so miserable.”
“Why would he say no to the blonde?” It was obvious now that she didn’t realize she was having the conversation out loud.
“Maybe because someone is more important than her…maybe a different blonde…” As Halie’s voice faded off, Alex snapped to attention.
“And why is it so unbelievable that James actually cares about you?”
Completely ignoring Naomi, who was once again trying to get her attention, Alex walked past. She stealthily followed James down one hallway or another until she saw him silently enter a bedroom.
James didn’t bother to turn a light on he merely threw himself onto his bed and closed his eyes. He was only there a moment when he heard his bedroom door open and close as someone entered. He figured that it was just the desperate blonde from before, and not bothering to get up, he said, “I told you that I wasn’t interested.”
By this point, Alex was standing at the foot of his bed and with a smile, she responded, “You know I am starting to get worried. I have been at your house for nearly three hours and you have yet to hit on me.”
James flew upright in bed and fixed Alexandra with a surprised glance; he had not expected it to be her. Alex went to the door and flicked the light switch, quickly illuminating the whole room. James was still shocked into silence so Alex continued, “What’s her name?”
She began to walk around the room, taking in its many features. Quidditch posters were plastered to the walls, the closet was stuffed to the brim with beater’s equipment; it was exactly how she had imagined it, but it felt cozy (something she hadn’t expected).
“How did you know it was a girl?” he asked curiously, still wondering why she was in his room.
“Because you have been trying to get into my knickers for nearly five years and only one thing can stop that kind of crush.”
“Oh yeah…what?” he responded skeptically.
Alex fixed him with a stare, “Someone better.”
James smiled nervously and finally folded, “Fine...there is another girl.”
“I knew it! So…what’s her name?” she said with a little smile.
“Her name is Alex. You’d like her; she’s really straight forward.”
“You really like her?” she said choking back a laugh.
“Yeah…” he sounded skeptical.
“Okay, now say it so I believe it!”
“No, I really like her… but it’s different, you know what I mean?”
“No…” she responded shaking her head.
He smiled; it was the first genuine smile she had seen all night, “No, I suspect not…I don’t understand either.”
“So why isn’t she here with you tonight?”
“Because I’m an idiot and she pretty much hates me…why are you in here again?” he said, desperate to get the conversation back on his own terms.
“I couldn’t help but figure out why you were so miserable… so what exactly did you do to her?”
James didn’t know why he was telling her this stuff but he continued, “She finally started to like me back, then…I kissed another girl, who by the way, I don’t even like.”
Alex was standing by the bookshelf when she saw a small package sitting on one of its shelves; the name tag read, “Alex.”
“Was this for her?” said Alex holding up the gift.
“It was, but I couldn’t work up the courage to send it… it would be like asking for forgiveness and I am not quite sure that I deserve it.”
Alex gave James a searching look and tossed the gift to him. “You should send it to her. Maybe she wants to forgive you but just doesn’t know how to.”
James was silently sitting in the same spot when Alex walked to the door. Before she left, however, she turned and said, “You should come back out to the party. Your blonde friend is probably missing you.”
With that, she closed the door and walked back to Halie and Naomi, who were probably still wondering where she had gone.
Alex walked once more into the main hall to find Naomi standing against a wall talking with Ace. Naomi was blushing slightly and giggling at something that he had said. Even from feet away, Alex knew that her bother had the “good ol’ charm” on full blast. Marching over to where they stood, Alex fixed her brother with a stare and said, “Ace… Naomi.”
Before Naomi even had a chance to react, Alex grabbed her hand and pulled her in the opposite direction of her older brother.
“Alex…andra, what are you doing?”
“Trust me…I am doing you a favor!” said Alex, finally letting go of her hand when they were halfway across the room.
“He’s your brother…he can’t be that bad,” retorted Naomi.
“Yes, he is my brother, but trust me when I say you don’t want to get involved with him.”
At that point, Halie walked over, “Hey guys, what’s up?”
“Alex here was explaining to me why I can’t talk to her brother,” answered Naomi looking slightly upset.
“Ace Wood? He has been with like every famous witch his age and some that weren’t,” said Halie.
“And you have a boyfriend!” added Alex.
The group went silent as they looked at one another, then the look upon Naomi’s face lightened and she said, “Fine, I’ll steer clear of your brother.”
“Now that that is solved, do you mind telling us where you ran off to?”
Alex averted her eyes and responded, “Umm…nowhere important.”
“Alexandra…!” they said in unison.
“Fine, I was…talking to James,” she said very quickly, hoping that they wouldn’t hear her correctly.
The pair looked shocked and were about to respond to her pronouncement when they were interrupted by Mrs. Wood.
“Alexandra we are leaving. Say goodbye to your friends and come along.”
“Okay Mom,” Alex responded and turned to give Halie and Naomi one last hug, never before had she been so grateful for her mother’s rude interruptions.
As Alex walked quickly after her mother in the direction of the coat room, her brother and father joined the procession a few seconds later. In no time at all, she was standing in the vast entrance hall about to link arms to apparate with her father when a voice come echoing from behind her.
“Alexandra…wait a second!” said James jogging in the direction of where she stood.
Taking several steps forward, Alex was completely aware of the eyes of her family upon her back. Ignoring this strange feeling, she whispered, “What do you want Potter?”
Finally coming to a stand still, he responded, “I just wanted to thank you for your advice…I sent her the gift, better late than never I suppose.”
Alex did not respond she merely stared at him with an appraising look and he continued, “So…thanks for the advice.”
He looked at her awkwardly and Alex responded loudly so her family could hear, “DON’T LET IT GO TO YOUR HEAD POTTER!”
James stared at her open-mouthed, but as Alex turned to return to her family, she gave him a playful wink. A smile cracked his lips…girls were so confusing!
When her feet were once more firmly planted on the ground outside her yard, Alex raced into the house before her family could stop her. Closing her bedroom door with a snap she began to frantically pull boxes fro,m beneath her bed. In the very last one sat the beater’s helmet…“Oh god,” thought Alex, “What am I doing?” Sitting on her bed, she twisted the helmet between the palms of her hands. to send it or not to send it… but more importantly did this mean that she forgave him?
Sighing, Alex pulled spare wrapping paper from her night stand. After she had managed to wrap its awkward shape, she stood and left her room. The light was on in her father’s study so she knocked before she stuck her head inside. “Dad can I borrow your owl to send someone a Christmas present?”
“Sure sweetie,” said her father, not even looking up from the evening Prophet. Alex took the enormous eagle owl from its perch and walked back to her bedroom. Taking extra care to attach the package securely, she made to send the gift, all reservations forgotten. Walking to her desk, she quickly scrawled a note on a spare piece of parchment. Panic rose in her throat as she watched the owl fly from her bedroom…well it was too late to do anything about it now.
Taking off her heels, she changed into her pajamas and sat on her window seat preparing to wait all night. Her alarm clock read twelve, mid-night. Sighing, her head dropped to her chest and she fell asleep still sitting upright.
Alex shot upright completely disoriented as she tumbled off the window seat and landed hard on her floor. Pulling herself up, she glanced over at her alarm clock which read, four-thirty. Standing, she went to see what precisely had woken her up. Staring at her from the other side of the window, was a snowy owl with a small but familiar package clamped in its beak.
Alex opened the window and allowed the bird to fly into her room. It dropped the package and a letter on her bed and once again flew out the window. With caution, she approached the gift as though it were a ticking bomb. Settling down by where it sat on her bed, she brought it closer to her. Peeling the letter from the top, she read:
Smiling, Alex began to pull away the festive holiday paper to find a long and slender white box. As she opened the box, a pair of pink and white keeper’s gloves tipped into her lap; the very same ones she had planned to buy herself the next time she was in Diagon Alley…wow that’s weird.
Setting the gloves on her night stand, she turned off the light and settled herself between the covers. As she drifted off to sleep, a smile played across her face.
James tossed and turned for what felt like the hundredth time. After sending the gift, he just couldn’t manage to fall asleep. Giving up, he merely lay on top of his covers, staring at the ceiling. He was finally getting drowsy when something tapped against his window, probably just the wind. He laid there another moment when the tapping noise once again came from his window, Who would be sending him mail at this time of night!
Sighing, he got out of bed and crossed his bedroom. Opening the window, he allowed a huge eagle owl to fly into his bedroom. He bent over the owl trying to remove the large package from its grip. After a few moments of struggle, the package was free and the owl swooped from the room.
Balancing the haphazardly wrapped gift in his hands, he took a seat on his bed and began to pull away the thick brown paper. When the paper had been removed, a brand new shiny beater’s helmet sat in his lap. Open-mouthed he slit open the letter that had come with it. Taking in the short letter, he read:
Elated, James set the helmet on his nightstand and got back into his bed, a smile playing across his face. Well, it seemed that Alex had finally forgiven him. Maybe this break wasn’t going to be as bad as it had originally promised to be.
Alex was sitting in the kitchen engrossed in a thick musty smelling book.
“How can you read those things?” said Ace indignantly as he walked into the room and opened up the fridge.
“Sorry if I don’t find reading about myself in the tabloids fun…” she replied snidely.
“Yeah that’s because it’s all negative press…” he defended.
“At least I can read.”
“At least I can make the tabloids without being sent away-”
“That’s enough Ace… stop picking on your sister,” said Mr. Wood as he entered the kitchen clutching a large pile of mail.
As he settled down to his breakfast, he looked up at Alex, “Do you have any plans today?”
“Just a good book,” she said with a pointed glare at Ace, “Why do you ask?”
“Would you like to come to practice with me today?” he said, not looking up; but then continued, “You would have to stay out of the way, but it would give you a chance to really use that new broom of yours.”
Alexandra set down her book and responded, “Why are you really asking me to go?”
He finally looked up to meet her eyes, “Why? Do I have to have an ulterior motive…”
“Yes…” she responded coldly.
“Fine; I invited all the Potter kids to come sit in on practice. Since your brother doesn’t play well with others, I hoped you would give me a hand.”
She responded with a silent glare so he continued, “Please Alexandra…I really need your help?”
“Fine!” She said and hopping off her chair, she ran upstairs to her room.
Twenty minutes later, she was preparing to leave with her broom over her shoulder and a book under her arm. Then, she linked arms with her father and he apparated them to the pitch. Some of the players were already on the field and as she chose a seat in the vast stadium, she watched her father jog out onto the pitch. Several minutes passed when the sound of her father’s whistle broke her from her attentive reading. She looked up to see her father pointing three shorter figures in her direction. Alexandra braced herself…this was going to be very interesting.
In no time at all, the unmistakable figure of James was coming closer and he was smiling noticeably.
“So she liked the gift?” asked Alexandra knowledgeably.
“How did you guess?” he responded slightly put off.
“Un-forgiven people don’t smile that much…”
“Well, I bow before your ability to read people,” he said with a mock bow.
“Does this mean that you will stop trying to attack me in front of the paparazzi?”
“That’s a…very likely possibility,” he said with a smirk.
Alex leaned across him and faced Lily and Albus, “Hey Lily, Al; how are you?”
“Good!” they responded in unison and then looked away, preoccupied by the practice.
James took the seat next to her own and said, “So what are you flyin’ these days Wood?” he indicated her broom case.
He looked stunned, “What color?”
She pushed the case towards him… “Pink”.
James pulled out the broom and ogling, he continued, “I begged my parents to get me one…they said no.”
Alexandra laughed and settled in her seat to watch the practice. Then she felt someone staring at her. Turning her head, she expected it to be James, but instead, she came face to face with Lily. Lily stared at her through narrowed eyes… like she was trying to figure something complicated out.
“Hey who wants a tour of the stadium?” said Alex enthusiastically, turning her back away from the group.
A/N: Was that a cliffy…I don’t think so (I may be wrong!). Hey everyone… so what did you think? The next chapter vexes me... no really, I thought for days whether or not it was really how I wanted the story to go. But in the end it is just too much good writing to pass up. So without further ado, here is a sneak peak.
James froze with stunned excitement as he noticed Alex’s face drawing closer to his. But he was up for more disappointment when she merely whispered in his ear, “Two can play these games Potter.”
With a wicked smile, she freed herself from his grasp and left a confused James in his compartment.
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