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New Years Day, I made an effort to remain holed up in my room as long as possible. Unfortunately for me, my mum ended up knocking on the door midafternoon, worried that I hadn’t come out. Unexpectedly for the both of us, I told her to go away.

My mother didn’t listen though. Instead, she opened the door and— after taking one look at me— she walked over to my bed.

“Scoot over,” my mum said simply. I stared at her in confusion, but I obliged. My mother then took off her shoes and climbed into bed next to me, curling herself up so that we were lying face to face.

It was very odd. I don’t think my mum had done this since I was five.

“Things didn’t go well?” she asked me softly, after observing my bedraggled appearance. I sniffled and shook my head.

“Oh, Nata,” My mum said, and before I could register what was happening she wrapped me up in a big hug. My face was buried into her shoulder, and I smelt the familiar floral scent I always associated with her. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”

“W-Why?” I asked her, feeling very confused. I had just given my mum leverage. Proof that she was right. She shouldn’t be the one apologizing. “What do you have to be sorry about?”

My mum pulled away from me so that she could look me in the eyes. It was then that I realized she was holding back tears of her own. “I haven’t been a very good mum to you,” she said, her voice a bit thicker than usual.

This was not what I’d been expecting to hear. And I didn’t like hearing it. My mum wasn’t supposed to feel this way. “Of course you have,” I responded, wanting to cry all over again. “You’re the best mum ever.”

My mother shook her head and smiled at me sadly, blinking a few times as she did so. She took this moment to bring a hand up and tuck a stray curl behind my ear. “I didn’t even realize that my own daughter hated the one thing I based her life around,” she continued. “I think that makes me an unfit mum, no?”

“That’s not true,” I said vehemenently. “I don’t hate it.”

“Nata, you don’t have to lie to me anymore,” My mum said. “I just… I wish you’d told me how you felt.”

I looked down at my hands, which were twisting and untwisting themselves in the corner of my sheets. “I didn’t know how to tell you,” I said, my voice small. “I didn’t want to disappoint you.”

My mum exhaled slowly. “I never meant for you to feel that way, Nata. I only… I only wanted what was best for you.”

“I know,” I said, nodding my head. “But… what about when I missed that interview? And when I said no to Gringotts?”

“That was because I thought you wanted all of this,” my mum explained, taking one arm and gesturing to the shelf in my room that carried my various crowns and sashes. “I thought you were just shirking your responsibilities. I didn’t know… I didn’t know you hated it. I didn’t know I was forcing you into this.”

“You didn’t force me,” I responded. And because I knew I needed to explain I continued. “I like how happy you get when I win. You’re always so proud.”

My mum didn’t look comforted by my words. Instead this just made her look sadder.

“You know you could never disappoint me, right Nata?” my mum said, looking at me with wide eyes. “No matter what, you’re always my daughter. Always.”

Hearing her say that felt like a huge weight was being lifted off of my shoulders. I guess there had always been a small part of me that was afraid when my mum knew the truth that would be it. I would no longer be her daughter.

But I’d been the one that was wrong the entire time. What I had needed to do all along was just tell her how I felt. I’d been concealing and hiding the truth in an effort to not hurt anyone, and in the end I’d hurt myself the most.

“I’m sorry for not telling you,” I said after a moment. Then, because I felt like I needed to, I wrapped my arms around my mum again, burying my face in her neck. My mum held me close, and it felt like for the first time in a long time we were finally on the same page.

“I’ll call Georgiana today and tell her that you’ve resigned,” my mum said into my hair. “They can find a new Miss Teen Witch.”

I bit my lip. “You don’t have to do that.”

My mum pulled away and looked down at me in surprise. I didn’t blame her. I would’ve been surprised myself had last night unfolded differently. “What? But Natasha, I thought we’d just discussed—”

“I want to do the tour,” I said adamantly. “I want to… get away from everything here for right now. It’ll be like my goodbye to the pageanting world.”

I heard my mum hum as she thought. She clearly wasn’t keen on the idea.

“Please?” I asked, looking up at my mum with wide eyes. “Maybe if I have something to distract me… it won’t hurt so much.”

I said the last part softly, like a whisper. Because it hurt to even think about last night too much. I had been ready to tell James something I’d told no guy before, and now I was convinced I had imagined it all.

After thinking it over a little more my mum nodded slowly. “Alright,” she said kissing my forehead. I felt myself relax at her agreement. “But this is it. No more pageants.”

“Yeah,” I said, holding back a smile. “No more pageants.”

It felt amazing to say.


My mum cancelled all of the press events I had for the rest of the week. I knew this was another small way of her letting me know she was serious about me quitting pageants, and I appreciated it. It was nice to be able to lay in bed for days on end, without having to worry about pleasing anybody.

I tried to avoid thinking about James, but it was hard. Mostly because he was the one person that I wanted to go to just to let him know everything that had happened. But it was too late to do that. I had messed things up between us so much so that he was talking to Fiona again. For all I knew they were back together.

The day before I was set to leave, visitors that I had actually invited came over and made their home in my room while I packed. The entire group (Dom, Molly, Rose, Fred, Gryffin, and Scorpius) minus James had shown up to spend my last day with me before the tour. It was also their last day before going back to Hogwarts. My mum let them up without question.

“So tell me again, why you’re still doing the tour?” Molly asked, flipping through a magazine in my room and wrinkling her nose at the pages. She was currently sitting in Gryffin’s lap, and he was tracing absent patterns across her leg. The two of them together made me smile.

“Because,” I responded, folding yet another skirt and putting it into my trunk, “I think it’ll be nice to escape.”

“But your escape is by doing something you’ve been trying to escape from,” Scorpius commented, looking confused. He, Freddy, and Rose were sitting crosslegged on the floor. “Isn’t that a little nonsensical?”

“No,” I replied with a shrug. Everyone in the room stared at me like I was crazy. I sighed. “Look, I’m not going to change my mind. So let’s drop it.”

“I think you’re just trying to avoid James,” Dom responded from her spot on my bed. I narrowed my eyes at her, and she shrugged. “What? It’s true.”

I didn’t respond. Mostly because Dom was right.

“I still don’t get it though,” Freddy said slowly. “You’re sure it was James out there with Fiona? Not an imposter?”

“I’m sure,” I answered, nodding my head. “Unless someone used polyjuice potion there is no mistaking it.”

“Well, I highly doubt they got back together,” Rose said. “I think you’re jumping to conclusions.”

I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter.”


“But he took you to that muggle shop in Hogsmeade,” Dom said, trying to prove a point. “He never takes anyone there. Not even Fiona. He only ever went with Nate.”

This was information I hadn’t heard before, and I think Dom noticed my pause as I was in the midst of folding a sundress. However, I quickly shrugged it off and continued my packing, deciding to ignore Dom’s statement.

“I think you should’ve told him how you felt,” Gryffin chimed in. “Even if he didn’t say it back. It’s the strong people who declare their love for someone, you know.”

“So I’ve heard,” I said, biting my lip to hold back a smile. I noticed Molly was giving Gryffin an annoyed look. Gryffin smiled at her sheepishly before giving her a peck on the cheek. This caused her to elbow him. He elbowed her back. Their elbowing continued to escalate.

“What about us though?” Dom asked, pouting her bottom lip. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“Yeah,” Rose agreed, “Who’s going to help me deal with all the crazies?” With that she nodded her head towards Gryffin and Molly.

“Hey!” Molly exclaimed, distracted from the elbowing war her and Gryffin had gotten into. “I’m not crazy!”

“Neither am I!” Gryffin exclaimed.

“That one’s debatable,” Molly responded.

“You guys were fine without me before, so you’ll be fine without me now,” I stated simply, before Molly and Gryffin could start bickering again. “Besides, I’ll be back for the last half of seventh year. That’ll be something.”

“Not for us!” Gryffin added. “Me and Molls are graduating this year. And you’re going to miss it.”

“Something tells me I wouldn’t see much of either of you even if I did stay,” I responded, raising my eyes suggestively. Molly glared at me. Gryffin kept a lazy smile on his face.

“You are at least required to come to Hogwarts for the last Quidditch game,” Scorpius said. “We’re totally going to win this year. No offense Tash but now that we have James as seeker it’s like a given. You have to watch it.”

“We’ll see,” was all I said. I didn’t know how I’d feel about ever seeing James again. Even if it was just from the Quidditch stands.

“Right well, are you done packing yet?” Fred asked, standing up from his position on the ground. “Because speaking of Quidditch, I want to play.”

This had been one of the conditions they’d given me for letting me go off on the world tour. I had to play a game with the lot of them. I would’ve done it even without the blackmail.

“Yeah,” I said, finishing up my folding of the last few things I needed to pack. “We can play now. I’m done.”

“Good,” Dom said, jumping up excitedly. Everyone began to get up as well, following her as she hopped excitedly down the stairs. “I’ve got this new move that I’ve been practicing that I want to try—”

“You are not trying a new move,” Scorpius interrupted.

“Why not?” Dom asked with wide eyes.

“Because you’ll hurt yourself and we can’t risk not winning this years cup. You can do whatever life threatening things you want after the final match.”

“Wow, I’m flattered by how much you care,” Dom stated sarcastically.

“Hey! I do care!” Scorpius shot back. Dom rolled her eyes.

Rose and I exchanged a look. We both knew there was still one more pair that needed some work.

“Hey, Tash, you never told us,” Freddy began, interrupting Dom and Scorpius as we reached the kitchen. “How’d you get your mum to buy you a broom for Christmas?”

I hesitated. I hadn’t told any of them about James’ Christmas gift for me. It seemed like it was something that was just supposed to be between us.

“I dunno,” I shrugged. I noticed Dom give me a funny look. She knew me too well. “I guess it was my consolation prize for being kicked out of school.”

“Don’t make yourself sound more badass than you are,” Molly stated. “You were not kicked out. You were pulled out. There’s a difference.”

“Molls is just threatened because your reputation is becoming bigger than hers,” Gryffin explained. “Especially since she now has a super hot boyfriend that she can’t keep her hands off of, which of course shows that she’s not the bitter ice bitch everyone thinks she is.”

“Super hot boyfriend… Doesn’t ring a bell,” Molly stated.

“I think he rings many bells—” Gryffin began to say but he was cut off by a collective groan in the group.

“Stop it, mate, that’s my cousin,” Fred emphasized. “I don’t need to hear this.”

“Yes, can we please play?” I said, grabbing my broom from against the kitchen wall, which had six other brooms that belonged to the six other people waiting to be picked up.

Everyone grabbed their brooms and we all made our way to the sliding glass door, which I slid open so that we could step outside.

“I’m still going to try out my new move,” Dom stated, and before Scorpius could say anything she bounded outside and hopped on her broom.

I smiled as I watched everyone begin to follow suit, Scorpius muttering an ‘over my dead body’ as he soared straight for Dom.

It felt weird to say it, since I’d never had so many before, but I definitely had the best friends in the world.


“So,” Georgiana began, looking at me with a wide smile, “are you excited for the tour?”

My mum looked at me with a level stare as if to say ‘you can still back out of this’. I ignored her look however and smiled.

“Yeah, totally excited,” I responded, and it wasn’t a complete lie. I was excited to leave, but I wasn’t excited for everything I’d have to do on the tour.

We were currently at The Keyport. It was a take on muggle airports, except there were portkey’s instead of planes, and there wasn’t security or long lines. There were just areas labelled with different portkeys, and all you had to do was find one going to the destination you needed (in this case, it was Morocco) and you waited until the designated time for the portkey to activate.

We had about five minutes before ours would activate, so Georgiana had taken this time to make small talk with me.

“Morocco is definitely going to be your favorite place,” Georgiana chattered on. “We’re going to be staying in this hotel right by the Atlas Mountains, and you’ll get to tour just about everywhere for the publicity events.”

I knew this. And I knew touring things for publicity essentially meant standing in front of something and pretending you’d done it. But I wasn’t going to complain. I had an out if I wanted one. It was comforting to know.

Georgiana kept rambling on about all of the different sights I was going to see, gushing about this and that. I didn’t listen however and instead let my eyes roam around the Keyport, my boredom evident. Just as I was about to return my gaze back to Georgiana, I froze. My eyes rested on a lone figure standing across the Keyport. I blinked a couple of times.


It couldn’t be.

I blinked again.

It was.

He saw me see him and just stared at me, not daring to make another move. I didn’t know what to do so I just stared back.

“Oh look, it’s about to activate,” Georgiana exclaimed, clapping her hands together and breaking me away from my staring contest with James. I looked down at the portkey, which was beginning to glow orange, and then I looked back at James. “Alight Natasha, you grab a hold first.”

I bit my lip. I hadn’t been expecting this. I hadn’t expected James to come and watch me yet again as I left. It was like when he’d showed up at the train station all over again. Only this time things were different. Very different. Yet they were still kind of the same.

And this brought me to wonder why he was even here. Wasn’t James supposed to be back at Hogwarts? How did he even know where I’d be? What did he think he was doing by showing up here?

“Natasha,” Georgiana said, noticing I hadn’t listened to her. Her smile was stretched extra thin. “You need to grab the portkey. It’s time to leave.”

My mum seemed to notice my hesitation and she looked at me. “Nata, is everything alright?”

“Um…” I trailed off. I looked at James again, who was still in the same spot. He looked like he hadn’t even moved an inch.

This led me to my last question: Why did he come if he was just going to stand there?

My mum seemed to follow my gaze and it landed on James. I noticed her eyes make a register of understanding. Georgiana also followed my mum’s gaze and her eyes narrowed just the tiniest bit.

“Come on, Tash, we have to go. Ten seconds,” Georgiana urged again. I was still staring at James in confusion. I could feel Georgiana’s eyes drilling holes into the side of my face.

I knew I should’ve listened to Georgiana and grabbed the portkey, but all I wanted to do at that moment was run up to James and ask him what the hell he was doing here. And as I was trying to quickly debate what I was going to do, I remembered what James had told me the last time we’d spoke.

Just… do what you want to okay? Not what anybody else wants.

Suddenly everything just made sense. I needed to do what I wanted. Who cared what Georgiana thought. In fact, who cared what anyone thought. All that mattered was what I thought. Because that was the only way I could be truly happy. It’d taken me long enough to figure out, but now that I knew it, I knew what I had to do.

And before I could even think over what I was doing, I was running away from Georgiana, from the Miss Teen Witch title I had never wanted, towards the one thing I’d wanted all along.

“Natasha, what do you think you’re doing?!” Georgiana called after me, but I didn’t listen. I only focused on James, who was standing in The Keyport, hair as mussed up and boyish as ever and eyes the color of a million different rainstorms.

“What,” I began, taking in a deep breath. Getting over to him had winded me. “Are you doing here?”

I noticed the corner of James’ mouth turn up just the tiniest bit before he answered with, “I don’t know.”

I sighed in frustration. He was way too hard to figure out sometimes. I ran my hand through my hair in agitation.

“Well,” I tried again, “what do you know?”

James stepped towards me now, a full-fledged smile pulled across his lips. He leaned his forehead against mine before whispering, “This.”

And then his lips were against mine, which caught me by surprise, but soon enough I was kissing him back. He wrapped his arms around my waist and I wrapped mine around his neck and it felt like our first kiss all over again only better. This kiss was like a breath of fresh air. It was like waking up. Or maybe it was like something I’d known my whole life but needed him in order to remember it. When we pulled apart, I’m pretty sure my dopey smile matched his.

“Lily told me you came to Fiona’s looking for me,” James mumbled. Our foreheads were still touching and our arms were still wrapped around each other. I had to fight the urge to kiss him again. But this was important. “I thought she was making it up, but then I remembered hearing an aparation crack when I’d been out by the garden and then I talked to Dom and….”

James was always too perceptive for his own good. He had managed to put two and two together without me even saying a word. I bit my lip.

“She was apologizing to me,” James explained further. “For what she did to you. That’s all. I would never…”

“Right,” I said, nodding my head. And I suddenly felt really stupid for thinking otherwise. But I was allowed to be stupid. I didn’t have to always be perfect. That was something else I’d learned. My hold around his neck tightened. “I believe you.”

And that was the thing about James. Above all else, I always, always believed him.

“Good,” James said with a smile. He really did look so much better when he smiled. “Because I have something I’d like to say.”

I could tell by his tone that he was shifting the topic to something more serious. Something that reminded me a lot of the seriousness I’d felt when I’d been looking for him on New Years Eve.

I knew exactly what he wanted to say.

“No,” I responded quickly. James quirked an eyebrow at me. “I had something to say first.”

He was not getting to be the braver one of the two of us. I needed to earn my Gryffindor placement some way, and maybe this was it.

“I love you,” I said finally. Just as I was beginning to feel nervous, James hold on my waist tightened and he smiled back at me.

“I love you too,” was his response, and it felt like my heart did a million and one somersaults upon hearing the words.

This lead to another kiss. And I had to say that I still couldn’t pick which kiss with James was the best one. He was just so good at them.

“That lady with the glasses looks very mad at you,” James pointed out, after we pulled apart again. His multicolored eyes were glancing over my shoulder. “She’s yelling at your mum. Your mum doesn’t look mad though; she’s smiling. Why is that?”

“Let’s just say lots of things changed when I left Hogwarts,” I answered. James smiled again. He looked proud of me. Then I remembered something. “By the way, thanks for the broom.”

James looked down at the ground, seeming embarrassed. I don’t think I’d ever seen this from him before.

“I figured you didn’t have one at home,” James responded. “And I thought you’d miss flying.”

I nodded. “I did.”

“I also thought you’d come visit me to thank me,” James continued. “Didn’t really work though.”

“Hey, I’m here now,” I responded.

“Only because I broke out of Hogwarts and came here,” James mused. “Luckily I know a secret passageway. And also luckily my sister stalks you and knew where you’d be.”

“Luckily,” I repeated.

“So,” James began, looking back over my shoulder. “Since you missed your portkey does this mean you’ll stay?”

I bit back another smile. James was so adorable when he was unsure. I shrugged.

“I guess so. I’m pretty sure Georgiana hates me. Going on the tour with her now is a recipe for disaster.”

“Good,” James nodded satisfied. He used one of his hands to interlace his fingers through mine. “We should go then. I don’t like the idea of you being around portkeys. I’m not trying to lose you again.”

I laughed as Jame began to pull me to the double doors that had the EXIT sign in front of them.

“And here I thought you wouldn’t want me back,” I joked. “I mean, Scorpius will definitely kick you off the team once I return. I’m just too good at seeking.”

James used our intertwined hands to pull me towards him, so that he could kiss the top of my head. “You’ll be seeker next year. It’s already been settled.”

“So you’re going to play the rest of the year?” I asked, excitedly.

“Yeah,” James said with a shrug. “A promise is a promise.”

“A promise is a promise,” I repeated after him as we walked out of The Keyport.

And looking down at my hand laced through James’, that felt like the biggest promise of all.


A/N: OHMYGOSH! Lookie here! The stories over. Okay, not yet. There's still an epilogue. But wow lots happened in this chapter, didn't it?

Looks like Natasha finally learned something! Are we proud, or are we proud?

Okay, so please, please, PLEASE review and let me know how you liked this ending. Not that it's the official end. But you know, it's the end of the plot arc if that makes sense.

Let me know your guesses for where/when the epilogue takes place.

Okay so thank you SO MUCH for sticking with this story and taking this journey with me. I hope you're as proud of Natasha as I am. Or you at least think her and James are as adorable as I do. I'm not proud to admit it, but I got a really cheesy smile when I was proofreading this last scene.

Alright, this author's note is long enough. Please review, let me know what you think, and thank you for being the amazing readers you are. XXX

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