There are people we encounter in our lives who we just know, on some level or another, we belong with. Romantically, platonically, as family - whatever the relationship might be you just make sense as a team. They’re the ones who leave a mark on you. Who, without consent or even conscious thought, imprint their soul to yours. I think it’s this lasting impression that we recognize upon meeting; we call it butterflies, we call it falling, we say our hearts skipped a beat. Something in you just feels it coming, like your soul is bracing itself for their impact.
But there’d be no wonder in the world if you met people like this every day. So instead we trudge through life meeting drifter after drifter, who never leaves even a fingerprint on your soul.
However, they do seem to leave quite a bit of mayhem in their wake.
“How are you so calm about this? You do hear yourself don’t you?”
The brunette didn’t respond, but instead passed by me with her arms full of clothes before letting them fall into her suitcase without care to fold them.
“There’s no need to make a scene of this James...”
I pushed my hair back out of my face and scratched at the back of my neck trying to process what was happening. She continued passing by me unbothered; gathering more and more of her belongings from around my flat.
“Surely you could muster some emotion for the occasion Eleanor, we were together for the better part of a year.”
“And where were your emotions for that year, James?”
I threw my hands into the air with an uncomfortable laugh, unsure of what to feel in this situation. The latches of her suitcase clicked before she looked over at the flustered mess she was about to leave. She reached out her hand to me and in my need for answers I accepted it. I was pulled in closer before her other hand pressed to my cheek.
“Process this however you need to, but be honest about it. What hurts right now? Your heart? Or your pride?”
I wanted to be irate; I wanted to shout and hex something, but I couldn't contradict her. I didn’t have any real feelings for her. If I wanted to be brutally honest I didn’t even find her all that interesting- but she was comfortable. She accompanied me to every ministry function without complaint, she didn’t argue when I’d go out with my mates every other night. She was the perfect balance of beautiful and distant.
“You’re a good man James Potter. You have a good heart. Give it to someone someday, yeah?”
She pressed her lips to mine one last time before grabbing her things and walking out the door.
I’m going to stop here for a bit and explain a little more because I feel like I’m coming across like an emotionally unavailable ass and that’s an unfair assessment...for the most part.
See, my father is Harry Potter. Yes, that Harry Potter. He achieved fame and glory by lying in his crib. So I guess we have that in common. He did a lot of other important things after growing up too; how do I know that? It was on my exams. Want to know what it’s like to go to school and learn about your parents? Lame. Lame. Lame.
Hogwarts wasn’t all bad I guess; I had a lot of friends. Good grades weren’t all that hard to achieve and Quidditch was the most fun I’ve ever had. It was around my 4th year the madness started. I wasn’t Jamey anymore. For some reason everyone started referring to me like Eleanor just did, with two names. “Look! It’s James Potter.” “James Potter was sighted with a blonde Hufflepuff after Quidditch practice.” It was strange. At first I thought I just had more friends – but I learned my lesson the hard way. These people didn’t want to know me, they wanted me to know them – or rather they wanted the Wizarding World to know them and I was just their ticket to ride.
Maybe that’s all I was to Eleanor. Maybe that’s why it was so easy for her to let go, we simply reached her stop. But I can’t fault her, I wasn’t invested either. She might have hitched a ride, but I let her because the alternative was being alone...and who wants that?
Freddie’s voice carried from the corner as I approached the booth. I didn’t see Gemma until I rounded the corner, but I should have expected her at his side.
My oldest friend stood to greet me with a pat on the back before we scooted into the corner booth. Freddie’s drink sloshed over the rim and onto the table as he brought it with him. It probably wasn’t his first of the evening. He pushed a clear shot towards me, but I pushed it back his way.
“Oi. She did a number on you...”
Gemma had a habit of stating her opinions as fact, plus a northern accent that gave a kind of edge to everything she said. It used to send me into a defensive posture, but I’d gotten used to her frankness at this point.
“I pushed her away. I’ve as much blame as her,” I added a shrug to really sell point.
Gemma downed the shot instead and slammed the small glass upside down onto the table.
“That was disgusting.”
She laughed before wiping the remnants off her mouth. Freddie whispered something into her ear and she giggled again before playfully pushing him away. Gemma and Freddie were closing in on their second year together and at some point the honeymoon phase had to wear off. Individually, they were prone to mischief, but together they were the epitome of troublemakers. Usually I was wrapped into their carryings-on, but tonight I felt like the proverbial third wheel.
“I’m just spiraling into a dark pit of self-loathing and misery over here as I accept my fate of dying alone – but yeah…you two keep flirting that’s great…”
I sighed before burying my head into my hands. Freddie was never one for my dramatics. He knocked my shoulder with his, “What are you even on about? Dying alone...Off with that.”
Gemma tucked some black strands of hair behind her ear before interjecting,
“You do this to yourself, mate. You go looking for the least compatible pull, barely get to know her, and then get all worked up when it doesn’t work out.”
Gemma wasn’t one to hold her tongue just to spare your feelings. I know that’s what Freddie loved about her – but it wasn’t something I currently appreciated.
“First off, how were Eleanor and I not compatible? We’re from the same social circles, we were both in Gryffindor…neither of us liked pumpkin juice.”
I rattled off; for some reason trying to prove what a great match we would have made if only either of us actually cared.
“You know what you need? A one-night-stand. No strings, no ties. No expectations. Actually enjoy being single!”
“He’s not wrong.” Gemma added in for good measure.
I found my head shaking back and forth at the two of them,
“Brilliant. Because ‘James Potter: Sexcapades’ is the headline I’ve been waiting to read. I can’t just fall into bed with someone, Freddie. Not all of us have the luxury of anonymity.”
“Oh is our Jamey too famous?” He put his hands to his eyes to wipe away the fake tears he’d been fake crying, “My heart breaks for you...truly... ”
They both had a good laugh at my expense. They didn’t get it. I shouldn’t have expected them to.
Freddie Royce was one of the first people to make an imprint in my life. He was sorted into Gryffindor right after me and we quickly became mates. He was born to muggle parents; it took him until third year to really understand what my family meant to the wizarding world. By then I was just James: the kid he got lost with trying to find the dungeons.
Now I’m James Potter: Man who won’t pick a career. Freddie took a couple years, but he’d eventually found his place in the Department of Magical Accidents. My brother wasted no time following my father’s footsteps straight into Auror training. Gemma did something for the ministry, but I never made it through the full explanation. It had something to do with muggles.
I think that’s what connected the two of them so strongly. Gemma’s dad had been a wizard, but she was raised by her muggle mum. Both of them grew up in a world that a lot of wizards didn’t understand, it was probably nice having someone who did.
Freddie broke through my thoughts, “All we’re saying is, you’ve got the wrong outlook on all of this. I mean you’re James Bloody Potter! The world is your oyster.”
“It’s a shellfish.”
“You’re the one being selfish here, Freddie. I’m fairly miserable over here and you’re-”
“Stop. Just stop, mate.” He took a drink and waved his hands chuckling to himself. Gemma was holding back a smile too.
“Is there something innately humorous about me re-examining my entire life and all its choices? Because our friendship can be added to the list.”
“Look, we’re sorry all right?” Gemma assured me, crossing a finger over her heart as a promise.
“We laughing at James again? What’s he done this time?”
I looked out from the booth to see Albus and Rose coming over from the counter each with a pint in hand. They didn’t wait for an invitation, but instead took a seat on either end of the booth as if one had been extended.
“It seems our poor Jamey’s lost the love of his life.”
I buried my head in my hands again as Freddie and Gemma decided to explain my predicament for me.
“You mean Eleanor? The love of his life? Did you even know her middle name?”
I huffed at Rose’s questions before finishing off all the liquid left in my mug. They were supposed to be making me feel better not worse. Why were we friends again?
“Well I’m so glad I could add entertainment to your life. I mean that’s what I’m here for isn’t it? Just here for everyone else’s amusement!”
The volume of my voice was no longer at a ‘private conversation’ level and I’d also started waving my arms around to emphasize my points.
“All right, mate. You don’t have to be belligerent about it.”
Albus patted me on the back again, trying to calm me down. I sank back into the booth and exhaled loudly. My younger brother was one of those people who could get along with anyone. I’m sure if it was Albus who had to fight in the Second War, Voldemort would have just bowed out because he didn’t want to hurt adorable little Al. He was also optimistic to the point of nausea - he had that luxury as a middle child.
“I’m with Gemma and Freddie on this one, James. You need to rebound. Hard.”
Rose flipped her fiery red hair behind her shoulder. Rose has known who she was since birth and those who didn’t approve be damned. I admired her for that – but she also just begged me to push her buttons.
“Has Mr. Malfoy RSVPd for your wedding yet or is he still vehemently against his son having anything to do with you?”
She took another drink of her pint, “You’re welcome for finally getting your name off the front page, by the way.”
Rose understood the pressures I felt better than anyone. Her mother was the Minister of Magic, she was engaged to the son of a former death eater, everything she did was scrutinized - but she did it anyways. I didn’t have that confidence. Not with paparazzi and Quick-Quote-Quills always at the ready.
“What are we still doing here? Let’s go uptown.” Freddie urged pushing another shot my way.
“Oh I know that smirk…that’s the smirk that always landed us in the Headmaster’s office.”
Albus was always timid, but followed us into mischief nonetheless. Rose caught on to our expressions and new Freddie’d meant more than his words were saying.
“Wait…you’re talking about one of those Muggle clubs you’re always running off to aren’t you?”
Freddie and I used to spend a lot of nights in muggle London. That was where we met Gemma for the first time. I think Freddie liked spending time there because it felt like home, for me it was because it didn’t.
“You know mum hates it when you do that. She’s certain you’ll end up in getting your wand revoked for exposing magic.”
“Give it a rest Albus; we’re going dancing – not sneaking onto a rugby team.”
My neck craned around to look at Rose.
“Oh it’s ‘we’ is it?”
“You think you’re the only one who needs a night off from being famous? Scorp’ll be getting back from training soon – we’ll meet you there.”
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