Before I could tell what was happening we were standing in what seemed like a never ending line of people next to a brick building. It was freezing. And I was the fifth wheel. So my night wasn't exactly getting better.
“Is this muggle life then? Queueing for places that probably aren’t even worth the wait?”
No one seemed to hear my question since they were all occupied being a couple.
“Just imagine, we could get in a row right now and it wouldn’t be in a single headline tomorrow.”
Rose suggested to her fiance with a sort of wonder. Scorpius had his hands wrapped around her waist until she spun around to talk to him. Even then, their hands found one another effortlessly. They had a symmetry about them that would make anyone feel lonely.
“Is there something in particular you’ve been waiting to argue about or just general grievances?”
Scorpius asked brushing a curl behind her ear. Rose made a silly face at his comeback before leaning in to kiss him. It was at that moment I decided to turn my attention elsewhere, though elsewhere really just meant to the couple on the other side of me. Albus had one arm wrapped around his girlfriend, Sophia’s, shoulder. They were an easier couple to be around. Their relationship was still new; it had a chance of falling apart.
I turned back to the door willing Freddie and Gemma to emerge. Usually the three of us were able to get in without issue, but with the extras tagging along they thought it best to ‘check it out’ first – whatever that meant.
“There you are!” Freddie hollered. Gemma followed close behind him, “We were looking all over the place for you lot.”
He lifted the rope up and we all bent under it and followed our friends.
There was an exchange at the door that I couldn’t make out, but then we were able to walk right in. Lights seemed to be strobing in every direction and the music was way louder than any human – muggle or otherwise - needed it to be. But my favorite part was the crowd. There were always so many people packed on the dance floor that it was easy to get lost in the masses. As if Rose heard my thought she grabbed my hand and pulled me through the crowd till we reached the bar. Freddie disappeared into another group, but Rose turned back and said,
“Royce said it’s quieter if we keep going this way!”
She seemed to be shouting, but I could barely make out what she was saying. Quieter. That was one of the words. I didn’t want quiet. She continued through groups of people so I followed closely behind, Al and Sophia bringing up the rear. Finally, we made it to the back of the building and I no longer felt the bass beats in my chest. Even this space was fairly full of people talking, making out, was that guy sleeping? Finally we found a table.
“Get that look off your face Albus Potter. You’re here to have fun. Don’t be anti-social.”
Rose could see the apprehension all over my brother’s face – not that he was trying to hide it.
Scorpius and I sat at the high-top table and Rose sat on her fiance’s lap. Albus and Sophia stood; Sophia tapping her foot to the beat. Then our muggle tour guides appeared with arms full of drinks and we all downed the first round.
“Come on love, let’s dance!”
Rose lead Scorpius out to the dance floor without any objections. Sophia tried to follow suit, dragging my brother out very much against his wishes. I pulled one of the chasers towards me and took a swig.
“You realize this really loses its appeal when we bring a whole field trip with us.”
“Don’t be that way, Jamey. They just want to blow off some steam same as you.”
Gemma argued, but her logic didn’t really matter. I had broken through my self-pity phase of grief and was settling in to righteous anger.
She must have sensed me starting to stew because she quickly turned to one of the women walking by and stopped her, “All right? Do you know Jamey? Of course you don’t. Well, he’s been looking for someone to dance with...”
It was a classic Freddie move and I wasn’t ecstatic to see that Gemma had now picked it up. However, I was ecstatic to be pulled back into the sea of unrecognizable faces.
We swayed along to the music, colliding with one another as often as the other strangers around us. There were a couple of times she tried to shout something to me, but I simply smiled and nodded. I couldn’t hear her; I could barely hear my own thoughts. That was the point. The beat echoed between my ears, drowning out everything.
Freddie and I used to spend almost every weekend in clubs like theses. Escaping our futures, our responsibilities; leaving the wizarding world to fend for itself while we drifted along to endless rhythms and women who had no idea who either of us were.
It’s what I always did when things didn’t go to plan. Just push it down, laugh it off, worry about the future tomorrow. Suddenly the pounding bass seemed to weigh me down with each downbeat. This is exactly what Eleanor was on about – everyone was on about it for that matter. They all saw it. I wasn’t just distant, I was closed off.
I didn’t want to dance with a stranger anymore. I stumbled through the crowd back to the table in the corner, but Rose and Scorpius were there and it only upset me further. No one should get to meet their soulmate when they’re twelve; it’s just not fair to the rest of us. Besides, Malfoy was barely able to string four words together and nobody thought he was dead inside. They might get as much scrutiny as any me, but at least they were in it together.
The air around me was starting to feel thick. I saw an exit sign and escaped into the alley, taking a deep breath of fresh air. After a couple more deep breaths I turned and kicked the door shut behind me glad to hear the noise exchanged for stillness.
But then a sniffle invaded my stillness and my attention turned deeper into the alley.
A brunette sat against the brick wall crying down the way. Her face was hidden in her knees, but the way her shoulders rose and fell was unmistakable. I quickly turned back for the door rather than face two of my biggest fears: women and the full spectrum of human emotion.
“What the hell is wrong with you?!”
I stopped dead in my tracks before slowly looking around the street for anyone else that might have given her cause to be so angry.
“Not you specifically. Your gender...Men.”
The disdain was dripping from her voice. Three bracelets jingled against one another as she waved her arm. This conversation couldn’t possibly go anywhere positive for me, but honestly I was a little afraid to leave.
“Well…If I had to guess, I’d say our blood doesn’t exactly flow North.”
She looked up at me with contempt in her eyes and a chill ran up my spine. Then she smiled. Even more miraculous, she laughed. She started wiping the tears from her face as I turned to the door again and looked through the window. They must have turned on a slower song; the dance floor was full of couples swaying in each other’s arms.
There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely, but staring through the window that night- I was both.
“Is it cool if I sit?”
I took her silence as affirmation and sat beside her on the concrete, resting my head against the bricks. For a minute we both just existed, taking in the stillness again. I found myself glancing over to her in the silence. She had a feather clipped into her hair and metal nearly all the way up her ear. I could see part of a tattoo on her shoulder and another was on the back of her arm. Eventually, curiosity got the better of me.
“So what’d he do?”
She sniffled and wiped her face before asking, “who?”
“The bloke who’s gone and ruined the rest of our good names.” I asked as if I intended to personally find the man and teach him a thing or two about reputations.
She ran a hand through her long hair, flipping it all to one shoulder. The feather disappeared into the brunette waves.
“It’s my fault really. I make poor life choices. Always have. I see these things coming from miles away and still it runs me over every time. You know what’s worse is that I feel like I deserve it somehow. It’s like...I know they’re going to hurt me eventually, but maybe it’ll be years down the road. And maybe years down the road I’ll be stronger than I am today and so it won’t really hurt...but then it’s not years down the road and I’m not stronger and it does hurt and I have to take the blame because I saw this future and just let it happen.”
Mascara stained her cheeks, her eyes were red and puffy, her flush of emotions had caused patches of red to appear around her neck - but there was something beautiful about her mess.
“No. That’s it. I’m not wallowing over that prat anymore.”
She stormed to the door and I followed her without conscious thought; I guess at that point I thought we were in this hatred together.
I saw the fear in the bartender’s eyes as she demanded drinks and understood how he felt. This girl was a hurricane. I craned my neck to find Rose or Albus, but didn’t see either. Freddie and Gemma had vanished long before and I knew better than to expect them to show back up.
“I mean I knew from week one it wasn’t going to work! He thought the Beatles were overrated - who the hell says that? I mean sure we’ve all thought it at one point or other, but who actually commits publicly to that opinion?”
She asked the bartender before downing a shot. She pushed another towards me.
I can’t really explain what made me sit down with her again. Maybe it was the fact that she was also in a phase of righteous anger. Maybe I felt like I could help cheer her up. Maybe my blood wasn’t flowing North. Whatever the reason, I sat. And we drank. And we drank. And we drank.
“You deserve better than that prat,” I encouraged a half hour later.
“I do. I could pull anyone I want,” The liquor was affecting her speech. “I’m gorgeous and hilarious and spontaneous and my life is not a complete disaster like some people might have you believe.”
“Who cares if it is? It’s your life, love! If you want to be a disaster than bloody be one!”
Our voices had gotten louder and our tones more intense the more we drank. I slammed another glass onto the tower we had built and looked over at her, “They don’t know us.”
She laughed and almost fell off her stool. Luckily I caught her before she hit the floor, “I don’t think we know us.”
I'm not sure how many shots we drank that night. The piggyback ride I gave her down the street is a little fuzzy too. I think we went up some stairs, but after that it’s pretty blank. So you can imagine my confusion when I woke up the next morning in an unfamiliar flat- without my friends, without my clothes, and without strings attached.
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