“She’s staying with Sebastian then?” I asked standing from the table and heading towards my coat. “Where’s that?”
The whole table of men rose with me and broke out in incoherent excuses and apologies that just sounded like noise again.
“Look, I have to see her...If you don’t tell me where she is I’ll just use a locator spell.”
They all exchanged looks, finally falling silent. It was Albus who took a small step towards me with his hands extended to show he meant no harm,
“Take a breath, mate. It’s late...you’re upset...whatever the situation is - rushing over there is only going to make it worse.”
Worse?! How could the situation get any worse? The guilt I carried over what happened to Logan weighed on me every day. That summer hadn’t just broken my heart, but shattered my world...and it wasn’t even real?! She had lied about everything and he wanted me to take a breath?!
“I’ll send an owl to Sebastian’s. Tell them you want to meet up-”
“YOU!” I shouted before Freddie could finish his suggested course of action. “You knew this whole time too! And you just let me go on thinking she was a muggle. You let me go on thinking I’d hurt her!”
Albus stood between us so that I couldn’t lunge at my mate like I planned to.
“Come on Jamey...don’t do this. Don’t say something you can’t take back.”
“I can’t take any of it back can I?!” I shouted over my brother’s shoulder, “All of you were in on it and what? You’d just get together and laugh about how daft I was for not figuring it out? What’s wrong with you lot?”
I shoved my brother back towards the others. He’d been a part of it too after all.
“Forget it. I don’t even want to see her.” I slowly backed towards the front door. “I don’t want to see any of you anymore.”
I wiped a hand over my face to try and gain composure, “Fiona’ll be over tomorrow to get our things.”
It’s odd how the universe works. For years, Fiona had been the person who helped put me back together - maybe not in the healthiest of ways, but true all the same. When I asked her to go steady it was because I thought I was finally whole. But the universe must have seen this coming.
She didn’t ask a lot of questions, neither of us ever did. When I asked to stay at hers for the rest of our holiday, when I declined an invitation to a do at my sister’s, when I spent most of the night wandering the streets of London instead of in the bed next to her - she was simply there for me.
I laid next to her one night and realized that I was so consumed with my fury that even she was getting singed by it. I rolled onto my side and just watched her sleep for a bit; her arm wrapped around a pillow and one leg stuck out from the covers. She deserved better than how I’d been behaving. Logan had stolen enough from me the past two years - I couldn’t let her take away the one good thing that’d happened because of it.
I leaned forward and gently kissed her on the forehead.
“You aren’t allowed to do that again until you shave,” she teased.
I hadn’t meant to wake her, but I suppose it would be a little jarring to have my scruff scratching against your forehead. I laughed without thinking about it and she returned a smile.
“I’m sorry, Fi.”
Both of our smiles dissipated. We knew I wasn’t apologizing for waking her. She wrapped her leg, that was already out from the covers, around me and pulled me closer to her.
“Did you love her?”
Her bangs had fallen back in her eyes from our movement so I brushed them back behind her ear.
“I didn’t even know her.” I answered sharply.
“That’s not what I asked you…”
She stared at me the way Logan always had, like she saw the real me - not the me I was trying to be. Past the angry front that I was putting on, to the hurt behind it.
We were up most of the night as I told her the story of that summer. I tried to be as honest with as possible. By the time I got to last week and finding out the truth, we were sitting in the kitchen, each with a cup of tea.
“I remember that whole mess. Her poor mum was all but run out of London during the worst of it.”
“Even so, she didn’t have to lie about it.”
My tone was more curt than I intended, but I didn’t like that Fiona’s reaction to everything was pity.
Fiona put a hand over mine and agreed, “No. She didn’t.” Then she took her hand back to stir her tea, “and you don’t have to punish your family for her mistake...”
There she went again, talking rational sense when all I wanted was blind allegiance. I pinched the skin at the bridge of my nose to stave off an oncoming headache,
“I don’t want to get into it, Fi.”
She didn’t push the matter any further. Not that night or the rest of the week. In fact, things between us went very much back to normal. She was the one normal thing in my life.
Almost a week later, I was in the backyard replacing a part on my bike. I’d forgotten how peaceful it was to work on; probably because I couldn’t do it absent-mindedly. It requires my full focus, which means the rest of the world simply fades away.
Then again, I was starting to realize that the world had a tendency of fading from my view. It had always eluded me how I’d gotten away from that summer without a word from the ministry - or from my father. How he never asked why my name was on a report with a sanctioned oblivation. Why they would have oblivated me from her memory to begin with. In the end it wasn’t about her being oblivated so much as me being oblivious.
The worst that should have happened was paying a fine and being ordered to stay away from the muggle in question, that’s what the muggle-worthy excuse department was for. But I was so racked with guilt that I couldn’t see past my own shit.
And it happened again that afternoon. Working on my bike, caught up in my thoughts. That’s why it took me so long to notice her standing just outside the back french doors.
Her melodic voice made me drop my socket wrench. It clanged against different parts of the bike before finally falling with a ‘thud’ to the grass. I hated that meeting her eyes still put my stomach in knots so I quickly looked back down at my tools instead.
“Freddie send you over here?”
I picked up the wrench and used it to lock the screw back into place.
Her answer was so soft I almost couldn’t hear it. She moved towards me before stopping abruptly and holding her hands behind her back. I continued to watch my wrench and pretended not to notice that she’d added another tattoo since I last saw her.
“Fiona asked me to come by…” that caught my attention and my head shot up. Luckily, she was now looking down, picking at her fingernails and I was able to regain my composure. “She seems wonderful...I’m happy for the two of you.”
She sounded as sincere as ever and my stomach turned over again.
“She said there’s a stack of letters from Freddie by the front door that you won’t open...that your brother’s tried to come by a couple times and you’ve turned him away…”
She took another step so she stood at the edge of the deck.
“James, please don’t blame them for this. It’s my fault...all of it. I never should have asked them to keep my secret, that wasn’t fair.”
So that’s why Fiona got involved. She’d been on me about talking to Al since that night I told her everything, but every time I refused to talk about it. If she thought I’d be any more willing to talk about it with Logan she was daft.
I wiped what grease I could from my hand with a rag before leaving it on the seat of my bike, then walked passed Logan to the back door. I had no intention of talking about this any further.
But she grabbed my hand on the backswing and I froze in place before I was able to open the door. Her touch still sent a shiver through me.
“Hate me James. Never speak to me again, but forgive your family for this.And don’t do it for them,” she squeezed my hand in hers, “do it for you. Don’t start running again-”
“Why not?!” I turned around sharply, "I’m good at running...and turns out you’re even better at hiding…”
I shook my head and turned to leave again, but she still had hold of my hand and pulled me back to look at her again.
“You’re right.” Tears had started to well up in the corner of her reddening eyes as she begged for me to just hear her out. “I’ve been at it for a decade so I should have a knack for it by now...but hey, it beats having to hear people whisper every time you pass by.”
My jaw tightened as I tried to ignore the sympathy that wanted to overshadow my rage.
“And I know you understand that feeling. There’s a reason you were in a muggle club that night. There’s a reason you stuck around all summer-”
“You don’t get to do that. Turn this around on me.” I shook myself loose from her before turning around to respond, “I never lied about who I was-”
“Maybe not to me…”
She stared right through me letting the accusation sink in. Of course she was right - the biggest thing that summer taught me was that magic was a part of me - but she wasn’t supposed to be making intelligent commentary she was supposed to be defending her atrocities.
“Is that what all of this was to you? Some sort of game? Let’s all take the piss out of James Potter?”
“Of course not. I didn’t plan any of this...I didn’t even know who you were until Gemma found you in our flat...I just…” she crossed her arms in front of her chest while more tears fell down her cheeks. She brushed them away before also wiping at her nose. “I realized how much it mattered to you. That we were strangers. That I didn’t know who you were.” She took in a deep breath to try and push back the other tears that wanted out.
“And all my life all I ever wanted to be was a muggle. To be able to live my life without this shadow of what I lack held over my head. And then suddenly James Potter, the wizarding world’s most eligible bachelor walks into my life. And he smiles at me...and he tells me I’m beautiful...and a part of me loved that you wanted me...but another part...another part knew that if you knew the truth you wouldn’t...so I couldn’t bring myself to tell you...”
I hated that her tears were able to melt away my anger, but they did; because I could see the honesty behind them. And because I could so easily understand her logic. After all I’d used her exact reasoning to try and talk myself out of my feelings for her.
“And I tried to end it James...I tried to not start it - but...you’re just so stubborn...”
She managed a small laugh that returned before remembering how angry I was supposed to be.
Of course my memories backed up her logic again. I had been the one to push our relationship forward - she was always the one who hesitated. That’s what the whole fight was about that last night.
I let out a deep sigh and walked passed her a couple paces before turning back around with a new line of questioning,
“But that night...you were already leaving.” I scratched at the back of my neck, “why’d you pretend to not even recognize me?”
As my composure started to fall apart, Logan had begun to pull hers back together.
“You offered to follow me across the continent James…” she laughed at herself again before registering something else that made the corners of her smile turn down, “I thought you might’ve loved me.”
I wiped a tear away with my thumb and just rested it there, holding her cheek.
“And you think the truth would’ve changed that?”
She stared at the ground, ignoring my question.
“The least you could do is be honest with me now, Logan.”
She seemed to lean into my hand slightly before she met my eyes,
“I was afraid nothing would’ve changed it…I was afraid that we’d fight...you’d call me a liar...but then you’d forgive me..and you’d follow me across the world...but...” She bit at her lip like she was fighting with whether to let the next words pass by them, “But you’re James Potter...the wizarding world’s most eligible bachelor...and you deserve someone better than me...”
I felt something flip in my chest as I listened to her truth. How many times had I felt she was looking through to my soul? I had told myself that I’d seen hers too - that she wore it on her sleeve, but this...this was real vulnerability.
“Someone put together and proper...that you could take to all your fancy parties...and meet all your friends...and introduce to your fami…”
She got too choked up on the words to finish the last word, so I pressed my forehead against hers to try and calm her back down. I rested there, trying to find my rage again, but it was gone.
“I was insecure and childish and scared and I panicked...and I’m so sorry...”
She buried her head against my chest and wept so I held her tighter. This was the Logan I remembered. The genuine, heartfelt girl who rambled too fast to follow. The gorgeous mess that fit perfectly into mine. I always thought she was so bold. So confident in her own skin, but her confidence was just a hiding place.
In the end, we’d both been lying to each other.
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