A/N.: Hi again! I didn’t forget this, really. This chapter just took me longer to write but, on the other hand, it may be the longest yet. Thanks for all who are still reading this fic. Don’t worry, I have the next chapter almost done already. I hope I could give a little more insight on Emma’s friends and family through her letters. Tell me what you think, please! Are you rooting for Emma and Albus as long as I do? Which character do you like the most?
Song recommended: Mutual – by Shawn Mendes
I think it sums up a lot what Emma is feeling. Enjoy!!
During break, you get that feeling you won’t be able to adapt to a new different routine, far from your classes and the castle. But, like every one of them that wasn’t the case. I had been home for just three days and I’d already created a routine for myself.
Despite my brother being home, he spent most of the afternoons visiting friends, going to pubs (which, he likes to remind, he’s allowed to) and enjoying the Wizarding world in Britain. During one of his outings, I went with him to Diagon Alley visiting Quality Quidditch Supplies and the Weasley’s store, with a stop to Fortescue’s Ice Cream. But really, it was just an excuse to spend time together.
While I have always been the calm child, who loves to read and is a bit more sensitive, Mason is the extrovert one, friends with almost everyone at a party and one to act before you speak. It was a surprise that I ended up in Gryffindor with him. Though when we hang out together these differences aren’t that large. We’ve always been friends and not just siblings, knowing each other’s jokes and talking about everything. That’s probably because our characteristics complete themselves.
So, the afternoons he was at the house, we used to talk about how things were going. Him with his amazing stories of the reserve he works at. I told him all about Hogwarts, except ironically Albus’ invitation, the biggest news I had.
The rest of these last three days I used to catch up with my sleep in the mornings and have dinners with my family, followed by movie nights, to enjoy my parents’ company.
Tonight’s dinner consists of my mum’s delicious Mac and Cheese and Mason has just finished talking about his friend’s new job when she catches me completely off guard:
- So, Emma, have you received word from Albus yet?
- What? – Mason frowns, looking at me.
I drink my juice to swallow quickly and answer, going red:
- No, mum.
- Wait, are you talking about Albus Potter? – my brother goes on.
- Of course, Mason, which Albus could it be? – I roll my eyes. Now I remember why I didn’t tell him before.
- Since when do you know him? I thought I knew all your friends?
- I can make other friends, Mason. In fact, he even asked me to spend Christmas Eve with him. – I say in irritation. The way he talked, it seemed like I was antisocial. Which wasn’t completely right.
- No way!! – He looks at me as if I’m crazy. – He always seemed so quiet and private.
- So? – I challenge him. – What’s the problem with that?
- Nothing! – He raises his hands defensively. – I don’t even know the guy. He must be nice if you’re friends.
That statement erases my irritation with him. My parents, who have been watching our conversation as if in a tennis match, relax too.
- Well done, sis. Didn’t think you had it in you to score one of the most sought out guys at Hogwarts. – Mason says slyly.
My mum holds my hand just as I’m about to throw a piece of cheese at him. Between his laughter, I yell:
- We’re just friends!
- For now.
To interrupt what could become another argument my father asks:
- How is the Quidditch season going, Em?
That’s a topic we all agree with. As I tell him about the team, my dad’s eyes shine. My father is fascinated about the magical world and loves everything about it. He always wants to know every detail and looks forward to passing through the barrier at platform 9 ¾ every term. I’m pretty sure if there was a spot as Hogwart’s caretaker he would abandon his career as an accountant on the spot.
My mum is an accomplished lawyer and shares the same enthusiasm for magic, though she has more difficulty in separating what’s possible in the magical world and what isn’t. She compares all we tell her about to what she knows of her childhood fantasy books.
The rest of dinner passed smoothly, though I could see my brother smirking at me from the corner of my eyes.
Later, we all watched a comedy together and my parents were already sleeping at the couch, when a white and brown beautiful owl entered through the open window and dropped a letter on my lap.
- It’s from Albus, isn’t it?
- Shut up! – I told Mason as I climbed the stairs to my room (slowly, might I add. I didn’t want to seem too eager).
I broke the seal and a little piece of parchment fell in my hands.
The address is Potter Cottage. Just say it before stepping into the floo.
The disappointment had just settled into my stomach when the parchment suddenly opened and transformed into a long letter.
Did you really think I would send two sentences for your invitation? I hope not. I’m told people consider me more classy than that. Anyways, it took me two hours to master this charm to get the letter to appear just after you read it.
I’m really glad Mason isn’t here to see the big smile stretched into my face.
Also, I really want you to be here in two days. James and his friends are driving everyone insane, since my uncle George gave them the new stack of Weezes products. I, myself, have been pranked once. Though after I set them straight, they wouldn’t dare do it again.I won’t bore you with details, just tell you it was worthy of a Slytherin.
I roll my eyes fondly. All the boys had sent me, and probably the other girls, letters telling about their brilliant pranks. Though, none of them talked about Al’s prank, of course.
Anyway, the rest of the time I spend mostly reading and at Malfoy Mannor with the rest of the guys. You should see all the space they have. I bet you’d love to play Quidditch there.
So, see Em, you need to come soon, so your friends don’t drive me insane. I need someone intelligent to talk to.
Your best work partner
I close the letter carefully and sit in front of my desk. There was a small pile of letters to answer anyway.
The letter did surprise me. I was thinking those two sentences were all you were going to send. Yes, you’re not that classy.
I’d like you to remember that I put up with James, Fred and Jake everyday in school. That’s part of being a friend, I suppose. But don’t worry, the girls and I know how to handle them.
By the way, I think it was rather Gryffindor of you to get them back. As you BOLDLY set them straight. You might fight it, Potter, but there’s certainly a bit of lion in you.
My Holidays have been pretty uneventful. Just enjoying time with my family and brother. Don’t know if you remember him. The cocky and goofy Gryffindor Quidditch captain four years ago. Your brother is pretty much his fan, so you must know.
I’m in need of doing something different so you bet I’ll go to your house Saturday. Glad to know you enjoy our talks. High praise for a Slytherin like yourself.
Your intelligent study partner.
Then, I wrote a letter back to the boys, informing them of my Holidays and the stories my brother told me. I’m sure they’d like to hear that.
James has also told me of his new girlfriend and how he is a man in love now (his words). It didn’t surprise me. We’ve always been close and it made me honored that he isn’t afraid to be honest with me. James, even though he always likes to thrive on the attention he gets and jokes around, has a really soft heart. He’s pretty sensitive to his friends’ needs and is insanely loyal. That’s why I’ve always been so confused to why he never noticed the huge crush I had on him.
Freddie, in the other hand, is the complete joker. He’s completely oblivious sometimes but loves to make everyone laugh. Which he accomplishes almost every time.
Jake is the more laidback. He’s a constant partner to the boys and a complete dear to us girls. He’s also very affectionate, witch has earned us copious glares from his “fan base”. I love to seat with him and talk for hours. He’s always up to listening to people.
After answering them, I wrote to Anna and Zoe. To Anna, I talked about my brother’s teasing at dinner and the book I was reading. Honestly we can spend meters of parchment talking about books. It’s one of the passions we both share. I also gave her advice about her hot cousin. Really, Anna and I can talk about anything. The longest letter by far.
I had to hold back my laughter when I read Zoe’s letter. She practically just talked about Christmas’ Eve. Told me which clothes to wear, how to act, everything. She basically taught me a way to his bed. Other than that, she told me about the three boys who already asked her out at parties but none compared to her Oliver. I told her everything was under control and reminded her I had an interview to make and no time to spend seducing Albus. Then told her to tell the boys she had a boyfriend, already. Which really, was what her and Oliver were. Completely boy crazy, that one.
I sent my owl, Wing, with the letters and yawned, getting into bed. I fell asleep with a soft smile on my face.
Two days later, I had just finished putting on my red simple dress, black stockings and low-hilled boots. With a long beige coat thrown over my shoulders just in case. I’d applied some makeup and passed a perfume.
I thought I looked pretty good for the evening. Not too fancy but well dressed. The outfit all Zoe’s idea.
- Mum, dad! I’m going!
They come into the living room.
- Take this bottle of wine for his parents, dear. – My mum gives me the fanciest bottle we have.
- Have fun, love. But be home before 12:00.
- Don’t worry, dad.
- Good luck with the interview dear. I know you’ll be great!
- Thanks, mum. – I hug her.
- Behave, sis! Don’t get too handy with the Potter boy! Send hi to your friends for me! – my brother shouts from the kitchen.
I roll my eyes at my brother:
- Dont worry, Mason.
I grab my purse, with an extension charm to fit Al’s gift and the material for the interview, and say bye to my family again before grabbing a bit of floo powder and shouting “Potter cottage” to be engulfed in a whirlwind of ash.
After passing through thousands of fireplaces, I stop suddenly and take a step out of the fire. Surprisingly I don’t have much difficulty stepping out of the floo, compared to my brother who always falls face down.
What assaulted my senses was a loud noise of talk and laughter, people everywhere of almost all ages, and a delicious smell of turkey and other food I couldn’t quite identify.
The first person to greet me is James, who engulfs me in a hug and takes me off the ground.
- Em!!! You’re here!
- Yes, I am, James.
He puts me down just to be hugged by Jake and Fred with the same enthusiasm. The fourth boy, Ben, a Ravenclaw their friend, is more polite and shakes my hand.
- I’ll be right back, Em! My uncle Bill wants our help with the Christmas lights.
- Go, go James! I’m fine here. We talk later.
The boys go out and, of course, I’m left standing there awkwardly in the middle of the living room.
This gives me the time to look around. It’s nothing like I imagined it. Instead of high ceilings and grand corridors, it seems like those comfortable houses from the movies. Still, it’s beautiful, with modern furniture in some places and others with a more traditional look to it. The room in which I’m standing is painted a soft yellow color and seems like the biggest part of the house. There’s a big beige sofa and lots of comfy armchairs around. In front of the sofa there’s a fireplace, classic orange tiles around it. The lightning is strong and uses muggle electricity. I also can’t help but notice a big modern TV over the fireplace in a TV set.
While I’m occupied looking at the photos, wizard and muggle, which portray the whole family, someone calls my name.
I turn around to see a beautiful red headed woman, her long flowing hair unmistakable, and matching warm chocolate brown eyes. Ginny Weasley is holding a tray of what seems to be toast with tomato sauce and melted cheese. Beside her, there’s a smaller version of herself, only with darker red hair, that I’m used to seeing at school.
- Would you like some appetizers, dear?
- I, Y-yes. – my nervousness was 30% because she is Al’s mum and 70% because she’s basically my Quidditch idol. Inspiration to all female Quidditch players, really.
- Mum, this is Al’s girl, Emma!
I go as red as my dress and suppress a glare at Lily, who eyes me mischievously, pretending to smile innocently.
- Oh so you’re Emma! So nice to meet you, dear! Al has talked so much about you! – she shakes my hand.
- Much is an understatement. – Lily rolls her eyes.
- So, how long have you been dating?
During this whole exchange I just managed to stand there with my mouth slightly open, but at her last question I start to sputter:
- Thats, we’re not-
- Oh, sorry dear. That’s between you two of course. I’ll continue passing this food around and we can talk later, girl to girl. – she gives me a wink.
- But I-
I’m left talking to myself as the two Potter women leave.
Suddenly a hand touches my shoulder and I jump a bit.
- Come on, darling. This is getting boring already.
I hear a familiar deep boyish voice and turn around smiling. Instantly I wrap my arms around his neck. Even with the high heeled boots, he is a bit taller than me. The way he squeezes me and laughs gives no space for embarrassment.
- How are you, Em? I hope you haven’t been by yourself too long.
- No, the boys already found me. And your mum and sister.
- My mum already offered you food?
- She gets that from Grandma. – he shakes his head fondly.
- Well someone has to, since the person who invited me only shows up now. – I tease him.
- Well, for your information Miss Parker, I was checking something for you. But let me be the perfect host now, and introduce you to everyone.
With that, he grabs my hand and starts leading me through the house and backyard.
We have just started when I already know I’m not gonna remember all these names. Aside from his cousins that are at school, there’s still Victoire, easy to remember with her beauty, Dominique, her just as beautiful sister, Molly and Lucy, two lovely redheads. Then there’s Roxanne, who graduated two years ago and played beater with Zoe. Another of his uncle Bill and aunt Fleur is Louis, a laidback guy who was a Ravenclaw. The others I knew from Hogwarts and Al just did a quick explaining of who are the parents of each cousin. Though I think he doesn’t have much expectation of me remembering all of that.
Also outside were his uncles Charlie and Bill putting the Christmas lights with their nephews James, Fred and the boys. Their backyard was beautiful. I could see it allowed for some games of Quidditch, since there was a makeshift smaller pitch outside. It just wasn’t larger because the area was surrounded by beautiful trees and near the house there was a little garden with colorful flowers and vegetables.
They obviously lived near the countryside because the sky was clear with beautiful stars and there was no noise of cars.
- It’s beautiful here. – I say.
- You like it? – Al smiles. – From the window of my bedroom I can see the sky and the stars. That’s why I started Astronomy. Dad bought me a telescope when I was little.
This piece of information made me smile. This is the most relaxed I’ve seen Al. He speaks teasingly with his cousins but also fondly. And his green eyes shine talking about his family and his home. While we walk through the garden he points me places while telling me family stories. The night air is cold but my hand is warm, reminding me that he’s still holding it.
In their modern kitchen, chatting while helping make dinner are the Weasley women. The beautiful Veela Fleur, brown – haired smiling Audrey, Angelina another ex-Quidditch player, Ginny Potter and another woman that needs no introduction: Hermione Granger. And I have to make an effort not to stare.
As I’m being introduced to them all, someone squeezes me in a hug, smelling of cookies. I look up into the face of an elderly woman, with more grey than red hair now. She smiles as if she’s known me for a long time and grabs my cheeks, saying she’s very happy to see me.
- You’re such a beautiful young lady! I’m so happy Al invited a new friend to Christmas. He’s way too private for his own good. Though you are a bit thin, dear. – she starts scrutinizing me with her eyes – Don’t worry, there’s plenty of food in here.
- Alright, I have to introduce Emma to the rest of the house now. – Al grabs my hand again and pulls me away. The rest of the women laugh, though Mrs Potter glances at our joined hands.
In the living room I find his Uncle Percy talking about the Ministry to his godbrother, who is except for in blood, his oldest brother: Teddy Lupin. That’s one name I’ll certainly remember. Hard not to with his blue spiky hair and eyes that change colors even as he greets me charmingly, making me blush. Al murmurs something akin to “show off” under his breath and is quick to explain he works at the Department of Mysteries and is engaged to Victoire.
We pass Arthur Weasley talking to his granddaughter Lucy about Muggle Studies in a big chair by the fire, a very kind and excited man who greets me enthusiastically .
After that, the only ones left are the three men drinking bottles of Butterbeer and laughing together.
The first redhead I see all the time in Hogsmeade and he greets me warmly, commenting about how beautiful I look and winking at his nephew.
The second one is not unknown by name either but it’s the first time I see Ron Weasley up close. He matches everything I heard from stories in books and from his nephews, easygoing and funny, as he asks if his mother has tried fattening me up yet. His hairline is receding a bit, though it’s still an orange red. His blue eyes shine fondly as he talks about his mum.
Last but not least, I’m to meet the very man I’ll interview. I’m so starstruck the only thing I notice is his hair is black, not red like the others and he’s still a bit taller than Al.
- Dad, this is Emma Parker, my friend who wants to interview you. Emma, this is my dad, Harry Potter.
- I-It’s a pleasure Mr. Potter.
- The pleasure is mine, dear. – he answers in a firm voice and shakes my hand.
- Lets go to my office, then. It’s quieter for the interview.
- No, Mr. Potter. I don’t want to bother you now.
- No problem, Emma. – he is already walking to the corridor. – Lets do this now, so you can enjoy the party later.
As I walk behind him I turn to glare at Albus, for not giving me a warning before. Though he just smiles and waves.
Harry Potter’s office was elegant but with a touch of warmth. There was a grand wood table in front of a very high and comfortable chair. Two red armchairs on the other side. A bookcase from floor to ceiling filled with thick books. And in the walls and on the desk, pictures of all his children, including his godson. And one I noticed was at his wedding day.
- Please, take a seat. – he says while he seats at his own chair. I blush as I realize he caught me staring.
- No need to be embarrassed, Emma. Al already talked about the interview and there’s no problem to me.
I just nod, too nervous to talk.
He looks at me thoughtfully and says:
- Actually, he’s talked about you a lot in his letters. I wonder if there isn’t something I’m missing...
This time I don’t lose time in explaining:
- No, Mr. Potter. I mean Al and I are strictly friends, just that.
He grins, unexpectedly.
- My wife has already called you his girlfriend, hasn’t she?
- Well, yes... – I say confusedly.
He laughs freely, reminding me of Al.
- She was just kidding, Emma. Don’t worry. We have a friendly competition of who can embarrass our children more. You’ll understand when you have your own. It’s too funny.
I laugh with him, a lot more relaxed now.
This way I can really pay attention to the man talking to me.
I’ve seen loads of pictures of Harry Potter before, stamped in the pages of History books. But seeing him this close and really taking notice, it’s easy to find the striking resemblance to his youngest son. His handsome facial features are identical. And the green eyes are the same, except Harry’s are behind his trademark glasses.
The hair is the Potter’s messy black, except for a few lost grey streaks. Looking briefly you wouldn’t be able to see it.
And while he smiles gently at me, laughing lines appear at his mouth.
I couldn’t help but notice the famous scar on his forehead too. Much faded now from the pictures of him as a teenager, it almost fit his face now.
I realize the only difference I could see from Albus is the mouth. Al’s lips are more curved and full, which I assume resemble his mothers. Not that I’ve been paying attention, of course.
- So, whenever you wanna start. – he nods at me.
I grab my notes and quill, take a deep breath and start talking.
According to all who meet him, Harry Potter is the kindest and most down to earth man there is. And I could clearly see it now. He made this interview seem like a friendly chat, while I asked him the questions I didn’t find the answers to in our History books. I asked about Dumbledore’s army, how the meetings went and who had the idea for it. About the importance of his friend’s support during his mission, how did they plan to get into Gringotts. And also about the changes in the Ministry and Wizarding Comunity, what he thought changed for better and worse, and what he expected could be improved.
In what seemed like a few minutes, I realized my list of questions was complete. Though my hand was almost cramping, proof that it really was a long interview.
- I don’t know what to say, Mr Potter. This was so kind of you, taking the time to help me with this. And on Christmas Eve too.
- It was a pleasure, Emma, really. It was one of the best interviews I’ve ever been to. For once, only relevant questions. And not about my personal life, which can get very awkward most times. – he jokes.
I laugh, a bit self-consciously for being complimented by a man I admire so much.
- Besides – he continues, looking at me with eyes as expressive as his son’s – I’d always do it for such a good friend of Al’s. You know, joking aside, I’ve never seen my son so excited about a project as the one you two are doing together. He thinks highly of you, Emma. We can tell.
When he sees I’m too embarrassed to speak, he gets up and says, leading me to the door:
- Well, no use letting this party go to waste. The Weasley Christmas is something else, I assure you.
- So I’ve heard.
When I pass through the door, I come face to face with the youngest Potter male, hands in the pockets of his jeans, a light color this time, that matches his dark blue sweater, and munching on something. I notice a golden and thin chain around his neck that leads to underneath his well-fitted sweater.
- You took a long time in there. Hope you didn’t embarrass me too much. – he says lightheartedly to his father.
- Just enough. I’ll leave the rest for your mother. – Harry winks at me and messes Al’s hair up, leaving both of us alone.
- So, how was it? – Al smiles at me.
- Amazing!! I mean I have all the material I need. A guaranteed Outstanding!
He laughs at my enthusiasm.
- C’mon – he grabs my hand – I wanna show you something.
We’re walking up the stairs but there’s clearly an awkwardness about me caused by Albus’ parents questioning of dating their son. Al notices it too.
- They asked you about us dating, haven’t they?
- Sorry about that. They’re just excited I brought a girl home. They never know about my love life.
- So you’ve never introduced them to your girlfriends? – I frown
- There aren’t any girlfriend to introduce to.
- So, you haven’t ever been with a girl?
There’s no way Albus Potter, who has a list of girls falling at his feet, has never chosen one of them.
He shakes his head:
- Just haven’t had a girlfriend. Nothing more than Hogsmeade weekends and hookups at parties.
- Why? – I frown.
- I just never liked anyone enough to take that step with. – he shrugs.
At this point we’ve already climbed a staircase and entered a corridor where I assume the bedrooms are. He stops in front of one of the doors and continues our conversation.
- What about you?
He stares straight in my eyes:
- Have you had many boyfriends? It’s my turn to ask.
- No! – I almost laugh at him – I mean I dated for a time in fourth year. But that doesn’t really count. And I’ve been to like two Hogsmeade weekends since then. Nothing more.
He raises his eyebrows.
- Not surprised, are you? – I ask.
- Actually, I am.
Albus’ mouth is on a firm line, his jaw clenched and he looks at me as if in deep thought. My eyes keep getting attracted to his lips though. Rosy as they are from the wine he consumed and the shape they have.
He seems to get out of his thoughts and opens the door.
- Come on in.
Inside I walk into a beautiful room, with a big bed, light green walls and dark wooden furniture. To one side in front of a window, there is a desk with a pile of school books and quill and parchment strewn across it. A comfortable looking black leather chair in front of it. The bed in the middle has grey bedding and a pile of black and grey matching pillows. On the other side stands a tall wardrobe, a Firebolt V leaning on it. And above the bed, there is also a stand filled with books, in front of ... a Slytherin poster, of course.
- Nice room. Very Slytherin. – I say. I sense a delicious tropical smell, that reminds me of Al.
- Typical, right? – he walks in and, without preamble, starts to look in his trunk in the corner for something.
I laugh. But right there, with nothing to do while he searches, I get very self-conscious.
- So...And here? Have you ever brought a girl here?
What kind of question is that, Emma?!
- Nope. – he answers, coming near me with a little squared package on his hands. – Only family. Aside them, you’re the first. Why?
He’s very close now, looking down at me.
I know what a boy wants when they let you into their room. Zoe made sure to tell me. Although, admittedly, I’d never gotten into one that wasn’t family. This thought made my heart beat faster. But I didn’t feel at all like I wanted to leave.
- Open it. – Al almost whispers.
I remember the little package that he puts in my hands and start:
- Al, it wasn’t...
- You can stop with the polite refusal, Em. I want you to have this. – he puts his hand over mine.
I smile and start to open the gift.
Inside the messily wrapped box (clearly Al’s work) there is a little device I knew very well. Only this one was a light pink color.
- Is this...?
- An Ipod that works in the magical world? Yes, it is. – Al is grinning and actually looks like he’s the one that received the gift.
- This is amazing! But, Al, these aren’t cheap.
He shakes his head:
- My uncle George is working with them, remember? I just used my credit for working at his store during summers and he got me this. You’ll see that inside there’s already a playlist with our songs. I hope you don’t mind.
I throw myself at his arms and use it as an excuse for him not to see my moistened eyes. Not just because of the gift but because of the way he said “our songs” so naturally.
He hugs me tightly and I let go and hold one of his strong arms, remembering of a certain other Ipod which I hadn’t returned.
- Is it just me or is this a way to politely ask for your Ipod back? – I try to lighten the mood. But he’s very close and looking intensely at me now.
His hair is lightly brushing his eyes and I get the impression they glance at my mouth before looking at my own eyes again.
- I think we’re way past politeness, don’t you agree?
I can see the very light freckles on his nose and the pupils of his so green eyes. His breath brushes my face, his black hair shining in the light of the room. We’re so close to each other...
I startle when I hear his grandma yell:
- Kids! Dinner’s ready!
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