I was surprised when I heard the knock on my bedroom door. House elves didn’t come unless called for, and my mother usually opened the door with no regard for my privacy at all. But, I thought happily, maybe she’d finally accepted she had a teenage girl for a daughter and it was about time she started showing some respect.
“Come in!” I shouted without turning to look. My room was massive, and the closet was opposite the door.
“SURPRISE!” two voices yelled, scaring the hell out of me and making me drop the t-shirt I was about to pull over my head. I turned around and stared.
“What are you two doing here?!” I shouted.
“Whoa!” Black and Potter said, eyeing me. Only then did it register that I was topless and that they were enjoying the view a bit too much. I quickly recovered the dropped top and put it on, hastily covering my bra.
“There’s a bit of drool there” I said pointing at Black’s chin. He laughed loudly but didn’t look bothered at all.
“You almost gave me a heart attack. What the hell are you doing in my house?” I asked again. Black leaned back casually against my doorframe, but Potter was still standing awkwardly and… was he blushing?
“I thought your mother told you they had invited my parents for lunch” he said, eventually.
“That was today? I thought it was tomorrow” I pulled out a sweater and put it on over my top. “And you? What are you doing here Black?”
“He lives with us now” Potter replied. I looked at Black ready to make a joke about it, but he was somber. Something in the way he was trying to avoid my gaze made me halt.
“For real?” I said, instead.
“Yup” was all I got. I nodded, and grabbed my high heeled black boots.
“Are you going somewhere?” Potter asked, trying to lighten the mood.
“Actually, I made plans for lunch. I’m sorry, I really thought your parents were coming tomorrow, and my mum didn’t even mention you might be coming too anyway. You never have before” I explained. The Potters and my parents had been friends for ages, and I had met them several times. Their son, however, had stopped coming with them the same year we started attending Hogwarts.
“We can come with” said Black. “I’ve never been to this part of London before”
“Yeah, no. I don’t think so” I said, walking out of the room. They followed me.
“You’re meeting your boyfriend, aren’t you?” Potter said.
“Don’t even think about it”
“You can’t really stop us. The way I see it, you have two options: you either bring us with you, like a normal person would, or we stalk you and follow you and embarrass you in front of him. Your choice” he said, grinning like a maniac.
“Why?! Oh Merlin, why have you cursed me with these two for friends?!”
“You love us” Black said. I rolled my eyes at them.
“You don’t get it, I told him I go to a girls only school. How am I going to explain you two to him?”
“You tell him… tell him James’ your cousin and I’m his friend”
“No, you can be her cousin” Potter protested.
“Why does it matter!? I’m going to be late, I would really like it if you didn’t come” I said.
“Fat chance” Sirius said, grinning.
“One day I’m going to kill you and make it look like an accident, Black”
“You couldn’t live without me” he winked at me and I rolled my eyes.
“Fine, whatever, be annoying. Since you clearly enjoy torturing me, let’s go” I stormed off, and they followed.
I hadn’t realised how much I had actually missed them until we were walking down the street chatting and joking like we were back at Hogwarts. There was no denying they were too much fun to be around. I was laughing hysterically at something Black had said when we arrived at the pub where I was meeting Jax. It was the same pub where we had our first date, The Oaks Inn. I got us a table and sat across from them, looking around to double check Jax hadn’t arrived yet.
“So, how did you meet him again?” Potter asked.
“I was out running and basically barreled into him by accident”
“That’s my girl! You sure know how to impress a guy” Black said, laughing. Potter had joined him, but I was slightly thrown off by his choice of words. My girl was not something I ever thought I’d hear him say about me, not even as part of a harmless joke. I was so flustered I forgot to reply.
I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it because Jax walked through the door right that second. He saw me, then them, and raised an eyebrow in question. I smiled and waved him over to the table.
“Jax’s here. Please, remember he’s a muggle” I whispered. Both of them smiled mischievously and turned around to get a look at him. Oh crap.
I didn’t know what to say or think. I couldn’t do anything but look from Padfoot to this Jax guy, to Padfoot, to Jax again. If you made a muggle clone of Sirius, it wouldn’t resemble him as much as Jax did. It was eerie. Had Jocelyn picked him because of this? Or was she as oblivious to this as she pretended to be? Surely not? It was impossible not to notice. Jax looked more like Sirius than his own brother Regulus did. It was weird. It was freaking me out, big time.
“Hey gorgeous” he said, leaning in to kiss Jocelyn. I averted my eyes, just because it was rude to look at people kissing.
“Jax, these are… uhm… James and Sirius” she finally said. I realised that this was probably the first time she had ever said my name since I could remember. It sounded really nice when she said it.
“He’s her cousin, we’re visiting for the holidays” Padfoot jumped in. Was he freaked out that he was basically talking to a copy of himself? Jax seemed to be a bit unnerved by it, though he was trying hard to hide it.
“You’re related?” he asked.
“He is, I am not” Padfoot seemed totally unfazed by this Jax guy.
“Who are you again?” Jax was fixed on Sirius, Jocelyn shifted uncomfortably on her seat.
“Just a friend of James’”
“Right” he glanced over at Jocelyn and she smiled at him sweetly.
“I’m sorry, remember I said we had guests tomorrow? Turns out I got it wrong and they came today. I didn’t want to cancel on you last minute, but couldn’t really leave them alone at my place, my cousin only comes rarely and my parents would freak out on me and Sirius lives with James so I thought I’d bring them along…” was Jocelyn rambling? Was she nervous because Jax made her nervous or because we were here? I was so confused.
“It’s cool, no worries. Family is family” he kissed her head. “What do you guys want, then?”
“Burger and chips, please” she said. I looked at Padfoot, who shrugged as if to say 'whatever she said' and so we ordered the same. He walked over to the counter to order. What a gentleman.
“So, we’re on first name basis now, are we?” Padfoot said, smirking at Jocelyn. She groaned in frustration.
“I couldn’t exactly introduce my cousin by his last name, that would have been weird”
“It’s cool. I was wondering how long it was going to take you to start acting normal” Padfoot said. Why was he always hellbent on making small dabs at her? No wonder she was permanently irritated at him unless they were flying.
“Normal is so overrated”
“So I’ve heard” I watched them bicker like I was watching a tennis match.
There was no pause, no room to interrupt or insert myself in the conversation. It was irritating me. It went on for a few minutes, They could argue about nothing at all. It was really quite a difficult skill to master. I personally had no idea how they did it. Eventually, I just cut Jocelyn off in the middle of a retort.
“Excuse me, are we just going to ignore the fact that this Jax guy looks like…”
“Like what?” oh, crap. He was back. Great timing, Prongs, I thought.
“A lot older than Jocelyn” Padfoot for the win! What are best friends for if not to save you from these kinds of things?
“I am only nineteen, mate. It’s not a big deal” he scoffed.
I nodded. “No big deal, it’s just the first time Jocelyn has a boyfriend so everyone in the family is a bit curious” I said. If looks could kill she had just murdered me.
He looked at her as if he was waiting for her to say something but she stayed silent. The food arrived and we ate in awkward semi-silence, only broken here and there by the odd comment on how good this food was. Padfoot and I inhaled our burgers and sides, then proceeded to steal chips from Jocelyn’s plate.
“You guys are gonna lose a finger if you keep doing that” she threatened, waving her knife menacingly.
“You’d never hurt my precious hands, you know too well how good I am with them” Padfoot said, wiggling his eyebrows. What was he doing? Why was he winding Jax up on purpose? It sure as hell was working, he almost choked on his food.
“What is that supposed to mean?” he said, looking to Jocelyn for an explanation. She rolled her eyes.
“Don’t, he’s just trying to annoy you. I’m disappointed Sirius, was that really the best you could come up with?” she smiled sweetly at him. He laughed.
“You don’t want to know” he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her again. I nodded vigorously. I knew for a fact nobody needed to know what Sirius thought an over the top sexual innuendo was like. She rolled her eyes again. I noticed she did that a lot. It was kind of cute.
“Sirius plays baseball. He’s got mad batting skills” she shrugged trying to diffuse the situation.
“Is he always like this?”
“Most is the time, yes. He’s very annoying” she sighed dramatically and Jax smiled. They both ignored Sirius protests and kissed briefly. I shot Padfoot a look that I was hoping said ‘if you’re trying to make them awkward, it’s not working’.
“James, your eyes are crossing a bit, you okay?” Jax asked. What a twat.
“Yes, yes. I think Sirius and I are gonna go now, they’re probably done with lunch at yours anyway” I stood up. Padfoot was going to protest, I could see it. “We are leaving, now”
He frowned but stood up. “Nice to meet you Max!” He said cheerfully.
“Sorry” he was so not sorry. At all.
I waved a goodbye, and we left. We walked in silence for a bit, then I couldn’t refrain myself.
“What is your problem mate?”
“You always have to say something to annoy her, one way or the other. It’s not cool”
“Woah, what’s the matter with you? It’s just banter, you and her both know it. You never said you had a problem with it before. She pretends she hates me but we know deep down she doesn’t” he puffed his chest like a peacock smiling proudly.
“But why? Why do you have to push her buttons all the time? Do you fancy her? We’re not in third grade anymore, if that’s your strategy I can tell you now it won’t work. We're way past pulling pigtails in the playground, mate” I said him. He shook his head chuckling lightly.
“You know I hated that she’s better at transfiguration than I am. I spent years being mean to her, it’s a tough habit to break out of”
“I don’t buy that for a second Padfoot”
“Why? I mean yes sure I’m over that stupid ‘I can’t remember your name’ thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a bit of banter with her”
“I think you fancy her” I insisted. I was pretty convinced he did, and the more I thought about it the more it annoyed me. Because I had realised that I fancied her, too.
“I do not. I mean, sure she is hot as fuck and I wouldn’t say no to a bit of fun, but that would probably make it awkward when we train together so it’s not worth it” he said.
“So, you do fancy her but won’t act on it because she’s on the team?”
“Maybe… I don’t think Silverway is the type of girl to just fool around, you know? And that’s all I’m up for right now” he shrugged.
“Do you or do you not like her? Straight answer” I demanded.
“Prongs, why do YOU care so much?” He asked. Ah, nice one - the best defense is a strong attack.
“Well for one, I am your and her captain and you need to work as a unit...” he gave me a sharp look and I put my hands up in defeat. “Okay, fine, yes I think I do fancy her a bit” I said, simply.
“But I wouldn’t try anything if you said you fancied her too, you know that” if he wasn’t going to be honest with me, his loss. I wanted to have this out in the open to avoid any issues later on, after all no girl, no matter how incredible she was, was worth a fight with Padfoot.
“Hold on a minute! Where is this coming from? What about Red?” I looked at him funny. What did he think I was going to say?
“Evans wouldn’t date me even if it was a choice between me and the giant squid, you heard it loud and clear, too.”
“She’s said no a million other times, and that never stopped you before”
“I am tired of it, mate. I am tired of chasing after a girl that wouldn’t even be civil towards me” it was the truth. As much as I liked Lily, even I had a breaking point and I had reached it. Plus, she was all lovey-dovey with Cal now.
“But she is now. Civil, I mean. I would even go as far as to say that by the end of the year she’ll think of us as friends” he said tentatively.
“Only because of Jocelyn, though. If we weren’t friends with her Evans wouldn’t have ever even looked our way twice” I insisted. It was true; I wasn’t under any delusions about it. The only reason Lily and Alice had agreed to hanging out with us was because Jocelyn had asked them to. Things had changed now, with Alice crushing hard on Moony and all, but it was all because of Jo. “Besides, she is super loved up with Cal, like I said”
“Right, fine, so what is this about now? When did you start fancying Jocelyn?”
“Have you any idea how sexy that crazy stunt against Slytherin was?”
If I was totally honest, I had noticed her way before that. That very first breakfast of the year when Padfoot pretended, yet again, to not know who she was had been the first time I paid real attention to her in that way. There was something new in the way she stood up and said ‘nobody’. I could think of very few girls who could brush Sirius off with such collected confidence. After that, I’d find my eye wandering over to her every now and then. Lucky for us all, that’s how I had spotted her running on the grounds on tryouts day.
“Hell yeah, I’m not blind you know. And I’ll inform you that you are not the only one who likes her, by the way. You should hear some of the stuff seventh years are saying” Padfoot said. We were almost at her house by now, so I stopped and leaned on the wall outside.
It was obvious to everyone. Jocelyn had become one of the most coveted girls in school, despite the fact that she hadn’t event tried. People commented on her ridiculously good looks and her quiet confidence. The only reason she wasn’t fending off suitors was that everyone had heard she had a boyfriend, so was currently unavailable.
“So, are you going to ask her out?” He asked me.
“I think I will, I just need to wait until she dumps that muggle bloke”
“What makes you think she’ll go out with you?” He enquired. Was he for real? Best friends were supposed to hype you up for these things, not plant doubts in your head.
“Why wouldn’t she!”
“Someone else might ask her first” he said. Ah, well yes that was most certainly a possibility.
“What like a seventh year?”
“Or a sixth year. Matt is really into her” I studied my best friend carefully, there was a nagging sensation somewhere in the back of my mind but I couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“You know, you say you don’t fancy her but you’ve sure been paying a lot of attention” I pointed out. He shook his head again.
“Like I said, I wouldn’t say no but I am not interested in pursuing anything. I don’t think she’s the type to be okay with casual sex” fair point. That did sound like Padfoot all the way.
“Are you ever going to actually date someone, like, for real?”
“I’m too busy being a rebel mate, I don’t have time for girlfriends” he joked. I laughed.
“Well then, operation J is a go. I just need her to break up with what’s his face first” I said, smiling mischievously. Padfoot laughed again.
Jax wasn’t happy and I couldn’t really blame him. Black and Potter had made everything super awkward, and I still didn’t understand if they’d done it on purpose or it was just that they were obnoxious in general but I was now so used to it that it wasn’t a problem for me anymore. I couldn’t really blame it all on them, though. I had been back for an entire week and it had been both great and horrible at the same time. Jax could tell something was on my mind and I began using our sexual chemistry as an excuse to not talk about it. I knew engaging in heavy make out sessions to avoid addressing our issues was not healthy relationship behavior, but what was I going to do? I couldn’t tell him the truth and I couldn’t bring myself to break up with him, either. I kept putting it off, thinking 'I'll do it tomorrow'.
“I don’t like that Sirius guy” he said after a while. I sighed.
"Neither do I but he’s my cousins best friend” I shrugged. “He’s just obnoxious in general, Jax. It wasn’t personal”
“That’s not what I mean” he shook his head. “So, do you see these guys often?”
“Nah... every now and then only...” I avoided his eyes. I had found myself doing this more and more since I had come back. I hated lying to him. I couldn’t stop thinking that I was fooling myself, and that this was going to end in tears. How could I explore a relationship with a guy when every other word I told him was a lie?
“Alright, that’s it. I know you’re lying to me about something, and I don’t like it. I’m trying to be patient here, Jo, but I don’t know what to think anymore” he sighed. “It’s hard enough that I can’t see you or talk to you for months on end, I am not sure I can do this if you lie to me as well and act all weird when you are around”
“I know, it sucks. I am not lying to you though... there’s just some stuff I don’t want to talk about” it sounded lame even to me. Ugh.
“Look, I get it. Things change, feelings change. I wouldn’t blame you if you told me you don’t want this anymore, but tell me. Don’t string me along”
“I do still fancy you, a lot” it was the truth. He was so handsome he made my legs go weak when he looked at me intently. And I loved kissing him.
“What’s the matter then?”
“I’m not sure I can do the whole long distance thing.” I said, defeated.
“It sucks” he agreed. I sighed and leaned into him. I loved the way it felt when he held me.
“What do you want to do, babe?” He asked me after a moment. I adjusted my position so I could look at him.
“Right now, I want to make out with you until someone tells us off for inappropriate behavior in a public space” I said, smiling mischievously at him.
“That’s really not fair” he said, but he wasted no time, and we got right to it.
It was tradition that every year one of the important wizard families in the circle my parents moved in would host a New Year’s Eve party known as the Crystal Ball. This year it was my parents’ turn. Our house was looking like I had never seen it before. My mother had gone all out, and it had paid off.
“What do you think?” She asked me.
“You aced it, it looks gorgeous. Everyone is going to love it”
“Thanks, dear” she smiled. “Are you ready to go now?”
She has begged me to go to the stylist with her. I had never bothered before; I never really thought it would make a difference. This time, however, was different. I wanted to look good, I wanted people to see me and think I was beautiful. So, I had agreed to go with her.
“There’s a few kids your age coming” she told me whilst we sat on the pedicure chairs. I felt a bit awkward with my hands and feet being handled by someone else, but oh well.
“Don’t tell me. Potter is coming” I feigned disgust.
“I thought you got along with him? Didn’t they meet that Jax boyfriend of yours and everything last week?”
“Yeah, we do get along, I just like to pretend otherwise. You know, keep them on their toes”
“Jocelyn Silverway, are you feeling okay?” she smiled.
“Very funny mum”
“I am happy for you. I was starting to get worried you were missing out on normal teenage experiences”
“What, you want me to get drunk and make out with random people?”
“That’s up to you. I just want you to know that’s an option. I know you, I trust you, and you know what? There’s nothing wrong with getting drunk and having a bit of fun. You are sixteen, Jocelyn. If you don’t do it now, you most likely never will”
I didn’t know what to say to that. My mother was right, of course. I had despaired many sleepless nights in fifth year wondering if I would ever fit in with everyone else. Now I did. I really did. And I was holding back, partly because of Jax and partly because I was still waiting to find out it was all a nightmare and nothing had really changed.
“I don’t know if I know how to do that” I said quietly.
“You are my daughter, I know you can. You are smart and witty, and have a great sense of humor. And you are a Quidditch star. Honey, if anyone is going to have it easy it’s you. You just have to want it”
“I... I don’t know what I want. I like Jax, but it’s so hard...”
“You knew this was going to happen. I have nothing against you loving a muggle, but now is not the time, and you are not in love. You shouldn’t be going through this, juggling two lives, pretending to be someone you’re not. Let him go, Jo. When you graduate you will meet someone else, and even if they are a muggle, it’ll be a different story. You'll be able to tell them then, if it's the real thing. Jax is a great first boyfriend, but I think you have to accept that's all he's ever going to be”
I mulled this over whilst the witches worked on my eyebrows and hair. I had never felt so pampered in my entire life; it was an oddly pleasant feeling. As I relaxed, I started to slowly accept that my mother was right. The start of my sixth year at Hogwarts had been a million times better than I even dared hope for, but it had not been all it could have. I knew this, and it bugged me. I hadn’t dared drink more than a glass of whiskey, I hadn’t spoken too long to any single boy at any given time, I hadn’t even practiced flirting. Did it make me a horrible person that I wanted to just fool around for a bit? I liked Jax, I liked Jax a lot, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t working. And I was pretty sure he knew it too.
We made our way back home with a couple of hours to spare. Jax agreed to meet me at the park where we had kissed for the first time, which was three minutes from my place. I threw on a pair of jeans and a heavy coat and dashed out, praying to Merlin he’d give me courage to do what I had to do.
“You look incredible” he said as soon as he saw me.
“I wish I could join this party your folks are having. It’s going to suck not being able to kiss you when the clock strikes midnight” he grabbed my hand and pulled me closer to him.
I gathered all my Gryffindor courage then and, before he could kiss me and distract me, I looked him straight in the eye and, with a sad look, spoke.
“Jax… we need to talk”
“I know. I don’t want to” he said, kissing me. I let myself be lost in his lips for a long while, ignoring the world around us. When we finally broke apart, I knew I couldn’t say what I had to say.
“I know what you are going to say, Jo” he whispered in the small space between our lips.
“I’m sorry… I really am” I felt tears fill my eyes, and tried to keep them in.
“I know. I am too” he spoke softly, still so close to me I could feel his breath tickling my cheek. As the tears fell freely down my face, I looked into his eyes.
“I want you to know that even though it was short, and even though it didn’t work out, this was the best first relationship a girl could ever hope for” I said, truthfully. He smiled.
“I wish I’d met you at a different time. I really do. I keep thinking if I’d met you when you were done with school, we would have rocked the world together”
“I have no doubt” I smiled at him. “You will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget my first love”
“I don’t think I’ll forget you either. You are a rockstar, babe” he said. I leaned in for a last kiss. It was bittersweet.
“I’ll miss you” I said.
“I’ll miss you too”
He stayed on the bench, smoking cigarette after cigarette for a long time after I walked away. I know this, because I stood at the edge of the park for a long time too, wondering why life had to be like this. It hurt, I knew I would recover and quickly, because my heart wasn’t broken, but it still hurt. More than that, it felt unfair. With one last longing look in his direction, I turned around and headed home.
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