A/N: Here is the next chapter, which is, admittedly, long overdue, but I gave up thinking I was stellar enough to post regularly long ago. I am going to finish this story. It is not on hiatus (at least, I hope that wasn't considered a hiatus). I just needed a bit to figure out where I wanted it to go , because, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, it is a bit longer than I had originally planned for. I'd say we're about half way through at this this point, so we might as well finish it, yeah?
On a separate tone, a couple of you expressed that you were interested in seeing the exchange between Emelia and her family, so I did take the time to pen that and insert it after the chapter where it would have been (Run-ins and Ron) had it been included initially. If you don't care to read about how Emelia's family took the news, then read on! Otherwise, that is there for your enjoyment as well.
I'll offer one last apology before my usual, Enjoy!
We landed in James' entry way with a small 'pop'. Immediately, James was on high alert. "What is it?" I whispered frantically.
"Someone's here…" He edged forward, looking carefully around the corner into the living room. Just then, we could hear his Uncle Ron's voice waft across the space. He must have been in the kitchen, because the living room was empty once I got around to see.
James sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I really do not feel like dealing with him right now."
My face scrunched in confusion. "I thought you said we needed to talk to him anyway…"
"Well, yeah, but…I just…not right now." He set himself to go into the kitchen, probably to tell his uncle to get out, but I shot a hand out to stop him.
He turned, irritated, back towards me. "What if we can convince him without talking, and still make him want to leave at the same time?" James looked dubious. "Feel like a little more acting today?" I waited not a second as I jumped on him, wrapping my legs around his waist.
He caught my weight effortlessly, holding me up. Catching on, he moved his hands to my bum, grinning like a teenage boy. I rolled my eyes before taking his jumper off of him and unbuttoning most of the buttons on his shirt. I ran my hands through his hair, mussing it up, before giving him the signal that we were good to go.
He caught my lips with his and proceeded to snog the living day lights out of me whilst walking us towards the kitchen. Hopefully, his Uncle Ron would get flustered enough to leave on his own.
I forced a giggle when James moved his lips from my own to my neck. He backed me up against a wall next to the staircase and kissed down my shoulder while I threw my head back in the throws of mock passion.
The only thing that made us break apart was the sound of a throat clearing. We pretended to be startled by there being someone else in the room.
I jumped away from James, simultaneously pulling down my dress that had managed to ride up a little high during our..erm..acting. James turned, looking ready to rage at whomever had interrupted him.
However, our feigned surprise quickly turned to that of real astonishment, and soon horror, as we realised it wasn't his Uncle Ron that was in the kitchen.
It was his whole family.
I squeaked upon the realisation and felt my cheeks begin to burn. His mum and dad and Lily and Albus and Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione and Freddy were all there in the kitchen…staring at us.
"What in the bloody blazes are you lot doing here!" James demanded, re-buttoning his shirt. He reached over and pulled my trembling form into his side, assuaging my anxiety.
"We…erm…" his father attempted an explanation, but only managed to cough awkwardly.
"Look, mate," Freddy began, holding his hands up and stepping in front of the rest of the group. "It's all just a misunderstanding. We'll just go and let you get back to business with your smoakin' hot fiancée. Ow!" Mrs. Potter whacked his arm.
"What?" Freddy managed to sound indignant and not even the least bit ashamed. "It's true," he pouted petulantly.
Lily, unable to stay silent any longer burst forward. "Uncle Ron thinks that Emelia is only using you for your money and fame! He thinks she is a fraud!"
"Lily!" Everyone jumped in to reprimand Lily this time.
"Well," Freddy piped up. "That about explains the misunderstanding. And it clearly was a misunderstanding if that little performance was anything to go by." Once again, Freddy was cuffed upside the head by Mrs. Potter.
James' Uncle Ron had yet to say anything, but had managed to turn an interesting shade of red. Harry grabbed his arm. "Come on, Ron. Time to go, mate."
Ron wrenched his arm free. "I know what I saw! How can you believe her? Harry, you believe me, right?" Harry sighed.
"Come on, Ronald. Let's go home." James' Aunt Hermione grabbed his uncle by the ear and pulled him towards the door.
Slowly, the rest of James' family apologized and made their way out as well…except for Freddy. He leaned himself casually against the counter, eating an apple. He looked up into James' serious face before putting his hands up in surrender and leaving as well.
As soon as they had all gone, James let out the breath he seemed to have been holding, his intimidating posture deflating.
I reached up to rub his shoulder. "Mission accomplished?"
"Yeah." He nodded his head slowly, lost in thought.
"Ready for bed?"
He smirked lightly, squeezing my hip a bit. "Yeah." I pulled him up the stairs.
"Tomorrow you're moving in," he suddenly said from behind me. "One less thing we'll have to explain." I nodded quietly. It made sense.
I pushed him down onto his bed and pulled off his jeans. "Sleep," I commanded. I had plans to occupy his couch until he reached out for me.
What was the harm? We had already slept in the same bed together multiple times, what was one more in a fake engagement?
I crawled onto his bed and curled into his side. "Goodnight, James."
The next morning, I woke early. James was still sprawled out next to me in bed, his hand resting just over mine. Slowly, I pulled my hand away and James panicked slightly in his sleep.
"Shhh," I soothed. I rubbed his arm lightly until his brow un-furrowed and he dropped off into sleep again. I wiggled my way off the end of the bed, trying not to disturb James any more.
Free of the silk-y confines of his sheets, I realised I had no idea what I wanted to do. I quietly used the loo and made my way downstairs to find my phone, hoping it would present some options.
Work was out, due to my 'extended vacation'. Gran would be up, but she had tea with her friends today. She wouldn't mind me coming, of course, —in fact, she would love it— but, I did not feel like getting quizzed and prodded by a team of older women.
Leo was in Paris for work and going anywhere to volunteer would just bring the media's attention and ruin the whole volunteer project.
I flopped down on James' couch, frustration rolling over me. I just wanted my normal, boring life back. The one where Gran chastised me for wearing old trainers and baggy clothes, or where I could actually talk to Leo without lying to him. The one where I talked to Leo at all!
I could feel the frustration and anxiety building up in me, swirling and crashing against my bones. If I sat here much longer, I would become a miserable wreck, so I decided I would go for a run. I apparated over to my place and threw on some running gear. I kept to my long leggings and one of Leo's pullovers I had borrowed to keep as much of myself hidden as possible and then I set out.
I had no idea where I was going, or for how long I would be out, but I didn't care. I couldn't afford to think right now.
I focused on keeping a decent pace, distancing myself from everything. Half an hour in, I ran past a boy selling papers that had James and I splashed above the fold.
I ran faster.
After a time, I found myself in an unfamiliar area. I hadn't paid much attention to my direction when I set out and so, had no idea where I was now.
I slowed to take in my surroundings. I was in a residential area, near a park, but it was safe to say that it wasn't the most savory of places. I did a quick scan of the park to check for any potential paparazzi or other obsessed nutters.
Seeing no one, I made my way over and flopped in the grass, pulling my hood off. I laid there a bit, staring up at the sky.
I imagined myself as a character on the telly, painting my life as much more dramatic than it actually was. Potentially, right now, it wouldn't be a half bad story…
I smiled at what it would be like to be one of those characters. Not the actors, I was fairly certain I knew what the actors felt like, being as I had become one over the past couple of weeks, but the actual characters. Did they feel like their life was dramatic? Did they ever want a break for the stress? Did they like how fast-paced and improbable their stories were?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bit of movement. Just a quick flash.
I sat up instinctively to see what it was.
A man, or what I thought was a man, lunged behind a tree as I sat up. I glanced around to see if anyone else was in the park. It appeared that it was just the mysterious figure and I.
I slowly leaned over to try and see around the tree. However, leaning garnered me no new insight, but did cause me to tip over into the grass.
I picked myself up, fully standing this time, and brushed myself off. Whoever it was probably didn't want to be seen and Merlin knew I understood that. I pulled my hood back on, deciding to leave the poor soul alone.
Perhaps he was just shy…or she was just shy. I paused in brushing grass blades off of my arms. What if they had come over for some other reason? Could they have been lonely, looking for conversation?
Maybe I could talk to them… It'd be nice to meet someone new.
"Hello?" I slowly approached the tree, cautiously inching towards the hiding spot.
Of course, what if it wasn't a lonely person looking for company, but a madman? I huffed out a laugh. Anything was possible in my life.
I stopped a couple meters from the tree.
"Hello?" I tried again. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a bother. It's just that…well, I was wondering if you needed any help. I couldn't help but notice you, and I thought…er…" I paused.
"I'm not sure what I thought exactly," I chuckled. I waited to see if I would get a response, yet, the only reply I got was the leaves of the tree rustling lightly.
I waited a moment to see if anything else would happen. When nothing new presented itself, I decided to take action. I stepped to the left, attempting to see around the tree a little more. I watched, holding my breath, hoping to see even a little of the person.
A million visions of the horror stories Leo used to scare me with flashed through my head.
I took another small step to the left.
Leaves crunched under my feet.
A branch snapped in a nearby tree, but I still saw no person.
I slid my foot cautiously even more to the left.
I was nearly 2/3 way to the other side of the tree when an idea hit me. What if the other person was moving just as slowly as I was around the tree? We would be circling each other for an eternity if we kept going like this.
Setting my resolve, I pulled myself up and leapt the last of distance.
As I got round to the other side, the space I thought a person would have been occupying was completely empty. I stared at the spot curiously.
Could it have been a wizard who now had some sort of invisibility spell on? Or, maybe, a camouflage charm?
I slowly reached my hand out to the seemingly empty air, hoping to detect something. However, my hand went through the space effortlessly, proving that it was in fact just empty air. There was no glimmer or sparkle of a charm, no magical energy or anything of the sort, and definitely no person.
My brow scrunched in confusion. I surveyed the landscape. It wouldn't have been possible for anyone to run without my seeing them, and there was certainly nowhere else nearby to hide. Had they apparated, I would have heard them…
I waited to see if I could hear a tell-tale 'pop', but only heard the leaves rustling again.
I froze. The leaves shouldn't have been rustling. Today may have been a bit crisp, but it certainly wasn't windy.
Slowly, I turned my face upward to the tree branches looming over me.
I stumbled back when a face suddenly appeared between the leaves. "Run."
The man yanked out his wand and pointed it at me. He looked regretful. "I'm really sorry about this." He licked his lips and looked around, half crazed. He raised his wand.
I stumbled backwards. "Please! I didn't mean to—"
His small, dark eyes flicked to me sharply. "You should have run when I told you to." The figure melted back into the leaves, gone from view.
I waited a breath.
A hand landed on my shoulder and I screamed. I was spun quickly around and a hand clamped quickly over my mouth, silencing my cry.
Well, see you next chapter! (And if you want more to read, and you haven't done so already, check out the excerpt I added in after Run-ins and Ron.)