Title: What Forever Promises
Chapter Title: About Crime Scenes and Party Mishaps
Chapter Began: Saturday, July 26, 2008
Chapter Finished: Saturday, July 26, 2008
Chapter Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008
Disclaimer: None of the HP characters are mine.
Author's Note: Ah, thank you, thank you, and thank you. Great feedback helps me publish faster! Good thing all around.
Chapter One: About Crime Scenes and Party Mishaps
"I love you…"
"…without knowing how, or when, or from where," he whispered against her neck, his breaths coming in jagged. He was already excited, anticipating even. If only he could just wrap his fingers around her neck and squeeze… "I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride." He pinched her face hard, experimenting with the pressure of the tips of his nails and nodding his approval when she let out a frightened, painful sob, "So I love you because I know no other way…"
He reveled in the moment of silence and in her quick breathing. She was frightened. He liked it that way. He studied her face briefly for a second, watching as her blue eyes darted around the room, anywhere but at his mutated features. He knew he looked bad but he had been physically unattractive, revolting even, since he was a teenager. He was always used to people staring or not staring. He blamed it on his father…
He stepped back away from her suddenly and sighed, frustrated, saying in a mild-mannered voice, "Do you think she'll like it that way?"
The girl bound to the mahogany chair whimpered, closing her eyes against his voice and crying silently.
This had no effect on him. None except arousal. "Come on. We've been at this for a good three hours and you haven't spoken more than five words." He leaned closer toward her and chuckled softly when she swung her head to the side, all in an effort to keep distance. She was tied up, of course, so there really wasn't much she could do. "I mean, the same spoken words repeated over and over and over again… Surely you have more to say than please do not kill me. Anything? Nothing?"
The girl remained silent, tears cascading down her dirty cheeks, and she finally shook her head, slowly, reluctantly.
He merely shrugged, turning away from her. "Better luck next time then, Shauna."
James exhaled slowly, running an exhausted hand through his untidy hair and glancing down the street from where he stood on the sidewalk. It was about four in the afternoon and his son's birthday party would begin in an hour and a half. All Harry's camp friends from the beginning of the summer would be over at the house along with the rest of the family. James had gone to the grocery store and despite both his wife and his son doubting his good memory, James also remembered to get everything for the birthday party tonight. No one would be able to say anything to James about forgetting anything. He had it all covered.
As he turned toward his house, a woman picking through his garbage caught his eye. He frowned, debating on whether he should ask her what the hell she was doing or to just let her do her thing. When he was about to let her be, he noticed the type of clothes she was wearing. Nice, matching, classy… not the usual words he would classify a trash-grazer. When she suddenly glanced up at him, he quickly looked away, awkwardly scratching his scalp and stuffing his hands in his jeans pockets. He swallowed thickly and started up toward his house.
"Are these yours?"
He stopped walking and turned back to look at the woman, confused. She was pointing to some of the paintings he had trashed a few days ago. She lifted one in particular and began examining it, turning it over on its side, a small smile playing at her lips. When he didn't answer right away, she looked up from the painting and gazed at him with something like admiration in her blue-green eyes.
"Why are they in your trash?" she asked, when she realized he wasn't going to answer her first question.
He shrugged. "I guess I wasn't in the mood to look at them, or walk by them, or… ever see them again…"
"You're James Potter right?"
His eyes widened a fraction. That was kind of creepy.
She noticed this and laughed suddenly, nervously. "No, I'm—I'm not a stalker or anything. It's just—you were interested in selling some of your work at one of the galleries downtown about a month ago. The West Urban Art Institute?"
Recognition clicked in James's mind and he nodded, "That's right. The manager said he wasn't looking to display the works of inexperienced artists…"
The woman looked irritated. "Yeah, Malachi can go rot in a bush, I thought your work looked phenomenal. It's just what that gallery needs to get some attention back in that place. It's been dead ever since the Homer Gallery opened two blocks down."
James was once again surprised by this woman. "Malachi?"
"Oh, I know the manager." The woman nodded. "I'm an independent agent and a small handful of my clients have their pieces at the West UAI . I'm actually really good friends with the owners so they usually give us good deals when Chi decides to be a jerk. He's really not all that bad once you get to know him…"
James nodded, silently. He wondered if her picking through his trash and finding his art was some sort of prelude to an introduction she originally wanted to initiate at the gallery but hadn't gotten a chance. The truth was, when this Malachi told James he didn't want the work of an inexperienced artist, James basically flipped a cow, told Malachi off, and stormed out. James had had quite a week, trying to join a gallery without an agent, and that short, grumpy man had just been the icing.
The woman laughed. "You know, you're a lot quieter than I expected you to be. Well, I mean, after you told Chi off…"
"I'm just, um," James scratched the back of his head and frowned deeply at her, "I'm just wondering what you were really doing picking through my garbage. I mean—it's kind of illegal…"
The blonde looked taken aback but smiled nonetheless, holding out her hand for him to shake. "Elizabeth Manson. People I like call me Liz."
James hesitantly shook her hand and when he did, he felt a stiff piece of paper crush against his palm. He frowned and looked down at his own business card. The one Remus had helped him create when he began looking for galleries to host his artwork. It had his name, his address, and his telephone on the card and it suddenly all made sense to him. She wasn't really a creepy stalker who picked through people's garbage. She was a legitimate agent. Shit…
She shrugged, good-naturedly. "I picked it up after you threw it at Chi and stormed out."
James smiled. "And you decided to come to my house and dig through my trash illegally in order to stage an introduction? To what, exactly?"
"James, you're a very passionate person," Liz said in a business tone, "I don't mean to assume too much about your personal life because I don't know you, but what I mean to say is that you bear your heart in your artwork. Your love is very obvious in these pieces and it was obvious that day at the West UAI."
"Thank you," he murmured, never having been told by someone else interpret his artwork from a professional stance before.
"You're welcome." Liz replied simply. "But, the only thing you lack is an appropriate business representative. Someone who can be the in-between, middle man, or woman," she smirked, "And I'm interested in being that for you. Because you have it. You have talent, you have heart. You just need me."
It was a lot to take in. Just a few short hours ago, he had been sitting in the café with Lily, basically telling her that he would be giving up his dream of becoming a serious artist and that he was thinking about taking a job at the downtown office with his father. Now, he was standing in front of a real agent. A real agent who seemed to believe in his work, believe in his art, his love. Not even for the money but because he had heart. She had even said he had passion. That was very true.
"What do you say?" Liz smiled. "This could be the start of a very successful partnership…"
Happiness, something so raw that he hadn't felt in months, burst alive within him. He felt a brilliant smile overtake his features and without thinking, he let out an excited, "WHOOP" and grabbed Liz's hand, shaking it repeatedly. He murmured thank you many times and leaned down toward her, giving her a very brief, very excited hug. He just couldn't keep from smiling as he stood back and looked into her reddening face.
"Thank you so much," he said, feeling lighter.
"You're very welcome." Liz brushed the blonde strands from her face and added, quite amused, "And I hadn't really planned on digging through your trash but I guess that's where you keep the goods."
James laughed, embarrassed. "I haven't had much cause to feel proud of my work lately. Especially since no one's been interested…"
Liz shook her head and her voice took on that business tone again. "The truth is, no art gallery is going to take you in unless you have one or all of three things. One, an agent. Two, a successful, worthy resume. And, or three, lots and lots of money. Talent is requested but is not required. I mean, you have seen some of the artwork that's in some of these galleries, right?" Liz shook her head, glancing away briefly. "Those should be in the trash. Not your pieces."
James nodded, for the first time in a long time, feeling confidence in his own work.
"Anyways, I sense I caught you at an awkward time so here is my business card." She handed him another stiff card. "On it, you'll find not only my basic information but my available times throughout the week. And… I'll be waiting for your call, James. It was nice properly meeting you."
She waved at him before walking down the street a little ways and unlocking her car door. He watched her step into the expensive, little car before she drove away.
James played with her card in his hands for a few seconds, staring at the place where her car had made a left turn. He laughed to himself and without another thought, grabbed a few of his paintings and hauled them up the driveway toward his house.
"It's about damn time."
The second man smirked at the first as he came to stand in front of a criminal investigation scene in one of the living rooms of a high rise apartment, stuffing his hands in his pockets casually.
"What are you lot doing up there, anyways? Smoking cigars, huddling by a fire, and playing poker?"
"You know, we've got it just as tough as you've got it down here." The second man said, slightly irritated, but he motioned to the scene in front of him. "What are we looking at?"
The first man, older in age and greyer with experience, slipped underneath the yellow band that blocked anyone's rights to move across it. He motioned for the second man to follow him. "Neighbors called because they heard a woman screaming hysterically. Obviously, no one dared to knock on the fellow's door and so they waited until after the screaming stopped to call the operator at the station…"
The second man swallowed when he saw the victim. "Looks like your typical murder case. Murderer obviously raped her before killing her. Bound—a typical sign of some sick sexual act… did anyone find any semen?"
The older man shook his head. "When we arrived, we found her. Nothing else."
The younger man sighed, scratching his chin. "He cleaned the place before he left?"
"Truth is, she's not the first one we've found like this."
"What do you mean?"
The older man pulled out a plastic bag from his jacket and handed it to the younger man. "Apparently, that's not her real hair color, either. And check out the last photo in the stack and tell me what you make of that." He shook his head. "I've been doing this for a long time but I've never seen this type of thing to the degree he's brought it. These photos were taken and left by him."
The younger man stared at the photos, moving back and forth between two in particular. In the first photo he looked at, the woman had blonde hair and in the second, she had red hair. He frowned, his heart pounding in his chest. He shook his head briefly to clear any thoughts and did as the older man advised. He glanced at the last photo and when he did, he immediately shut his eyes, disgusted.
"That's not how she died, though," the older man said quietly, "You'd think, you know… with all that blood. No… this is how she died." And he pulled out another photo and handed it to the younger man.
The second man looked at the photo briefly and looked away just as quickly. "How long did you say you've been seeing this same type of thing?"
The older man shrugged. "For about three weeks? Two girls each week. Same hair dying, same eye coloring, same cause of death. It's incredible, really. That's why we called you down here. We haven't seen this type of terror in about ten years. We wanted to know if—well, if he's still locked up."
The younger man clenched his jaw and nodded briefly. "He still is. But there's—there's another reason why I was sent down here." He nodded to the victim. "And I think it's for the same guy."
The older man sighed heavily. "Well, I hope we can figure this out together because I'm having a hell of a time doing it by myself."
The second man nodded and stood up quietly. "I'm just going to call someone, if you don't mind…"
"No, no… I don't mind. I'll just be over here, talking with the captain. Wave over when you're finished."
The younger man nodded and waited until the other man was out of earshot. He dug into his jacket and pulled out a cell phone, dialed a number and put it to his ear. When someone finally answered, he said, "Severus, it's me, Chelsea. No—no, put Dumbledore on the phone. It's extremely important…"
Lily watched in amusement when her birthday boy ran over to his grandmother and gave her a big bear hug. She laughed when Harry's grandfather tricked him, holding his hand out for a high five and then at the last second, holding it out of reach.
"Papa!" Harry jumped from side to side, trying to slap his grandfather's hand with his own before Nicholas Potter finally relented. "Thank you! Jeez!"
The older Potter couple chuckled, both leaning in to embrace Lily with a hug and a kiss.
"How are you, Ms. Lily?" Nicholas asked softly, his eyes twinkling with mischief the way James's did sometimes when he looked at her.
Lily poked her father-in-law on the shoulder. "Nana, your husband has some explaining to do later on."
Annette smiled, patting Lily affectionately on the back. "Of course, Lily. He always does. Now, where do the birthday boy's presents go?"
Lily motioned to the front sitting room where a small stack had already been started. "Right over there with the others is just fine but Harry, why don't you show Nana and Papa the early present Jordan got you?"
Harry grinned broadly. "Oh, Papa, you're going to love this! Come on!"
Annette held back. "Is it something I'm going to love?"
The five year old shrugged. "If you love wizards and flying broomsticks…"
Annette pretended to wipe sweat from her brow. "Oh, I can definitely learn to love those things."
Harry led his grandparents away to another room just as Lily turned toward James jogging down the stairs.
"Oh, hey," Lily said just before James leaned down and gave her a quick kiss, "Your parents just walked in. Harry's showing him his new playstation games. But, earlier when I got home, you said you needed to talk to me about something?"
James wrapped his arms around Lily, pulling her closer against him. "Hmm, I just need to make a quick phone call and then if we have time before everyone shows up, we'll talk."
He started to walk away but she tugged on his arm, causing him to look back at her. She gazed at him in concern and said, "Does this have anything to do with what we talked about earlier?"
He gave her his famous goofy, lopsided grin, saying, "Baby, we talked about a lot of things earlier…"
Her gaze darkened. "You know what I'm talking about."
James laughed softly, gently pulling his arm from her grasp and winking at her, "It's all good, I promise."
Before she could say anything, the doorbell rang and James had already turned down the hallway to walk away. She rolled her eyes at the complexity that was her husband before turning and opening the front door. She smiled big when she saw that it was Remus and Tonks. They had married only shortly after James and Lily, and had been together for a long time. In fact, the happy couple were still trying to conceive.
"Hello there," Remus murmured, kissing Lily's hairline as he walked in after his wife.
"Wow, this is about the cleanest I've seen this area in a long while," Tonks said, grinning broadly and hugging the redhead affectionately. "Usually, this hallway is filled with muddy tracks and toy cars."
Lily laughed softly, shrugging and putting her hands on her hips. "Well, he's hardly been home all day and we made a pact together to keep this area clean. Just for today."
Remus glanced around. "Where is the little guy?"
"Running around and keeping his grandparents busy, I suppose," Lily smiled. "I'm sure you two will have to get used to muddy tracks and toy cars if you're going to have a baby."
"I'm going to go put these—put these in the, um, the front room." Tonks said suddenly, and exited quickly.
Lily frowned and turned to Remus. "Is she alright?"
Remus shrugged. "Just a little anxious is all. Bella's coming soon, I heard?"
The redhead nodded. "Yep. Have you spoken to her?"
He nodded as well. "She's excited and nervous and happy and scared and… the list goes on. I told her she's coming home to family—"
"It's S-I-R-I-U-S she's concerned about seeing," Lily murmured quietly.
"I hope you know that I know when you're talking about me," a voice said, coming down from down the hallway, "I can spell my own name unlike some five year olds."
Lily and Remus turned to see Sirius walking down the hallway with Harry on his shoulders.
Harry glared down at his uncle. "I can too spell my own name! I'm not stupid, Uncle Sirius."
"Ah," Sirius smirked, coming to stand beside Lily, "Just like his moth—"
Lily punched him half-heartedly on his shoulder. "You. Don't you dare finish that sentence."
Harry slid down Sirius's back and ran down the hallway again.
"I think I am going to go see where my wife went to." Remus said after a moment. "Where are the rest of the little people?"
Sirius patted his best friend on the back and said with a grin, "Little people, Moony?" He frowned after a pause. "Remus, buddy, are you sure you're ready to be a father?"
"Yes, well," Remus cleared his throat and motioned down the hall, "As I said, I am going to see where Tonks ran off to. I'll catch you in a few."
Lily and Sirius stared after Remus, both expressions of confusion.
"Listen, Red, about the whole Bella thing…" Sirius began but she shook her head.
"Sirius, I don't want to talk about this now." Lily said. "It's Harry birthday party and he, as well as all of us, deserve a special occasion where there is no drama, no tears, no arguments. Nothing but pure fun and happiness."
Sirius frowned at the redhead. "What kind of occasion are you talking about?"
Lily sighed, guiding Sirius down the hallway toward the kitchen. "I'm talking about a nice gathering and nothing getting in the way of that. Now, go… find my husband and tell him to get his behind back in the house. It's his son's birthday."
Lily smiled, rolling her eyes and turning back toward the front door which was already ringing.
By seven o'clock, the birthday party was already live and kicking.
Harry ran around outside in the backyard with his summer camp buddies, Ron and Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood. He was a good little host, too, always offering to share his birthday toys with his friends and showing them where everything in the house was, like the food or the bathroom. He played around with his uncles, Jordan and Sirius, and even coerced James into playing with the kids for a while.
It was about seven-thirty when Lily opened the front door to see Bella Potter, her husband's younger sister and her best friend. The two women wordlessly embraced, hugging one another for a long time. Lily and Bella hadn't seen each other in a good ten months, for Bella had been in the Sudan for eight months. The only person who went to visit her there was Sirius and only James knew more about that visit than anyone else.
"Oh my god, I feel like I haven't seen you in a year," Lily gasped, standing back and examining her best friend. Her sister-in-law.
"I know," Bella agreed, brushing her brunette hair off her face, "Look at you, Ms-Successful-and-Famous-Television-Show-Creator…"
Lily smiled and shook her head. "Not nearly as noble as going out to a devastation-stricken area and providing aid to the children there. Coming home to L.A must be a joke to you."
The brunette shrugged, choosing to put her bags down by the door and fold her arms across her chest. "No, I'm actually happy to be home away from all that. It gets to you after a while."
"I bet," Lily chewed on her bottom lip, "Sirius came back with pictures and James put them in collages. You know how he loves to do that stuff? They're all upstairs on the walls in the hallway and it's just—I can't imagine."
Bella nodded and looked around. "Where is my favorite nephew?"
"He's out playing." Lily explained. "We were actually going to get the birthday cake and ice cream together in a little bit. Everyone just finished with the grill but I'm sure they'll all want to stop for a few and catch up with you."
Footsteps caught Bella's attention and she glanced quickly to see who was coming. She seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when she saw that it was Tonks. The two women embraced and something in Tonks' face prompted Bella to ask if there was anything wrong.
Tonks, usually very light-mannered and casual, motioned for the two to follow her upstairs, saying, "It's something I need to share with you right away."
"What is it?"
James stared at Sirius who he sensed immediately not paying attention to him anymore. He waved a hand in front of Sirius's face and asked again, "Hello? Earth to Padfoot…"
"Did you just see her?" Sirius asked suddenly, walking closer toward the backdoor.
"Bella." Sirius answered, leaning forward and holding his chest gently. "She's home."
James rolled his eyes. "And she'll be out so you two can make your awkward niceties then—"
The other man frowned. "Where did she go?"
"I don't know, Padfoot, but honestly, what—"
"—are we doing in this room?" Bella asked, staring around at James's art room.
Lily motioned, frustrated. "Well, it was the closest room to the stairs."
"I thought you weren't allowed in this room," Bella asked with an amused smile. "Apart from Harry, I thought James never allowed anyone to enter this room without his permission."
Lily waved the comment away and turned to Tonks. "You have been acting different since you got here, girl. What's—?"
"—wrong? Where are the girls?"
James and Sirius turned to see Annette coming toward them.
"I thought I saw Bella come in but then the next moment they were gone."
Sirius clapped his hands together, victoriously. "That's what I said!"
"I only meant to say that because I told Lily that I have an announcement—"
"—to make." Tonks took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"Whatever it is, Tonks, we'll be supportive no matter what." Bella insisted, leaning against the middle table. "I mean, it can't be much worse than turning down the man you love from a marriage proposal—"
"Hey, excuse me," Lily said, defensively.
"I meant me." Bella rolled her eyes and crossed arms in front of her chest again, muttering quietly to herself, "Apparently you weren't the only one to make that stupid mistake…"
"Well, you know how Remus and I have been, um—we've been trying to have a baby?"
The two women listening nodded slowly, carefully.
Tears sprung forth in Tonks' eyes. The moment was too much.
"We found out yesterday that—"
"Oh my gods, you're having a baby!" Lily exclaimed but Tonks shook her head solemnly.
"No, Lily," Tonks said quietly, "Remus and I found out yesterday he and I can't have children."
"Come on," James prodded, "Just tell us right now what it is."
Annette shook her head. "I will announce it when everyone is present."
"Well, it looks like it'll be a while," Sirius replied, grumpily, still staring indoors, "at the rate it's taking them to come back down the stairs."
"Nonsense." Annette said. "They'll be down for Harry to have his cake and blow out his—"
"Candles!" James exclaimed suddenly. "I forgot his candles!"
"Oh, mate," Sirius mumbled, not looking at his best friend but patting him on the back for support, "Looks like we're all screwed in our screwy little ways, then, eh?"
Tonks nodded, tears coming slowly down her cheeks.
"Tonks, I'm so sorry…" Lily wrapped her arms around her friend and held her.
"The doctors said that the probability of us not conceiving children on our own is close to zero." She hiccupped a bit. "I mean, he even pulled out paperwork about other ways to have children."
Bella hugged Tonks as well and said affectionately, "I'm sorry, baby," Then paused and amended, "Probably not the best word for the situation…"
Both Tonks and Lily laughed.
"What's your next move?" Bella wondered. "How did Remus handle it?"
"Well, ever since—ever since yesterday, he seems to be fine but, how can I know?" Tonks asked, shrugging. "I mean—I think because of what happened yesterday, I'm sensitive to him waking up early for work and not coming home until six at night. And okay, he was with Harry but still. He hasn't said much…"
"I'm sure he's just as torn up about it as you are." Lily insisted.
"That's the thing," Tonks wiped at her cheeks, drying them with the back of her hands, "I don't know what this will do to our relationship. I've heard so many horror stories about couples who can't conceive getting divorces. What if that's Remus and I? I don't want to get a—"
"—divorce!" James said, running an anxious hand through his thick hair. "That's what she'll plead if she finds out I forgot the candles. I mean, she made this big thing about it at lunch earlier today about how the candles are what it's all about…"
Sirius sat, looking at James with a bored expression. "So you're an idiot and a husband. I'll tell you, I missed that status by an inch. I was this close to marrying Bella…"
James grabbed Sirius's plastic cup and sniffed at it.
"What are you doing?" Sirius frowned, making a grab for his cup.
James handed the cup back to his friend. "Just checking to see if you smuggled any alcohol to a five-year-old's birthday party."
Sirius laughed. "Nah, Prongs, that's for later." He winked. "Stick around."
Fifteen minutes later, Lily and James were in the kitchen, alone, preparing for Harry's last birthday event: the birthday cake, singing and blowing out the candles and making a wish. As James watched his wife take the cake out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter, he swallowed past the lump forming in his throat. His mind raced with ways to cover up the fact that he hadn't gotten the candles but nothing came to mind. He jumped when Lily addressed him.
"You know," Lily began, opening the cabinet doors, "You never did tell me what it was you wanted to talk to me about earlier. I mean, everyone sort of came at once after Remus and Tonks…"
James swallowed again and leaned against the counter, scratching at the wood and trying to look casual. "And you know, I never did tell you how sexy you look tonight…"
Lily stopped rummaging through the cabinets and looked at her husband. At first, as she scrutinized his appearance, he thought she would see right through him. But when she walked closer toward him and he saw her emerald eyes darken with something like desire, he felt his groin muscles tighten and all thoughts about the forgotten candles flew out his mind. All that mattered was his wife and the way they both wanted each other.
"You know I hate it when you say things like that when we can't do anything about it," Lily murmured softly when James's fingers wrapped around her sides and pulled her closer toward him so that they were touching. She tilted her head up and stared into his beautiful hazel eyes, swallowing and saying, "It's just not fair."
James merely nodded and leaned down the rest of the way to catch her lips with his in a passionate kiss. Their tongues and mouths melded together, sucking and biting. His hands pressed into her sides and she arched her lower back in such a way that her pelvis bumped his. When he felt her front brush his, he lost control.
Wrapping his arms completely around his wife, he hauled her up and spun around so that her bottom rested against the counter and her legs encircled his waist. Blindly, Lily pushed the birthday cake further back on the counter and to the side so that she could lean backward, using her legs as leverage to grind her pelvis hard against his. They both groaned in pleasure at the pressure and thrust against each other through their clothing.
One of James's hands combed their way through Lily's dark tresses just as the other kneaded her breast through the material of her shirt and bra. He felt her arch into the palm of his hand and he unfastened his lips from hers to suckle on her neck, her earlobe before kissing down the valley of her v-neck blouse. She moaned, tightening her legs around his waist even more, continuing to grind, grind harder. Harder.
Then she felt him retreating and mumbling something.
She blinked away her desire, gritted her teeth against the throbbing pain of her lower anatomy, and asked in a husky voice, "What did you say?"
James put distance between them and reluctantly said, "I forgot Harry's birthday candles."
It took a moment longer for Lily to comprehend what her husband again said but when she did finally understand, something very, very close to anger erupted in her stomach.
"James, are you kidding?" Lily slid off the counter and studied James in frustration. "I mean, are you really just kidding and you've got them hidden in the cabinets or in your jacket or even in your pockets? You didn't really forget them, did you?"
James only nodded in silence and she swore, quite loudly.
"Dammit, James, why the hell did I remind you a hundred times?" Lily asked, her voice loud.
"I'm sorry." James said. "I know you reminded me and I got mad at you but I honestly thought I had gotten everything for this party. I only just remembered—"
"Only just remembered?" Lily's voice was dangerously low as she glared at her husband. "James, I asked you for three things. Three things! The cake, the ice cream, and the candles! What was so hard about that?"
James didn't have an answer for her so he just stood there silently.
Lily shook her head. "I don't understand you, James, but—"
The couple looked to where Bella came from the hallway, holding something in her hands.
"Looks like you've got something in the mail." Bella shrugged, handing Lily the package. "Someone just delivered it."
Lily looked curiously at the package. There was no name, no address, nothing. "How do you know it's for me?"
"The person who delivered it said, 'Give this to Lily.'" Bella answered simply and leaned forward, peering at it. "Open it. I'm dying to know what it is and if I can steal it from you."
James lightly flicked Bella's head and gained glares from both women. His smile immediately faded.
Lily opened the package slowly and stared at what was inside. Though James and Bella couldn't see what it was, Lily seemed to be clearly upset about the contents. The siblings exchanged worried glances before Lily pushed the box down onto the counter and looked at James with unbelievable steel and coldness in her eyes.
"Tell me, James," she swallowed and clenched her jaw tightly, "is this why you forgot your son's birthday candles?"
James frowned and Lily slowly put down what she was holding. Both he and Bella leaned over to see what it was and when James saw, his own anger began to brew. It was a photo taken of him earlier in the day. He was outside near the street, hugging Elizabeth Manson. Although James knew why he had hugged her, the context, the photo by itself looked wrong. It looked like James was hugging another woman. Another woman that wasn't his wife.
"Uh oh," Bella clucked her tongue and shook her head.
James looked up at Lily who had backed up several steps and was staring at him like she had never seen him before. Obviously, he would explain to her what he was doing hugging another woman but a few questions came to his own mind. Why would someone take pictures of him in the first place and under what purpose the photo served other than to drive him and Lily away from one another? And even if there was a picture taken of him hugging another woman, why did Lily automatically jump to the conclusion that he was cheating on her? Had she no trust?
"Lily, obviously this is—"
"Mom! Dad! Auntie Bella!"
The adults turned to see Harry running into the kitchen, looking very upset with Annette closely behind him.
"What is it, Harry?" Bella asked, bending low and hugging Harry close.
"It's really nothing. It's just—" Annette began but Harry interrupted her.
"Nana and Papa are moving." Harry sniffled. "They're leaving me."
"Harry, that's not—" Annette started to say but Bella looked at her mother with surprise and hurt in her eyes.
"You're moving?" Bella asked. "Where?"
Annette inhaled deeply. "Your father and I are moving to Pennsylvania."
"And you didn't tell us earlier because—?"
"Bella, it's time for us." Annette tried to explain.
"Nana, you don't want to see me anymore?" Harry asked, looking up at his grandmother with tear-filled eyes. "You don't want to see Mom and Dad and Auntie Bella anymore?"
"No, honey, that's not—"
"Hey, guys!" Sirius called from the front hallway, walking into the kitchen. "Look what the cat dragged down from Alaska."
Everyone turned. They turned and gaped at who stood beside Sirius. For they hadn't seen him in almost ten years.
"Wow," Bella said, standing up and holding Harry still close.
"What the hell are you doing here?" James asked, still upset about the photo…
Chelsea looked around the kitchen, obviously sensing tension, and his eyes settled on Lily's.
"Guess now's a good time as any to tell you guys," Chelsea smirked half-heartedly, "I'm back again."
Okey dokes. That should be enough tension and plot for you guys for one chapter. And it still (I'm laughing right now, just so you know) hasn't even gotten everything yet. I mean to say—there are still a few more things to address and then we'll really get rolling. But next chapter, action action action. You'll love it. Unlike anything I've ever written on this site before.
Ummm… I wish I could say I write purely on Captain Crunch and a good spirit but the truth is, sometimes I need your words (reviews) to get me to publish the next chapter. So, if you could pretty, pretty please let me know what you thought in a review, that would make my day!