Friday Morning found me strolling down Diagon Alley with nothing but a cup holder full of bribery and a shopping bag full of all of my possessions (a magical extension charm of course). It was barely 9 am, and I was more than aware that my cousins do not like to be awake before the double digits on Friday mornings, so I smiled my brightest smile and knocked a long loud rhythm on their door. It took longer than I expected. They probably thought that I would eventually give up and leave. I find that people usually underestimate my good qualities, such as my persistence and determination.
Suddenly the door cracked open and the bloodshot green eyes of James Potter bore into mine.
"Morning Jimmy, how was your Thursday night?!" I beamed.
His eyes narrowed and his voice came out gruff in a cloud of stale morning breath "You must be joking."
"No. Now let me in." I pushed through the door and into their cluttered flat kissing James on the cheek as I went by.
"It's so early," he snarled at me, closing the door and falling face first onto their couch "It is so painfully early do you realize that?"
"I brought coffee!" I chirped.
"I don't drink coffee." he mumbled into the cushions.
I knew this of course and there was a peppermint hot chocolate sitting in the cup carrier, but I wasn't going to flatter James with my thoughtfulness until he stopped being so rude.
"This flat is filthy." I complained. His head shot up and he glared daggers at me "Sorry Mum!"
I shook my head and grabbed his drink. "Here you little prat."
"I don't drink coffee!"
"I know that thickhead! It's not coffee."
He tried not to smile and snatched the cup from my hand, taking a big whiff of the peppermint. "You're the best."
"I swear you're a bird James, a little bit of chocolate goes too far with you."
He didn't reply but started making noises of pain as the steaming liquid burnt his tongue. Meanwhile, I couldn't resist the urge to straighten up their filthy kitchen. I took out my wand and charmed the dishes to clean themselves and sent empty bottles on the table into the rubbish bin.
"Al isn't up?" I asked.
James shrugged and, instead of calling out to his brother, picked up a stray trainer off of the ground and chucked it against Al's door.
"Merlin James!" I said.
"You can't be subtle with him Rose. His ability to ignore surpasses that of every human being on Earth." He smiled and sent one of Al's books across the room to land right next to the shoe. Finally the door flew open. He was clad in an old bathrobe and looked as though he hadn't shaved in two weeks. "I was writing!" he said angrily.
"Didn't you hear the door?" James asked.
"Yes, but I knew it was only Rose. I was in the middle of a crucial paragraph. No offense Rose, but I couldn't get up! Ideas come to me in my dreams I have to get them down before I lose them."
"You're becoming a bloody mad scientist Al. It's making me uncomfortable."
"Well James your fiancé is becoming Medusa, and that makes me uncomfortable."
James shook his head, "I don't even know what that means."
"Medusa was a hideous monster woman that turned men to stone whenever they looked into her eyes." I said with a smile "And by the way, it's sweet how you greeted me before verbally assaulting your brother. Don't you have any respect for social conventions?"
"Good morning Rosie," he said with a half-smile as he walked over to the kitchen "Did you bring me coffee?"
"I did, black just like you like it old man."
"I reckon Tinkerbell over there has got herself a nice strawberry hot chocolate?"
"Fuck off its peppermint! Coffee tastes like bile."
"It's a man's drink."
"So is whiskey."
"Speaking of whiskey," I interrupted continuing to casually clean their kitchen, "what did you lot get into last night?"
"We just went over to that muggle pub Wood likes and watched a football match on the television." James answered with a yawn.
"Dom and I stayed in since it was our last night together. We drank wine , told anecdotes of our childhoods, and cried."
"Oh brilliant, did you tell the one where Uncle Bill caught Dom shagging her boyfriend on the beach outside of shell cottage and tried to drown the bloke?"
Al and I glared at him "That wasn't funny James, Uncle Bill could have been arrested." I said.
"Dom thinks it's funny."
"Yes, well Dom is Dom."
"Did she move into Victiore's then?" Al asked me.
"She is this afternoon, first she's having lunch with her mum."
"Well I'll bet whatever restaurant they end up in will be treated to a nice sampling of French swear words." James laughed.
We sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes until I gave up hope that the missing roommate was going to emerge from his room of his own accord.
"So," I said trying to subtly ask an awkward question, "where is Jordan?"
"In his room." James said, as if it was the stupidest question in the world.
"Oh, it's just him then?"
Al raised his eyebrows at me "Yes, who else would there be?"
I breathed a sigh of relief. "Well I don't want to go in to wake him up and find him in bed with some slag."
The Potters stared at me. I suppose it wasn't clear exactly what part of that statement was more hypocritical. On one hand, I was a glorified slag by most people's standards and on the other hand I knew my way around Jordan Wood's bed probably better than any woman out there.
"I would just like to avoid any awkwardness." I said
"Wouldn't we all." James mumbled.
I rolled my eyes and walked confidently towards my ex-boyfriend's bedroom door. I knocked quietly and without waiting for a response opened it to reveal his sleeping form. As I had expected the room was 50% messier and 10 degrees colder than the rest of the flat. Wood was burrowed under a mountain of blankets on top of a bed that barely fit into his room. Clothes, trainers, and a few bottles littered the floor. He had taken down all of the Puddlemere United memorabilia that had covered his walls since he was a teenager, instead there were posters of muggle cars, a portrait of the Gryffindor quidditch team, and a few framed pictures. I took a minute to be nosey and examine them. The first was Jordan, James, my cousin Fred, and their friend Xavier at their graduation party in the Potter's backyard. Hugo had probably taken it. The boys were obviously drunk and looked as though they were singing to each other. Right next to it was a family portrait of Jordan, his half-sister Tabitha , his Mum, and his grandmother before she had passed away. Tabitha and Jordan's mum lives in the US, his Dad was never really around. He said that his mum hated Oliver Wood so much that she refused to let him be a part of Jordan's life for the better part of his childhood, until he got his Hogwarts letter. Jordan spend half of his holidays across the pond and the other half here "with his Dad" who was always busy with quidditch anyway, and so he eventually became an honorary Weasley. That is of course how we ended up being so close. I couldn't keep the smile off of my face as I saw that the familiar third picture still had its place on his bedside table. It was he and I at Hogwarts, right after they had won the cup. He in his quidditch robes and me in his oversized Gryffindor sweatshirt. We looked unrealistically happy as he picked me up and twirled me around. I found myself wishing I still had a copy.
To the right of the picture was all that was left of Jordan Wood seven years later, the newly crowned king of drunken stupor.
"Jordan!" I said loudly. I sat on the side of the bed and tried to rip the covers off of him. "Wake up!"
"I can't." I heard him mumble sleepily.
"But it's moving day and I brought coffee!"
"Is mine Irish?"
"Jordan stop." I said shaking my head.
"Just give me five minutes."
He threw his covers off and glared at me. His incredibly attractive face wrinkled with sleep and frustration.
"You've become so merciless in your old age." he said looking at his bedside clock "It's like 9 am!"
I laid my head down next to his and gave him my sad eyes. "Please, please, please?"
His eyes bore into mine for a second and I could practically see his resistance melting away like it always had. My sad eyes always seemed to be a weakness of his.
"Get away from me I stink." he said suddenly.
I laughed and sat back up "If you get up and shower right now I will cook you breakfast , just how you like it."
He snorted "If it was just how I liked you'd have to be naked."
I pulled a face "I wish I could, but there are two of my biological relatives in your living room and I feel like that would ruin their day."
He laughed and sat up "Okay, I'm up. Just don't make a habit of this. Sleeping is about the only thing that makes my life worthwhile."
I bowed graciously and left the room, hoping they had enough food in their fridge for me to make good on my promise.
I actually really enjoy cooking. See Mum is a horrible cook. She was always trying to pick up tips from Mum Weasley, but it was hopeless. Eventually Dad tried to do most of the cooking. Some days that went really well, other days not so much. I was a well fed child don't get me wrong, it's just that not every meal was….. delicious. Basically that led me to start learning. I have more of a knack for it than my mother thankfully. When I have the time I can actually make very nice well-structured meals. This meal however did not need to be well-structured. These boys liked their breakfast food greasy and well-done. Almost no effort needed.
"Oi, Rose was the shop open when you came through?" Al asked me over the Daily Prophet.
"Yeah Mary Beth had just gotten in."
"Yeah poor lass, down there working while her boss and co-worker lay in their beds like lousy sods_"
"Fuck you James." Jordan said as he crossed into their bathroom with a towel over his shoulder.
"She gets paid." Al said defensively "And anyway business doesn't usually pick up until later in the day. I'm hoping Rose will be all moved in by then."
"I should be yeah." I said pulling eggs and sausage from their refrigerator.
"Do you have everything packed up?"
"Oh yeah, it's all in that bag there. Mum helped me with an extension charm. I've got all my boxes stacked and my furniture shrunken down to the smallest size possible." I beamed, expecting them to appreciate my mastery of a rather difficult charm. Instead James narrowed his eyes at me "So basically you can unpack in ten minutes with your wand?"
I thought about it for a second "No, I'm sure it will take me a bit longer than that."
"Okay, but why do you need us? Why am I awake Rose? I don't have to be in the office till noon! I could have slept for at least two more hours!"
"Oh stuff it James! I brought you your hot chocolate and I'm making you breakfast."
"I'm just saying you don't really need help do you?"
"I may need some! It's a small place I have to get it all to fit."
James opened his mouth, but Al raised his hand "This reminds me Rose, we want to talk to you about a few things."
I rolled my eyes and turned to their stove. I had anticipated an awkward conversation with the Potters. See Albus, James, and even Lily at one point have always found the need to give input on just about every aspect of my life. Back in Hogwarts (before Jordan) Lily was constantly telling me who I should or should not date. When I was with Jordan she was constantly telling me how to "improve our relationship". Usually it was advice copied word for word from the pages of Witch Weekly: Give him time with his mates, Always look your best even if you're staying in, and never ever wear heels that would make you taller than him. Amazingly enough Lily's advice didn't help me hold on to Jordan. After we broke up she tried to set me up with her boyfriend's cousin. He was a disgusting sleaze and she did not appreciate me telling him so.
Albus took it upon himself to be my academic advisor at Hogwarts. He was constantly nagging me to do homework and study. He actually took credit for it when I managed to scrape together 8 O.W.L.S. After graduation he transitioned to financial advisor. Of course he has no control of my spending money or else I probably wouldn't be in this situation, but he did help me set up a savings plan (that I occasionally follow) and I've invested some of my money in his business. Al is Mr. Practical. When Dom and I first went out looking for flats Al invited himself along and hassled our real estate agent with questions about the possibility for electric heating and whether the paint on the walls was made with lead. Dom pushed him down a flight of stairs that day. They didn't speak for a week. It was a mess.
James' influence is actually more welcomed. Usually he waits for me to come to him before butting into my business. Of course once he's in it it's impossible to get push him out. When I first got my job I designated James as my personal agent. The personal agent is an individual outside of the agency that I am required to reveal my job too. He had to sign a form saying he wouldn't disclose information to an outside source, but he doesn't know much of anything. I can't tell him details about my clients, his only job is to hold on to some legal documents just in case I were to lose my job and have my memory wiped. Basically he would be responsible for telling me what happened and why there are giant gaps in the last two years of my life. That way I would never remember anything other than the information I've told him with the approval of the agency. It's all very complicated and James tries to use this position to force me out of my job. Of course he thinks what I do is terrible, and he is constantly trying to find me other possibilities. He also has a lot to say about my personal spending: Oh another pair of new shoes?... I didn't know girls bought jewelry for themselves….. I just saw the price tag on that dress you bought, you're a fucking moron. Truth is James really does help me. I never would have gotten through my break up with Jordan if it wasn't for him. Of course now that situation becomes even more complicated since I am moving directly above both of them.
"First off," Al began, glancing at the bathroom door to make sure Jordan was still behind it "We're really trying to keep Jordan moving forward so…...you can't mess him around."
I turned and glared at him.They seem to have forgotten that he dumped me. In fact, everyone seemed to forget that. To be honest I did try to make it seem like a mutual decision, but it wasn't. I was incredibly heartbroken and Jordan seemed to be just fine. The media never really printed pictures of him out with his quidditch mates living it up at pubs. He told me that he had spent a lot of nights with a lot of women, but the public never really saw that. However when I started to date another quidditch player named Colton Reimold , photographers managed to get a picture every time we went out, and headlines criticized me for moving on too fast. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long. I found my job the same year Jordan had his accident. A year later we met in a coffee shop to talk things out. He was honest with me and I was honest with him. We agreed to be friends.
"Look, we're just saying in your current _ employment situation you can't have a relationship and Jordan can't take anymore let downs." James said.
"We don't like to interfere in your relationship, whatever it may be , and we don't plan on interfering we just ask that you stick to the commitment you both made to being friends. You can't blur the lines, there has got to be boundaries."
"I don't buy for one second that you two are over each other, but I don't want to see him go through anymore bullshit." James added.
"You two act like I don't care about him_"
"It's the exact opposite, we know you do." Al sighed.
"A lot!" James added.
"Which brings us to number two: we want to continue pretending that we don't know what you do for a living. That is, all three of us want to completely unaware okay?" Al said, "We want to maintain our distance from that part of your life."
"So don't do it here!"
I had to bite my tongue. As much as I love to argue with them, it's risky to talk about my job.
If I were to tell anyone anything about my clients or my co-workers I would break a vow of secrecy and every memory associated with my job would be wiped away instantly. I could never "do it" at my own flat. Every meeting is very carefully planned for a secure location. Basically I am required to live a double life. They may actually fire me if they ever found out just how many of my friends I've told about my job (even though very limited personal information is not in violation of my contract). James, Al, Dom, and Jordan are all in on my little secret. Telling Jordan was a bit of an accident, but I'm not sorry that it happened. Honesty is pretty much what allows us to be friends. I cannot however be completely honest about everything. So instead I just focus on not burning their eggs.
"And third please don't involve us in arguments with your mother."
I roll my eyes at them and summon some plates from their cupboards. "I don't want any more talk about rules and agreements, you two aren't my landlords."
"Fine. But just one more thing."
"I'm gonna have to take some time off from the bookstore while I'm writing and…pursuing other business interests. There might be some days when we're short staffed…"
"Yeah, as long as I don't have an appointment I'll help. Here eat up. Jordan hurry up!"
It took the boys about a half hour to eat, and then we all headed up the short flight of stairs to the next floor where my new flat was.
"Do you have the key?" Al asked me.
I rolled my eyes "No, no I was just planning on breaking the door down."
"You realize how small it is in there right?" Jordan asked me as I turned the key in the door.
"It's only temporary."
And Thank Merlin. They weren't lying. The flat is incredibly small: a little kitchen, bathroom, and just enough space for a table to eat at and my bed. James was right; unpacking took all of ten minutes. It looks alright though. A little cramped, but I like to think of it as being homey.
"Okay Rose if that's everything I'm gonna head into work early." James said as he looked one last time into the shopping bag.
"Yeah we should really be getting down to the shop." Al added.
"Well thank you for all of your help." I called over to them from a pile of clothes I was sorting through.
"Did you want to get dinner tonight?" James asked.
I tried to remember what time I had an appointment that day. "Probably. Just let me know when you're going."
"Alright. See you tonight then!" James disappeared back down the stairs, Al followed after him. Leaving me and Jordan in a moderately awkward silence.
"I'm glad you moved in up here." He finally said with a smile that made him look like his seventeen year old self. "I mean I know it's only temporary, but it'll be nice to get to see you more."
"Yeah well I figured you'd been trapped with the Potters so long you deserve some other options for company."
He laughed "You need help with anything else?"
"No, No I should be fine."
"Alright, I'll see you later then." He smiled one more time and then disappeared from the doorway.
I sat in the quiet and looked around. This was the first time I had ever moved into a place on my own. Sure the boys were a mere shout away, but part of me wondered if I would get lonely. Instantly after the thought crossed my mind my mobile rang. The screen was flashing Dom's name. According to Al I could program the phone to display people's pictures when they rang, but in all honesty I didn't have much patience for the specifics of muggle technology. Learning how to text and make phone calls was all I was worried about.
"My flat is the size of the closet in the Potter's guestroom." I said into the phone with a sigh.
"My sister handed me a list of chores to do about the house. Like I'm some fucking teenager. I work for a living! She sits in posh little office painting her fingernails every day."
"Is Teddy living there?"
"Not this week, apparently they've had a fight again. He refused to wear some hideous plaid shirt she had bought him so she's cheesed off. Their relationship is exhausting even for me!"
I laughed "So we're going out tonight, the boys don't know it yet but they're paying. You in?"
"Sorry love, I've got a date."
"Oh was Lysander promoted again?" I asked. She sighed. Dom and Lysander Scamander have this thing. He loves her but also bores her to death so every month or so he manages to convince her to go out on a date with him, then she doesn't call for three weeks and the cycle is repeated.
"No cheeky slag." She said "He's my boss's nephew."
"So he's rich?"
"Of course. I'm twenty four years old! I'm well past the point in my life when I can marry for love."
"Well it's Friday and he's probably going to bore you so come out with us after."
"Yeah maybe. I'll give you a ring. I do need your help picking out something to wear."
"Well first off make sure you match your underwear, we're classy birds in this family."
She laughed "Sod off, Just get over here."
I looked at the piles of clothes around me and smiled "I'll be right there."
And just like that it was as if nothing had changed.