The Potter-Evans Guide to Chatting Up
Liam Evans was having a shit day. It was more of a shit week, actually.
For starters, his organic chemistry course was a hundred times harder than anything they'd even attempted in school and then there was the fact that he had essentially friend-broken-up with his best mate. On top of that, his sister and her whiny fiancée were angry at him for god knows what reason, and now Miles had found it necessary to drag him to the freshman-frequented pub, The Ugly Auntie.
"Lighten up, mate," Miles had said, "We're not at Hogwarts anymore. This worrying shite can wait until tomorrow. My only goal for tonight is to get you good and pissed." He had left no room for argument and later forcefully removed an unwilling Liam from their rundown two-bedroom flat.
Now he was sitting at the bar and stewing over his miserable lot in life while watching Miles chat up some pretty blonde bird. They had met a new friend from Miles' psych course, Frank, outside and followed him into the shabby pub. Unfortunately, Frank's tiny hummingbird of a girlfriend had stolen him away the second he walked in the door, leaving Liam as the default wingman. The boys had barely been inside for 10 minutes before Miles had sidled up to the blonde and her friends, a hand tugging the spikes in his light brown hair. A bitter taste filled Liam's mouth as he watched.
His night would have been much better served with some Chinese takeout and his laptop. There he could at least brood without anyone watching.
"-And then I was like— Jamie? Jamie, are you even listening to me?" Jamie adjusted her horn-rimmed glasses and smiled apologetically over at her friend.
"Sorry, Alice. I swear, I'm not ignoring you, its just, does that look like Miles McKinnon to you?" The other girl swung around in her squashy chair until she caught sight of the attractive boy chatting up a particularly cheap looking blonde.
"'Course, he's Frank's friend. They came in with another bloke, too. Tall, cute, red hair. Didn't Rhea mention you having a thing for redheads."
"One specific redhead. Nasty piece of work, he was. Never appreciated my masterpieces." Stella had swooped down over Jamie's shoulder, her elegant hair creating a lush black curtain between the girls and the leering middle aged man at the table next to them.
"That's because you'd played connect-the-dots with his freckles. In permanent marker. While he was still awake." Jamie reminded her friend with a grin. That had been one ridiculous hell of a study block. "Evans had ever right to react to that one."
"Evans?" asked Alice, tucking a short strand of dark hair behind her ear, "Liam Evans? Because that's what Frank said Miles said his friend's name is."
Jamie's stomach dropped. Evans was here? Tonight? She scanned the bar and ruffled her hair. Quickly she caught sight of the only redhead in the lowly-lit room. He was scowling at Miles as the other boy tried to worm an arm around the slaggy bottle-blonde's waist. Clearly he hadn't wanted to come along. That seemed like Evans, crusher of all things fun.
"Are you saying that both McKinnon and Evans are here?" Stella questioned Alice. A slow, sly grin spread across her beautiful face. Her grey eyes sparkled with dangerous intent. Jamie knew that look. She also knew that whenever her best mate had that look, they ended up in heaps of trouble. It also usually ended with Evans screaming at her. "Jamie-dear, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"No, Stella-darling, I don't believe I am. What horrendous plan has your devious little mind come up with?"
Stella's smile was positively wicked. "I think I fancy a chat with McKinnon, preferably in a broom closet. Why don't you go say hi to Evans over there? If you last 5 minutes, I'll forgive your debt."
"If I last 5 minutes without him yelling at me, we'll go double or nothing," bartered Jamie. Stella considered it a moment before her wicked smile was once again firmly in place.
Alice was staring at the two in a mix of confusion and amusement. "You two are absolutely mad!" she giggled.
"Of course we are, it's part of our charm." Stella winked then tugged her shirt down a little lower and her skirt up a little higher, "I'm off to lay my dragon." Jamie was unable to resist the urge to roll her eyes.
"Slay your dragon, Stella, not lay," corrected Alice innocently. Stella's face scrunched up in faux-confusion.
"But where's the fun in that?"
"You know," said a familiar voice by Liam's shoulder, "You should really let your new mates in on your list of schoolboy enemies. Maybe then this little reunion wouldn't be happening." He peeked to the side and caught sight of an unmistakable mop of black curls. A frustrated groan escaped his lips.
This week was his new personal hell.
"Jemima." The girl's smirk was just as antagonizing as he remembered. Granted, it had only been a few months since graduation.
"To what do I owe this immeasurable pleasure?" His voice was dripping in sarcasm but it didn't seem to deter Jamie. He had almost forgotten how easily she shrugged off his remarks.
"You're new mate over there, Frank, he's dating Rhea's friend, Alice. He asked if I would do him a favour and chat up his lonely mate. I was only being a caring, helpful and considerate human being. You being his mate was just a bonus." He noticed that she emphasized the words "caring" and "considerate" and "helpful" deliberately. Liam snorted to himself. Like Jamie Potter had ever been nice a day in her life.
"Lovely. Consider me chatted up. Your humanitarian deed of the week is done," he muttered into his drink. Instead of taking his hinted dismissal, Jamie sank onto the stool next to him. Her lips pulled into another smirk as she leaned closer to him.
"Plus, I owe Stella 10 quid and she said that if I lasted 5 minutes without you yelling at me, we would go double or nothing." Liam quirked an eyebrow. But not in amusement. He was never amused by anything Jamie Potter had to say. Never.
"And the truth comes out. I see your and Black's little gambling habit hasn't changed."
"Why would it? I'm going to make a pretty penny off of it one day," countered Jamie.
Her hand ran through her hair, snagging on several of her messy curls. Liam resisted the urge to physically place her hand in her lap. It had always bothered him, the self-assured way in which she ruffled her hair; as if it made the birds' nest atop her head appear any less like it had just been spit out of a tornado. That and how she had tapped her feet incessantly everyday in class. Or the way she'd twirled her pen around her fingers until she dropped it when taking a test, over and over again. There were many things about her that had driven him absolutely mad in the past, and he hadn't the faintest clue why.
"Why would you tell me that, anyway? Now I can yell and make you lose on purpose."
"Now, Evans," she said, fixing him a stare with those bright hazel eyes, "We both know you wouldn't do that." She leaned in close, closer than he expected, and thrust her chin in the direction he had been glaring earlier. "Besides, she's a bit preoccupied."
As he glanced to where Jamie was indicating, a familiar sight greeted him. Miles was standing with his back to the bar, the blonde from before long forgotten. Across from him was a girl with long silky hair, longer legs and a very short skirt. Stella Black had one hand cocked on her hip while the other trailed seductively along his best mates chest. Miles' fingers were flitting around the hemline of Stella's skirt. Liam rolled his eyes.
"'Bout as subtle as a lightening storm, that one." Beside him, Jamie snorted and muttered something about laying dragons.
"She's utterly transparent. And the only reason I'm here tonight. If she hadn't been so surprised to see McKinnon, then I would have thought they planned it." She waved a hand airily, but he (unfortunately) knew her well enough to know that she was thinking the same thing as he was.
Were they really here by accident? Stella did have a flair for dramatics and Miles would do anything she asked if given the right offer.
"Clearly, they need to be questioned properly." Liam shook his head as their respective friends disappeared towards the back of the pub, no doubt in search of a deserted hallway.
"Clearly. But that should wait until their done shoving their tongues down each others throats," added Jamie, pushing her glasses farther up her face and smirking.
"We'll be here all night then," scoffed Liam.
"I'll drink to that," remarked Jamie.
A long time ago, Jamie had decided that a silent Evans was a dangerous Evans. This occasion was no different.
The pair had been sitting wordlessly for much too long. Liam sipped his drink and Jamie fidgeted with her silver ring, trying to contain the relentless urge to play with anything she could get her fingers on. This annoying habit, this nervous little tic always came out when she was around Evans but it wasn't her fault. He was just so, so brilliant. So smart and clever and he was always up for a good fight. Not to mention he was fit as hell, something that the summer apart had only enhanced.
His red hair was brighter than she remembered, almost flaming in the warm golden glow of the pub. His eyes were the same emerald green that she had so often been mesmerized by, ever since she was thirteen and realized what was causing the fluttery feelings in her stomach. She loved those eyes, and how they changed with Evans' moods. The way they lit up when he was laughing with McKinnon and MacDonald, or how they glinted when he found something she said funny but was too damn stubborn to admit it. But her favourite was the way they burned when he yelled, the anger and passion and life that shone through them as her head, her heart and her stomach all imploded in one fell swoop. Evans hadn't a clue how many times she'd done something stupid just so he would yell at her, tell her off, argue with her—all so she could feel the fire blaze in his eyes as the coldness of his words tingled down her spine like handful of snow. It was self-induced torture, that was, but those eyes made it worth it.
Blimey, she was mad.
The longer they sat there, the louder Jamie's erratic heartbeat became. It was as if the poor thing was trying to dance something ridiculously fast, like a hand-jive or a samba. Then of course there was the soundtrack of "Apologize. Apologize for being a right bitch all those years" that was playing in the back of her mind.
But why would he want to hear it? It's not like he had ever cared for her apologies before. True, those had been fairly lackluster and normally ended with a "Go out with me, Evans" but still. History proved that he much preferred to hate her and nothing she said could ever change that. And they had a lot of history.
She blamed Rhea. Not only had the blonde girl claimed she needed a night in, but she had declared that someone had to stay with her. But someone also needed to go and keep track of Stella. The last time they had let her out without supervision had ended with her drunk on the front step of her and Jamie's flat at five o'clock in the morning, grinning like maniac in a fisherman's jacket without her shoes. Since Penny was too easily influenced, the job had been thrust upon Jamie.
She also blamed Rhea for the guilt trips that she often subjected the other three suffer to through and the conscience that Jamie had formed as a result. She tried to bury the voice in the back of her mind, but it wasn't doing a whole lot of good.
Evans had been looking downright miserable all evening. And maybe she could change that. Maybe if he could somehow see how much she meant it— what would she do then? What would he do then? Would something as simple as the words "I'm Sorry" even make a difference?
Liam could feel the nervous energy coming off of Jamie in waves. To the best of her ability, she trying not to fidget, though he could see the obvious effort it was taking her. That confused him a bit. Jamie knew how much her constant movement irritated him, and had used that to her advantage for years. Why was she suddenly doing the opposite?
"Maybe because she's grown up, you dumb oaf," whispered his conscience. "She's been nothing but pleasant since she's been sitting here."
And it was true. She had made conversation, laughed off his more bitter comments and joked about their friends. Sure she had flirted a bit, but Liam swore 90% of the time she didn't even notice she was doing it. That was just the Jemima Potter way.
And that was what drove him mad. She didn't even realize she was doing it. She didn't realize what she did to him, with her crooked grin and lopsided glasses and her sparkling hazel eyes. With her jokes and her jests and her incessant teasing. The way she fiddled with everything around her, and how her hair was always a disaster— even when it was first thing in the morning and it was still wet from the shower. How she went out of her way to talk to him, even if she knew it would only end in them insulting each other. How just one word, just one glance, from her could set him off like a bat out of hell. She was infuriating, entertaining, and enticing all wrapped up in a very Potter package.
Jamie Potter drove him mad— absolutely insane— and she didn't even know it.
"Evans?" she asked him, her nerves finally winning out and her hand forcing its way to her head.
"Mhhm?" He wasn't really looking at her, something she was okay with. This was going to be painful enough as it was. But then he turned his head and she was a deer caught in the headlights of those oh-so-captivating green eyes. Her breath caught in her chest and she made a sound like a cat with a hairball. Liam's brooding expression switched to confusion. "Jamie?"
"I'm sorry." It was fast, too fast for him to really hear what she was saying. But it was out now, and she had no way of recalling the words.
"I'm sorry." Jamie was staring resolutely at the bar. The scarred brown wood was a safe place to look. If she laid eyes on Liam she was bound to choke up again. "I'm sorry for everything we put you through— everything I put you through in school. I embarrassed you and I embarrassed myself. I suppose I really thought that maybe one day you would realize that I wasn't really showing off, I was showing off for you, and then you would see that I wasn't actually an arrogant toe-rag and then you would fall as hopelessly in love with me as I was with you— and that is actually really pathetic now that I think about it and I'm really, really sorry. And for picking on Snive- Snape. That was probably one of the cruelest things we've— I've— ever done and I did it for years and it was awful for you both. And while maybe it wasn't necessarily uncalled for or even unreciprocated, it wasn't the right thing to do. And I'm sorry." Her eyes flickered up at his face and then back down to the counter-top in front of her. "I'm also sorry that this is probably the worst apology ever but that can't exactly be helped, now can it? So yeah, I'm just really-"
"Sorry? Yeah, I caught that." Liam smirked. Jamie picked at her fingernails, avoiding eye contact.
"And I know it's a bit late, but I hope you'll accept it, because I really mean it. And, in my defense, I did try before, you know. At graduation, but you flipped me off and walked away. Well, stalked away. Maybe even stomped." She smiled a bit to herself, and Liam felt something warm spread through his chest.
Jamie Potter was apologizing.
Jamie Potter was apologizing.
To say he was shocked was an understatement. He was even more surprised to find that he believed her. He believed every regret soaked word.
She was looking at him now, with those sparkling hazel eyes, waiting for his response. She had slid to the edge of her seat, obviously preparing for him to yell at her. She expected him to tell her to shove it and to storm away like he had in school. She was waiting for the inescapable argument that occurred whenever the two of them had been forced together in a class or group.
What had Miles told him earlier? "We're not at Hogwarts anymore." No they certainly weren't. Here, in the real world, their petty little rivalry didn't matter. No one cared about past fights, or grudges. No one cared that perhaps Jamie had been right about Sebrina Snape all along. No one cared because they were just two college students in a bar. Two college students that had a history. Two college students that may or may not have had more sexual tension than Stella Black had inappropriately short dresses.
And maybe that's why he slid one hand over Jamie's balled fists and placed the other on gently on her cheek. Maybe that's why he leaned in and kissed the one girl in the world that turned him into a complete nutter. And maybe that's why when he pulled away, Jamie was frozen somewhere between bewilderment, disbelief and ecstasy. A beaming smile crept onto her face. Liam could feel his own idiotic grin taking over.
And maybe, just maybe, that was why Jamie shook off her shock and whispered "Aren't you glad I went double or nothing, Evans?" before she wrapped her hands in the front of his shirt and pulled him in for another kiss.