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Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

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Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Kayla Miller on Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:55 am

Her feet trod slowly down the packed road. Raucous laughter and buoyant music filled the air around her. Everyone seemed to fill in and out of the shops with ease. Women in elegant dress robes and dangling earrings glided arm-in-arm with their husbands, pulling close together, laughing without a worry in the world. A rowdy gang of kids giggled and chased each other through the crowd, yelling "Stupefy!" and wildly waving imaginary wands in the air before collapsing in bursts of giggles.

Kayla smiled as she tugged at her navy dress. She hoped it was casual enough. For the last week since she arrived, it had been an endless cycle of hustle as she oversaw last-minute details on the merchandise, dealt with distributors, and hired employees. Sometimes amidst it all, her situation suddenly hit her as if someone splashed a bucket of cold ice water on her. Wow. I'm back in Paris. She'd visited her family and reconciled with a few old friends, but no particularly meaningful encounters. It was always Sorry, I've got a meeting with an investor, we'll have to catch up again some other time! That line slipped out so easily now. A smile, a quick hug, and off she was. Now that the last of the safety regulation checks had wrapped up, she finally had time to unwind. Her shop was opening in a few days. She could celebrate. But with whom? She felt she owed one person something especially.

Greg...oh god, Greg. Had she made him upset? Did her friends think she was a monster for leaving? Kayla pushed away the strands of blonde hair from her eyes and rubbed her temple. She figured he would be fine. He was a pro Quidditch player, a MVP. She always thought if she had a first-rate career like that, she wouldn't be too upset by other things. She knew better now. Before she never thought herself, Kayla Miller, could make someone particularly happy or sad. Kayla shook her head to herself. She wasn't 100% sure what she was going to say, maybe not even 50%. She was going to do this. She was going to stop running away from her problems.

Kayla stood at the doorway of the pub.The pub reeked of too much drink and too many sweaty bodies clustered together. The radio blared far too loud for her liking.  She wasn't even sure if he was in there. Then she saw them, the Frejus Fliers. Greg sat a little off to the side away from them-thank Merlin. She didn't know how she would have intruded on a group of rowdy pro Quidditch players hey, sorry to break up the party, can I talk to my ex I haven't seen in years, carry on. She swallowed and moved slowly towards the bar, like gravitating towards a magnet.

She sat down, tugging at her dress subconsciously. Greg wasn't looking. She nudged him slightly with her elbow. "By any chance, do you have eight knuts I can borrow? Drinks on me." Maybe he would remember the first words she ever said to him. It was a miracle she did; her memory was far from the greatest.
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Gregory Bell on Fri Apr 01, 2016 3:38 am

Even after four years of being a professional quidditch player, and even after having his own majorly successful house party, Gregory still couldn't shake his natural aversion to bars and small gatherings. He would always go to afterparties, but he would contribute very little to any conversation. Right now, they were speculating who would be MVP for the upcoming season. His money was on Farha, their newest chaser, but he could also see it being Dana, their captain and Keeper, who was on her last season. She wanted to move on, and Greg supported it. She had played for twelve long seasons, nearly all of which involved Frejus being the team to beat. She deserved to retire. And he didn't just think that because their coach had offered Greg the captainship for the year afterward. Dana genuinely deserved it.

It seemed that everyone else, however, thought he was going to win MVP again. He blushed and pretended to not be paying attention. He sipped at his water (he didn't drink after games, as a personal rule) and focused on the bartender mixing drinks. Out of seemingly nowhere, he felt a gentle nudge to his arm and a heard a familiar voice and statement. He almost choked on his drink when he looked over. He held up a finger in a wait gesture before coughing violently into his elbow.

It took him a minute, but the coughing passed. "I feel that, like basically any other encounter we've ever had, could have gone better," he commented. Greg pulled a sickle out of the pocket of his gold and orange Beauxbatons quidditch jacket and offered it to her with a slightly embarrassed smile. "I can't, for the life of me, remember what I said to you when we first met. But I know I had a sickle."

"How are you?" he asked. "I saw that your shop is opening up. When's Opening Day?"
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Kayla Miller on Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:31 pm

For a fleeting millisecond, Kayla worried that he didn't recognize her. She had no idea how he would react; an outburst of coughing was not one of the options she'd considered. "I know I look rough right now, but not that rough," she teased with a big smile as she accepted the sickle. "You had Danish money. I thought it was super cool that you were Danish. Then you said you were English, so we conversed in English. We were super weird, mostly thanks to me." Kayla smiled fondly at the memory of her awkward overeager eleven-year-old self and the polite eleven-year-old Greg. "Do you want a drink? I could use one right now. What's good here?"

"I'm...acclimating." Kayla tasted the word cautiously as she gripped her bar stool. Part of her brain still couldn't comprehend that she was sitting at a pub, talking to Greg like old times sakes, although the setting was completely wrong.  "I wrapped up the last of the production details before I got here, so the shift hasn't been too bad. All the repetitive final safety regulation checks are a nuisance, but I suppose they're necessary. Next Monday is the big day. You should stop by. One of my original products is this flavored energy boost potion designed specially for athletes-within regulations, of course. You probably don't need an energy booster though-" she poked him playfully. "MVP of the Frejus Fliers! Congratulations! That's truly a huge accomplishment. You killed it in the last game." She lowered her voice, sneaking a glance at his team. "Are the rumors true, captain?"

Kayla was truly happy for Greg to see him thriving. She wished she could say the same for herself. Ever since she'd begun brewing and selling the potions over a year ago, there always seemed to be a problem; production didn't flow smoothly, orders were backlogged, an exciting recipe had a huge health hazard. But she was prepared to go through the ups and downs of business. She fixated her eyes on Greg's bushy eyebrows. She still couldn't shake the feeling of surrealness. Sure, she wrote letters, tuned into Quidditch broadcasts whenever she could, even Apparated to see him play once, but it all made her feel like an observer to his life. Now she was actually here.
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Gregory Bell on Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:05 pm

Greg smiled. He still couldn't remember everything, but he trusted Kayla. "I'm good. If I drink after a game, I wake up with muscle aches. All I've ever had here is water," he admitted.

He nodded. He remembered Apollo going through this process years ago. He didn't understand anything, but it was fine. Apollo didn't really either. They just went with it.

"I'll try. I have early morning practice, then I have to make sure Isobel is okay. She broke her leg at work a few months ago and she was fine for awhile, but she broke it again after her physical fitness test. She's just glad she passed," Greg said, chuckling a bit at the MVP comment. "Jonas will probably stop by. He's on summer holiday. And me? An energy potion? Only if it gave me motivation, too," he joked.

"Thanks," he replied. "And I can't say for sure." He angled his head at his team. He doubted they were listening, but he couldn't be certain.

He was so surprised to see her. It didn't seem real that after all this time, she'd just be back. He wanted to ask her why, but he was sure everyone was demanding an explanation from her. She deserved to be calm and not have to explain herself. She could share if she felt like it. "So how is the acclimation process going? Have you seen your family yet?"
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Kayla Miller on Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:34 am

Kayla nodded. Typical Greg. He was too reliable to be a risky drinker. "You can have your Sickle back, then," said Kayla as she slid the silver coin over the smooth counter to him. "I never did repay you the eight Knuts. I'll have to get you something one of these days." She tapped her fingers and gave a last fleeting glance at the menu before motioning for the bartender. All the items made her dizzy, so she decided to play it safe. "I'll have one butterbeer."

Kayla made a sympathetic face. She recalled scribbled somewhere in their countless back-and-forth letters that Isobel had become an Auror. She didn't know much more than that, but she could empathize with physical injuries. Kayla had gotten a few too many during her ill-fated stint training for the New Zealand Department of Mysteries. "Send Isobel as my best," she commented as she accepted the butterbeer bottle from the bartender with a thanks. "She's strong. Power to her for coping well."

"My gosh, I miss my band buddy. I'd be second fiddle to him now, of course," Kayla quipped lightly, almost hearing the badum tish in the background. "How's University treating him?" she inquired with the tiniest sip of the rich, foamy butterbeer. She personally preferred the one at her favorite New Zealand restaurant better, but she didn't mind the strong taste for a change.

"It's going well, thanks. I've visited Caleb and my parents. I still haven't seen Cameron, but hopefully that will change in a few days." Kayla frowned slightly. She had to find a way to reunite with her brother now that she was back in Europe. "I guess I'm mostly shocked by all the change when I see people's reactions. You're handling it better than most. My friend tried to poke various objects through me to test if I was a ghost," she grinned.

"I'd love if you stopped by sometime. If you can't make Opening Day, I understand. Anyway, I need another expert opinion on the flavors of the energy boost. You can have it for free. We've got grape and lemon-lime, but the grape is lagging far behind. We're thinking of replacing it with another flavor. So far, I've gotten requests for orange, cherry, Tutti-Frutti, marshmallow, tomato, and vomit. Not so sure on those last ones for a sports potions line, though. We aren't a jellybean company," quipped Kayla.

"I can't wait for Opening Day," Kayla confessed, fiddling with the bottle and staring at the wall of neatly stacked bottles. "Then, I'll feel less...alone. I don't know. It's not as if I work alone." She pushed the bottle away and brushed the hair away from her face.

"Where are you these days? Outside work, I mean."
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Gregory Bell on Sat Apr 02, 2016 12:10 pm

Greg smiled and retrieved the coin. "Someday. And I'll tell her. She's been cranky, though, so I can't promise a nice reply."

He chuckled at her joke. "Jonas is doing decently. He skipped a lot this last semester, though. He broke up with his girlfriend and they both took it really hard," he explained. "He passed everything, though. Excellent marks. My parents were happy."

Greg took a quick sip of his water. "I haven't heard from Cam since his wedding, to be honest. And that was, what, three years ago? I assume he's busy."

"Wait, you're not a ghost? Are you sure you aren't Professor White?" he asked, referring to his favorite ghost at Beauxbatons.

"Hm... Orange sounds good, but I don't know. Vomit flavor sounds hardcore. It could be your in to a partnership with Bertie Botts," he teased.

He followed her gaze to the wall of bottles. "Lonely?" he asked, just out of politeness. She didn't have to answer, if she didn't want to. Everyone got lonely from time to time. He felt bad for people like Lucie, who lived alone. He wouldn't be able to do it. Sure, Isobel's morning crankiness wasn't the best, but having coffee with her and Apollo every morning (when she was home) was important to him. It kept him grounded because he could always count on it.

Greg laughed. "Outside of work? Nowhere exciting. I keep Apollo, Isobel, and Jonas out of trouble, and that's more work than my full time job. I do a lot of volunteer work. Mostly out in Queerditch Marsh. I help them keep it clean. I want to be able to play a game there someday," he answered. He knew it sounded really nerdy, but it was important to him. After all, it's where the sport that gave him his job was originally played. It was a respect thing. "What about you? What did you do in all your off time in New Zealand?"
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Kayla Miller on Sun Apr 10, 2016 11:32 pm

Kayla cracked a smile as the butterbeer passed her lips. That sounded like the Isobel everyone knew and steered clear of loved. "I'm sure she'll get over it as she recovers," she remarked.

"Good for him!" Her face fell at the news of Jonas and his girlfriend. "That's really rough. Poor Jonas. I hope he's doing better now-" Kayla was about to say "breaking up is rough" but Greg was most decidedly not the right person to note that to. Instead she straightened her posture and steeled herself in her chair. "Do I know the ex?"

"They never had to worry about that with you, did they?" Kayla teased Greg lightly with an easy smile. From what she remembered, he'd gotten all good marks. "Nope, I'm as fleshy and pale as always. Makenzie says I've gotten a lot tanner from New Zealand. I personally don't see it."

"I can imagine it already." Kayla spread her hands out in the air in front of her. "Airy Bertie's Apothecary Botts Prankful Potions. You'll be our first customer-after Apollo, of course."

Kayla took another sip of her butterbeer. She had no desire to get drunk but she wanted an excuse for silence. She set the cool bottle on the surface a little too loudly, staring at the sloshing dark liquid. The voices, the laughter, the clinking glasses seemed to cave in around her. "I have a team to manage now, it's not so bad. I don't quite know them yet. I think that's what I really liked about Beauxbatons Quidditch: the camaraderie of playing in a team. Now, I still have to handle a lot of the meetings and overseas affairs alone. It's...new and a little scary," Kayla confessed slowly, her thumbs fiddling with the bottle while she watched Greg's attentive face.

"That's really neat of you," Kayla smiled, her demeanor warming. "Can I pitch in sometime?" She needed a cause to invest in, something meaningful outside of all the red tape business. New Zealand had been one hell of an adventure of a lifetime; she still felt weird talking about it at the Enchanted Mermaid to the cute old friend-now Quidditch pro in front of her. Towering waves and dragons flashed through her memory. "I mostly scoured out historic cultural sites. I tagged along with a tribe of nomadic dragon-keepers for a few days. I also did a few cheesy Muggle tourist things. I am a dreadful surfer," Kayla chuckled.

Someone turned up the sound to the blasting music in the pub. She winced at the dissonance. She couldn't entirely complain about the atmosphere, though. She watched rowdy fans swarm Greg's teammates. "I'm surprised you haven't been stolen away by fans yet, Mr. Incognito," Kayla teased playfully.
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Gregory Bell on Mon Apr 11, 2016 1:57 am

Greg shook his head, but laughed. "She's had almost twenty years to stop getting an attitude about everything, but she's shown no signs of stopping. On the positive side, she's a lot nicer when Aidan is around."

"Yeah. He's doing better. Almost perfect, I'd say. You may have met Kat a few times. She was his best friend in his year," Greg explained. "She's not doing that great, though. I gave her some money, since she refused all of Jonas'. Isobel's sister-in-law got her a job at the new art gallery in Paris, which should be good for her. I feel awful for her because she's pinning it all on herself when Jonas was just being indecisive. If I would have known what he was feeling his seventh year and not written everything off as Parker leaving, I probably could have helped him sort through it and not hurt an innocent person. But here we are."

Greg felt really bad. He hadn't been there when his brother needed him. Though it wasn't entirely his fault. He had a career and all. He tried to remind himself that what had been done could not be undone and that he should move on, but it was difficult for him.

He shrugged. "Second year, there was an event, but it wasn't a fiasco or anything. And I wouldn't say tan, but you have some color to you," he disagreed. "Apollo would fight me to be the first customer."

Greg nodded. "I can imagine it would be. It would be hard to do everything alone."

As lonely as Greg could get, he knew he'd always have coffee with Apollo, who was basically equally as lonely.

Greg was surprised that someone thought it was "neat," let alone wanted to help. It wasn't everyday that anyone was interested in helping out. "Absolutely. We can plan a day to go out," he replied.

"Wow," he said. Kayla's life sounded exciting. That was a lot in comparison to what the rest of his class was doing. Greg wished he had more time to explore when he was travelling for quidditch, but the schedule didn't allow for it. "Hey, we can't all be Aidan," he joked.

Greg smiled softly, trying to ignore the bar that people were apparently trying to turn into a night club. "A bar isn't really the scene of my fans," he explained, speaking up, trying to be heard above the music. "It's not really mine either, so I don't blame them. You want to get out of here?" he asked, trying not to make it sound weird or like he just wanted to hook up, but knowing that it still sounded strange. "We could go get coffee or something," he suggested, hoping that made it less awkward.
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Re: Hello, it's me, wondering if after all these years...

Post by Kayla Miller on Sat May 14, 2016 1:43 am

Kayla raised a curious brow. "Her and Aidan? That's exciting," she grinned, recalling a few casual mentions in the letters. "I hope to see them both around sometime."

She frowned slightly, tilting your head in thought. She barely remembered Kat, a girl who had seemed a little too emotional for Kayla's taste but otherwise very sweet. "Wow," Kayla said after a pause. She wrapped her fingers around her slowly draining drink. "It's great that you guys are helping her out." She loved that about Greg; he didn't seem like it, but he was a total carebear. Kayla shook her head. "You can't blame yourself, Greg. There are too many factors in play in relationships. In the end it was about them, not you, and they will get through it," she insisted firmly.

Kayla hadn't been sure she would get through breaking up with Greg. Her head told her it was a teenage romance that she couldn't base important life decisions around, but her heart had been broken. She still wasn't 100% sure if it was the right decision, but she had survived and emerged stronger. Now here she was, casually facing Greg and chatting in a lowkey atmosphere. Maybe life did have a funny way of working things out.

Kayla chuckled at the thought. "Technically speaking, neither of you are the first customer. I started selling the potions in low numbers around ten months ago when I was still in New Zealand. I need all the "first customers" I can get with this shop, though, so feel free to have at it if you want," she joked.

Kayla smiled and took another tentative sip of the drink, just to feel the warm liquid pass through her lips. She was glad he understood. Maybe it was the butterbeer, but she felt the familiar cozy feeling of content wash over her. She didn't even feel like checking her watch.

"I'm sorry if it won't be for a while, but feel free to drag me away from work for my own sanity," Kayla quipped as she set the bottle down on the counter. She rubbed her eye, suddenly conscious of how she looked. On a night out with the girls maybe she would be one of the people standing atop chairs and cheering. Presently, the thumping music was giving her a small headache. She shot one last look at the dark liquid sloshing at the bottom of the stained bottle. She suddenly realized how grimy the countertop was. "I'd love that," Kayla smiled at Greg, relieved and hoping she didn't sound too desperate. "Coffee sounds great. Will your teammates be alright with your leaving?" she asked, gesturing to them.
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