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Winston Hughes

I won't ask for much this Christmas I won't even wish for snow

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Winston Hughes

Long legs draped over the armrest of the couch in lazy teenage perfection and a corgi napping on his belly, Winston was in his element as he flipped through channels on the large screen television on the opposite wall. It felt good to be back home the dramatic and violent attacks at Hogwarts. Home was small but cozy as it was only Winston and his mum. The two bedroom flat was more than enough for the tiny family. Pictures of Winston throughout his childhood lined the mantle and walls, a crisp light blue and white theme with open and plentiful lighting made the apartment look lived in and larger than it was. It was a simple apartment with all the niceties that his single mother worked so hard to provide herself and her only son. 

 

It was only a few days into the winter break and Winston was living it up. He was in the process of catching up on all his favorite muggle television shows, playing the newest video games, and eating the most delicious pizza. It was simple. It was calming. It was everything that Hogwarts wasn’t. For the first time since he entered the magical world, it was a welcome change. Winston slept easier knowing that he wouldn’t be eating dinner in the same room his classmates had been attacked by werewolves. 

 

He did miss his friends though, especially as his mother was still working at the university before  it closed for the holidays. Even though he had the same friends since his first year, Winston found himself getting closer to them with each passing day. They were no longer tools to him but people he had come to genuinely respect, enjoy, and even miss. 

 

It was fortunate that so many of them lived nearby. 

 

A bell rang and Winston somehow managed to remove himself from the couch without waking up the lazy Croissant. He pressed the intercom and the doorman announced a friend of his was downstairs. Winston grinned and told Stanley to send her up. He was both excited to see his friend and nervous, never having one of his friends from Hogwarts (or Hackney) over before. A few minutes later there was a knock at the door, waking Croissant. By the time he opened the door, the dog was prepared and jumped excitedly in greeting at the girl standing in front of him. 

 

“I guess someone’s happy to see you.” He meant the dog but by the grin on Winston’s face, it applied to him too despite his best attempts to remain as cool and unaffected as his friend Jo. 

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Josephine Tindall

She had been feeling no small amount of apprehension when it came to returning home for the winter break. It was like deciding between the lesser of two evils; stay at Hogwarts where you could potentially be maimed to death by a savagely cursed werewolf or return home to face her family (like she even had a choice, her bubbe would've had her head had she even suggested staying at the school over break) and her father who had returned home after a lengthy stint of being somewhere that wasn't home with his children. 

 

The sight of her grandparents at Kings Cross Station was relieving. What the Hackney native hadn't expected from them was the news of her oldest brothers new residency as Feltham Prisons newest juvenile offender. 

 

How did the old saying go? Oh right. Disappointed but not surprised. 

 

Only a few days of break had passed when Winston offered Jo the escape she desperately needed. Without a backwards glance at her father, passed out on the lounge after another long night, she grabbed her jacket from the rack by the door way and told Lachlan she'd see him 'whenever.' 

 

A shrug, the slamming of the apartment door and Jo was gone. 

 

She knew she would receive a vicious verbal serving from her grandmother later for missing that nights dinner, and the lighting of the menorah. But she'd gladly risk the ire of her grandmother and the sacrifice of those delicious latkes for a reprieve from her mess of a family. 

 

Mess was an understatement. 

 

It was her first visit to Winston's home in Paddington and while not unfamiliar with the area she was unfamiliar with Winston's home. It was a simple journey. Catching the 56 to Central and then jump on the train to Lancaster Gate. 

 

This couldn't be right...could it?

 

Jo stood outside the building, classic and clean. It radiated warmth and comfort (it had a bloody doorman!) and glanced at the text message that Winston had sent containing his address once more. She swallowed, checking the number again. This was where Winston lived? 

 

"Oi! Um...I mean hey," she greeted the doorman, plastering what she thought was a polite smile on her face. Jo realised immediately that she looked out of place, sticking out like a red flag amongst a sea of beige. The ripped jeans, worn docs, with the addition her oversize sweater and rider jacket that was still a few sizes to big for her (and likely always would be given it had once belonged to her now incarcerated brother), coupled with the Liverpool beanie she'd donned to beat the cold winter chill in the air. 

 

"Stanley is it?" Jo questioned, leaning on the counter as the man called Winston, squinting at the name engraved on the badge. He nodded, his voice posh and refined as he announced her arrival to Winston and directed Jo to the lift. "Cheers," she nodded her thanks, crooked grin on her face as she winked at Stanley. 

 

God this place was nice!

 

She heard the familiar bark coming from the other side of the door after she knocked and Jo's belly twisted with excitement, the grin on her face growing when the door opened and she saw both Winston and Croissant. "Well at least one of you is," Jo bit back, teasing Winston as she knelt down and scooped up corgi in her arms. "Did you miss me, bud? I missed you too." The dog squirmed excitedly in her arms, licking at her face. 

 

"I suppose I missed you too," Jo added, nudging Winston as she passed him and placing Croissant back on the ground. She took in her surroundings, feeling weird being inside her friends home for the first time. It was like crossing another boundary, further deepening the intimacy of friendship. Something that Jo had never been comfortable with.

 

post 500 for you ❤️

 

Edited by Josephine Tindall

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Winston Hughes

“Yeah well, I guess he has good taste for a dog.” Winston tried to remain nonchalant as Croissant greeted their friend Jo with happy barks and puppy kisses. The girl, his guest, was always so effortlessly cool. He eyed her as she straightened up. If any of the other kids who lived in the hallway could see the Hackney native in her ripped jeans, scuffed boots, and rider jacket, Winston knew his street cred would have skyrocketed too. He was always seeing the upsides in keeping his friends close but it didn’t diminish the genuine joy he felt in actually having Jo visit him.

 

“It’s only been a few days Jo. Are you getting soft on me?” He nudged her back with his elbow but the smile threatened to split Winston’s face in two. “Just playing, I missed you too. It’s so weird being without everyone, isn’t it?” The teenager shut the door behind him, noticing Jo pause a moment to take everything in. 

 

He suddenly felt a bit self-conscious. Did Jo like his apartment? Was it cool enough? She was actually the first real friend he ever had come to visit. There were kids that he had over from his primary school… but they only came over to complete group projects. The kids in his muggle school tolerated him. Some, Winston even swindled into protecting him and helping him. None of them had ever been friends though. He was always the kid without a dad. He was boy who didn’t know how to play any sports. A geek with glasses. The kid who had to wear the same clothes week after week as his mum had been in graduate school at the time. The mother and son had only moved into the apartment a few years ago.

 

Winston had been to her home. He spent time in her neighborhood and her friends. To the sheltered boy, those days in Hackney had been some of the most exciting and most colorful in his life. Winston may have his new amenities, an elevator, and even a doorman but it lacked the same sense of community Jo had. It was always just him and his mum. It left a hole in Winston’s life and was a source of envy for him when he remembered just how many people Jo had in her’s. 

 

“Well, do you want a tour or should we make ourselves comfortable?” Winston nodded to the couch and tossed the remote to her. He didn’t know exactly what to do now that she was here. He figured snacks were a good place to start. Grabbing a bag of chips off the counter, he moved to fridge to open it and reveal it fully stocked. “Want a soda? I miss them so much when we're at Hogwarts.” 

Edited by Winston Hughes

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Josephine Tindall

She stuffed her hands in the pockets of her jacket, rocking back on the heels of her boots and grinning down at Croissant who's entire body shook as he wagged his tail excitedly. "I'm not soft! It's just been," Jo began, before cutting herself off because Winston didn't need to know the grimy details of her life. All he needed to know was that she was here and she was happy to be here. "Well you've been to my place," she said, leaving it at that with a shrug of her shoulders. 

 

He had been to her place during a time of celebration and community. He'd seen the best of what Hackney could be. Fireworks lighting up the dark blue tinged sky, a crackling and hissing bonfire, the smell of barbecue smoke from burnt sausages carrying through the communal area, the cracked concrete stained with confetti and glitter from the celebration. That was home at it's best, when everybody forgot the grey of their lives and forgot about the overdue bills and ignored the sound of the police sirens that had become the background music of her life in Hackney.

 

Jo had been nervous (uncharacteristically so) and terrified about the potential judgement. So much so that she'd confessed to Lucas who had put it simply: if the outsiders she was welcoming into her life were cruel about it, they'd find new friends. They didn't need them.

 

Except she did. 

 

"You live so close to me too," Jo said, following Winston through the flat to the kitchen. She spotted the Christmas tree in the lounge room and bit back a smile. It was nice here in this apartment. Cosy. "I need to visit more. Only took me about forty-five to get here and it's madness out there," she gestured with a nod of her head to the window with the bustling street below. It was close to Christmas, the madness of the festive season was at it's peak and there were people everywhere. 

 

As if on cue (triggered by the familiar rustling sound) her stomach grumbled loudly as he picked up the packet of crisps and offered her a soda. She'd skipped breakfast that morning and opted to go for a skate instead, anything to get out of the estate for a few hours. "Judging by that horrific noise," Jo laughed, pointing at her gut which gurgled unpleasantly again. "Lets go with snacks and I'll take that soda too. It sure as hell beats Pumpkin juice." She grimaced, making a retching noise and happily taking the soda from her bespectacled friend. 

 

"You know what I miss the most when we're at Hogwarts," Jo began, shoving a handful of crisps into her mouth and munching happily. "These wicked kebabs from this place down the road from mine. It's been shutdown a few times," she wiped the crumbs from her chin. "Always comes back though."

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Winston Hughes

The problem with being so insightful and knowing what buttons to press was, well, being too insightful and pressing the right buttons but getting the wrong reactions. Winston didn’t mean to get a defensive response out of Jo for calling her soft. He meant it as a joke but it seemed too hit to close to home. His eyes narrowed slightly in concentration, brief and only lasting a second, as he took in her next sentence. Did Jo not realize he thought the world of the home she invited him and their other friends into? He wouldn’t push Jo on it though and decided to leave her with a bit of assurance. 

 

“Yeah and I loved it.” He offered her a genuine grin. That day had been so fun. Food, dancing, fireworks, and adolescent games of snog, marry, and kill. “How’s your bubbe doing? Tell her I hi and that I miss her cooking.” To a teenage boy, there was nothing  in the world like a grandmother’s cooking. 

 

Jo followed Winston throughout the small kitchen. There was only enough room for a small table  with four chars in the corner of the room, Winston feeling it was indicative of the small amount of guests they could expect. The refrigerator and pantries were full but sometimes, the kitchen left him feeling empty. As long as he could remember, he desperately wanted more family. His thoughts always drifted to what life would have been like if his father hadn’t abandoned him and his mother. Maybe he would have had another set of grandparents, uncles and aunts, even cousins his own age. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so lonely so growing up.

 

“I know!” At least Winston had Jo, and Lucas, Magda, Bitsy and Brooklyn, to fill the hole of absent family in his life now. “Yeah, it wasn’t a bad ride to Hackney either. I’m glad you and Lucas live so close. It’s stupid of us to not see each other more during the breaks, you know?” Winston followed Jo’s nod and shook his head in exasperation. “Yeah its always crazy around Christmastime.” 

 

Winston passed the crisps off to Jo and laughed as he collected the sodas. “How do they drink that stuff? Pumpkin juice is nasty.” Wizards and witches were obsessed with the orange squash. History of Magic probably went over why pumpkins were such a huge thing to the magical world but the class was taught by a doll crazy professor and even the brown nosing Winston found it difficult to pay attention. “Those kebabs sound great. Let’s try them sometime. I miss pizza the most. For all their magic, you’d think witches and wizards would have figured out how great a slice and a glass of coke are” 

 

It felt nice to complain about the magical world with a like-minded friend. The pureblood and traditional halfbloods didn't know what they were missing from the muggle world. Dressed more casually than Jo had ever seen him but secure in the comforts of his own home, Winston was wearing a pair of gym shorts and a simple white tee. Pureblood's would never know this level of comfort. “Come on, let’s watch some telly. There’s a new series I want to check out on Netflix.” 

 

Winston lead the way back to the living room and had just found the perfect lounging position with his feet propped on the coffee table when he heard the door lock start to jingle. The boy turned shared a confused look with Jo before turning his head to the front door and seeing his Mum walk in hours earlier than she should have, her arms heavy with shopping bags but her ever present Mum smile on her face. 

 

---

 

“Winnie, I got out of work early! Are you ready to decorate the tree, honey?” Penelope Hughes was a beautiful young woman of thirty four, having been only twenty one when she gave birth to Winston. She shared all of her son’s coloring, her cheeks just as rosy and pink from the winter chill, but none of his potential height. The short woman stopped short at finding two teenagers in her living room, blinking in surprise behind stylish glasses. “Oh that’s right! You must be Jo! I'm Winnie's mum but please, call me Penny.” Penelope smiled warmly at the young girl, paying no mind to her style of clothing. As a university professor, she was used to all sorts of fashion. “I forgot Winnie was having a friend over but the more the merrier! Would you like to join us for baking some Christmas cookies and decorating the tree, dear?"

 

Penny paid no attention to the look of mortification on Winston, not Winnie's, face at his mum's nickname or total... momness. Just when everything was going so well, Jo was going to think he was such a loser. 

 

"I'm sorry." He muttered to Jo, while his mother's back was turn as she placed down her bags. 

 

 

 

Edited by Winston Hughes

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Josephine Tindall

"Wizards get it wrong about a lot of things," Jo said firmly, taking the can of soda from Winston slurping back several mouthfuls. The bubbly liquid stirred in the pit of her stomach and the ever charming girl whacked her chest before belching loudly as she followed him into the lounge room. "Several things come to mind immediately," Jo began to list them as she flopped onto the couch, legs dangling over the armrest.  "The lack of technology and no telly," she pointed at the flat screen before them and then to the gaming console. "No video games either!" It was comfortable to be this candid, almost completely unreserved in the company of her friend. 

 

Too often she was restrained, containing herself and filtering her words and thoughts, but most of all her emotions. Intimacy, vulnerability and honesty led to hurt—she had witnessed this first hand and it wasn't something the teenage girl was keen to experience herself.

 

(She didn't know it just yet, and wouldn't know it for a while, but vulnerability and honesty would lead to some of the most poignant moments in life.) 

 

Jo had slowly learn't to put her walls down. There was a select few—the five that she shared a secret room with—that she felt this comfort with. Her sermon on the weaknesses of the wizarding wolrd was interrupted by the opening of the front door and Jo, pushing herself up onto her elbows, titled her head to the side and bit the inside of her cheek to suppress a grin. 

 

Winnie?

 

She couldn't help herself and when Winston's delightful mother referred to the bespectacled boy as 'Winnie' once more, Josephine dissolved into a fit of giggles. The lanky girl (just an inch or so shorter than her friend) got to her feet, inhaling through her nose and with that forcing her amused giggles back inside. "Yes, I'm Jo. Thanks for letting me come over."  Jo had never been good at dealing with parents, or at least proper ones like the woman before her. She was used to Livvy in Lucas's home and his dad was...well his dad was about as useful as her own which wasn't saying much.

 

But this woman before her, she was a mum. A proper mum and Jo didn't know how to respond to that. It was like she was malfunctioning. 

 

Unsure of what to do or say in response to Penny's offer, Jo rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly and looked to Winston for an answer. "Umm..." Was it okay? While Jo and her family didn't celebrate Christmas (at least not since her mothers passing) she knew from when she was a child that those sort of traditions were shared with ones family and not some random interloper looking for an escape from her crappy life in Hackney. "I guess?"

 

When the woman turned her back on them, Winston joined Jo and whispered an apology."Huh?" Her brow furrowed in confusion and she turned to her friend. "What are you sorry about?"

Edited by Josephine Tindall

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Winston Hughes

“Amen.” Winston shook his head in agreement with his friend’s assessment of wizards and witches. There were so much they didn’t know. When he discovered there was a world of magic out there, he assumed it would be an utopian society. He was wrong. The wizarding world was just as messed up as the muggle world but with some tweaks— like bigotry based on ‘blood’ rather than skin tone or violence with wands and magical creature attacks instead of guns and bombs. Hate, poverty, bullying, stupidity… those were all the same. “No telly and video games is pretty bad but at least we got our Hogwarts letters after they figured out how to install indoor plumbing.”

 

Winston, Jo, and their other muggle raised friends couldn't believe it when they learned that tidbit of magical history. Magic was cool but if Hogwarts hadn’t had toilets, he would have passed on that offer. 

 

Burping, especially impressive ones like the soda-induced one Jo just belched minutes earlier, Winston could handle. He even sent her a thumbs up and scored it a “Ten out of ten.” But…

 

There were some things a Banishing Charm just shouldn’t be used for. 

 

On reflection, Winston was sure that their shared muggle upbringing naturally helped to bring Winston together with Lucas and Jo. His interaction with Jo now reinforced those beliefs. It felt nice to being in this muggle environment with her, talking and griping about the changes that were thrusted upon their lives. There was none of the awkwardness between himself and Jo that he so often worried about. It felt like most of the barriers, including her new developments at the beginning of the year, were beaten back. He felt a connection, an ease in their friendship; then, his mother walked in. 

 

Winston’s face cycled through his fair skin tone, to an embarrassed pink, and landed on a mortified red. Winnie… he didn’t mind his mum calling him when they were alone but it was the worst thing to ever happen to him with Jo here. The brunette’s giggles sounded more like a hammer slamming the nails into his coffin. He was sure he would die from embarrassment and that Jo would leave his corpse cold on the sofa, possibly taking a soda from the fridge on her way out. 

 

He was shocked when Jo agreed to stay. Baking cookies and dressing the tree didn’t exactly sound like Josephine Tindall approved activities. It was why he apologized to her, certain that he must have misjudged his friend and that she accepted his mum’s invitation just for his benefit. It left him feeling raw and vulnerable, his scheming ‘calm Winston’ persona floated out the door with his mum’s arrival. “I don’t know… I guess I just figure this isn’t your idea of a fun day? Thanks though… you know, for not upsetting my mum. By the way, she can be a bit much...” 

 

Penny, with her mother sixth sense, chose that moment to walk into the living room. The young mother, wearing the frilliest of aprons, smiled warmly at her son and his friend, clapping her hands together with genuine excitement. “I’m so glad you decided to join us, Jo. It will be so fun to get to know one of Winnie’s friends! And at Christmastime, what a blessing!” Penny loved her son with all of her heart but worried when her little angel struggled to make friends as a child. She hid her guilt, often wondering if things would have been different if he had magical friends growing up as Winston appeared to flourish socially once he got to Hogwarts. But she pushed those thoughts aside for now. “First things first, let’s start on the cookies! Do you like cookies, Jo?”

 

Penny waved for them to follow her into the kitchen. By the time Winston and Jo got there, ingredients, bowls, and trays were laid out all over the table and countertops. Penny held two aprons in her hands, one a plain neutral white and the other a more feminine, slightly frilly, but Christmas themed. 

 

“Jo, take an apron dear. I won’t have your clothes getting dirty.” It was Penny’s absolute worst nightmare to have a guest leave her home more dirty than they came in. “Winnie can wear the other. Now, tell me more about yourself! Winnie showed me some pictures from your Bat Mitzvah, you looked so beautiful. Oh, today’s Hannukah, isn’t it? Happy Hannukah!”

Edited by Winston Hughes

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Josephine Tindall

Despite how uncomfortable she was feeling, Jo forced a smile (because on the inside she was mentally smacking herself for agreeing to do this) onto her face and elbowed Winston playfully. Upset his mum? Never, the woman radiated such an aura of kindness that Jo assumed it would be like shooting Bambi had she rejected her offer and skipped off back to dirty Hackney. "Don't be stupid," she berated him quietly, watching as his mother disappeared from the living room. She took that moment to quickly grab Winston by the elbow, glancing to where his mother had stood moments before. "Just so you know," she began. "I will suck at this and will not be held responsible if your place burns down."  The only thing she had ever cooked besides Challah was instant ramen. 

 

Aneta Levy constantly bemoaned the great tragedy of her granddaughters lack of cooking prowess. When she was feeling particularly dramatic she would start to theorise that her darling Josephine had been cursed. 

 

The reappearance of Penny wearing the frilliest damn apron she had ever seen caused Jo to grin broadly, nodding enthusiastically (completely uncharacteristic of Jo) as she followed Penny into the kitchen, glancing over her shoulder to wink at Winston. "Who doesn't love cookies?" Jo answered, taking pause to look at the apron selection that was presented to her.

 

Oh? Well Jo knew which she'd be wearing. 

 

Without missing a beat, Jo reached out for the plane white one and slipped it over her head. She made a mental note to take a snap of Winnie wearing the darling Christmas themed apron for their friends—truly a Christmas gift to cherish. 

 

"Not much to tell really," Jo replied, trying to sound as pleasant as possible. "Standard stuff." What was there to say? She could lie but then Winston would know she was lying to his mother and wonder why, and that was a conversation she didn't want to have with him. 

 

Or the other option, which was equally horrible, would be to tell the truth about herself: where she was from, her family and receive that pitying look (the one she'd received so many times before) from Winston's mother. 

 

So she did the standard Jo thing and said very little at all, forcing a smile onto her face and pushing that question to the side to focus on something that wasn't uncomfortable to talk about. "It is. Started on Tuesday evening," Jo answered, looking to Winston and furrowing her furrowing her brow at him. How much did he tell his mother about her? 

 

"Ugh, thanks. I hated the dress," she shrugged, moving to stand beside the woman and peer at the ingredients she'd set out on the kitchen counter.  Jo had forgotten about the camera Winston had been wielding at her Bat Mitzvah and wondered what awful pictures he'd shown her. "So," Jo pressed, keen to change the subject. "What was Winston like as a kid? I'd love to see some pictures later. I'm sure you have plenty." 

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Winston Hughes

It felt strange standing with Jo in his home, worried about his mother embarrassing him. Winston loved his mother and Jo was one of his best friends but it was extremely uncomfortable experiencing his two worlds collide in such an unexpected way. A master of scheming and getting his way, lack of control caused him to feel vulnerable. “Alright alright,” he managed to offer Jo an uneasy grin despite his misgivings. Jo expressing her own vulnerabilities made him feel a lot better though and his next grin was much more lighthearted. “Don’t worry, the fire station is right down the street.”

 

His mum reemerging from the kitchen caused Winston to pause, his cheeks flushing in embarrassment once more. Penny Hughes loved all things frilly and feminine… the opposite of Jo’s tough girl aesthetic. The socially aware boy found his mother's frilliness and her cheeriness offensive in the company.

 

It got worse though when Penny insisted he and Jo put on their own aprons. Penny hated a mess and would insist on the attire. Winston glanced at Jo briefly, hoping she’d do him a solid, but he had no such luck. A lanky arm tried to reach towards the white one but Jo beat him to it. Winston opened his mouth to ask Jo, however futile it would be, to trade when Penny spoke up. “Oh shush. Jo is our guest and it’s just an apron. Turn around.” 

 

Mortified, Winston obliged and glared at Jo mouthing "I’m going to kill you," while his mother tied the apron behind him, knotted in a bow. 

 

His mother took control of the situation and Winston nodded along, wishing his friend a Happy Hannukah along the way. He was a bit embarrassed that his mother implied that he shared the pictures with her but he couldn’t do anything about it. He was already wearing the worst apron in the world… somehow, the fact that Jo knew he talked about all his friendships with his mum didn’t seem too bad anymore. It was his turn to embarrass her. Unhelpfully, Winston added with a teasing smile “It was so green and ruffly. Very you.” 

 

The tables were turned again when Jo asked his mother about her favorite subject: Winston.

 

“Oh Winnie was adorable! He had the curliest hair and rosiest cheeks. I’ll be happy to show you some pictures when the cookies are baking.” Penny beamed at both Jo and Winston, patting the latter’s hand lovingly. She was already mixing the batter for the chocolate chip cookies but didn’t miss a beat in talking about her son. “I couldn’t ask for a better son. We didn’t have much when he was younger. It was too hard balancing my schooling and a decent full time job. But he never complained or gave me any trouble. He was always the top of his class, volunteered in the church choir, and all his babysitters couldn’t get enough of him.” The love and adoration was practically dripping from her voice. “I never understood why the other kids didn't want to be friends with such a charming and lovely boy.” 

 

Winston groaned, his face turning as red as the frilly apron he was wearing and he refused to look at his friend. He never wanted Jo or anyone else to know about how lonely he was before Hogwarts.

 

“You two can take the dough and make them into little balls, place them on the baking sheet over there. Anyway, I’m so happy he’s found you and your group of friends at school. How did you two become friends again?"

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Josephine Tindall

Winston's silently mouthed threat was challenged with a raised brow and lips curled into a smirk. "Bring it," she mouthed back. Jo was well aware that Winston's threat was nothing but empty and playful. As she fished her phone from her jacket pocket, the cracked screen of the old phone showing three missed calls from Lachlan ignored as she snapped a picture of Winston in his frilly apron, his darling mother behind him making sure the bow was tied nice a tight. "Smile, Winnie!" Jo exclaimed, her tone was nice as pie—sickeningly sweet—as his mother beamed. She knew Winston would be dying on the inside but that didn't stop Jo from taking one more before pocketing her phone again and joining before joining Winston and his mother.

 

She smacked her friend on the shoulder, a devious grin only meant for him now on her face. Penny could still hear her words and Jo added, with sugar dripping from her words: "I just love making memories, don't you?"

 

This was a game Jo was enjoying and while Winston had the upper-hand for a few moments (she would never live down that horrific green dress) Jo found it easy to turn the tables—especially with Winston's mother being so obviously adoring of her son. 

 

Of course Jo had done this to embarrass her friend—because that was what they did. 

 

What she didn't expect was the lump in her throat as Penny Hughes mixed the cookie dough and spoke about her son with such pride.

 

Jo faltered, regretting her move on the chessboard and wanting to stop the game, get off the ride, anything to get rid of the feeling that had settled in her chest. She glanced at the floor, sucked in a breath, and became entirely too focused and engaged with the hole in her left sock leaving her big toe exposed. 

 

It was then, when Winston groaned and Penny declared that she was nothing but happy for her son, that Jo realised she would never have that again. Not that she hadn't before (these things got easier to forget over time) but it had been a long while since the thought wormed it's way from the depths of her mind to render the now teenager useless

 

Had Penny not spoken, directing a question to Jo. The thirteen year old would've stood there just staring at her big toe. The question cut through the darkness like a crack of lightning and Jo looked up, startled. "Huh?" She faltered, feeling dazed and silently berating herself for letting her feelings get the best of her in a moment that wasn't about her. She was here for Winston now was not the time for her bloody tragic past. Who was she? Some angsty werewolf? No.

 

"Oh ugh." She fumbled over her words, quickly moving to ball the dough between her hands. "We met at the summer school thing. Can I use the bathroom quickly?"

Edited by Josephine Tindall

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Winston Hughes

As his sweet oblivious mum tied the mortifyingly frilly apron behind him, Winston took advantage of his height as Jo fumbled around for her cracked screened phone. With the flattest of expressions, the gawky boy held up a fittingly long middle finger towards his friend and mouthed a kind ‘flack off.’

 

Remembering how he took pictures of the girl in her horrid green loofah of a dress, the Slytherin more than understood that payback was a witch. “Do you?” Winston asked in an equally sweet tone as he answered his friend with a somewhat violent shrug of his bony shoulder. “I promise to keep that in mind.” Jo should know the devious Winston well enough to know he was most dangerous at his most polite. 

 

It was the jungle in which he preyed. 

 

His mum’s was in the love and devotion she showered upon her son. If he could have died from embarrassment, he would have by now… but it was more than that. For the last two and a half years, the observant boy kept an eye on everyone at Hogwarts. Most didn’t see him, not truly at least, as they were too busy looking at how he purposely and superficially presented to the world. Winston, despite his need for glasses, saw them more clearly and more deeply. Classmates, professors, enemies, and especially friends. 

 

Winston understood Jo enough to understand he was watching her crack. His uncomely hands stopped rolling the ball of raw cookie dough, the boy remaining silent as an equally as raw Jo struggled to find her footing except to find an escape. 

 

“Come on, I’ll show you to the loo.” It was a decidedly bold solid directive for Winston, usually more passive with seemingly harmless questions like a weed dancing back and forth in the wind. He easily could have given her the simple directions to the bathroom but chose not to. His appearances were left aside as genuinely worried for his friend, normally so cool and staunch like a rock, cracks strangely forming. It must have looked silly of him, a tall gangly boy dressed in his mother’s apron but looking at Jo so intensely with concern as they stood outside the bathroom.

 

“What’s going on?” A second passed before he added “And don’t tell me that it's because you're aching to take a piss or a crap. I won't buy it."

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