Forty One.

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"Where's your boyfriend?" Peter asks, taking a sip from his beer.  I know he doesn't actually care because he makes no move to look around for Harry.  "Can I get you a drink?" He asks before I can answer.

"No," I shake my head and his smirk widens, his grey eyes sly and too condescending for my liking.  I'm surprised my voice is strong and defiant despite the fact that my insides are jelly.  I cross my arms over my chest and suck in a breath, my armor and shield at the ready.

"Wow, I never thought I'd hear you turn down a drink," he chuckles, a warm melodic sound.  He takes a step toward me and I take one step back.

"Three years changes people," I shrug.

"Clearly," he grins, his eyes skimming over my body again.  I quiver in disgust, feeling violated.  "You look amazing."

"Thanks, you look the same," I say and he only laughs, taking another sip of his beer.  It's true, Peter is still the same tall boy with light brown hair, grey eyes and a mesmerizing smile.  The only difference is that is figure has filled into his height.  "I'm actually surprised you didn't show up high."

"Why would you say that?" He furrows his eyebrows, but his lips rest into an amused smile.

"You never drink if you're not high," I almost laugh, finding it ridiculous that I have to explain my logic.  I feel different, my guard is up and I'm no longer vulnerable to him.  It's like I've finally decided I'm not going to let him get to me, I've gone from a mess to level headed in less than a minute.  The hostility is alive in me, being released slowly but still being held back as a weapon.  The image of Harry's enraged face, wild eyes and curled fists clear in my mind.

He moves to leans against the counter behind him, setting down his bottle and crossing his arms over his chest to mimic my stance.  "I've been trying to tone it down a bit," he shrugs, a smile spreading over his face.

"I've heard.  No longer living at home, your parents finally get sick of you trashing their house every weekend?"

"As I recall you had some pretty great times in that house," he says smugly, pulling his bottom lip between his teeth and I try not to cringe. He is just like Harry used to be, a bit better now that he has matured no doubt, but still so similar.  If you had to label Harry and Peter, you could have once called them best friends.  Because of this they share a lot of he same habits, the only difference being that Harry makes me swoon and Peter makes me want to slap him.

"None of that means anything to me anymore, it's over.  What I did as a teenager doesn't matter," I tell him and he nods slowly.  I want so badly to believe my own words, I do believe my own words but I have yet to live by them completely.

"California changed you.  Must be all the sun," he chuckles, his eyes searching my face.

"Maybe you should go there some time, a little change couldn't hurt you," I laugh humorlessly, trying not to squirm under his cool gaze.

"Ouch," he presses a hand to his chest and sucks in a breath, emulating that he's been shot, "you're sassy today." He picks up his beer again and takes a sip.  I avert my eyes from him, but I feel his eyes on me.  I want so baldy to walk away, but I can't yet.

I swallow hard, anxiousness finally starting to creep up on me.  I choke it down though, pulling out my new resolve and tightening the shield in my hand.

"So," I turn back to Peter, his eyebrows raised expectantly, "You live with your uncle now?"

At my words, his face flood with realization and he sighs, tilting his head.  "I should have know better than to think you wanted to talk to me without having a reason behind it." He watches me carefully, the gears turning in his head.  "Are you coming to dinner Thursday?"

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