A/N: AHHH!!! it's finally done! this monster of a chapter is FINALLY done! i am so so sorry that it took so long. i won't even list the excuses i could give. i'm tired of typing. 12,710 freaking words. i didn't think that was even possible. but now it is finished. thank goodness for that! i know that in my A/N of last chapter i promised that i wouldn't take 6 months again. i didn't break it! only 5 months this time!
thank you SO SO SO SO SO SO SO much to Addison aka Molly Raesly. she practically wrote a whole scene in this chapter because i was too flustered to do it (i'll let you know which scene in the last A/N as to not spoil it). she was a real trooper in keeping up with my insanity, even fooling me into super duper writing mode, with the help of the queue closing. i love her so much.
and thank YOU for coming back to read this next chapter of Jenyse Syl Baccari's life...
Chapter 7: “Trouble in paradise?”
I stared at the morning beast in the mirror, taking in its every feature. Its dark brown hair was way messier and tousled than mine from the constant tossing and turning that occurred during the night. Its eyebrows were drawn together. Its tired green eyes were puffy with huge bags beneath them. Its nose had a pinker tinge than mine. Its lips…
All of yesterday’s events – or what I could remember of them – flooded back to me. It wasn’t really much. I remembered going to Hogsmeade and having a great time with Travis. I remembered practically falling asleep on top of the Astronomy Tower. I remembered Travis dragging me back to the common room. I remembered…
Common room? Travis? Lips?
I leaned in closer towards the mirror to inspect the inside and outside of my mouth. My lips were a little chapped. My tongue was a little dry. My teeth needed cleaning. It wasn’t any different from any other morning. Mouths get dirty after a night’s sleep. That was a known fact. So why did mine feel like it just ate its way through a dump?
Grabbing my toothbrush and squeezing some toothpaste onto it, I was greeted with more snapshots of last night.
Lips? Someone else’s lips? Travis? Alec? Ian?
I stopped midway from putting down the toothpaste tube on the counter, to open it back up and squeeze even more of its contents onto my toothbrush. Shoving the cleaning utensil back into my mouth, I began to scrub like I’d never scrubbed before.
Last night. That couldn’t have happened. I wasn’t even completely sure of what exactly occurred. It was all quite fuzzy, thanks to the fact that I was barely conscious. All I remembered was feeling lips, pulling back, seeing Travis’s face centimeters away from mine and Ian behind him, and running up to my dorm and into my bed, where it only took a minute or two to cry myself to sleep.
That couldn’t be right. Why would Travis kiss me? Why would I kiss him back? Why would Ian be in Gryffindor Tower?
Biting down, I turned my toothbrush to such an angle so that it would reach my back teeth, and brushed, brushed, brushed.
No. What was I thinking? Ian couldn’t get into the Gryffindor Tower. He was a Ravenclaw. And both Travis and I were dead tired. He probably tripped and landed on my face.
After spitting out, I proceeded to furiously scrub at my tongue.
Maybe Travis was just giving me a goodnight kiss on the cheek, but accidentally got really, really close to my lips. People do that all the time. It’s just one of those awkward things in life.
I spat out again and moved onto brushing the back sides of my teeth.
And maybe I was so tired last night that I started hallucinating, thinking I was seeing Alec. I did miss him a lot. It was no secret that my mind was insane. It liked to trick me a lot. That’s right. It was just a mind trick. Well, I forgive you, mind. No harm done.
Except maybe to my tongue and gums, which were even bleeding a little from the force at which I was going back and forward on them with my toothbrush.
Finally feeling as though my mouth was at least a little bit cleaner, I rinsed my mouth out with water, four or five times, before I undressed and stepped into the shower. I realized a little too late that showering was pointless, since I had a Quidditch Match in a couple of hours. I didn’t mind the cleansing, though. My face and neck felt pretty dirty too.
Before heading down to breakfast, trying to expel all thoughts of yesterday, and particularly last night, I brushed my teeth and scrubbed my tongue once more. It sort of worked, since I avoided seeing Travis or Ian at all as I walked down the aisle next to the Gryffindor table. I spotted Sirius immediately and stared at the muffin he had in his hand, my whole walk towards him. Shaking off any remaining thoughts, I put a smile on and approached him. He was always good as a distraction.
“Hey! No! Jenyse!”
“Mmm…blueberry. My favorite,” I said as I sank my teeth into the blueberry muffin I had just snatched from Sirius. I plopped down next to him, by the rest of our Quidditch team, and made a taunting face of delight, which was ruined by laughter when I saw his appalled expression.
“First off,” Sirius started with irritation, “that was my muffin! Second, your favorite is cinnamon crunch, not blueberry. Third, blueberry is my favorite. Fourth, you know that I need to eat a blueberry muffin before every Quidditch match. And fifth? ...That was my muffin!”
Before I could respond, Adam, Sirius’s fellow Beater, cut in to say, “Sirius, calm down. There’s another one right here.” He pulled a muffin out of the basket of muffins on the table and held it up to Sirius’s face.
Without skipping a beat, Sirius greedily grabbed the spotted muffin from Adam. He was a centimeter away from biting into it when he froze. The rest of the team and I watched in confusion and awe as Sirius sniffed the muffin like the dog he sometimes was.
“Liar! This isn’t blueberry. This is definitely boysenberry,” he groaned disgustedly. “You and I?” Sirius motioned between Adam and himself. “We’re done.” He emphasized his point by throwing the offending muffin straight at Adam’s face. Unfortunately, we were all deprived of the extra amusement by James’s quick Chaser reflexes, which were heightened by his anticipation of the coming match.
I laughed loudly while Adam rolled his eyes and went back to his own food. “Sucks, love,” I said, mockingly pitying, as I took another bite of my blueberry muffin.
Sirius grabbed all of the baskets of muffins that he could reach and searched through them all. When his search failed, he turned back to me. “Please, Sylly. Just one bite. Do you want to lose today? Come on. I love you, you know that? I love you so much. And I will be your slave for the rest of my life,” he bribed. “I will do anything for you. Even if it means killing Remus so that he’ll stop stealing your chocolate.”
I laughed at Remus, who was sitting kind of on the outskirts of the team with Peter, then turned my focus back onto the desperate boy in front of me. I raised a brow in contemplation. “And you’ll come to my house for Easter break and cuddle with me every night, despite the chance Jarron comes in and finds us?”
Sirius visibly gulped, and I smirked at the sight of it. Using Jarron as a threat was my favorite. Just seeing the transition to dread on his face was enough to make me give in and give him the rest of the muffin.
The members of the team who didn’t know my brother and the intensity of his protectiveness over me appeared confused by my condition, yet amused by Sirius’s torn expression.
“Fine!” Sirius finally exclaimed. “Just give me the damn muffin!”
James, Remus, and Peter gave looks of pity to their beloved friend, knowing that he had just made a deal with a demon. They knew that an angry Jarron was the equivalent of a hellhound.
“Yes!” Someone to cuddle with all week! Not to mention the best cuddler of all time! “This is going to be the best break ever!” I declared, throwing my arms around him, the muffin moving along with my hand to his back. “Don’t you worry. I’ll protect you from Jarron. He’s got nothin’ on me.” I pulled back briefly to smile toothily at him and then held him close once more.
Just as I was about to finally release Sirius, I caught the eye of Travis sitting alone at the end of the Gryffindor table. The look he was giving me was strange. It was a mix of delight from – unfortunately – catching my attention, jealousy and disgust from my position with Sirius, confusion – probably from last night’s events –, and eagerness for our next conversation – which I didn’t need a wacked up crystal ball to predict would be excruciatingly awkward. His expression confirmed my most dreaded thoughts.
Alright, so maybe Travis did kiss me. That didn’t mean it actually meant something. He must have been really tired. I sure was. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Travis. But that didn’t mean I wanted his tongue down my throat. I suddenly felt the pressing urge to brush my teeth again.
But if the…kiss…really did happen, then Ian must’ve really been in Gryffindor Tower. Realizing that I had had – ACCIDENTAL – tonsil Beaters’ practice with Travis was bad enough. Of course Ian Hayes had to have witnessed it. What could be more devastating than the amnesiac, corporeal form of the guy that I loved catching me – ACCIDENTALLY – snog a guy that I had described to him as practically my brother?
Why did he have to kiss me? Everything would have been normal and I would be focusing on Quidditch, rather than my incest-ful one-sided lack-of-love life. Not that Travis actually loved me. We were tired. It was a mistake. Yes. A mistake.
I averted my glance quickly after assessing Travis’s expression and his excited wave, and let go of Sirius.
The muffin was caught by his mouth, rather than his phalanges.
I didn’t laugh along with my teammates. I needed to focus on Quidditch. Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch. Come on, Nees. Focus. We needed this win if we wanted to win the Quidditch Cup, in the end.
“Jenyse? Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
I glanced up at Sirius.
“You look constipated.”
I narrowed my eyes at him and resumed my chant of “Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch,” trying to focus, focus, focus on the coming match.
This proved to be impossible when my fellow Chaser Colleen asked, “Hey, Jenyse, why is Travis Decker staring at you like that?” Ever the observant one, dearest Colleen.
All at once, our whole section of the table, except me, turned to see Travis who I assumed either took the chance to glower at the Marauders or look away bashfully.
“Freak,” Sirius said.
I didn’t bother defending Travis. It was no use against the Marauders, and I didn’t want thoughts – even if they were the vaguest of vague – of last night reentering my brain. Now was not the time to ponder over Travis and last night’s events.
The group quickly fell into conversation about either how much they hated Travis – Sirius, Remus, and Peter – or how rude Sirius was for insulting my friend right in front of me – the rest of the team. James didn’t join any conversations, other than forcing those of us who got pre-Quidditch jitters to eat their food.
Right. Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch.
“Alright, alright,” said James, indirectly saving me, while trying to get the team’s attention, “let’s all focus on the match that starts in thirty minutes. Meaning you guys need to either scarf down the rest of your food or take it out to the locker room. Let’s go. Chop, chop. Pip, pip.” He clapped his hands impatiently to hurry us up.
Remus and Peter wished us good luck while stayed behind. As we all grunted and stood up from the Gryffindor table all laden with food that we weren’t permitted to eat – well, that we weren’t given the choice to eat –, the rest of the Gryffindors applauded us.
Walking between our table and the Ravenclaw table, I tried not to look in Travis’s direction and, though I tried to fight it, I searched the Ravenclaw table for a certain Ian Hayes instead. I was highly relieved when I didn’t see him. I let out a mysterious breath of air. I supposed our sixth-year Seeker Benjy heard, because he reached around me and gave me a comforting squeeze. If only what I was really worried about was our Quidditch match against Slytherin.
The seven of us walked out of the Great Hall, through the Entrance Hall, and out into the sunny grounds. The sunlight made the thin sheet of snow across the grounds shine. We followed the shoveled path down to the Quidditch Pitch, sharing light conversation, in attempt to put off the unwanted pre-Quidditch nerves and focus.
The chatting died down gradually, the closer we got to the locker room. James held the door open for all of us, giving us each high-fives as we passed through. I headed to the other side – the “girls’” side – of the line of lockers, along with Colleen, to change.
Opening my locker seemed to finally allow me to focus on the task at hand: Quidditch. I reached in and grabbed my uniform and pads, as Colleen started speaking to me.
“D’you think we can do this?”
I glanced at her to see her anxious face before pulling my jersey over my head. “Definitely. We’ve just got to…focus.” Focus, focus, focus.
“Yeah,” Colleen agreed, my confidence seeping into her. “What was it that James said? Just thirty points, right? That’s all we need to be ahead by to kick Slytherin out of the cup. That’s not so bad.” She shrugged and then continued to tie her boot.
I could tell that she was still feeling completely edgy, but was trying to psyche herself out of that mindset. “You alright there? Maybe you should’ve taken a bite of Sirius’s lucky blueberry muffin,” I joked, attempting to lighten the mood.
“Heh, yeah. Maybe…”
I stopped tying my own boot to look over at her.
Half-straddling the bench, with her arms around her propped up leg, Colleen was staring off into space with unease in her eyes. Her other leg was shaking with anticipation to get the match over with.
I sighed and walked over to her. “Hey. You’ll be fine,” I told her, to which she replied with a doubtful look. “You’re an awesome Chaser. You fly incredibly and your passing is no worse than James’s or mine. You’ll be fine.” I offered her a fist to bump, and she didn’t disappoint, even adding a small smile into the mix.
“Hey, you guys decent?” a voice from the end of the lockers asked us.
I checked to see that we were both dressed enough to let him enter before accusing, “Does it really matter to you, James?” making Colleen blush.
“Ha-ha. Very funny, Jenyse. I’m a taken man. And that’s Captain James to you,” James said, as he walked around the lockers, towards us. “Just wanted to go over strategies alone with the Chasers. How are you guys holding up?”
“We had a little anxiety problem, but I think that’s taken care of,” I answered, looking to Colleen for confirmation.
“Yup. It’s all good.”
“All the time,” I added, knocking my shoulder lightly into her.
James flashed a smile, assuring us that that was what he liked to hear, before getting down to business. The three of us went over a few of our Chaser plays and strategies, like we did before every game. Before every match, James liked to go over plays with each individual player or group of players, according to their position, making him a great captain.
Once our brains had been refreshed and we were all completely dressed and padded up, the two of us went back with James around the line of lockers, into the main area. The team sat along the benches, facing the chalkboard and James, awaiting a speech.
With a deep breath, James started. “Alright, team. This is it. If we nail this, it’ll be a breeze to the Cup. Thirty points. That’s all we need to put Slytherin out of the running. Three goals,” he stressed, directing his gaze at Colleen and me. “On the other hand, Slytherin needs a load of points to knock us out of the competition. It should sound simple, but that just gives them all the more reason to do whatever it takes for them to beat us.
“So, this is my warning to you: they will be aggressive – maybe more aggressive than we’ve ever seen them. That means stupid taunts, nasty body hits, wild Bludgers…. Anything to break us down. Just keep in mind that all that just makes them no better–”
Scandalized, everybody’s heads turned to the door, where the source of the sound that made James pause mid-speech came from. Nobody interrupted the captain.
My reaction to the sound was a little delayed, because I was so focused on James’s speech. The intensity of which he spoke was always so captivating. When I finally realized that he had stopped speaking, I confusedly turned my head, as a new voice started speaking.
“Hey, so, the sky’s looking alright. The sun’s a-shinin’, but there are some friendly looking clouds to block the shine, at some points during the match. It’s a little windy, but not too bad. Just hope you get the left hoops. The wind is blowing that way and will really help with goals. The ground is nice and tough; good for kickoff. It’s a bit nippy out, but you guys have trained in colder. I’d say it’s perfect weather for kicking Slytherin arse.”
Focus my ARSE.
My eyes followed him as he moved from the locker room door to the seat in the front right corner, next to the chalkboard. If James wanted me to be completely focused on the match ahead, he needed to get Ian Hayes out of there, right at that moment.
“What the hell is he doing in here?” I asked quietly to whoever could hear, while James thanked Ian for his report.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sirius look at me with a raised brow. “James asked him to check out the weather conditions and report back before the match. Why?”
“No reason,” I replied curtly, not taking my eyes off of Ian.
It took another second for Sirius’s assessing eyes to turn away from me. He was still suspicious about Ian and me. Lately, I was able to downplay the weirdness between us, but today, it would be incredibly difficult to throw Sirius off my scent.
“No problemo, Cap’n,” Ian replied to James’s thanks, leaning back in his chair. His eyes wandered away from James to look at the team. When they landed on me, his expression turned blank before it morphed into cold, causing me to look away.
I tried to fight the guilt rising in me, but it was hard when I could feel his gaze on me. Doing my best to ignore him and the guilt, I set my attention back on James.
“Alright, so, where was I?” James asked, momentarily distracted.
“Slytherin sucks and are too weak to play fair,” Benjy provided.
Everyone laughed at the sixth-year Seeker, but James, Ian, and me.
“Right,” James said, focused once again. “Which means that Sirius and Adam?” he looked at the two Beaters. “You guys need to be on a lookout for anything fishy going on. You two should be the only ones controlling those Bludgers. Don’t let those gits touch them.”
“Ay ay, Captain!”
The fourth-year Keeper looked up from his wringing hands in his lap.
“Let’s be generous and only give them – ehh – one goal, yeah?”
Seth smirked. “Alright,” he agreed, while giving James a fist bump.
“Colls and Jenyse. Pass, pass, steal, pass, dodge, pass, goal. Shouldn’t be hard for the two of you,” James said, giving us a wink. “Remember: three goals ahead.”
“You got it.”
James frowned briefly at my lackluster response.
I averted my gaze from him, surely guaranteeing myself a one-on-one with the captain.
“Uhh, yeah. And Benjy, my man,” James addressed, laying his hand on Benjy’s shoulder. “I have no doubt in my mind that you will catch the snitch. Just wait for my cue. Use those dives of yours to fool Dole and keep him away from the Snitch. Remember, remember, remember: thirty points ahead.”
“Yyyup. Wait, what’s the cue again?”
“Uhh….‘Go, Benjy, go?’” James suggested.
Benjy nodded. “Got it.”
“We believe in you, too, James!” Sirius called out, to which the rest of us voiced in agreement.
James smiled, and then returned to addressing the team as a whole again, as he finished off his speech. “Alright, team. This is it. Do or die. We must win this match. For Gryffindor, legacy, pride, respect, family honor, integrity, loyalty. To prove to Lily that I am someone.”
A few people chuckled at that.
“We won it last year like it was nothing. With the training we’ve had all year this year, today should be a piece of cake. Let’s make this a nine-year run for Gryffindor, yeah?”
“Yeah!” Sirius whooped loudly.
“Ian, here, will be in the Gryffindor stands. He’ll be on the lookout for anything we need. If he tells you to do something, you do it. He knows the game as well as we do. I trust him, and so should you.” He paused, looking at as all with great fondness and pride. “So…let’s do this.”
The team erupted in cheers and whoops. James having finished his speech, everyone went back to either talking amongst themselves or making themselves stay focused.
I could tell that Sirius wanted to talk to me, but was preoccupied by Adam, who was going over Beater tactics with him again.
“Hey, Hayes, do me a favor? Check if everyone’s in the pitch already? Thanks.”
I saw Ian’s legs pass the spot on the wall I was staring at before I heard the door open and close. Not long after, I saw another pair of legs walk in front of the same spot, but walking towards me, instead of the door. I followed the legs up to the owner’s face and saw that it was James. Sigh. Here goes.
James straddled the bench on my right and stared at me. It was a while until he spoke, but speak he did. “Jenyse.”
“Look at me.”
Taking a deep breath, I complied. He had that half-brotherly-concerned, half-captainly-stern look on his face that made me want to crumble up and hide. This was so not the time to have a heart-to-heart with James.
James’s hand reached over to settle comfortingly on my back. “Something’s up with you. I know you don’t want to talk about it – you have that look – and I respect that. I’m sorry that whatever you’re going through is happening during or happened right before a Quidditch match, but I need you to focus for me. Just let whatever’s on your mind go and think solely about Quidditch. Can you do that for me?” His hazel eyes bore into mine, the concern in them showing more and more.
“Yeah. Sorry. It’s nothing. Quidditch, Quidditch, Quidditch. We’ve got a match to win.” I flashed him a forced smile.
He nodded, though still not convinced. “That’s right. And I meant what I said earlier about listening to Hayes. That goes for you, too, Jenyse. Got it?”
I bit back a retort and, instead, replied, “Mmhmm.”
James’s hand on my back moved to my side as he pulled me in for a hug. “That’s my girl,” he said, before kissing the top of my head.
We released each other when we heard the clearing of somebody’s throat, but James’s hand remained on my back.
Hello, again, guilt. I missed you, the two seconds that you were gone. Merlin’s freaking phalanges.
Without giving me one glance, Ian told James, “It looks like everyone’s in the stands. We should be starting in a few minutes.”
“Alright. Sounds good. Thanks.”
“No problem. I’m gonna head to the stands now. Good luck.”
For some reason, I knew that he had looked at me when he had said those last two words. I could feel his gaze. Once again, I heard the locker room door swing shut, and Ian was out of the building. I received a reassuring pat on my back from James before he stood up to address the team.
“Alright, team! Let’s go out there and play some Quidditch! Hands in!”
Everyone put their fists up, in the middle of the circle that we made.
“Gryffindor on three! One, two, three–!”
The team filed out, one by one, receiving high-fives from James, again, as we exited the locker room, brooms in hand.
Walking to our entrance of the pitch, Sirius walked next to me. “You good?”
“I’m good.” I hoped.
We stood in line, James in front and me behind him, waiting to be called into the pitch by the animated commentator, a seventh-year Hufflepuff, Kent Deering.
“Helloooo, Hogwarts!” Kent’s voice echoed through the air. “Today is the day. An odd day, though, isn’t it? Quidditch on a Sunday? That’s just bizarre! But it is a splendid day, despite it all! Now, who’s ready for some Quidditch?!”
The whole pitch was filled with a roar of cheers, applause, and other various noises, in response.
“Alright! Today, we have two teams – enemies, if you will – fighting for their chance at the Quidditch Cup. In the red and gold, we have the Gryffindor team, led by – ladies, sorry, but he’s a taken man – the brilliant Captain James Potter!”
James, wishing us luck one last time, flew into the pitch, leaving me at the front of the line. I watched as he circled around the pitch, above the crowd, pumping his fist in the air. I rolled my eyes when he blew Lily a kiss.
“His marvelous team consists of his fellow Chasers, Baccari and Cale; Beaters, Black and Murphy; Keeper, Miller; and Seeker, Fenwick!”
With me leading the way, we all took off, in the order that we were called, filing in behind James, who was still circling around the pitch. I put on my game face and forced myself not to look at the Gryffindor stands. I did my best to relax my body and just fly.
When the cheering died down, we went to land on our side of the central circle to await the entering of our opponents.
“Going against the reigning champions of eight years is the Slytherin team in silver and green! Captained by Keeper, Robert Gordon, we have Chasers, Sealey, Fallon, and O’Toole; Beaters, Mitchell and Styger; and Seeker, Dole!”
One by one, green figures zoomed into the pitch and flew above the crowd, just as we had done. They landed in formation, across from us, as Madam Hooch joined us in the middle of the field with the chest of Quidditch balls.
“Captains, shake hands!” she ordered.
James offered his hand to Gordon, who took it and squeezed it as hard as he could, rather than shaking it. From what I could see, James seemed to return the same amount of pressure to Gordon’s hand before they let it go and returned to their positions.
“I want a clean match from all of you! I will not hesitate to give penalties!” she said sternly and loudly, so that all of us could hear. “Mount your brooms!”
“It looks like it’s going to be a good fight! I mean, match! They’ve mounted their brooms. The balls have been released, and they’re off! Gryffindor gets possession. Potter with the Quaffle. He passes it to Cale, who gets past O’Toole to pass it back to Potter. Potter dodges a Bludger with ease, hit by Mitchell. Potter passes it to Baccari.”
All of Kent’s commentary stopped entering my ears when I caught the Quaffle. I faked to the right to get Sealey out of my way, and then headed straight for the goals. I made a show of attempting a throw at the right goal post – which caused Gordon to zoom in that direction – but threw it to the left, where Colleen caught it and tossed it into the left goal.
“Brilliant play by Baccari and Cale! That’s 10 to zero, to Gryffindor.”
I made a loop around, so that I could give Colleen a quick high-five before heading back down to the other side of the pitch for defense. James gave us a thumbs-up before setting his attention back on Sealey, who had possession of the Quaffle and was flying our way.
“Sealey tosses it to Fallon. He throws it overhead to O’Toole, who’s all the way in the other corner. Bad move, Fallon. This is no Muggle basketball game! These guys have got brooms! And Baccari intercepts the pass!”
I tucked it underneath my arm and made my way to the other posts. I took a peek over my shoulder to see if anyone was tailing me.
I wasn’t able to see the Bludger coming right at me until the last couple of seconds before it could hit me. I narrowly dodged it, throwing all of my body weight to my left and swinging myself back on top of my broom.
“That was a close one, Baccari! And Black whacks the Bludger back at Styger.”
“Pay attention, Jenyse!” Sirius yelled at me.
I ignored him and passed the Quaffle to James, so I could look and see who yelled my name out in warning.
“What are you doing, Jenyse?! Get down there!” Ian shouted to me from the front of the Gryffindor stands.
Though I wanted to rebel and not follow his directions, I knew I had to do it. I shot down to the other end, but was too late to participate. James had already scored.
“20 to nothing, Gryffindor!”
“Ugh!” I groaned, while heading back to where I had just come from. I turned my broom straight at O’Toole, going full speed.
Unfortunately, she saw me coming, and was able to make a short dive before I hit her and keep possession of the Quaffle.
“Bad luck, Baccari. O’Toole passes it to Fallon who just scores past Miller, making it 20 to 10, Gryffindor!”
Seth cursed before grabbing the Quaffle and throwing it to me.
“The score is now 90 to 20, in favor of Slytherin. And there’s a time-out – our first of the match – called by Gryffindor captain, James Potter.”
Frustrated beyond all belief – even more so, after seeing Ian motion to James to call a time-out in five minutes –, I landed by the rest of the team, by the tunnel we had entered the pitch through.
James put on a level-headed façade, but I could tell that he was furious. He looked about ready to throw his broom at the nearest thing with a heartbeat. He didn’t speak until Ian, out of breath, appeared in the tunnel, looking all flustered.
“What the hell is going on, guys? All they need is two more goals before Dole will be able to go after the Snitch, if they want to kick us out of the championships!” James exclaimed.
“James is right,” Ian – much to my dislike – voiced his agreement. “You guys need to shape up if you want to win this match. You’re facing things we went over thousands of times during practice. Why aren’t you executing what we practiced?”
I forced myself to stay mute, not looking at him. I knew I was playing horribly. I just didn’t know why. Or maybe I did…
“Sirius and Adam, keep doing what you’re doing. Seth, I need you to step it up, buddy. They’re faking you out like crazy,” James said. “Colls, keep it up with the passes. Don’t be afraid to go for some of those steals. Benjy, you’re doing great, keeping Dole away from the Snitch. Let’s get back in there and play like we’re capable of playing. Come on!”
I was shocked and somewhat disappointed when James didn’t direct any advice to me. I knew he knew that I knew how bad I was playing, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want a scolding to get me back in shape. Then again, telling everyone but me what they were doing right and wrong was probably enough to send me on the guilt trip.
I stopped when I felt a hand grab hold of my arm and turned back to face Ian. We both paused as I shot a glance at his hand on my arm, after which he withdrew with lightning speed.
“You need to get your head in the game, Jenyse. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, today. If you want to win this match, you’ve got to stop thinking about whatever or whoever it is you’re thinking about, and start thinking about Quidditch,” he ordered in a quiet, assertive voice.
I looked in his eyes for a brief moment as I registered what he had just said. ‘Whatever or whoever’? You’ve got to be kidding me. I didn’t even bother to respond before I stormed off, catching up with the others. Who did he think he was, talking to me like that? He wasn’t my captain. He wasn’t even a Gryffindor, for Merlin’s sake! I’d show him.
“And we’re back in it! It looks like the Gryffindor team took some got whooped into shape during that much-needed time-out. Look at them go! Great goal by Baccari, making it 90 to 30, Slytherin! I see a comeback on the way!”
That’s right, Kent. Here’s the comeback of the season.
“Slytherin has possession. Nicely directed Bludger by Murphy! Sealey drops the Quaffle. Potter catches it and SCORES! That’s two goals, already, by Gryffindor, before Slytherin even made it onto their half of the pitch! 90 to 40, Slytherin!”
A bunch of penalties, exceptional saves by Seth, mind-blowing hits and blocks by Sirius and Adam, and incredible steals, passes, dodges, and goals by Colleen, James, and me later, the score was 90 to 80, with Slytherin still in the lead.
“Potter is saved from a blow to the head by a Bludger by Black, who knocks it towards O’Toole, causing her to lose the Quaffle. That is some great teamwork right there! There are Cale and Fallon, racing to get the falling Quaffle! And Cale gets it! Passes it to Baccari, and SCORE! We’re all tied up at 90 points to 90!”
I punched my fist through the air, pumped by the goal I had just made and the energy I was getting from the cheers of the crowd. I flew over to the Gryffindor stands, just for kicks, as well as to rub it in Ian’s face.
He denied me the chance to boast when he yelled, “Get back on defense!” at me, pointing at the other goal posts.
Appalled, I didn’t budge. “Why the hell are you being such an arse?! I just scored three goals in the last twenty minutes and tied up the game! What else do you want?! Get off my back!”
About to fly away, he stopped me, yelling over the noise of the crowd, “If I recall correctly, I wasn’t the one with my hands all over your back last night!”
Unable to move, I just floated there, staring at him. I could hear nothing but yelling and screaming of the students watching the Quidditch match they came to see. It took me a while to finally react to what he had said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” I yelled back.
I turned to see James throwing the Quaffle at me. I caught it and quickly passed it to Colleen who was wide open, down the pitch, and then turned back to Ian.
“Like hell, you don’t! It was great to see you last night!” he shouted, so I could hear over all the other noises around us, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Really! It was a great present, seeing you and him, just as the clock struck twelve, marking the start of my birthday!”
I felt my eyes grow as wide as they could go as that fact dawned on me. His birthday. March 1st. Of course this whole thing would have to happen on this particular day. I chanced a glance up the stands and locked eyes with Travis for the first time since breakfast. I ignored his what-are-you-doing look, and looked back at Ian’s livid face. Shaking my head in disbelief – of what part of the whole interaction, I didn’t know –, I backed away and flew back to defense.
“Gryffindor lead 100 to 90! What a comeback! Gryffindor only need two more goals and the Snitch to kick Slytherin out of the running for the Cup!”
Taking all of my fury and applying it to the game, I managed to help James and Colleen get our team another ten points ahead.
“One more goal! Just one more goal!” James yelled excitedly to Colleen and me.
I managed to get possession of the Quaffle again after stealing it from O’Toole by bumping my shoulder roughly into her side and catching the falling Quaffle beneath her. As I was flying to the goal posts, I was knocked into, unexpectedly, by Sealey. The first hit wasn’t that bad and I easily stayed on my broom and held onto the Quaffle, but I had to try harder to stay intact, after the second hit. Before I knew it, I was sandwiched between Sealey and Fallon, both nudging me back and forth. I tried to accelerate to lose them, but they kept up with me. With one last shove from the both of them, the Quaffle slipped from my grip and they got possession.
“Dammit!” I yelled as I tried to regain my balance on my broom.
“It looks like Baccari’s alright, but Slytherin gets past Potter and Cale, and Sealey scores, making it 110 to 100, to Gryffindor!”
For the next twenty-five minutes or so, the match followed as such. We would be twenty points up, just one goal away from a catch from Benjy, and then Slytherin would score. Back and forth, the score would toggle from our team being twenty to ten points ahead.
“And Gryffindor is back to being twenty points ahead, at 170 to 150! This is getting to be the longest and most exciting match of the year, mates!”
“Come on, guys! We’ve got this! One more!” James encouraged us.
The higher the score went, the more frustrated I got. I was sick and tired of this match. I just wanted it all to stop, and get out of the yelling presence of Ian Hayes. This match needed to end.
“Slytherin has possession. O’Toole is heading down the pitch. She passes to Fallon. He passes to Sealey. It goes back to O’Too– No, wait! The Quaffle is intercepted by Baccari! Where did she even come from?! She heads down the pitch at lightning speed! She passes to Potter! And SCORE! 180 to 150, Gryffindor!”
“GO, BENJY, GO!” James roared to the Seeker.
I watched as Benjy made a sharp turn from where he was fake-leading Dole to, to head the other direction, toward the real direction of the Snitch.
“Fenwick’s been given the go for the Snitch! Slytherin’s got possession of the Quaffle! Sealey is flying super speed towards his goal posts!”
I stopped watching Benjy when I heard Kent’s commentary. I looked over and saw James tailing Sealey.
“Sealey passes to Fallon! It’s– INTERCEPTED BY POTTER! Potter, about to throw to Cale, who is– NO! She’s knocked off her broom by O’Toole! Hang on, Colleen!”
Terrified, I turned to see if Colleen was alright. She was hanging onto her broom with one hand, and her other hand was holding what I assumed to be a bleeding nose. I was about to go help her when I saw Adam flying towards her. Deciding she was about to be in good hands, I turned back to find James.
“Potter’s still got the Quaffle. Look at Fenwick and Dole go! I’ve never– Oh, MERLIN! James Potter gets a hit to the shoulder by a Bludger sent by Styger!”
“JAMES, NO!” I screamed, shooting towards him.
“Fallon’s got the Quaffle! He just scores past Miller! We’re back to a twenty point lead for Gryffindor, at 180 to 160!”
“Jenyse! Get back and play!”
“What?! Are you kidding?! You’re hurt! You need help!”
“Jenyse! Get back and play!” a new voice demanded.
I looked up at Sirius who was giving me a reassuring look with belief in his eyes. After a bit of internal fighting, I nodded and flew off.
I caught the Quaffle from Seth, midway down our half of the pitch, and swiveled around to face the other end of the pitch. Before I had the chance to react, my path was blocked by Fallon, who knocked me off my broom and stole the Quaffle. The adrenaline rushing through me allowed me to pull myself back onto my broom quickly. Determinedly, I sped as fast as I could to catch up to Fallon. Making my mind instantly, I did the only thing that came to mind.
Once I was right next to Fallon, I tightened my grip as much as I could and flipped my left leg over my broom. Miraculously, my broom kept its momentum forward, keeping up with Fallon’s speed. I swung my weight forward, kicking up my foot, so that it hit right through the hole that his arm made, that wasn’t covering the Quaffle. As I intended, the Quaffle shot out of Fallon’s arm and into the air. I swung my leg, again, and kicked the Quaffle up. Letting one hand off of my broom, I reached out to catch the ball. Just as I caught it, Fallon’s foot kicked me in the stomach, knocking the air out of me. I was a split second from letting go, before I quickly tightened my grip. I managed to stop my broom, abruptly – causing Fallon to zoom past me –, so that I could re-mount my broom. I swung my leg over the handle, and – by the grace of Merlin – managed to get back onto it.
Immediately, I sharply turned towards our goal posts and flew as fast as magically possible, while dodging anything coming my way. As I was approaching the distance where I would be close enough to score, I took a split second to think about how I was going to nail this goal. My lips grew into a smirk.
“Fenwick has gone into a dive with Dole close behind!”
Without thinking about the specific maneuver, I performed my original “favorite move” taught to me by my brother.
“Was that a goal? That was a goal! That was a kickarse move and goal by Jenyse Baccari of Gryffindor, making the score 190 to 160, to–! BENJY FENWICK HAS CAUGHT THE SNITCH!”
Breathing heavily from the incredible amount of energy I had just exerted, I swiveled around to see Benjy flying around in circles, holding up his fist that was enclosed around the Golden Snitch.
“GRYFFINDOR WINS, 340 POINTS TO 160!”
“YESSS!” I shrieked in pure bliss. It was finally over. We had won.
I took a dive, to reach the ground as fast as possible. I didn’t even wait until both of my feet were on the ground before I jumped off of my broom to run to the rest of my team. As soon as I was close enough, I jumped up and into Sirius’s arms, which caught me easily. “WE WON!”
“Jenyse, you did it!” he exclaimed, just as excitedly. After hugging me tighter and making a few twirls, he set me on my feet. “You insane son of a motherless goat! What’s wrong with you?!” He hit me forcefully on the arm as his expression grew from elated to enraged.
“What?!” I asked, rubbing the probably bruised spot on my arm.
“That idiotic move you made to steal the Quaffle from Fallon! You could have died! That was amazing!” He proved to be bipolar when he pulled me in for another hug and a kiss on the forehead.
I couldn’t help but grin.
“James!” I let go of Sirius and made my way to James. “Are you alright?”
His shoulder looked eerily deformed. “Of course I am. I think it’s just dislocated. But never mind that. Besides the fact that you could’ve killed yourself, you were brilliant!” he praised as he pulled me in for a one-armed hug. He kissed my head repeatedly for a good minute.
“Thanks, James,” I said with a laugh. “Now, go get that shoulder fixed!”
“Good call. Oi! Sirius!”
I chuckled as he moved away from me. It wasn’t long before I was attacked again, this time by Colleen and Adam.
“Jenyse! Are you okay?!”
“Jenyse, you were ridiculous!”
I smiled, gratefully. “Thanks, Adam. And I’m fine. How about you, Colls?”
“I’m good. The bleeding’s stopped. I just have a killer headache.”
“I bet. I would’ve helped you out, up there, but I figured you were in good hands.” I shot her a smirk, noticing that Adam’s arm was around her.
She blushed and shrank into Adam’s side.
“See you at the party?” Adam asked.
Oh, Merlin. I hadn’t even thought about a victory party. “Uhh, yeah. I’ll be there.”
“Awesome,” he said, before steering them both away to congratulate other teammates.
Before I could find Benjy to give him a big hug, I felt a body collide into mine, from behind.
I turned in Travis’s arms to hug him back as the adrenaline and elation from the match still pumped through my veins. “Trav!” I exclaimed happily. “We won!”
“I know! But more importantly, you’re alive!” he proclaimed thankfully, as he brought his hands to cradle my face and tilted it towards his.
At first I thought that he was about to give me a kiss on the forehead, like James and Sirius had done minutes before, but as soon as I saw him close his eyes and lower his target, I understood what he meant to do and freed myself from his gasp. “What are you doing?”
A confused expression on his face, Travis slowly opened his eyes. He stared at me for a second before smiling knowingly. “It's okay, Jenyse. It’s a celebration. No one’s going to care about a little PDA. Look.”
I turned my head to see where he was gesturing to. Lily and James were snogging each other fiercely, in the middle of all the insanity surrounding us. I quickly averted my eyes.
“See?” Travis pointed out as he tried to kiss me again.
I pushed him away, halting him with my hands on his chest. “Trav, what are you doing?”
His happy smile started to falter. “Jenyse,” he said.
I stared back at him, hoping he would understand.
“Oh,” he said finally. “I thought,” he sputtered. “But, before…I thought…”
I fidgeted uneasily, looking down at my hands. I wasn’t ready for this. I didn’t want that embrace we shared to be our last hug ever. I didn’t want to lose his friendship, but I knew I had to do it. I couldn’t keep leading him on. It would just build up and blow up in my face eventually. Breaking his heart would be saving his heart. I took a deep breath, paused, and then bravely looked him in the eye.
All traces of his smile were gone.
Not feeling so brave anymore, I quickly glanced around at all the cheering people around us. Colleen waved at me cheerfully before jumping into Seth’s arms. I kept my eyes focused on them because it was easier than looking into Travis’s eyes. “Trav, maybe we should go take a walk.” I reached out to grab his hand, but he slapped my hand away.
“No,” he said firmly. “No thank you. Anything you have to say to me you can say right here. What's going on with you?”
I looked down at my muddy shoes. “I don't know.”
He tenderly lifted my chin and caressed my cheek with his thumb. “Not that I’m that experienced, but I’m thinking that it’s okay to be a little scared. I’m a bit petrified myself, but it’s a good scared, you know? Like my legs have turned to jelly and my heart beats like crazy every time I'm near you.” He grinned. “This is new territory for us. Not that I'm complaining,” he added enthusiastically.
I winced and removed his hand from my face. To soften the blow, I kept hold of his hand. “Trav,” I breathed sadly.
He took his hand back and brought it to his side with a huff. “Jenyse, I don't understand. We kissed last night. I kissed you, and you kissed me back for a rather long time, I'll add. I thought, well, you seemed like you enjoyed it. Didn't you?”
I brought myself to look up at his vulnerable and expecting brown eyes, and I opened my mouth to answer him. My voice cracked. “Travis.”
He looked away. “I think we should take a walk.”
He held out his hand, as though he was going to grab mine, but he must of thought better of it, because he hastily stuffed it into the pocket of his trousers.
We meandered through the cheering Gryffindors, parting through the sea of red. Only, I didn’t exactly feel like Moses at the time.
Finally, near the edge of the pitch, we found an uncrowded place where only a few Ravenclaw girls were standing.
He stopped firmly and looked at me.
I waited for him to say something, but he was silent. I took a shaky breath. “Trav, I didn't mean to give you the wrong impression,” I started.
He balked. “The wrong impression?” he echoed angrily. “We kissed! You kissed me back. Believe me. I was there. How was that supposed to be taken?”
“I was confused.”
“So you thought moving your lips against mine would help clear things up? Merlin, Jenyse.” He looked away, again, angrily, throwing his hands in the air.
I frowned. “I wasn’t sure what was going on,” I defended lamely but honestly.
“Bloody hell!” he cursed venomously. “Jenyse, I’ve spent five years being in love with you. I asked you on a date. You said yes. I kissed you. What else was supposed to be going on?”
My heart faltered painfully as one word stabbed into it. “You love me?” I croaked.
Softening, he turned back to me. He moved closer to me and brushed my sweaty hair back. “I love you,” he told me. “Always have.”
I closed my eyes as tears began to well up, ready to taunt me by running down my face. I felt him lean in again, but I took a step backwards. “Travis, I can’t.”
He groaned. “Why not?” he asked. “Is there somebody else that I don’t know about?”
I laughed humorlessly. “There’s nobody out there. Trust me.”
“Then why? We get along. We enjoy spending time together. We already know everything there is to know about each other. We could be happy together.”
I smiled sadly. “No, we wouldn’t,” I said truthfully, almost breaking my own heart. “I couldn’t make you happy.”
Travis laughed. “Jenyse, yesterday was the best day of my life, up until you ran off, leaving me confused. You’re the person I want to be with. I love you.”
“I love you, too,” I replied.
He smiled again, preparing for another attempt at a kiss.
“I’m just not in love with you,” I corrected.
“Well, try,” he pleaded. “Maybe if we just date for a little while, things will change, and–”
“Travis,” I cut him off pathetically. “That’s not the problem. I know what it is that you want from me, but I just can’t give it to you. And I can’t lie to you, either.”
“I can change,” he insisted as tears threatened to fall from his eyes. “I can be less demanding, less aggressive. Rewind. We can just take things one step at a time.”
I sniffed. “You don't want that. You deserve better than that. You deserve better than what I could give you.”
“Oh, don’t give me that,” he said sharply. “It’s you that I want, Jenyse.”
I took a deep breath and took a step away from him. A tear slid down my cheek. “We can still be frie–”
He held up his hand to silence me before I could finish the word. “Don’t say it,” he said in a trembling voice. “I don't want to be just your friend anymore, Jenyse. I can’t bear being around you all the time, watching you smile or brush back your hair, and knowing that I’ll always want more. I want to be more than a friend.”
Another tear fell. I tried to speak, but my mouth quivered as I sucked in my tears.
“But you don’t, do you?” he asked in bitter rhetoric. “To you, I’ll always just be ‘Trav Trav the asexual lad,’” he spat before briskly pivoting to walk away.
“Travis!” I called out to him, my voice cracking loudly.
His body froze immediately, but he did not turn around.
“I am so sorry,” I said desperately, in between deep breaths to rid of the sobs overtaking me.
He sighed, and I saw his heavy shoulders sag. “I know you are,” he said quietly over his shoulder where I could not clearly see his face, “but it doesn’t make this any easier. I’m going to need some time alone to figure myself out and calm myself down before I destroy something.”
“How much time?” I asked desperately.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “Just…if you do care about me at all, leave me alone.” He walked away, leaving me in my pathetic state.
“Travis!” I called hoarsely, the sobs coming uncontrollably now.
This time he did not stop but just continued walking until he disappeared into the mass of scarlet.
Wanting nothing but to get away from all of the happy vibes that were coming off of everyone on the field that were solely present to mock me, I “Accio”-ed my broom and stumbled my way back to the locker rooms. Approaching the tunnel, I heard footsteps following me and a voice call out.
Wincing, I covered my mouth in attempt to quiet my sobs, so that they wouldn’t echo off of the walls of the tunnel, and walked on. Now was not the time, Ian Hayes. I quickened my pace, ignoring his frustrated calls. When I got through the locker room door, I ran to the shower room, slammed the room’s door shut, and locked it quickly, just before Ian banged his fists against it.
“Jenyse, open up!”
I let my broom fall to the floor, before I leaned my back against the door and slid down it until my bottom reached the floor, not caring about the bathroom germs. With my arms around my legs and head against my knees, I rocked back and forth as the tears flowed freely.
The force from his rapping on the door hit my back. “Jenyse, you can’t hide in there forever!”
“Hey, what’s going on?” I heard James ask.
“Jenyse is in there.”
“Jenyse? It’s James. Are you alright in there?” he asked, concerned, through the door.
“I just want to be alone,” I said, hoping my voice wouldn’t be a giveaway of my crying state. “Please.”
There was a short pause, and then James said, “Okay. We’ll see you in the common room.”
“You go. I’ll stay and wait.”
I cringed, praying that he wouldn’t.
“No. You heard her. Let’s go.”
There was another moment of silence before the sound of angry footsteps began and faded. I thanked Merlin for James Potter.
“Take your time, Jenyse,” James told me before following Ian out of the locker room.
Once I heard the outside door swing shut, I let myself go and allowed myself to get taken over by my sobs.
It was done. My friendship with Travis was over. After five years of having him as a best friend, I had managed to go and ruin it in one single conversation. I could hardly believe it. “I’m going to need some time,” he said. How was I to know whether it would be a day or forever, before he forgave me? I couldn’t just give him up just like that. Then again, it was all my fault for turning him away in the first place.
I wiped some of the snot that was running out of my nose on my already dirty uniform sleeve.
I never should have gone to Hogsmeade with him. But that’s thing. I’d gone to Hogsmeade with him loads of times. I’d invited him over my house and gone over his house numerous times. What made that time so different? Why hadn’t I seen a flashing light saying, “DATE! DATE! DATE!” anywhere?
Suddenly, anger at myself shot through me. What was I doing, making excuses for myself? There were no excuses for what I had done. It was all my fault. I was the one who had missed the signs. I was the one who resultantly let his feelings grow as time passed on. I was the one who – though unintentionally – led him on. I was the one to blame. Travis didn’t choose to fall in love with me.
Just like I hadn’t chosen to fall in love with Alec.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether things between Travis and me would’ve been different if I had never met or fallen in love with Alec, or if Ian had never woken up and come back to Hogwarts.
Who was I kidding? It had been no secret that I didn’t like him in that way. Travis was adorable and all, but, me and him? It would have never worked out. For one, he absolutely despised my other best friends. Two, if I wasn’t collected or strong enough to move on from Alec and just accept Ian for himself, how could I have moved on to someone completely different? And three…I’d known him for too long. Any feelings of that kind would’ve never come; I was sure of it.
And there’s another thing. How could I not have figured out that he had feelings for me, after all this time? Was I that blind? That naive? Merlin, I was an idiot.
Mentally berating myself, I willed the tears to stop falling. By no means did it work. Another wave of sadness hit me, full force. It wasn’t until after another twenty more minutes bawling my eyes out, did I calm down enough to pick my pathetic self off of the bathroom floor. Soft sobs still going through me at irregular intervals, I decided to clean myself off.
I unlocked the shower room door, opened it slowly, and entered the locker room to get my shower stuff. By the time I was cleaned, three times over, it had become well past an hour since I’d entered, and I had come to a decision.
I would obey Travis’s request and give him as much space as he needed. There would be no chance in him ever forgiving me if I kept bugging him, constantly asking him to accept my apology. I needed to respect his wishes if I wanted to get my friend back.
Finally feeling somewhat collected, I turned off the shower and wrapped a towel around my body. I took my time, getting dressed and fixing my wet, out-of-control hair. Taking one last look at my face in the mirror, I prepared myself for the victory party I was about to attend. I practiced my façade in front of the mirror for a little bit, and then made my way to the castle, broom in hand.
I walked slowly, and when I finally reached my destination and provided the password to the Fat Lady, I took a deep, calming breath before I went through the portrait hole.
I was only granted a few seconds to take in the view before I was surrounded by my teammates, but from what I could tell, the party had been going pretty well without my presence.
“And here she finally is! Jenyse Baccari: the hero of the day!”
My lips twitched slightly as I pulled Benjy down from the chair he was standing on, embarrassed from all the applause I was getting. “What are you talking about, Benjy? You’re the one that won the game, you brilliant Seeker, you.”
“If it wasn’t for that ridiculous steal and awesome score you made last second – which I can’t tell you that I saw, since I was on a Snitch chase –, we wouldn’t have kicked those lousy gits out of the running for the Cup,” he corrected, laying his arm around my shoulders. “Then again, I suppose we could share the glory.” He winked down at me, and then pulled me in for a big hug. He kissed my cheek before releasing me to grab me a Butterbeer.
Not a minute passed before I was attacked by another teammate.
Seth hugged me briefly but excitedly, exclaiming, “You were amazing, Jenyse! That last goal was crazy! Gordon was nowhere near blocking that Quaffle!”
I smiled. “You did great, too, Seth!”
He blushed. “Nahh, I was lousy. I let them score 160 points.”
I gave him a look. “Did James tell you that you were lousy?”
“Well, no, but…”
“Then you weren’t lousy. Case closed.” I shot him another smile and ruffled up his hair.
Seth thanked me bashfully.
Not long after, Benjy came back with my Butterbeer, but didn’t stay to talk, so I was left to wander the common room, looking for James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. I found them, along with Lily, by the food table – figures – and was engulfed in a group hug the moment I was spotted.
Laughing was a bad idea, for it left me with no breath, as my lungs were being crushed by the four boys. “Oxygen!” I dramatically croaked out.
Everyone but Sirius let go.
“Uhh, Sirius? Still…can’t breathe…”
“Right!” he said, finally releasing me. “I’m just glad that you’re alive and unscathed, is all. You prat!” He hit my arm again, just like he did right after the match, on the field.
“Ow! Stop it with the abuse! I won’t be unscathed any longer if you keep hitting me like that.”
“She’s right, Padfoot. We need that incredible arm of hers,” James said with a smile.
Remus pulled me in for another hug, saying, “Thank Merlin you’re alright. You ever try something like that again, I’ll kill you myself if it doesn’t kill you first.”
I chuckled at his concern. “I don’t know what you guys are talking about. That move was completely safe.”
“My arse, it was!” Peter disagreed.
The group of us laughed.
“But, seriously,” Lily cut in, “you’re lucky you pulled that off, Jenyse. That could’ve been a nasty fall.”
“Yeah, I know.” I was getting tired of hearing how dangerous that stunt I pulled was. “Sorry. I had to do it. Benjy was doing his thing and nobody told him to stop. We needed that goal,” I defended.
“Yeah,” James agreed. “I’m just glad you were able to do it without losing me a Chaser.”
I hit James in the chest with the back of my hand. “Thanks for your concern, Captain,” I said sarcastically.
James laughed, obviously still elated, and lifted me up in a hug. “You’re the greatest, Jenyse! And I am honestly very glad to have you here, alive and kicking.”
“You must be starving, Jenyse. You should go get something to eat before these guys eat all of the food,” Lily advised, just as my stomach growled.
It wasn’t until then that I realized that it was well past lunch. I agreed to grab some food, and all of them, but Remus, dispersed to different areas of the room – James and Lily to snog in a corner, and Sirius to entertain a crowd with different play-by-plays of today’s match with the assistance of Peter. Since no one had asked where I was the past hour, I figured James had told them. Sometimes, I really, really loved James.
As I grabbed a plate, I asked Remus jokingly, “How’s your heart? Still beating?”
“Thankfully, yes. You sure gave me a fright. I mean, imagine,” he said theatrically, “a world without Jenyse Baccari.”
“‘Twould be a dull place.”
“Indeed it would.” Remus gave me one last one-armed hug, saying, “I’ve got to go monitor Sirius’s number of Firewhiskeys. See you around?”
“Yep. Go take care of our boy.”
Finally left alone, I filled my plate up with the various sweets – the only type of food there. When I was done, I took my plate and Butterbeer and walked over to the only open seat: the window sill. On my way, I received many congratulations from various people. Thankfully, though, nobody stopped to chat. Reaching my semi-secluded spot, I set down my bottle on the left side of the sill and sat on the right side, sideways, instead of facing out to the room.
Looking around, I could tell that this party was just beginning, even though it had technically started an hour ago. Gryffindors partied hard.
As I was putting my last bit of peach cobbler in my mouth, I saw a head of blonde, curly hair.
Travis was sitting in a chair, alone, not far away from me, near the fireplace, with his chin in his hands, staring into the fire. He looked so distraught. It was almost enough to make me go see if he was okay, but I knew that wouldn’t accomplish anything. I watched as he sighed deeply and changed his position to lean back and slouch in his chair. His one hand moved to massage his temple, while the other rubbed one of his eyes.
Feeling worse and worse, I looked away from him and out the window.
“Trouble in paradise?”
I jumped and momentarily thanked Merlin for the glass preventing me from falling out of the seven story window. Turning to look at the culprit, my glare fell short. “What are you doing in here?”
“It’s a party. I was invited,” Ian replied cheekily from his leaning position against the wall behind me. “Let’s skip the small talk, shall we?” He pushed himself off of the wall to stand in front of me. His face grew serious as he crossed his arms across his chest. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
Offended, I replied, “What’s wrong with me?”
“What did you think you were doing, pulling a stunt like that? You could have gotten yourself killed!”
I glowered at him. He would come over to yell at me for that. “I just wanted to get the match over with. I saw an opportunity, so I took it. And what’s it to you if I got myself hurt? It’d be me who would have to deal with the pain,” I spat.
“What, so I’m the bad guy for caring about your safety?”
“Oh, whatever! You’re just mad that I won the game by making my signature move, without the help from you.”
“And what if I am? What were you thinking? You made that stupid, ridiculous stunt to get the Quaffle, almost throwing yourself off of your broom, just to attempt a goal, using a trick that didn’t absolutely guarantee a score?” he fumed.
“It went in, didn’t it?”
He stared at me in furious disbelief. “I can’t believe you.”
“I can’t believe you!” I returned. “Who do you think you are, talking to me like that during the match? You don’t even know what you’re talking about!” Instead of whisper-yelling like we had been doing, I turned in my seat on the window sill to flat-out yell heatedly in his face. Yelling didn’t make a difference when it came to keeping our conversation private, because the volume of the music and several voices throughout the room drowned out our voices.
“So, that was what that whole stunt was about? You went and risked your life because you couldn’t handle the blow of reality? How do you think it felt for me to see you and him, snogging each other’s faces off, the moment I turned twenty years old? Oh, and by the way, incest much, Baccari?”
Shocked by every question he spat out, especially the last, I couldn’t do anything but stare blankly at him. Finally overcoming my senses, I slid down from the window sill to stand right in front of him. I glared up at him for a moment before I spoke. “For your information, the only reason why that kiss happened was because I was caught off guard. Why do you think I ran off the moment I saw you? That kiss meant nothing to me.”
Not being able to take much more and not wanting Ian to see the tear threatening to fall from my eye, I brushed past him. I didn’t get very far before I stopped, catching Travis’s hurt-filled eyes.
Shit. He heard.
“Jenyse?” I vaguely heard from Ian behind me.
Taking to a run, I fled the scene, ignoring Ian’s calls of, “Jenyse, wait!” and James’s drunken calls of, “Hey, Jenyse! You’re alive! Thanks for winning the match! Love you!”
In the comfort of my bed, I fell asleep after letting out a few fresh sobs.
When I woke up, I was shocked to hear the base of the music still playing in the common room. Rubbing the sleep and dried tears out of my eyes, I looked at the clock next to my bed. 11:48 PM. Dammit. It wasn’t even tomorrow yet.
I peered around the room and counted three bodies. Lily’s bed was vacant, so I figured she was still downstairs with James.
Unable to go back to sleep, I daringly decided to check out what was going on downstairs. Pulling my hood up, but not bothering to put my sock-clad feet into shoes, I trudged down the girls’ staircase.
The sight that greeted me shouldn’t have surprised me. The whole floor was a sea of scarlet, covered with sleeping drunken bodies. Taking the last step, onto the floor, my foot accidentally landed on the side of one of the bodies.
“Oughhr,” the boy groaned.
I hastily took my weight off of him by jumping off and landing next to him. “I’m so sorry!”
He groggily ran his hand down his face, revealing the face of Ian Hayes.
I wanted to run back upstairs, but concern won out. I crouched down next to him to see if he was okay.
“Jenyse?” he said sleepily.
“Ian, what are you still doing here?” I asked gently.
“Ugh,” he grunted as he pulled himself up to a sitting position, using the bottom stair. This proved to be a bad idea when the stairs transformed into a flat ramp, causing him to slip back down onto the floor. “Dammit!”
“Here.” I hesitantly took his hands and stood up, pulling him up with me. “Ian, what are you doing here? You should go back to Ravenclaw Tower.”
“No,” he grumbled. “I was waiting for you.” His hand moved to run over his face again to wipe the sleep away. “I tried to ask James and them how to get up the stairs, but they were too drunk to answer.”
I looked in the direction he pointed and found James sprawled on the floor with Lily cuddled up to his side.
“I needed– need to talk to you.”
I let out a quiet laugh. “You could’ve just waited until tomorrow during class…which I hope they all know they have in eight hours,” I said, motioning to all of the sleeping Gryffindors.
“No.” He shook his head. “Now. I need to talk to you now.”
I peered up at him wearily, about to deny him the chance, but changed my mind when I saw the determination in his eyes. I looked around the room and was able to spot all six of the seventh-year boys, including poor Travis, still in his chair by the fire. “Alright, come on,” I said, leading him up the boys’ staircase and into the seventh-year dormitory. I sank onto Sirius’s bed and Ian followed suit, facing me. I waited for him to start.
“Jenyse, I’m sorry for everything I said today.”
“Ian, you don’t have to apologize,” I told him quietly. “You have the right to your own opinions.”
“No. You were right. I didn’t know what I was talking about,” he admitted, looking down. “I don’t know what came over me. I was a real git today. I didn’t have the right to judge you or accuse you of anything. What you do and who you see is none of my business.”
“It’s okay,” I forgave him. Though I knew I should still be mad at him for the things he said to me today, I didn’t have the power to hold the grudge. Hearing him apologize was enough for me to accept his apology.
His eyes snapped up to mine in surprise. “No, really, Jenyse. I’m seriously really sorry. Go date Decker. It’s fine – well, not fine, per se – but, you know…” he stammered.
“Oh, so I need your permission, now, do I?” I joked in a mock-serious voice.
“What? No! I just mean that, if you were to want t-to date Decker, by all means, go ahead.”
I smiled. I liked Ian all flustered, I decided. It was a nice change from the tough-guy front. It reminded me of Alec. “Ian, I’m not dating Travis.”
He stared at me for a moment and then said, “If you and him not being together is in any way because of me, I am sorry. It’s his loss, really.”
The corners of my lips twitched upwards. “I was the one who told him ‘no.’”
Ian just looked confused. “But, last night. You were kissing him.”
I averted my gaze, remembering the scene. “I wasn’t thinking. I was tired. Like I said earlier; he caught me off guard.”
“Hmm,” was all he said.
I returned my gaze to him, tilting my head in wonder. “Why do you care so much, anyway?” The moment the interrogative escaped my mouth, I regretted it and dreaded the answer.
Ian’s hazel-green eyes bore into my plain green. There was something in them that I couldn’t quite place, but for some reason made me think of Alec.
“How could I not, Jenyse?” he whispered, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear.
My heart beating fast, I turned away again, like the coward that I was. After a moment, I cleared my throat before saying, “It’s late. You should get back to your dorm.”
Letting out a breath, Ian nodded. “You’re right.”
In a comfortable silence, we made our way down the stairs and back into the common room. I walked over to the girls’ staircase, ready to go back up to my bed, but was stopped on the second step, by Ian’s voice.
I turned around to see him standing right in front of me, in the same spot I found him sleeping in, with his hands on the walls of either side of the stairs.
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s 11:59, and I think there’s a few seconds left of my birthday. Care to give me that birthday kiss I’ve been waiting for?” He had a smile displayed on his lips and a touch of hope in his eyes.
After a momentary internal struggle, I slowly stepped down to the bottom step, making myself level with him. I saw the excitement flash in his eyes as I placed my right hand on his shoulder. Slowly, I leaned forward until my lips brushed his cheek. Just as the big castle clock which could be heard all over the castle struck twelve, I pulled back.
There was a pleasant mix of pure delight and slight disappointment on his face as I retreated slowly backwards up the stairs with a small smile.
A/N: hey there! so there it was. the scene that Molly Raesly practically wrote was the whole Neesy/Trav scene. thank goodness for her. let me tell you, it is a PAIN to write Quidditch. never again, i say, never again (wink to Adds). i'm actually quite pleased with how this monster came out. sorry for the ridiculous length. i hope it was worth the wait! please leave me a review with critiques, comments, suggestions, and favorite parts! you should know me by now.
thanks so much for reading! see you at the next chapter!
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