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Beauty Queen by explosion
Chapter 11 : Peer Pressure
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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Disclaimer: I'm not JKR. Never have been, and never will be.






“You want me to be seeker?” I asked James incredulously. He nodded, which caused my eyes to widen even more in disbelief. “You’re crazy.”

“So I’ve been told,” James said, however he didn’t get back on the broom. He looked at me expectantly.

“I don’t even know how to fly,” I said slowly, trying to convey to James the absurdity of his suggestion.

And it was absurd. How could he even suggest I join the team? I had no flying experience whatsoever, and I barely knew how to play. Not to mention my schedule would never allow it. So much of my time was still planned and centered around everything I had to do as Miss Teen Witch, so going to practices would be impossible. There’s also the fact that I’d be leaving the school come January, which would still leave Gryffindor without a seeker. And let’s not even get started on what my mother would think.

“Doesn’t matter,” James said, shrugging. “Gryffindor isn’t the pickiest. All you really need to do is ask and you’re on it. It’s not like they have a reputation to uphold.”

“No,” I declared, still questioning James’ sanity. “No, no, no, no, no.”

James furrowed his brow, his eyes darkening as he thought. “You said you wanted Gryffindor to win.”

“I do,” I admitted. “But I meant something along the lines of you rejoining the team. You know, something that would make winning a possibility.”

“You being seeker could lead to victory as well,” James stated, ignoring my suggestion. “I’ll teach you everything you need to know.”

“But I don’t want to be seeker,” I said to James, trying to get my point across.

“Why not?” James asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Because I don’t,” I answered him shortly, not wanting to explain my reasoning.

James stared at me for a long moment, his eyebrows drawn and his jaw squared in concentration as he tried to figure something out. Then, he looked up.

Ohhhh,” James said, realization washing across his features. “This is something your mum would never allow, isn’t it?”

I fidgeted uncomfortably as James’ gaze remained trained on me. It was strange how James was able to know my exact reasoning, even without me telling him. He was a lot more perceptive than I had thought.

“Well… yes,” I answered reluctantly, “but that’s not the only reason. I mean, I have no time to be on the Quidditch team. And I’m leaving come January, so really me joining would just be counterproductive.”

“I see,” James said, although he looked as though he didn’t. “But that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be seeker. That just means you think you can’t be.”

“Is there a difference?” I asked him, not being able to see one.

“There’s always a difference.” He picked his broom up from its hovering position on the ground and slung it over his shoulder.

I remained silent after he said this, not sure what to say. I didn’t want to be seeker, because I knew it would be impossible. But was James right? If it were possible for me to be seeker, would I want to be?

“Just… consider it, okay?” James asked. I looked up to see his greenish-blue eyes drilling into my green ones, and I suddenly had the urge to agree with James and join, for no reason at all. However, as soon as I felt this, I shooed it away.

I would never join the Quidditch team.

“I won’t change my mind,” I said after a long moment.

“Just think about it then,” James tried, rewording his suggestion in a way eerily similar to how my mother did.

And I found myself— as I always did when my mother reworded a suggestion— want to agree. Because sometimes it just made things easier to nod your head and smile.

“Okay,” I responded, suddenly feeling in familiar territory. “I’ll think about it.”

But I knew, in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t.

*

“What’s this I see?” Dom asked, placing a hand over her heart dramatically. “Are you actually... joining us unworthy souls for breakfast?”

“Ha ha,” I responded sarcastically, taking a seat next to Dom. Scorpius and Freddy were inexplicably absent from the table.

I had slept in later than usual this morning, causing me to come down to breakfast around the same time as everyone else. I didn’t know if James had really noticed, or even cared, that I hadn’t been there earlier to sit with him, but I figured it was just as well.

He’d been badgering me for the past couple of days about joining the Quidditch team, and my resolve had been crumbling more and more lately with reasons not to join the team. Not that I suddenly had no reason to join the team. But, since James had been getting very persistent with trying to get me to join, I had found myself wanting to agree with him if only so he would stop. Which was ridiculous.

“Wait, but seriously,” Gryffin said, leaning in and looking at me quizzically. “What gives?”

“What do you mean?” I asked lightly, pretending I didn’t understand what Gryffin was asking.

“He means,” Molly started, never one to take the bullshit, “that you’re always up at the arse crack of dawn for breakfast, and then you leave before we come down to go study.”

“Not to mention,” Dom added, raising an eyebrow at me, “that you never come back to the dorms until extremely late at night. What’s up with that?”

“Um…” I began, suddenly feeling myself grow more and more uncomfortable. For some reason, I wanted to keep my acquaintance-ship with James private. “I don’t…”

“Just because she likes to study doesn’t make her a loser. And what she does at night is her business, okay?” Rose said, sensing my hesitancy. I gave her a thankful look.

There was a pause as everyone at the table soaked in what Rose said and then—

“Fine,” Molly conceded, looking annoyed. Rose nodded happily at her cooperation and then looked at Dom.

Dom sighed. “Yeah. Fine.”

“Good,” Rose said, nodding in approval at the both of them. “Now why don’t we—”

“Molly!” a shrill voice called, breaking into our conversation. I looked around to see Molly’s sister, Lucy I think, walking towards us, followed closely in tow by Lily. The both of them were clad in their signature pink, and I noticed Lily was carrying a purse that looked awfully similar to one that I had been using last week.

“What do you want?” Molly asked, as soon as they arrived at our table.

“Oh come on, Molly Wobbles,” Lucy said easily. “Don’t be so snappy.”

“Don’t call me that,” Molly retorted, glaring at Lucy. Lily stood behind Lucy and stared at me eagerly.

“But it was our Nana’s very own term of endearment,” Lucy said sweetly, while Lily’s gaze remained on me. “I thought you’d like it.”

“Yeah, well, you thought wrong.”

“Hey, Natasha!” Lily said eagerly, unable to hold herself back from addressing me.

“Um…Hey,” I responded. Lily continued to smile hugely at me as she bubbled over with excitement. “What’s up?”

“That bill board you have up in Diagon Alley is amazing!” Lily burst out enthusiastically. “When is your Hogsmeade one going to be up?!”

“You’re going to have a billboard in Hogsmeade?” Dom asked me, surprised.

“Er…yeah,” I responded. “My mum got it for me.”

I noticed Dom’s eyes narrow just the slightest bit in a way that said ‘why didn’t you tell me’ but I looked away before she could say any more. I knew what she was thinking anyway. It was always more than clear how she felt about my mum.

Lily seemed oblivious to Dom’s mood and continued to chatter while Lucy bobbed her head along with Lily. “I still can’t believe I know you! It’s like SO amazing! Do you think for your next interview you could mention we’re friends? How awesome would that be?! The Savior of the Wizarding World’s Daughter and Miss Teen Witch: Partners in Crime! I can see it now—”

“Lucy,” Molly said, interrupting Lily’s spiel and focusing on her sister. “Was there a reason you two moseyed on over here?”

“Oh, right,” Lucy said, looking at Molly like she was such a bother. “Mum sent us a letter. She also told me to tell you to wear more color.”

As Lucy said this, she tossed a pink envelope over to Molly, which Molly stared at in disdain.

“Is that all then?” Molly asked, not trying to hide her annoyance at her sister.

“For you it is, Wobbles,” Lucy said, flicking her hair and turning away from Molly. “But there are more important issues that we came over here for.”

“Oh, I feel so unwanted,” Molly said tonelessly. “Please tell me these ‘more important issues’.”

“You’re snarkiness is very unattractive, Molls,” Lucy said, narrowing her eyes at Molly. Molly rolled her eyes in return.

“But,” Lucy continued, turning to face me and throwing me off guard, “I do have a question to ask you, Natasha. This Friday, Lily and I are walking in the annual fashion show for the pep squad of the Quidditch team. So… do you think sometime this week you could teach me and Lils how to walk? And pose?”

“Pep squad?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know, we’re like cheerleaders,” Lily chimed putting a hand on her hip and grinning.

“Only you’re not,” Molly said. “You all just jump around and scream for whatever boy on the team you’re a particular fan of. It’s kind of embarrassing.”

“You would know about embarrassing wouldn’t you,” Lucy snapped. She turned back to me. “I swear it’s totally legit. Fiona founded it two years ago and we’ve been trying to be members since it first started and we’re finally on! So, do you think you can help us?”

“Uh….” I said, the information overload leaving me at a loss for words. “I can’t—”

“Great!” Lucy exclaimed, jumping in before I finished. “Me and Lily don’t have pep squad practice on Thursday, so you can teach us then!”

“Um… but I don’t think—”

“Well, we best be off,” Lucy said, linking her arm through Lily’s and starting to pull her away. “Just don’t forget: Thursday at seven.”

“But I didn’t—,”

“Thanks so much, Natasha. You’re a star.” And with that, Lucy flipped her extra shiny hair and walked away, a cheerful bounce in her step. Lily trailed happily behind her.

I began to feel the icy chill of dread wash it’s way down my body as I watched Lucy and Lily open the doors and leave the Great Hall. I looked back at the table, to see everyone staring at me. “Do you know what just happened?”

“Ahh, my sister,” Molly mused, tossing a grape into her mouth and then swallowing. “Her ability to manipulate everyone and everything astounds me.”

“I never even agreed to help her though,” I said. “I was going to tell her no.”

“Which just further proves my point,” Molly explained. “She gave you no choice to tell her no and now she’ll avoid you the rest of the week so that you have to come on Thursday to help her and Lily. It’s kind of genius. If I didn’t hate her so much, I’d almost be proud to call her my sister.”

“But I don’t want to help her,” I complained. “What is a Quidditch pep squad anyways?”

Molly and Dom groaned as I asked this and Gryffin grinned. Rose however, remained neutral as she put on what I had now dubbed her ‘explanation face’.

“It started two years ago when our cousin James was dating this girl—”

“Fiona Hartwig,” Molly cut in, saying the name with contempt. “I never liked her. She was always too… happy. In this sickly sweet stab-you-in-the-back type of way.”

“Anyways,” Rose said, ignoring Molly’s comment. “She was always coming to James’ games to support him and such, so she decided it’d be a good idea since there were so many other girls like her, to form a pep squad to support the whole team.”

“And by pep squad she means a group of rabid fan girls,” Molly told me.

“And by supporting the whole team, she means just the fit males,” Dom added.

“And by fit males, she means me,” Gryffin said, to which Molly gave him a shove.

“The point is,” Rose said, talking over their comments yet again. “That the pep squad has now kind of blown up here and become very selective. So the fact that Lily and Lucy got on is pretty impressive.”

“Please,” Molly commented. “The only reason those two got on is because Fiona’s still pining after James. She thinks this will make him want her back or something.”

“And every year,” Rose continued, ignoring Molly, “they hold a fashion show during breakfast in the Great Hall as a fundraiser so that they can get new uniforms personalized to support the specific boy their assigned. Which is what Lily and Lucy asked you to help them with.”

I remained silent as I soaked all of this information in. I was kind of surprised. Not that James had had a girlfriend, I mean, everyone dates people at some point. Just… the way the Fiona sounded kind of… shocked me. I never figured James to go for the rah rah type of girl. He seemed too smart for that, I guess. But really, who am I to judge? I hardly knew him in all honesty.

“I still can’t believe you’re going to help Lucy,” Molly moaned. “Might as well sell your soul to the devil while you’re at it.”

“Oh, come off it,” Gryffin said. “Lucy’s not that bad.”

“Are you kidding me?” Molly exclaimed, turning to Gryffin. “She’s a nightmare dressed in pink!”

“I like the pink,” Gryffin said, obviously just trying to annoy Molly. “Besides, she’s loads better than you, any day. At least she smiles and isn’t all full of gloom and doom.”

“I am not full of gloom and doom,” Molly argued.

“I hate to break it to you, Molls,” Dom said, putting a hand on Molly’s shoulder, “but Gryffin is right. You are a very gloomy person.”

“No I’m not,” Molly said, giving Dom a betrayed look. “I’m just… a realist.”

“You’re also a huge bitch,” Gryffin said easily. “Maybe you should work on being nicer. It’d do everyone a load of good.”

“I have no reason to be nicer,” Molly sniffed, crossing her arms. “People suck.”

“Yet another point proving that you’re full of gloom and doom,” Gryffin said, ruffling Molly’s hair. Molly glared at him.

“And you’re full of shit,” Molly fired back. “So I guess we’re even.”

“Harsh,” Gryffin said sarcastically, throwing a hand over his heart. “You really hit me right where it hurts, Molly Wobbles.”

“What did you just call me?” Molly growled, narrowing her eyes at Gryffin.

“I think you heard me,” Gryffin responded, unaffected at her tone.

“Say it again,” Molly threatened.

“Why?”

Say it.”

“Okay, I will, Molly Wob—umph!” Gryffin was interrupted by Molly elbowing him hard in the gut.

“What the fuck?!” Gryffin shouted, glaring at Molly. “You’re crazy!”

“I know,” Molly said, smiling sweetly and looking eerily like Lucy as she did so. “And you just learned a lesson. Never call me that again.”

*

“You ready?” Rose asked me, as I walked down the stairwell from our dormitory.

“Yeah,” I responded stuffing the book that was in my hand into my rucksack and meeting her at the landing. “Sorry. I just forgot to get my History of Magic textbook.”

“It’s fine,” Rose said easily, shrugging off my apology and shooting me a beatific smile. She didn’t seem the least bit bothered that I was ten minutes late to our study session. “We should get going though, before all the good seats in the library are taken. I hate having to sit near the door because people are always shout—”

“Natasha! Rose!” Molly exclaimed, her eyes widened in desperation as she fled towards us. Her breathing was coming out short and labored, as she hunched over trying to catch her breath. “Run!”

“What are you talking about, Molly?” Rose asked, looking at Molly seriously.

Molly took a couple more deep breaths, before her breathing became normal again and then she opened her mouth to respond.

“Dom has—”

“Molly! There you are!” Dom shouted, bouncing up to the three of us, looking unusually peppy. I noted that she was holding a thick stack of neon papers in her hand. “Oh good! You found Natasha and Rose.”

Molly gave us both a look as though saying we should’ve listened to her warnings, and then turned around to face Dom.

“Yup! I knew I’d find them here,” Molly said, nodding her head and faking a smile. Dom looked at Molly and frowned.

“Are you okay?” Dom asked, peering at Molly’s face closely. “You look… ill.”

“Yeah, ’course,” Molly answered, looking puzzled as she tried to keep her smile in tact. “Why?”

“It’s because she’s smiling,” Rose commented. “Molly never smiles.”

The smile on Molly’s face immediately formed into a scowl as she listened to Rose’s words. She crossed her arms. “I do too smile.”

We all looked at Molly with disbelief, to which she just frowned even further.

“You know, I’m not as gloomy as you all make me out to be!” Molly exclaimed indignantly.

There seemed to be a flicker of recognition behind Rose’s eyes as Molly said this, and she made a hum of realization. “This is about what Gryffin said, isn’t it?” Rose asked, looking at Molly imploringly.

“Psh, yeah, like I care what that blubbering idiot thinks,” Molly said scathingly.

“Seems like you do,” Dom commented. “I mean, you just smiled.”

“Why is it that me smiling has to be so shocking?”

“Because you never do it.”

“That’s not why I was smiling!” Molly said, and then she looked at me and Rose evilly. “I was smiling because I’m so happy we’re all going to get to hang up flyers. Together.”

“Oh yeah!” Dom said, her eyes widening as she remembered something. She held out the stack of neon papers in her hands to Rose and I. “I have to put up Quidditch flyers to try and get us new seeker. And since you guys are my besties you’re going to help me!”

“Dom,” Rose started, “Natasha and I were about to go study. Do you think this can wait?”

“Oh shoot!” Molly said, slapping her hand on her forehead. “I almost forgot I have to do this team project with Gryffin, today.” She sighed. “I hate Professor Sinistra and her ‘random pairings’ so much. This is like the fifth time she’s stuck us together for something.”

“But… who will hang up the flyers with me?” Dom asked, her excitement wilting. “I can’t do it all on my own.”

“Ask Scorpius,” I suggested. “I don’t think he’s doing anything, and he is captain, isn’t he?”

“I don’t want to hang up flyers with him,” Dom said, frowning. “He’s a git.”

“Oh stop saying that,” Rose said. “You guys got on great before all this Quidditch captaincy stuff got in the way.”

“But he’s so annoying now,” Dom complained.

“And so are you,” Rose countered. “You two need to get over your differences. It’s silly to lose a friendship over a sport.”

“Since when did you become my mum?” Dom asked petulantly. Rose gave her a level stare for a long moment and then Dom sighed. “Fine. I’ll ask him.”

“Good,” Rose said, nodding her head in approval. “I think it’ll do you two some good.”

“And look! There he is,” I said, pointing to Scorpius who was just walking down the stairs from the boys’ dormitory. I then began to wave at Scorpius. “Oi! Scorpius! Over here.”

Scorpius turned to where I was calling his name and looked at me quizzically. I assumed it was because of my overly chipper attitude, but I really just wanted him and Dom to sort out their differences. Maybe then they’d be able to hold down a seeker, which would in turn make me not feel guilty about turning down James’ suggestion.

“What’s up?” Scorpius asked as he walked over to us. He ran a hand through his bedraggled hair and blinked. It was obvious he had been taking an afternoon kip and had just woken up; especially by the way his clothes were all rumpled.

“You and Dom are going to hang up flyers together,” I said, pushing Dom towards him. Dom gave me an annoyed look, which I ignored. “You know, for the new seeker. And since you’re both important team members, you need to do it together.”

“You made flyers?” Scorpius said, turning to Dom. “Could you make us look any more desperate?”

Dom huffed. “If you haven’t noticed already, captain, we are desperate.”

“Which means you need to get going with those flyers,” Rose chimed in, deciding to take over the placating part of the conversation. “So off you go. Run along now.”

Scorpius let out a long breath as he stared at the stack of neon papers that Dom was holding, before he finally put his hands in his pockets. “Fine, let’s go.”

*

“So, I think we got a lot done today,” Rose said, nodding at me approvingly as we walked out of the library. “Thanks again for helping me with Arithmancy.”

“No problem,” I answered easily. “Thanks for the help with History of Magic.”

Studying with Rose today had actually been kind of fun. Since the last time we studied together we had told each other our insecurities, everything today had seemed to go on with ease. And with the cloud of uncertainty between us gone, I had actually gotten to know Rose more as a person. She was very patient, witty when she wanted, and had an unbreakable focus that made me envious. So all in all, she wasn’t the over-eager studier that I had pinned her as.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Rose asked as we walked down the hallway, leaning towards me conspiratorially. I nodded. “It’s fun to finally have someone else in the group that cares about school. The other’s love taking the mickey out of me for studying.”

What Rose had said was true. The guys definitely did poke fun at her for her overzealous love of studying. And I have to admit, when I first met Rose, I had found her obsession with school kind of overwhelming too. But as I was learning with a lot of people, there was so much more to Rose than her love of books.

“I think they just take it for granted. School, I mean,” I responded. Rose looked at me curiously so I proceeded. “With me, I never had the option to go to Hogwarts. My mum wouldn’t allow it. And now that I’m here I just… don’t want to mess up the only couple of months I’ll get to go here. You know?”

“That’s sad though,” Rose commented. “Your mum should’ve given you the choice when you got your letter.”

“She did what she thought was best for me,” I said, finding myself becoming unnecessarily defensive at Rose’s words. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

“Oh,” Rose said, looking surprised at my defensiveness, “I didn’t mean it like that, Tash! I wasn’t trying to pick at her. I just… oh well… I just meant—”

“No, I’m sorry,” I said, cutting Rose off. I knew Rose hadn’t meant anything by what she said. “I just get sensitive when it comes to my mum.”

“Yeah, Dom has mentioned that,” Rose admitted. “But still, I should’ve been more careful with my words.”

We fell into a silence after that, neither of us really knowing how to expand on the conversation. I felt bad for making Rose feel uncomfortable, but I had no idea how to fix it. Things were just… complicated whenever my mother was involved. And oddly enough, there was only one person who I could even begin to explain the complexity to. A person who I now spotted in the hallway, standing in front of a bulletin board, holding a neon flyer in his hand.

“Oh there’s James,” Rose said, catching sight of the mussed up head of hair at the bulletin board. “Natasha, you don’t mind if we say hi do you?”

“I guess not,” I answered albeit confused. I had thought none of the lot talked to James anymore.

“Great,” Rose said before cupping a hand over her mouth and calling out to James. She seemed to spot the flyer in his hand as she shouted, “Oi! James! Thinking of trying out?”

James looked up from the flyer he was holding in his hand and focused his eyes on Rose as she walked towards him. I followed behind tentatively.

“Nah,” James answered easily, shrugging his shoulders. “I had my run with Quidditch. I just wanted to see how the new search was going.”

“It’s going terrible,” Rose said matter-of-factly. “It especially doesn’t help that
Dom and Scorp are at each other’s throats.”

“So I’ve been told,” James said, smirking slightly as he his gaze rested on me. I noticed confusion flicker across Rose’s face. “But I do know someone who should join the team.”

I fidgeted.

“Who?” Rose asked. I tried to shake my head at James, to signal to him not to continue, but he ignored me.

“Natasha here has expressed great interest in helping the Gryffindor’s to victory,” James announced. Rose looked at me quizzically. “And as former captain, I think she’d be a great replacement seeker.”

“You want to be seeker?” Rose asked incredulously, although I could tell that wasn’t the only thing she was wondering. Her eyes kept moving from James to me, curious as to how we knew each other.

“No, I don’t,” I said to Rose. “I don’t even know how to fly.”

“I offered to teach you,” James cut in. “You just want an excuse not to try out.”

“James, I already told you that I can’t try out, even if I wanted to,” I responded a bit huffily. “I don’t have the time to be a seeker.”

“You could if you tried,” was James’s response.

“No, actually, I couldn’t.”

“Well before you say that maybe you should try.”

I didn’t respond and instead counted to ten, trying to remain calm. But it was getting to be difficult with his badgering. It was getting to be annoying. James was acting as though I was some meal ticket for Gryffindor Quidditch success, when in all honesty I was anything but. This left me with only one question: why was he pushing me to try out?

I noticed out of the corner of my eye, Rose staring at the two of us with a furrowed brow.

“Well,” I said, backing out of the conversation with James, “I’m not going to try out, end of.”

“You say that now,” James said, “but you’ll change your mind. Right, Rose?”

“Right…” Rose responded still a bit taken aback at the fact that James and I seemed to know each other. There was an awkward pause.

“Well…” Rose said, looking back and forth between James and me again. “We should get going. It’s getting pretty late.”

James nodded his head, unaffected. “Yeah, sure. I’ll see you guys.”

“Yeah, we’ll see you,” Rose added, as she began to back away. I didn’t say any goodbye’s to James, because I knew I’d be seeing him in a matter of hours anyway, but I did nod my head at him, to which he nodded back.

And then, I began to follow Rose silently as we headed back to the dormitories. When we rounded a corner, she spoke.

“I didn’t know you knew James,” Rose stated. I could tell as she said it that she had been holding this question in until James was no longer around.

I shrugged, a bit unsure how to respond. “I don’t. Not really. We just talk sometimes.”

Rose smiled broadly at me as I said this, which I found confusing. “That’s good.”

“I guess,” I responded, doubt hidden in my voice. I looked down at my feet as we continued walking. “I didn’t know you lot still talked to James.”

“Oh,” Rose said, looking taken aback at my statement before swiftly composing herself. “They don’t talk to him anymore. Or I guess it’s more of the other way around. None of them know how to act around each other anymore. But I still talk to James on occasion.”

“Why?” I asked.

Rose looked down at her hands, the shuffling of our feet the only thing filling the silence. Then, she exhaled a breath. “We can talk about things with each other that we can’t with other people, I guess. He’s a good person to go to for that.”

I nodded my head, instantly understanding what she was talking about. Whenever I talked to James, it was always about things I never felt comfortable telling anyone else about. I guess other people saw him as a good listener too.

“But anyways,” Rose said, changing the subject. “It’s good he has someone else to talk to. I worry that he isolates himself too much sometimes.”

“I see,” I said, not sure how to comment.

“It’s just, ever since—” Rose stopped and caught herself. “Well it’s just, that the only people he talks to anymore is me or Lily or his brother, Albus. And even then it’s only barely. It’s not good for him.”

I nodded.

“I’m just happy he’s finally talking to someone that’s not his family,” Rose said, looking at me sincerely. She was acting as though I was some sort of amazing person, saving James from whatever he had become. But, I wasn’t. And I hated that she thought I could. How could I help out James, when I couldn’t even help myself? I still had all of my own issues to deal with, and when it really came down to it James was the one who was helping me.

“Just… be careful with him, you know?” Rose continued, her face changing to a more serious expression. “It takes a lot for James to open up to someone, and he’s been through a lot.”

“We’re barely even friends,” I said after soaking in Rose’s words, my voice taking a guarded tone. “He doesn’t open up to me.”

“Maybe he doesn’t do what you consider opening up,” Rose said. “But the fact that he talks to you is a huge step for him. He rarely talks to anyone these days.”

“Rose,” I said, trying to get her to understand what I was saying. “It’s really nothing.”

“Just promise me you won’t mess him about,” Rose said, biting her bottom lip. She was awfully protective of James for being a cousin who only occasionally talked to him. I found myself wondering what it was that she was able to talk to him about. “He’s too good of a guy for that.”

I almost wanted to laugh at what Rose was alluding to. As though I was in any position to ‘mess James about’. Because she was wrong. The contract I had signed with Miss Teen Witch had made any possibility of a boy nonexistent. And even if there was no contract, Rose would still have nothing to worry about. James and mine’s relationship wasn’t anything like what she was insinuating.

“I would,” I said after a long moment. “But there’s nothing to promise.”

*

“So,” James said, looking up at the metallic black sky as he hovered in front of me. It was a scene I was all too familiar with nowadays and a scene that I took comfort in. There was something about the pitch black of the night that filled me with a strange sense of calm. “You thought anymore about joining the team?”

“Nope,” I responded, popping the ‘p’. “I’ve told you already that I’m not joining.”

James sighed as though he had been expecting this response and lowered himself to the ground so that we were eyelevel. His hazel eyes were dominated by the golden brown around his pupil, and I couldn’t help but focus on them as they continued to shift.

“But you’re saying no for the wrong reasons,” James said after a moment. “You haven’t given me one real reason for you not wanting to be on the team.”

“Because it’s impossible,” I said, and then, to prove my point, I pulled a letter out from the back pocket of my jeans that I had hastily shoved there a couple of hours ago. I unfolded it and held it up with a flourish. “Right here, is a letter from my mum, mapping out the whole next week of press junket’s I’m going to have to do for Miss Teen Witch. I won’t be back before 9 almost every night.”

“So what,” James said, and I noticed a glint in his eyes as he said this. “I can talk to Scorpius and tell him that I’ll do practices with you at night. I mean, you already come out here every night anyway.”

“I have a thing called homework,” I rebutted, still not convinced in the slightest. “As soon as my grades start to fall, my mum will see it as an excuse to pull me out of school.”

“You always do your homework loads ahead of time,” James said, looking at me knowingly. “During breakfast you’re always studying or writing essays.”

I wished that, for once, he wasn’t so perceptive.

“But I don’t like Quidditch,” I said, trying to get James to drop it. I still didn’t understand why he wanted me to join so badly.

I mean, how could me playing Quidditch possibly be helpful for anything? I didn’t like the sport, or want to play, or even have the time for it. James was making it into this big deal that is shouldn’t have been.

“That’s because you don’t know how to play,” James said, breaking into my thoughts. “If you did, you’d love it.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because it’ll help you,” James answered. “You’ll get some control that you know what to do with. Isn’t that what you’ve been wanting?”

It was after he said this that something clicked.

Here I was, doing nothing but take as I constantly complained about my lack of control over my life. And then there was James, presenting me with an opportunity to gain said control that I so desperately sought. I still didn’t know why he was helping me so much, but I did know one thing: I owed him.


And while James had isolated himself from all of his friends –for some unfathomable reason—he hadn’t done the same to me. So maybe, I could do something. Something to help him in return.

Suddenly, I had an idea.

“Okay,” I found myself saying before I could convince myself not to. “I’ll join.”

“You’ll join?” James asked, quirking an eyebrow, seeming confused at my sudden agreement.

“Yeah,” I responded, nodding my head. I then pushed myself to say more. “But under one condition.”








A/N: Helloo my lovely, lovely readers! May I apologize for the cliffhanger, or does the fact that I had fun writing it make me not forgiven? And may I also say that you guys made my life with your response to the last chapter? I can't tell you how awesome/inspired I was after all of the positive/helpful reviews you gave me :))

Anyways, I'm sorry for how long it took me to update! This is the first weekend in three weeks that I've actually been home, because I've been traveling a bunch to go to college meetings & last weekend I went to a writing workshop for this contest I won in december so I hadn't actually had time to sit down and edit the chapter until this weekend.

Butttttt I do have a ramble of questions as I always do for my chapters: What did you think about Lucy? Lily? The Pep squad? Rose's conversation with Tash? Tash agreeing to join Quidditch? And the biggest question: WHAT IS NATASHA'S ONE CONDITION?

A review down below would mean the world to me because they really do help me make sure I'm not totally ruining the story. I read and respond to every review too!

Thank you all so much for being amazing readers/reviewers!
-Rebecca


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