Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns any characters and places you recognise. I'm just a humble writer trying to make part of the wonderful world she's creating my own.
Summary: Quidditch gets underway in Hogwarts, and most people seem pretty content. One Potter begins to develop quite the crush, whilst a Malfoy muses that the world seems pretty okay at the moment.
Song: Title of this chapter and lyrics used are from the song The Sporting Life by The Decemberists.
Author Notes: I’m so happy to be getting such lovely reviews on this story. I admit, I was worried when starting it that people would be offended by a lot of it, and so dislike it, but to know people are reading and enjoying really makes me smile. So, one big thank you to all of you!
[Conor Appleton, James's new Chaser and love interest]
credit to BitterSweetFlames at TDA!
Chapter Five - The Sporting Life
There's my father looking on
And there's my girlfriend arm in arm
With the captain of the other team
And all of this is clear to me
They condescend and fix on me a frown
How they love the sporting life!
It’s your grandmother here. Your father has told me about your recent troubles with the press, and I must say, if I were him I’d be suing the paper for all it was worth. As it is, he seems to fear that there is some truth in what’s been said, but, of course, I told him he was being silly and judgemental.
It may just be me, but I don’t think you’ve changed much from that little boy who used to come over every Saturday to look after his grandparents when they were ill, and to try one of my cakes. All of these drug accusations are nothing but preposterous, and I’m trying to convince your parents otherwise.
This is just a short note to say, have a nice sixth year, and I really do miss you. I shall see you at Christmas, I’m sure, and please don’t take your father’s doubt to heart.
All my love,
The captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team was, much to the annoyance of one Albus Potter, not one Albus Potter. That responsibility lay with a burly, no-nonsense seventh year named Johnny Torrent, who played as a Chaser. Johnny was stern and unforgiving, and Albus wasn’t overly fond of him. Part of it was jealousy over his captaincy, but part of it was a justified grudge, in his opinion - Scorpius had been kicked from the team as Seeker the year before, because he was too ‘lazy’.
Whatever his personal opinions of Johnny were, however, Albus couldn’t really deny that the guy was good at his job. They were stood in the cold, October morning, the team tryouts well underway. Over breakfast, Scorpius had loudly lamented that he’d retry, but he didn’t think the team uniform was particularly pretty, earning him some very dirty looks from the sportier members of the team.
Albus, much to his relief, had outflown all of the other potential Beaters, and so had been welcomed back on the team without question. By his side stood Amanda Store, a dim but friendly seventh year girl, who was a new find and now his fellow Beater. She’d done fairly well in the tryouts, and he wasn’t too worried about playing with her. They were just finishing off the search for the Seeker - a thin, fifth year boy seemed to be the best flyer - and Albus was feeling exceedingly bored.
A month and a half into school, and it was proving a lot more work than he was used to. The only thing that was keeping him motivated was the thought of ending up with no money in some dead end job, and for that reason he handed in all of his homework to the best of his ability and in time. There was a lot of homework, though, and even his free periods didn’t really help. It was all cutting down on the time he spent with Scorpius and Ava, too, so he wasn’t exactly having the wild, fun year he’d hoped for.
He glanced across the pitch, as he’d been doing for the whole tryouts, to see Scorpius in the stands. He’d faithfully come down to watch them, but it didn’t look as though he was having much fun - he had his chin resting on his arms and was watching the grey clouds pass overhead. He looked up by coincidence as Albus did, and their eyes met. Scorpius mouthed “Are you nearly done?”, and Albus nodded. He hoped so, at least.
“Right!” Johnny said, loudly, drawing him back to the tryouts. “I think it’s clear that you’re the best out of the lot, Michael. Welcome to the team.”
“Thanks,” the fifth year grinned, running a hand through his windswept brown hair as the other hopefuls slouched off the pitch, all looking thoroughly disappointed. “I’ve been practising all summer for this.”
“Well, keep it up, and I think we’ll have a good chance at winning this year,” Johnny told the team, rather optimistically for him. “Let’s head off, then, it’s lunchtime.”
Albus lingered at the back of the team, though, looking over at Scorpius. Scorpius grinned, and leapt over the stands easily, strolling over to his best friend. He reached him, and stretched, wrapped up warmly in a duffel coat and his Slytherin scarf and hat.
“Well, I am glad that’s over,” he announced, watching the retreating team with a frown. “You know, Allie, you have an exceedingly ugly Quidditch team. I can’t say one of them makes my heart beat any quicker.”
“You’re such a charmer,” Albus said, pretending to be offended. “If that’s how you feel, then -”
“Oh, you know you’re not exceedingly ugly,” Scorpius rolled his eyes, and spoke as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. “I just meant your team. They really are atrocious. Don’t you wish I were back on it?”
“’Course I do,” Albus shrugged. “But you can’t be arsed, you know that. You’re an amazing Seeker, but it’s too much energy and time, isn’t it? You’d rather spend it kissing someone.”
“You know me too well,” Scorpius beamed, and then moved his gaze to the broomstick Albus was holding. “So. Did I come onto the pitch for a reason, or are we just going to stand here for a bit longer and talk about my general laziness in all but the kissing department?”
“I dunno,” Albus laughed, holding up the broomstick. “Do you want to have a fly? Unless you’ve gone and left your broom in the castle.”
“Well, yes, I have, actually,” Scorpius smiled, undeterred. “But you have a broom, and we’re hardly the heaviest of boys, are we? I might as well just get on behind you.”
“Any excuse,” Albus groaned, though he didn’t really mind. Shooting Scorpius one of his looks, he got upon the broom, leaving enough room behind him. Scorpius smiled, winningly, and climbed on. He put his arms tightly around Albus’s waist, causing Albus to sigh. His friend was rather predictable, at times. He kicked off, however, without complaint, and the grip around him tightened even further.
“Hmm. I’ve missed flying. We’ll have to do it more often,” Scorpius murmured, as they soared above the goal hoops. “Or, well, you’ll have to do it more often, and I’ll have to hold on tight.”
“I do need to get some more practise in,” Albus commented, steering the broom in a wide circle. “I guess we could make a habit of it, even if you do have your own expensive broom.”
“You know you love it,” Scorpius said, nestling his head comfortably into Albus’s back, and Albus couldn’t help but silently agree.
James was beginning to get heartily annoyed.
He’d been looking forward to being captain of the Gryffindor team so much, and now the try outs were looking dire. They were a week into October - which was pretty late, seeing as even the Slytherin team had done their tryouts the week before, and they were notorious procrastinators - and it was chucking it down with rain. It was good for picking out flyers who could stand bad weather, but it did nothing but increase James’s bad mood with those who refused to be told they’d been rejected.
He was in the middle of trying the potential Beaters, and he already knew most of the hopefuls were absolute crap. They flew above him, trying to swat away the Bludgers he’d released, whilst he watched them for any spark of talent. Only one seemed really to shine; and that was, a little surprisingly, his cousin, Hugo.
Hugo had never seemed to show much of an interest in Quidditch when they’d all played it in the Potter’s large garden. Though he didn’t get the best grades, he’d always been assumed to take after his bookish mother by James. Apparently, though, he’d been completely wrong - the fourth year was swinging his bat with a force and aim that James had come to expect from professional players.
Studying the rest, he realised that nobody else was particularly brilliant, but one sixth year was fairly good. He knew him vaguely as Lewis Hutchinson, and the boy had a wicked force behind his swing, even if his aim wasn’t quite as perfect as Hugo’s. Everybody else seemed to be trying out just to waste his time. James raised his whistle to his lips, and blew, hard, signalling for everybody to land.
He wasn’t looking forward to telling the five other hopefuls they weren’t good enough. He’d had enough trouble with the Keepers - he was letting Olive Burin back onto the team, which she’d been playing as for three years. Once everybody had landed around him, he cleared his throat, and straightened to his full height.
“Right,” he said, briskly. “Hugo, you were by far the best, and I’m not picking you just because you’re in the family, before anybody starts. Second to you, I reckon, was Lewis. So, well done the both of you, and welcome to the team.”
Predictably, there was an uproar from the disappointed Gryffindors, and it took a good five minutes to chivvy the lot of them off the pitch, where they grumpily sat in the stands to watch the rest of the tryouts. James returned to those waiting in the middle of the pitch, and instructed them all to get into the air and start tossing a Quaffle to one another, and to show him what they’d got.
He wasn’t too worried about this section of his team. Nicholas and Adam were both amazing Chasers, and he knew they’d probably outfly everybody else. Everyone else seemed to be shaping up pretty well, too, which he was glad about; he really hoped to find some more undiscovered talent. He, of course, was returning as Seeker for the fifth year in a row, and was fairly proud of the fact. It was nice to follow in his father’s rather intimidating footsteps.
Soon enough, he realised that his eyes were straying to one particular hopeful more than any others.
The girl was in James’s year, but until now they’d not had much to do with each other. Her name, he knew, was Conor Appleton - which he’d always found a little bemusing, as he didn’t think Conor was actually used as a girl’s name. However, she was a damn good Quidditch player and was, well, rather good looking, in an almost boyish kind of way.
She had dark brown hair just past her shoulders, which she kept in a ponytail, and had a tanned, freckled face. Her body was slim and hardly feminine at all, but for some reason James was finding it hard to focus on anybody else. He swallowed, hard, and shook himself. He was Quidditch captain, and he was not about to choose someone for the team on the basis of her looks.
Much to his relief, she was extremely skilled, on par with Nicholas and Adam, and the three of them seemed to work well together. Nobody else was really in their league, so soon enough James was blowing his whistle and beckoning them all down.
“Well, I’ve come to a decision,” he announced, once everyone was firmly back on the grass. “Nicholas, Adam, welcome back. New to the team, however, I’d like to congratulate Conor. So. Well done to the three of you, and everyone else can head back to the castle now, because I think we’re done.”
Making him sigh with further relief, there weren’t any complaints for the four would-be Chaser, who merely looked disappointed and left without a word. Nicholas and Adam clapped James on the back and jogged over to the Quidditch store room to put the equipment away, leaving Conor and James to made their way back to the castle.
James was rather alarmed to find explosion after explosion of nerves in his stomach, and had no idea what to say.
Luckily, she solved it for him, by sweeping her hair from her face and grinning. “Wow. Cheers for picking me, I wasn’t expecting that at all. My dad’s been training with me all summer, though, because he reckons it was about time I tried out for the team.”
“He was right,” James complimented, trying to ignore the redness itching up his cheeks. He would not randomly fall for a team-mate, he sternly told himself. “I mean. Uh. You’re really good.”
“Thanks!” she laughed, and then wrinkled her nose. “I bet I mess up in the actual games though, so sorry in advance. I’ve never really been in front of a huge crowd, so I might react really horribly.”
“You’ll be fine, everyone is nervous at first, but it’s easy to get used to,” James shrugged, remembering the panic before his first game. “The thing is to focus on what you’re doing, rather than what the crowd is doing. Just pretend you’re in practise and all that. It works for me, anyway.”
“I’ll try that, then,” she smiled, gratefully, and then glanced behind them. “Ah, look, my fellow Chasers are catching up.”
James turned, to see that, indeed, his two best friends were jogging towards them. He was half grateful, half annoyed when they finally caught up - he’d been finding conversation with Conor easy and comfortable, but then again, they provided a welcome distraction from this sudden, annoying crush that had burst upon him.
She’d been saving all summer for this, and now she was finally here, she really couldn’t pick which dress she wanted.
Ava had managed to tear Rebecca away from a game of Exploding Snap, and together they’d snuck out of the school (as they’d done countless times before), and now stood in Hogsmeade’s best dress shop, trying to find the perfect dress for Ava. She didn’t really have too many nice clothes, she knew, so she wanted to actually get something classy, and surprise Albus at tonight’s party.
“What about this one?” Rebecca asked, taking a bottle green dress from a shelf and holding it up.
“Ugh,” Ava groaned, sparing it the smallest of glances. “I may be proud of being Slytherin, but that shade of green is disgusting. I want something bright. Something vivacious. But not yellow, because it clashes horribly with my skin tone.”
“You’re so picky,” Rebecca sighed, shaking her head, but continued on her search. “Hmm. Well, there aren’t many yellow dresses, so you’re safe. I’ll go look at the blue rail.”
“Alright then,” Ava commented, scanning the red rail. She soon found one that caught her eye, and rushed off to the changing room, hoping she’d found her dress. After all, looks were immensely important, she knew that. She changed in seconds, casting off her school robes with satisfaction, and soon was marvelling the dress in the mirror.
It was a shimmery red, reaching just above her knees, and was typically low cut. It was clingy - just how she liked her clothes - and she smiled at her reflection. She thought it was perfect. It would be lovely to see the look on Albus’s face when he saw it, which she was certain would be surprise and happiness and lust, or something equally good. Sometimes she needed to dress up to remind him she was the one he was dating, but she didn’t really like to dwell upon that.
A few minutes later, her purse was considerably lighter, and her and Rebecca were strolling back to school. Her friend had agreed that the dress looked nice, and Ava was very much satisfied with her purchase. Linking her friends arm, and gazing at the castle they were making their way towards, she sighed. “You do think Albus will like it, don’t you?”
“You really are paranoid,” Rebecca sighed, though she was smiling. “I’m sure he’ll love it. Where is he today, anyway? The two of you usually spend Saturdays together.”
“He’s with Scorpius,” Ava shrugged. “Scorpius has a headache or something - probably thanks to all that fairy dust he snorted last night - and he doesn’t want Albus to leave his side.”
“Ah,” Rebecca said, thoughtfully. After a pause, she elaborated. “Are you alright with that?”
“Of course I am,” Ava replied, puzzledly. “Why wouldn’t I be? They’ve always been like it.”
“No reason,” Rebecca smiled, hastily. “I just wondered. It’s just. Well. Most girlfriends wouldn’t be all too pleased if their other half spent all of his free time with his best friend instead of her. That’s all.”
“Hey, he does spend time with me,” Ava snapped, becoming a little irritated. She didn’t really bear Rebecca any ill will; it was just that it was a topic she hated to think about, and so other people bringing it up annoyed her. “I’m not going to start an argument by trying to make them spend less time with each other. They’re like brothers. That’s all.”
“I know! I was only saying -”
“You don’t need to,” Ava interrupted, pushing all thoughts and doubts surrounding the topic firmly from her mind. “Now. Let’s get back to the castle and get ready for the party.”
“Exactly,” Rebecca laughed, though Ava sensed she wanted to press the subject further. “I’m sure the moment Albus sees you, he’ll forget all about Scorpius.”
Albus vaguely wondered when Scorpius had got his latest pair of criminally tight black jeans.
His best friend was currently dancing with Edward, shimmying his hips like nobody’s business. Edward looked amazed that he was where he was; his face was flushed and lit up, his eyes telling of his awe. Albus couldn’t help but smile. It had been a while since Scorpius had had a fling with somebody new, and it was nice that it wasn’t some arrogant little attention-grabber for once.
He also knew Scorpius didn’t consider it a relationship and would soon move on, but Albus was far too used to it to really feel any guilt any more.
As the song from the Wireless faded into another, Scorpius smiled at Edward, whispered something in his ear, and then made his way across the room to the sofa on which Albus was sat alone. He slid comfortably into the vacant seat, tossing his head back to get his blonde hair from his eyes.
“Isn’t Edward just lovely?” he asked, watching the brown-haired boy head over to the drinks table. “I know he’s not really my usual type, but still. He adores me. It’s adorable. He’s adorable. I might keep him for a while.”
“He does seem to think you’re quite the hero,” Albus agreed, smirking. “Does he think you’re going out, though? I’m sure it’ll be quite a shock if he finds you with somebody else.”
“Honestly, everybody knows I don’t do relationships. It’s my motto, isn’t it? What’s the point in simply kissing one person, when there are millions? Variety is the spice of life, as they say.”
“There are perks to a relationship, though,” Albus commented, thinking of Ava. “I mean, there’s the whole safety thing. You know you’ll get a snog whenever you want. Then there’s the nice feeling of trust and satisfaction and -”
“The cons outweigh the perks completely,” Scorpius snorted, waving an indifferent hand. “You’re tied down to one person, and if you happen do to something with anybody else it ends in heartbreak and a slap. With open relationships, though, you get all of the pleasure and none of the pressure. As for always knowing you can get a snog, I don’t need a relationship for that. We’ve been through it a hundred times.”
“One day you’ll find the right person, and then you’ll feel differently.”
“Oh, I’ve already found him,” Scorpius laughed, rolling his eyes.
“You - what?” Albus was rather startled; what on earth was his friend on about? He’d never shown a particular attachment to any boy that could be called love. Scorpius, though, merely smiled secretively. “Come off it. Do you mean drugs or something?”
“No,” Scorpius smiled, in the same manner, and stood up. Edward had approached them, holding three drinks a little awkwardly, and he held one out to each of them. “Thank you, dear.”
“It’s okay,” Edward grinned, a little nervously. Albus stood, too, and took his. “I didn’t know what you both liked so I got vodka and coke.”
“That’s fine, thanks very much,” Albus said, taking a quick sip. There wasn’t nearly enough vodka in it, but he wasn’t about to be ungrateful and say so. Scorpius took a large swig, and then licked his lips, examining Edward carefully.
“Hmm. Do you want to dance, love?”
“Not really,” Edward confessed, biting his lip and looking at the floor. “I’m not very good at it. Not like you.”
“Well, there’s a vacant chair over there,” Scorpius replied, nodding over at a cosy-looking chair in the corner. “We could go and - ahem - share it, if you like.”
Edward smiled, happily and awkwardly, and nodded. Scorpius laughed, downed the rest of his drink, winked at Albus in goodbye, and dragged his new find off to the chair. Albus raised his eyes to the sky, turned, and found himself looking straight at his girlfriend. She didn’t look particularly happy, what with her narrow eyes and her crossed arms.
“Er. Hey, Ava. What’s the matter? You were a while at the bathroom.”
“You haven’t even noticed, have you?” she snapped, sounding surprisingly sober. “You’re absolutely ridiculous. You’ve been looking at Scorpius all night, haven’t you? Maybe you need to ask some questions about yourself.”
“Excuse me?” Albus spluttered. “What the hell are you on about?”
“Look at me, and try to think, all right?”
“Fine,” Albus sighed, exasperated, and examined her. She looked quite pretty, with her hair loose and curly, and she wore a tight red dress he couldn’t remember seeing before. Ah, he suddenly thought. “Oh. Your dress, right? It’s really nice, you look gorgeous.”
“Oh, you’re just saying that now,” she muttered, slumping back onto the sofa and shaking her head. He tentatively sat by her side, wondering if he’d been forgiven. He was a little surprised that she was annoyed; since when did he notice what clothes a girl wore? “I spent loads on it, you know, and I thought you’d -”
Albus knew that he had to make her feel better before she got upset, and so he moved closer, sliding an arm around her shoulders and pulling her towards him. “Listen,” he said, in a quieter, deeper voice, “you look beautiful, you really do. It makes you look even lovelier than usual.”
She smiled, cheeks going pink. “You think so? Thank you. You’re too nice to me.”
He smiled, softly, and leant in for a kiss. He was being truthful, he mused, as she wrapped her arms around him. She did look nice, even nicer than usual. He most certainly had no qualms about her splashing out on new, revealing dresses, especially for him. He’d been honest when he’d told Scorpius there was a lot of safety in a relationship, and he enjoyed it.
He just had to learn to ignore certain comments about him watching Scorpius.
Because, he told himself, he most certainly hadn’t been.
Scorpius stood at the door of the Room of Requirement, one hand idly playing with Edward’s collar. It was fairly early - eleven - but Edward said he had to go, or Rose would be even more suspicious. Whilst Scorpius wasn’t happy to have to say goodbye just yet, he wasn’t in the mood to kick up a fuss.
“Hmm, does Red not know about your little sessions with me, then?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“N-no,” Edward replied, swallowing hard. “She wouldn’t understand. She doesn’t. Well. I mean. I don’t think she likes you very much.”
“Understatement of the year, love,” Scorpius grinned, not minding the honesty at all. He much preferred it, in fact. “Do you feel the same way as her?”
“What? No! Of course not. I really, really - erm. Well. I kind of really - “
“I know,” Scorpius laughed, leaning forwards and pressing a kiss against Edward’s mumbling lips. The boy reacted slowly, but soon responded, kissing back passionately. Scorpius withdrew, smiling winningly. “Well. You should be off then. Don’t want to keep her waiting.”
“I guess,” Edward muttered, looking quite reluctant. He put a hand on the door handle, but then paused. He looked at Scorpius straight in the eye, and before Scorpius knew what was happening, Edward was hugging him, tightly. He blinked, but soon hugged back, a little unsure of what was happening.
Edward pulled back, kissed Scorpius on the mouth, murmured ‘thank you’, and left, all before Scorpius could react. He stared at the door as it shut, blinking a few times, and then smiled. Edward really had been a lucky find; he was sweet and attractive and doting.
He was far from Scorpius’s perfect boy, though, and so the Slytherin turned to find Albus and head to bed. He was feeling a little tired, thanks to all of the alcohol he’d drank.
Albus, however, was already asleep - curled up on a sofa with Ava.
Clicking his tongue, Scorpius made his way over to them, stepping over an unconscious Dexter as he did so. The two of them looked quite sweet together, Ava’s head on Albus’s shoulder, and so Scorpius didn’t want to disturb them.
Things, he mused, were going quite well in the world. He had a new, sweet plaything, Albus and Ava had never gotten along better, and his hair had never been softer. Yes, he thought happily, things were going well.
He quickly planted a kiss on both of his friend’s heads, and then went over to a vacant chair in the corner to sleep and dream of how fun the next party was sure to be.
Little did he know, however, that a girl was watching him from across the room; a girl who would soon take all the friendship and contentment from him, and shake everything up.
Sandra Terry smiled to herself. Ava and Rebecca may of made her less than welcome in the party crowd recently, but she had always had a way with boys, and Scorpius was obviously the ringleader.
Yes, she thought, watching Scorpius curl up on the armchair, she had always had a way with boys, and she couldn’t see why this one would be any different.
A/N: A word of warning to my dear characters -- whenever you think things are going well, something is just around the corner. Keep that in mind, dears. Now, to all my readers, THANK YOU for being so awesome.
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