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“Wait up, Aves,” I said, catching my breath. The suit was not condusive to running and I had to let Emerson know. My legs felt like they were chaffing which was not at all attractive. Fred was funnier to watch with his silly gray dress and pointed shoes, but I kept my attention focused on the bestie.

“Why did you follow me?” She spun around with a furious look in her eyes. “Why couldn’t you just nose out, James? This was between me and my father and not you.”

“I just want to make sure you were okay,” I practically whispered.

“Well, I’m fine. Isn’t that obvious?”

“Is it wrong for me to answer no?”

She frowned. “Did you hear everything?”

“Yeah. That was quite the monologue. You could do theatre.” I placed a hand on her arm. “Avery, I wanted to be here for you. I’m sorry.”

“You had to dress in disguise—and drag—to be there for me?” She gaped at Fred. “Why is he in that dress? No, better yet, where did you get it?”

“Probably Emerson’s mum’s dress,” Fred muttered. “What? Don’t look at me like that. You got the suit from his trunk so I figured he wouldn’t mind if I took the dress.”

Avery managed a smile. “He’s fixing the sewing on it for his sister, he told me about it last weekend.” She took my arm and linked her other one in Fred’s and we continued our way back toward Hogwarts. “So you really think I could do theatre? I always pictured myself as being a bit of a starlet.”

I hugged her slightly. “I think you finally did what you’ve wanted to do for years. What will you do after the game?”

“After the game?” Avery kicked a few stones and then smiled. “I’ll go take a shower and grab some alcohol since we’re going to kick the shit out of Ravenclaw. Again.”

“That’s my girl.”

I was doing a pretty shit job of this Code business as Captain. I not only drank too much during Halloween, but I also landed myself in two separate detentions. One was cleaning bed pans, just as twat berry promised, and I smelled like urine until three showers later and a dose of perfume from Elizabeth.

The other was something I hadn’t done before, which was help the House Elves with dinner and I burned three batches of cupcakes before one was right. I gave the burnt ones to the Slytherins, stupid sods. At least I learned a few things about the kitchen so Mum couldn’t yell at me when I whined about supper over break.

James-1. Albus-1.

I went to a few classes—I mean, my grades were fine anyway. I just skipped the classes I knew I could skive off and made up my grades with awesome essays Avery edited while I poured over Ravenclaw notes. No way Kay Davies was getting this win, no way.

Practice was going well, other than Meta missing two. She avoided me at all costs afterward, but I managed to catch her leaving the Great Hall and unleashed a wave of fury about her skipping practice and breaking the Code. She told me bollocks on the Code and I gave her fifty laps.

She showed up for the next couple practices, which were during class time (teachers weren’t exactly happy) but Quidditch obviously came first. I held another meeting and discussed tactics and at least afterward Albus didn’t come barging in to put me in another detention. I also managed to avoid Paloma for a while, even when she wore a low-cut purple top. I was peeved about that since Fred, Bink, and Wes didn’t bother paying attention for the whole meeting.

I watched Kay Davies closely over the next few days, analyzing her every mood and waiting for Fred to rush up to me in tears exclaiming about her forceful tactics to get him to admit our practice schedule. She seemed peppy and anxious and I wanted to throw her down the stairs, but I was a gentleman and gentleman just hexed in the hallway.

“James, quit staring at my girlfriend,” Fred muttered a couple days before the game. “I think you stare more than I do.”

“That’s because you close your eyes to snog,” I said in return, taking a bite of my sandwich. “Has she asked you for our secrets yet? Do you blurt them out during sex?”

“Of course I don’t blurt them out during sex,” he snapped. “I don’t say anything. A little grunting, actually, but that’s about it.”

“Sick,” Bink said from the other side of Fred. “I don’t want to hear this. The image in my head is repulsive.”

I glanced over. “Did you get the image of Fred’s naked arse? That’s what I got.”

“Yep. In my head it was a bit hairy and that’s just strange.”

Fred narrowed his eyes. “It is a bit, but not much. Stop talking about my arse. Talk about Paloma’s or something.”

Sighing, I turned away. I couldn’t talk about Paloma’s. And I wouldn’t. Instead, I turned my attention to Lily, who was sitting on my other side. She was chatting with a few of her third year friends (a few boys who had yet to reach puberty). “Classes all right, baby sister?”

She glanced over and shrugged. “As good as they can be I suppose. I’m sure better than yours.”

“Mine? What’s wrong with mine?”

“Avery told me you’ve been skipping classes. Mum would hate that, you know.”

“I’m not—well, I’m only skipping the ones where we aren’t doing anything so I can concentrate on the match. Good captains sacrifice things for games. I’ll get right back into the groove of things once the Ravenclaw game is over.”

Lily stared at me for a moment. “You talked to Al lately?” she asked in a small voice.

“No. Not since he gave me detention.”

“Well, someone needed to do it. You should though. He’s right upset with you.”

“I know. I know, but I don’t know what he wants me to do. I can’t make someone fall desperately in love with him.”

“I’m not sure that’s what he wants,” Lily replied softly. “I just think he wants you to get your nose out of Quidditch for a bit to see there are other things besides your team.”

I raised a brow. “I don’t know what you mean. The game is only a few days away. It’s not my fault. He’s always been jealous.”

“Of course he has, James, and can’t you see why? God, this is what Dad’s been trying to tell you for ages.”


I looked away from Lily for a second to see Paloma smiling at me from a few feet away. She was wearing—I looked at her eyes. I didn’t look at what she was wearing. Nope. Not one bit. It would have helped if she would discard the sequins. “Hi there. What can I do for you?”

“Can I have a word?”

Lily groaned from beside me. “Think about it, okay, James?”

“Yeah, okay.” I stood up, finished my turkey, and followed Paloma out into the Entrance Hall. “What’s going on? Did you get hurt? You can still play, right? If I have to find a replacement Beater I’ll be up shit bleeding creek.”

She held out a hand. “No, no, I’m fine. You don’t have to find a replacement. I just wanted to talk to you. You’ve been…well, you’ve been avoiding me lately.”

“How can I avoid you?” I replied slyly. “You’re my teammate. I see you at practice just about every day.”

She frowned. “You’ve been leaving every time I walk into a room. I tried to ask your brother what’s been going on—”

“You asked Albus?” I gaped at her. No way. Please say she said “balbus” or “menuyalbus”. There weren’t quite that many syllables, but I could hope.

“Yeah. He didn’t seem to keen on you, though. Get in a fight?”

“A little bit of a spat, yes.” I frowned. “He’s a nice kid, though.”

“So have you been avoiding me?”

“Of course not. I just think.” I paused, trying to word it correctly without kicking myself. “I think we should keep our relationship professional. After all, I love hanging out with you but I think if I hung out with you more I might have the option to break the Code and you know I couldn’t do that.”

Paloma looked hurt and sad. “I know. It’s just—well, it’s nice to know you fancy me a little then.”

I don’t fancy you! I don’t. Not one bit, you’re just horribly good looking and I don’t know how and I don’t know who your parents were that made something as gorgeous as you.

Deep breath.

“Yeah, well, you know, Code and all.” I tried to smile but my jaw was a little locked. “Thanks for understanding, Paloma, you’re the best.”

“Not at all, James. I’ll see you at practice then, love.” Paloma waved and walked back toward the Great Hall. “Oh, hi there, Albus! Found your brother. Thanks for your help.”

Fuckity fuck.

“Detention was good, by the way,” I said, turning to face my brother. He was still a few inches shorter than me but stood with his chest puffed out so he looked confident. “I learned how to make cupcakes and salad.”

“Glad you benefited from being pompous,” Albus muttered, shoving past me toward the marble staircase.

“You can’t be like this forever, you know!” I called after him. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to fucking do to make you unhate me! I cut off contact with Paloma, you know. I’ve told her everything between us is to remain professional because of the C—well, because.”

“That’s awesome.”

“It’s not my fault she came up to you looking for me. I was trying to avoid her. I was trying to be a good brother.”

“Avoiding a girl that fancies you doesn’t make you a good brother,” Albus said, mounting the stairs.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Think for a few fucking minutes. Stop walking around here like a pompous bleeding asshole.”

“I’m not Edwards!” I shouted. “I’m not pompous.”

“Of course not. Why would the Quidditch Captain not be pompous? Pfft, you’re full of yourself James. Not going to class? Spending all your time on the pitch? Leading on poor Paloma. You’re horrible.”

“Me? I’m horrible? God, look in a fucking mirror, Albus.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re such a victim. You’re always playing the victim so Mummy and Daddy will give you what you want. They feel bad for you—get some fucking mascilinity and do things yourself. You want Paloma? Go get her—don’t blame me for something I can’t even control.”

“You can’t control it because you don’t care.”

“Blame everyone around you, Al. Blame Dad because you look like him and you get all this attention, but when people ask you to do things cool like Dad used to, you can’t. Don’t blame Dad, that’s not his fault. And it’s not my fault you’re living in his shadow as well as mine. You’re scared. You’re scared to do anything for yourself. You were too scared to play Quidditch too and that’s what you didn’t try out and Meta got the cut.”

Albus stopped dead. “I’m not scared! I don’t want to play Quidditch because it’s a waste of my time! Not everything is about Quidditch! Try getting to know someone else for a chance, James. You’re such a waste. Dad tells you things and you don’t even listen. I don’t think you even know what they’ve done apart from play Quidditch.”

“I’m leading my own life,” I said confidently.

“So am I, but without living in your damn shadow.”

“So you wanted me to fail?” I cried. “You wanted me to be a failure so you could be Albus bleeding Potter, coolest of the Potter kids with the screwed up middle name and the victim complex? Get real.”

“Eat shit, James. Think about someone else for a change.”

“Just because I don’t think about you doesn’t mean I don’t think about other people,” I snapped and he continued up the stairs. I balled my hands into fists. “She thinks you’re out of her league, by the way. I just thought I’d tell you that before your head got any bigger. She thought you were the too-cool-too-smart sixth year. So don’t go blaming me. Apparently you’re out of her league and I’m not. Fucking git.” I turned and walked outside, slamming the door as much as I could and plopping down on the stone steps.

Fuck him. He always tried to make me feel worse than I already did—he already gave me a detention. He already made me feel guilty about everything. Sure, I didn’t always treat him like a prince, but I was his brother. I was trying to teach him things about life.

All I ended up teaching him was not to be like me.

I had to yell at Meta three other times for ordering around my players. She told Wes all about how to swing his bat and for a minute he listened until I swore at the pair and told them to get back to practice. It was horrible, having to constantly supervise whether or not Meta would attempt to take over the team. If I didn’t know better I thought she might try and off me while I was sleeping.

I sat in the common room falling asleep over a Potions essay and I glanced at the Marauder’s Map. It seemed everyone was everywhere but there. Avery was walking toward the kitchens for the snack she told me about (I hoped she would bring me back a doggie bag of some sort) and Bink was pacing the Entrance Hall. Freddie was in our room with Emerson and they were facing each other so I assumed some sort of argument was happening. Paloma was in the lavatory on the third floor and Wesley was talking to Albus outside on the front steps. I saw Meta rushing through a passage on her way back upstairs.

Out of everyone on their way back to the common room, I wanted to see her the least.

Okay, not true. I didn’t much care for Clint Lawson. Or that Scorpius jerk. Like he had more money than me anyway. His dad could be a prat to my dad back in their schooldays, but my dad was filthy bleeding rich now and he had to come up with something cleverer these days. Malfoys were such rubbish.

No, this Potions essay was rubbish.

“I can’t even think.” Meta blew into the common room and slammed the portrait hard behind her. Her dark hair shielded her eyes and I wondered whether or not she had a happy bone in her Seeker body. “This is ridiculous.”

“What’s ridiculous?”

“Your Captaining abilities, Potter. Keep your nose out of my business.” Meta flipped me off and continued toward the spiral staircase.

“Laps, Meta.”

“For fucking what?” she cried, spinning around. I almost figured she’d have her wand out.

“For disrespecting me and breaking the Code.”

“You seem like a hypocrite, Potter,” she snapped. “You’ve broken the bleeding Code twice already and you’re not running extra laps.”

“Putting up with you during Quidditch practice is tougher than laps,” I shot back. “Twenty tomorrow and think before being disrespectful.”

She made a noise that was between frustration and the idea of murder. “If you even knew—you don’t know who you’re messing with, Potter. I swear to Merlin, you don’t.”

“Anything you want to share?”

“Bugger off!” Meta screamed, turning and rushing up toward the seventh year dormitories.

Avery wandered down a few minutes later with a quizzical expression. “Meta seems to have finally cracked. What do you think it is? Lack of tampons?”

“Did you just make a sexist comment about your own sex?” My jaw hit the floor. Well, almost.

“Am I not supposed to? Should I leave those sexist comments to you thinking about your steak and potatoes and rugged chin stuble?” Avery laughed a bit.

 “I…I don’t know how to reply to that."

“Someone capture this moment. James Potter is speechless. Anyone have a quill?”

“Sod off. I’ve had a bad few days.” I wiped the map and went back to the Potions rubbish.

“Al still not talking to you?”

“Not one word, stupid blighter. I’d like to kick the shit in the face, but he hasn’t been close enough to me.”

“Do you want me to talk to him?”

“Don’t bother. It has to work out eventually when we cool down. I just want to think about the game. I can’t get off the game right now. Concentration.”

“Is that why your Potions essay is completely wrong?” Avery leaned over me.

I groaned. “Are you kidding? Aves, I might need help.”

“Give it here. You owe me.”

The days leading up to a game were always important. They were mostly important because I didn’t want to be hexed before I made skilled passes to my fellow Chasers, but also because I had to be on top of my comeback game.

“Ready to get your ass handed to you, Potter?” Clint Lawson said the night before the game. He stood at the Slytherin table to make sure I heard him and Scorpius dumb-sixth-year sneered beside him.

“Go fuck the squid, Lawson. I saw you petting it the other day.”

He stared at me. “You won’t have much to say after I see you lose tomorrow. Saw you being a little protective at Halloween, Potter.”

I shrugged and continued on my way toward the Gryffindor table for a well deserved dinner after practice.

“Saw you pants your teammate. Pretty good showing, I must admit. I see why he won’t give up, though. For an ugly bugger you sure have a smokin’ hot sister.”

I picked that moment to grind my teeth. I kept walking.

“Have you seen that sexy third year ass? Just bouncing up a down all the way down the hallway—plump and round, all that.”

My wand was out faster than I knew what I was doing. I pointed it straight at him, blood pumping hard. I couldn’t do it. It would mean I wouldn’t be able to play the next day and I had to keep my cool. I nearly bit my tongue—it was my baby sister that disease pool was talking about.

He was blasted backward into the wall. Scorpius jumped and rushed to Clint’s side, but he was out cold.

I glanced down at my own wand. What the hell?

“Lily Potter, detention!

I flew around. My sister had her wand pointed straight at the Slytherin table with a heated expression on her face. Professor Longbottom was standing a few meters away with that disapproval look he was so capable of.

I beamed. “Well done, Lils!” I cried, clapping her on the back. “That shot was amazing. Right in the chest, nice shot.”

“It was worth it,” she said, stuffing her wand back in her robes and sitting down to dinner. “I can’t stand people picking on my siblings.”

“He was insulting you, though.”

“I don’t care about that. I just don’t want you to get in trouble. You have a big game tomorrow. Don’t think about that prat. He’ll be out for a few hours at least.”

“What did you use on him?” I craned my neck to get a better look as Scorpius helped Professor Longbottom carry Clint out of the Great Hall.

“Mum’s been teaching me a few things here or there.” Lily grinned. “But don’t tell anyone. Mum likes to let you think you’re the strongest Potter kid.” She snorted.

“Lil? I think I might just love you.” I half-hugged her and dug into the food.

“I do try.” She jumped, staring in front of her at the food. “They’ve got salmon patties!” Lily exclaimed, grabbing for two and snatching a spoonful of tartar sauce. “Where’s Al? He’s going to be stoked.”

I stared and then quickly came to my senses and grabbed another two off the plate in the center of the table. I even managed to steal the spoon Lily held to get my own tartar sauce.

In the Potter household salmon patties was the dish we came together for. It was something we all loved and Mum made the breading and sauce from scratch. I remembered her making them every time someone had a row so we could just eat and laugh and discuss tactics of salmon swimming.

“Al!” Lily jumped up and waved. “Look! They’ve got the salmon patties!”

Albus slid into a seat across the table, gave me a tentative look, and grabbed some food. “Wonderful, I’ve been craving these forever. You look flushed, Lil, are you okay?”

“Just got a detention, I’m fine.” She beamed and took a huge bite.

“Detention? For what? James, was this your fault?”

“It’s always my fault,” I said dully.

“I hexed Lawson. He’s a foul git anyway, talking about my arse.” She beamed. “I know it’s nice, but he shouldn’t.”

“Eugh, don’t talk like that,” I mumbled. “I don’t want to hear anything else about it. He’s unconscious and Scorp’s going to be his bedside errand boy for a few hours. That’s all I need to think about.”

“Scorp will probably be there to answer his every wish.” Albus snickered.

“If by every wish you mean sexual desire, I think you could be onto something,” I replied, catching his eye for a moment.

“The only one onto something is Malfoy.”

I nearly had salmon come out of my nose I laughed so hard.

“This seat taken?” Fred slid down beside me a few minutes later once Wesley left. He looked worn out and his hair was flopped all over.

“Nah. What’s going on, mate? You look tired.”

“That woman always wants to go at it,” he mumbled, grabbing for a salmon patty. “Not that I don’t enjoy it or anything, but it’s tiring after a while, you know?”

“Blimey, that’s what she’s trying to do! Tire you out before the game so she’ll win. Feisty woman, good plan though. You never say no.”

Fred gave me a look. “She isn’t trying to tire me out. I think she just wants to boast to her mates about it since all of them want to have sex with me.”

“The whole world wants to have sex with you, Freddie.”

“Story of my life,” he said and took a bite.

I saw Kay across the room with a bright smile on her face as she dug into the pudding. What a sneaky, devilish woman she was. Little did she know I added extra workouts and cool-down sessions for Fred because I knew she’d be at him like a bleeding rabbit. As long as it wasn’t on my pitch I didn’t care.

My mind wandered to other places they could get it on without getting caught and I wondered how safe the showers were or the benches or behind collective bushes around the lake. I bet naked Fred had been pretty much everywhere and that did not make me comfortable.

Sleeping was difficult that night and I tossed more than I dreamed. It was impossible for me to find a decent position and Emerson’s muttering didn’t help matters at all. In particular, I didn’t want to hear about his calorie intake during dreams. I wondered if I should sneak him a cream puff.

It was nearly five when I decided to lug myself out of bed and get dressed. Fred was leaning over the side of his bed snoring and Bink had his curtains closed tight. He hated the sun in the morning. I figured it was since it burned him, the stupid sod. He needed to wear more sunblock. Emerson was still muttering about fatty acids and saturated something or other and I fed his orange sock to Victoria. Then I gave her some treats for being such a lovely pygmy puff.

I felt strangely on fire thinking about the upcoming game. It was my first as a Captain. If my team failed it meant I failed. Kay was Captain for the last two years and everyone already knew she was rubbish since Gryffindor won every year I was on the team. I was just too good. Well, okay, we didn’t win my second year but I didn’t count that since I was twelve and my voice hadn't changed yet.

My team was good, though, right? We practiced almost constantly and other than the interruptions by Meta being a bitch, things went well. We passed the Quaffle well and Paloma nearly knocked out several other people during the week. How was that for a girlie Beater? Avery was saving everything that was thrown at her (though I got a few past and she flipped me off) and even though I wanted to take Meta and throw her into the lake she caught Snitches like it was going out of style. Which is was it would be if Quadpot came onto the scene.

The common room was silent and dark when I wandered in and I stood by the window for a moment watching the hazy sunrise against the trees. It was beautiful and something I rarely took part in since waking up five minutes before class started was a certain strength of mine.

“You’re up far too early to be James.” Avery put her hand on my shoulder and yawned. “Did Emerson give you a detention or something?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” I muttered back, stretching my legs and putting an arm around her waist. “What about you?”

“I’m always up this early on game days. Something about anxiousness and nerves.”

“You don’t have nerves.”

“I do. I really do.” Avery smiled brightly. “I just don’t make it obvious.” She paused for a moment and leaned her head against my arm. “Do you think my dad will actually show up?”

“Hard to tell actually. I think he will, especially judging by how anxious he was. He really seems to want to stay in contact with you.”

“Should have thought about that when I was four, huh?”

“Hey, don’t kill the messenger.” I chuckled and smoothed out her hair. “I think he realized how big of a mistake he made losing you. If his daughter was Meta or something I’m sure he’d just go sunbathe in Spain some more, but you’re something else entirely.”

“I think you’re required to say that since you’re my best mate.” Avery grinned and stared out onto the horizon.

“Nowhere in my contract does it say that. I say it because I care—because I mean it. Just wing it, okay? If you want to see him, see him. If not, don’t. Just don’t base your judgment on too harsh of things.”

“Like Father/Daughter pickup Quidditch?”

“Yeah, that.” I squeezed her around the middle. “And definitely don’t think about it anymore until after the game. We have a game to win and a whole crowd to make envious. I don’t want to miss a chance to force Scorp to squirm.”

“We’re not even playing Slytherin.”

“When we do it’ll be epic,” I whispered. “We just have to get past this one first and I’ll get a little credit as a captain. Now all I have to do it keep that damn Code in check and we’ll be okay. Seems like everyone is just walking all over it. We need some enforcement or harsher penalties.”

“And what happens when you break the Code?” Avery raised a sly brow at me.

“I won’t break the Code. Anymore, at least.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure, James. You’re human. You’re bound to screw up sometime and let emotion take over.”

I stared at a few trees blowing in the cold November breeze. “Of course not. I have no emotions. I’m practically a robot.”

“All right then, robot, let’s go win a Quidditch game and pop a champagne cork in Meta’s face during the after party.”

A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed that chapter and the chap image. I used a few new things and I think the image turned out very snazzy! At least Albus and James finally had it out and are working on the road to indifference :)

Thanks so much for the awesome constructive reviews everyone left for the last chapter. So...favorite quotes? Parts? James/Al row moments? But 12+ only because I love your reviews and it would be horrible to get them deleted :)

ps. my 21st birthday is in one week :) For all of you in America, you know what that means!

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