This chapter is for SpringTime.
The first to figure it out.
Victoria was humming loudly in the morning and I leapt out of bed. It was louder than normal, but I didn’t want to jump to conclusions. She sat in the corner of her cage, staring up at me with glistening (not watery or teary like when she was sick) eyes. Nearly tripping over the Potions book I only cracked open in class, I made a break for the window (Fred’s bed was also in the way but I just jumped over it and kneed him in the stomach).
“What in the—eff,” Fred said, shielding his face as I whipped open the curtains.
“Snow!” I cried. “Snow! Snow! Snow!”
“There has already been snow,” Bink mumbled, poking his head out his bed curtains.
“No, legit snow,” I said. “Like there’s at least a foot out there.” I stared out at the wintery goodness, white lining the tree branches. “You know what this means, right?”
“We get to sleep in celebration?” said Fred.
“No, don’t be stupid.” I ripped his blankets off him. Fred’s boxers were a weird salmon color. I covered his midsection back up with the blankets. “It means today is going to be our first snowball fight of the season! Get your gloves and hats on, lads! This contest is going to be epic.”
“I’m jinxing my curtains shut,” said Bink. “They’re shut and you’re not getting them open until at least ten.”
“It’s two days before the holiday—sleep when we’re on break.” I pulled on heavy pants and a dark shirt. I ruffled my hair, though it was hardly necessary after having sleep hair. Now it just looked like sex hair. I left it.
Eventually Fred stood up when Emerson made a suggestive comment about Roxanne in a snow bunny costume and I forced him to get dressed instead of kill the Head Boy. “I don’t see why we have to do this anyway,” he said. “It’s cold out there and I’d rather spend the morning with Abigail.”
“I’d like to spend it with Avery,” Emerson said pompously. “I’m seeing her again, you know. Lucky number seven here I come.”
I narrowed my eyes. I didn’t say anything, though I should have. I knew Avery told me she wasn’t seeing him again, but what if she just didn’t tell me to spare my feelings? My hatred, because feelings were for girls. This was not sparing my hatred at all—that smirk on his spoiled little face made me want to Emerson-punch it.
Seriously, I had to trademark that.
Between Avery fraternizing with Emerson Twitwards and Fred always being off with Abigail, I didn’t know what to do. At least I still had Bink Legace.
“Bleeding shut up, you guys,” Bink said angrily from behind his curtains. “I’m trying to sleep.”
Well, never mind. I had Victoria.
I thought about Wes and Paloma and Meta. At least they weren’t falling apart on me. Okay, Wes wanted to date my baby sister—stress! Paloma was all right though. She was encouraged to date my baby brother because he was a man. She just didn’t have a clue because his head was always stuck right up his Transfiguration book. And Meta…eugh. ‘Nuff said.
All that thought before breakfast made me hungry.
Things were looking up, though. I planned a giant snowball fight for the Gryffindors (well, the cool ones) and a few scattered people from other houses that I deemed worthy (so obviously no Darian Bay). After eating I tried to forget about my internal monologue from the morning by convincing myself things were okay. Even though my team seemed weird and out of balance compared to only a couple months ago, things were fine. At least I didn’t have to deal with anything other than an essay and Emerson’s stink eye until the holidays. Italy here I come!
I was the first one outside after breakfast, mittens with lions stitched into them by Mum on my hands and a victory planned. I was going to win this for team James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Was that what my team was called before? It sounded right. Some team it was. Lily joined me soon after, nudging me with her elbow.
“You’re taking Avery again this break, aren’t you?” she asked. “Or are you taking one of your followers?”
“Followers are all cross with me,” I said. “Yeah, of course I’m taking Aves though. She’s excited about it. So am I, it’s bleeding cold out here.”
“I’ve decided to take Wesley.”
My neck cracked as I spun around. “Wesley Jordan? My Beater?”
“The same.” She said this through her teeth.
“Aw, come on, Lily.”
“He’s going. I’ve asked him. End of story.”
I hated how much she was like Mum sometimes. “Have you told Al?”
“Yes, I have.” Lily paused and adjusted her hair so I could barely see the red sticking out from under her wool cap. “Strangely, he was more aggressive than you were.”
I smiled. Things were back to normal. “I’m watching you the entire time if I have to hire Italian blokes.”
“You’d have them tail me?”
“Or distract you. I haven’t decided yet.” I thought of Italian guys giving my thirteen-year-old sister flowers in exchange for cultural dance or something. “Just tail you.”
She smiled. “You need a vacation.”
“Bloody do I,” I mumbled. Nia and Elizabeth were whispering on the other side of the staircase. I watched Elizabeth talk with her hands. She looked frustrated.
“Need any more ants?” Lily laughed.
“Hilarious,” I said. I wanted to tell her about Avery claiming she turned Emerson down to see exactly what she thought about it (as much as I tried to keep her from figuring it out, Lily was actually a girl), but when I opened my mouth both Nia and Elizabeth screamed from nearby.
Both were wearing no hats and their hair stuck straight up like giant faux-hawks.
I stared. That definitely wasn’t like that before.
“What happened?” Lily said, rushing over to them.
Of course I was right.
The only thing I saw was Avery Flynn walking with her chin raised, down the steps to where the snowball fight was planned.
The group of lesser beings (minions, if you will) stood in front of me in two lines, staring back hungrily. They were ready. I even saw Freddie’s eye twitch, though that could have been from the addled brains or the sexual frustration from not having sex with Abigail. I went with the latter because it made me giggle. Nah, both made me giggle.
Cough-laugh. Grunt. Men did not giggle.
Nia and Elizabeth ended up getting their hair back to normal, much to my dismay (thanks a lot, Lily), and both looked excited again.
“All right!” I said and the chatting died. I held up my hands even though it was quiet. Sign of respect. “Captains! I’m going to be a captain because—well, that’s obvious.” I shot Al a thumbs-up. “The other captain is Avery Flynn because I am going to demolish the Bludger right out of her.”
Fred coughed a word that sounded oddly like “grades.”
“Legace,” I said loudly. Though he was getting on my nerves lately, I was still his mate and I had to show him he could come to me with things like remedial Transfig (according to Avery it wasn’t going to hot, so I didn’t blame him for the sourpuss mood) or the fact that he was secretly gay or something. Well, it wouldn’t be secret if he told me—anyway. Bink was my mate, mood swing or no. I picked other decent snowball-throwing people like Paloma (because she wasn’t crazy at the moment), Wesley, Hugo, Harvey the gum-chewer, Abigail, and Roxanne. They gathered with the other worthy candidates I was going to dominate with. Thank Merlin Nia, Meta, and Elizabeth went to Avery’s team. They all made me crazy in completely different ways.
I patted Bink on the shoulder. His blond hair had bits of snow in it from dumping his head in it when we came out. Crazy bugger. “You ready for this?”
“Any excuse to ruin Fred Weasley’s life is fine with me.” He laughed. “So where’s the base, Captain?”
I peered around. Avery was explaining something to her team and I had never wanted to win at a snowball fight so bad. Why? I didn’t hate Avery. There was no element to beat her like there was for Quidditch—to win and shove it in Clint Lawson’s thuggy boil-covered face. I just wanted to win.
“Base is that willow next to the lake. We’ll build up snow walls. Wes and Paloma—that’s your job. Lily, you help them out a bit. You’re crafty.”
“Why, James?” Lily said sweetly, busting out her wand. It looked weird with her holding it between mittens Grandma Weasley made last Christmas.
“Why are you crafty?” I paused. It was a trap. I knew it was a trap. “Erm, you have crafty genes?”
“You think I’m crafty because I’m a girl.” Lily narrowed her eyes.
I gave her a little playful push. “Go get some salmon patties and love me again.”
The team and I walked over to the willow, me with a brotherly arm draped around my baby sister. I had a winning group of people (minions) and once we reached the tree I had them gather around me. Abigail’s teeth were chattering.
“All right, team,” I said confidently. This was just like a pre-game Quidditch pep talk. I was the captain! I set the rules and boundaries and told them not to break the Code. Well, the snowball Code. Which didn’t exist. I made a mental note to make one eventually including things like no snow to the eyeball or down the pants (Fred had a date with that situation the previous year).
“This is what we’re going to do,” I continued. “I can tell by the way Avery’s pointing that her base is going to be that pine tree out yonder. Dumb idea, though. Needles are a right pain in the arse—well, a pain anywhere really. I got one stuck in my arm after climbing that thing on a dare two winters ago. Madam Bones hates me.”
“Can we get on with this? My toes are freezing.” Harvey Gum-Chewer was chewing his gum at me. His red knitted cap didn’t match the blue scarf around his neck.
“Shut up, toe rag,” Lily snapped. “This is important. It means their base could be used against them and a lot of the ones who run right from it after staying there a while might be weaker.” She rolled her eyes. “As if it isn’t obvious.”
I couldn’t have been prouder.
“That’s right,” I said, thankful something could be taken from the ramble I went on. “Anyway, aim for the chest. There’s a lot of area there since it’s the torso—or, well, if it’s Mary—and it’s the easiest to hit since people can duck their heads or jump up.” I went on about tactics, about aerodynamics, and about how Meta was a bitch so everyone should throw snow at her because I said so.
Everyone agreed rather quickly. What a happy Captain I was.
I waited for Avery to be done with her pep talk, my eyes wandering around my own team between Abigail looking longingly toward Fred (I wondered how Kay Davies felt about the whole ordeal) and Wesley looking at my sister with eyes I didn’t appreciate. If he wasn’t on my team I would have hexed him.
I shot a jelly-legs at him. Lily flipped me off.
Epic couldn’t begin to describe the snowball fight, especially since Bink broke the rules right away and shoved snow down my pants. Yes, it was cold and yes, I had to turn around and point my wand downward to fix the cold sensation, but the rest of my team charged and Nia was on the ground screaming about her hair.
I ran for it, shoes slowing my rush against the snow. Bugger on the snow! I scooped up a ball of it, pounding it in my palm, and ran for Avery. Bink was trying to get snow down Fred’s pants. He was such a good listener. Avery, however, was perched next to her base (probably getting attacked by pine needles). She looked at me, cocking a pompous brow.
“Who do you think you are, Potter?” she called, laughing a bit. “Think you can just take out the Captain?” I saw Wesley run with his wand out in an attempt to get Albus.
“No, I don’t.” I smirked.
“Because I’m the Captain.” I rushed toward her, grabbing her gloved hands and pulling her away from the tree. I found my wand, twisting it in my fingers, and snow went flying at her. It came from the top of the tree, falling down on her shoulders.
She spit it at me. “James!”
I laughed, dodging a punch while she wiped it off. Oh, snarky James Potter! Taking out the other team’s Captain with wit and snow! Rejoice, team James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team! She managed to get a punch in and I tripped.
Snow went up my nose. “Woman!” I shouted, pulling her arm so she landed beside me. Avery’s hair was soaked. I felt a snowball wiz past my cheek. Fred laughed from nearby. Apparently Bink let him live.
I grabbed snow and stuffed it in her face. In return, my face was planted firmly in a pile nearby. It was cold and uncomfortable and I grabbed for Meta’s legs as she chased after Hugo. Laughing felt nice.
“Man,” Fred said, breathing in and flopping next to me. “Abigail is good at this game.”
“Pisses you off, doesn’t it?” I said.
“Pisses you off my team is better than yours,” I said with a chuckle. “Sorry, Freddie, mate, but I have the good genes. I have the team James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team genes. So bugger off.”
For that, I got snow down my pants again.
He ran off after Hugo (why was he being attacked so much?) and I was left panting next to Avery. She reached her foot out and touched her own base. The pine tree was absent of snow.
“Do you like snow?” I asked, fishing it out of my pants.
“Not really,” she replied. “It’s cold and wet.”
“Me either.” I paused. “Except when I’m not in it. I love it when I’m not in it. I’m about done with this snowball fight. Let’s just call it a win for team James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team and head inside for lunch.”
Avery made a disgruntled noise. “A win for you? Harvey has been pinned against the tree over there and Nia and Elizabeth cornered Lily. Even Paloma can’t save you now.”
“I’m going to show you who is saving who!” I wrenched her away from the tree again, pulling on the fabric of her cloak and she landed on top of me. Then I shoved snow in her face and down her shirt and in her hair. “Now who’s winning? Huh, Aves?” More snow to her nose and chin and neck. She smelled like candy. “Huh? Huh?”
“I’m going to hex you!” she shouted, pinning my arms back behind my head.
I stared. Well, bollocks.
Avery stopped, her hair stringing into my eyes. “We should probably just go back in. I’m hungry. Snow sucks.” She hopped off, but couldn’t look awkward for too long because Bink came out of nowhere with a huge chunk of snow and nailed her in the torso.
“Point!” I cried. “Bleeding point right there! Back to base! Retreat before she gets up!” I rushed the other way, gathering my team behind large snow walls made by Wesley.
It was like a password-only fortress similar to Fort Ridiculously Brilliant and Super Wicked but not nearly as cool. There weren’t blankets and fire involved. And it was cold. But other than those things, it was a rather wicked base. My minions gathered around me.
“When’s lunch?” asked Harvey. He was turning out to be a letdown in terms of team spirit. I wanted to Emerson-punch him.
“When we declare victory. Which will be very soon. That was the initial run and this time it’s the strike out. We’re done taking they’re rubbish and it’s over. So let’s deliver the knock-out Emerson-punch!”
“What?” asked Lily.
“Never mind. Just punch them like you would Emerson.”
“I thought we were throwing snow,” said Harvey.
“You’re fired,” I said. “Everyone else ready? Charge!” I jumped out from behind the fort, only to receive a snowball to the face. It was probably from Avery. She looked rather sultry nearby. I flipped her off and my team charged.
For a bit, I watched as they delivered knock-out snowballs to Nia’s hair and Elizabeth and all the other poor sods on Avery’s team. Fred was still running around like Grandma Weasley’s chicken when we cut its head off during summer break one year (it grew back) and Abigail was trying to corner him. Her boots kept getting stuck in the snow. Meta kept dodging snowballs. I knew I shouldn’t have taught her so much in order to be a good Seeker. Fault also rested on the shoulders of Dara Wood. It would always be her fault.
Instead of stuffing me like a turkey with snow, Avery stood beside me to watch the action. “Should we let them fight it out?”
“It would be the dignified thing to do,” I replied. My wand was tight in my hands. I sent snow flying at her back, knocking her down flat on her face. “But since when have I ever done the dignified thing? I can’t think of a time so I’ll just say never. This is for Victoria! And the land of Oz! And the Minister—no, I take that one back. The Minister can handle his own snowball fights. Instead, this one is for Wesley since he’s going to end up in St. Mungo’s soon!” More and more snow went piling on her until I felt fingers wrap around my ankle and suddenly there was snow up my nose again. I sneezed.
I wrestled her down, laughing and shoving snow everywhere. What a game! How could I let the minions have all the fun?
Granted, the snow down the pants was getting less and less funny every time.
I heard screaming in the distance and cocked my head. Everyone was still engaged in battle but Meta and Bink were yelling. Meta threw a large snowball. It was a nice one. I mentally gave Avery’s team a point for that one.
“This is bollocks! I’m sick of it!” Meta cried.
I stood up, dusting the white off my dark pants and looked at them. “Should we go inside then? Is it time for lunch? Aves, we might have made this too competitive.”
Bink threw snow back—hard. I raised a brow. “It was your idea!”
“It was not! It was never—eugh, I can’t stand you! This was never going to work. Right from the start!” she said.
“Hey, come on you two,” I said loudly. “You’re teammates. Get along for the game. Let’s head inside and get a bite to eat. You’re dehydrated.” I put my hand on Avery’s shoulder. “You ready?”
Apparently, Bink was not ready. “I am so sick of all this. You make me crazy, woman! You were always—you’re so obvious about it too! You wanted this. You wanted it to get to this.”
“I’m sick of this—and of you!” Meta said.
“Like you had anyone to tell.”
“Like anyone would have believed you!”
Bink threw another ball of snow. “You’re a horrible person!”
“You’re a bad snogger!” Meta retorted.
“Wait,” I said.
“This is over, Bink,” she said. “It never even really started. You can keep your three and a half months and just stick them where Fred stuck that snow—real mature.” She flipped him off. “I’m done with this.”
Bink stood there. “Good! Good, because I am too. I couldn’t take another moment of your shit.” He puffed out his chest.
Meta looked around, a devious smirk on her face. “Just so you know, it’s not that common and it doesn’t happen to every guy.” With that, she turned on heel and stormed off toward the castle. Everyone was staring.
“I—oh, fuck off, McLaggen!” Bink had his fists balled at his sides and marched off toward the Quidditch pitch, kicking snow out in front of him.
I stood. I stared. I was vaguely aware my jaw was lopsided. My toes were soft and numb.
“Our team is falling to shit!” I cried. “A big pile of shitty shit. What am I supposed to do here?”
Lily was in front of me. She had been waving her hand back and forth for several minutes. We sat on the marble staircase after I panicked and ran for it, realizing so many things in one blow. She put a hand on my forehead. Crinkled her nose—no fever. I wasn’t ill, just dumbstruck.
“Okay, here’s the break down,” I continued. “It’s shit because Wesley fancies my baby sister.” She smacked me, but I continued. “It’s shit that Freddie is fighting with Abigail. It’s throwing off his game. Shit that Avery is fraternizing with enemy Edwards sworn to throw me off my power thrown. Shit because Meta and Bink broke the fucking Code and—what the hell? Three and a half months? Behind my back for three and a half months.” The breaths I took were ragged and uneasy. “Should I have seen this coming? Obvious?”
“None of us knew,” Lily said. “They hid it well.”
“And this is why Bink has been a complete twat the whole term. Ah—why he hasn’t said anything about hating not getting laid—the son of a bitch has been getting laid the whole time. Eugh, by McLaggen! This is just ridiculous!” I slammed my fists on the stairs. It hurt pretty bad.
“James, this isn’t your fault. Calm down.”
“It is my fault! I’m the captain. Everything is my fault.” I finally let my heart slow down. “This is going to ruin the team. Breaking the Quidditch Code is going to ruin everything.”
A/N: I want to thank everyone for the continued support. Lately things have been SUPER hectic for me, but I wanted to get this chapter out before the holiday closure.
I hope you all enjoyed it :) And thanks, SpringTime! Some of the rest of you figured it out over time, which was very fun!
Favorite quotes? Who would you date: James, Bink, or Fred? Or if you're a guy, Avery, Paloma, or Meta?
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