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I'm going to dedicate this chapter to HPfanlizy45 for writing a snippet about my blog
in her review. Also to MagicalMess for reading everything else I have on my
site while waiting for a new chapter of H&S. Lastly, this goes to Haley for the request
she made in her review. It would be my honor.

The platform was bright when we shuffled off the train, Avery yawning with her arm draped around my shoulders. Al was carrying Lily over his shoulder. She was only big and tough when she was awake, that baby sister of mine.

I managed to round up our bags and pile them on a trolley (Al put Lily on top of one of the bags and she kicked him in her sleep) and we plopped down on a pair of benches to wait for the ‘rents. Avery grabbed a coffee off a nearby cart and gave half to Rosey.

Everyone else made their way drearily around the platform and back through the barrier into King’s Cross. A few stragglers chatted with other students and pairs of parents compared sweater sizes before leaving. I wondered what was keeping Mum and Dad. Dad usually wasn’t one to be late to pick up his kids. Well, the ones he got along with anyway and Albus was ready to take over the family business of killing all things evil (meaning Scorpius Malfoy) so I could only assume something was wrong and that was why Dad wasn’t here.

“There they are—I told you, Harry!” Mum’s face appeared from around the corner. She was smiling and she looked flushed and out of breath. “We’re late. I knew we would be—of course, let’s stop for food on the way.” She turned and gave my out-of-sight father a stern glare. I had seen that same glare before from many women, my sister and grandma included. Bugger on the Weasley glare. At least with Lily we detached the name.

Before I could contemplate any more on the theory of the Weasley glare, Mum roped me into a hug with Albus and Lily, my cheek pressed against Al’s glasses. Was I bleeding? Did that just cut me? Obviously, Lily was nice and awake by that time and whining about being hungry.

“Oh, it’s so good to finally see you kids again,” Mum said, wrapping me in yet another hug. I didn’t care since the only people seeing were my mundane siblings, Avery, and Rose.

I stopped. Oh, bugger. Wesley was here. I slid away from the hug and smiled warmly. Wesley shot me a look that clearly stated, “Mamma’s Boy.” I nearly growled at him in response.

So what if I was? If I mentioned anything to the rest of the school about it I would have him doing laps until his Lily-fancying legs fell off. And he knew it.

“Are we all ready then?” In all the commotion Dad had taken the reins of the trolley and was moving toward the barrier. Lily ran up and hugged him from behind.

I shifted and followed. Let the Potter awkwardness ensue.

Most of the group slept on the car ride home, but once we were back everyone seemed to be wide awake. I got out of the car, offering Avery a hand, and looked up at my childhood home. It was three stories with brick and white trim around the windows. Mum told me she picked that out. The garden was surrounded by a low stone wall, but most of it was covered by a thick sheet of snow my feet sank into with each step. I remembered shin bruises from that wall. Once I pushed Albus and he flipped over it backwards and there was blood everywhere. I told Mum the dog did it. Grounded from Quidditch. What horrific memories.

Inside was warm and there was a fire going in the living room. That was the only light and Lily flopped right onto the giant sofa with Rose, both curling up under brown afghan blankets to tell Mum about recent events. I almost wished we hadn’t already known Wesley because of his parents. I wanted Dad to spaz out over Lily inviting a boy over the holiday.

Bugger on that.

I helped Al lug the bags upstairs. I was allowed to keep my room for the night, Wes was to stay with Al, and Lily, Avery, and Rose were staying in the same room. Mum trusted us, but apparently it was an old habit from her mother. I never understood it. If she knew about Avery and me falling asleep in my bed all the time…

I thought about my dormitory with Bink and Fred and Twitwards. No. No, I wouldn’t think about them. It was time to relax. It was vacation. I set a stack of bags in Lily’s room (all our bedrooms were on the second floor and Mum and Dad’s was on the third) and peeked into my own. It looked unchanged.

There were Quidditch posters covering what seemed like every inch of the wall space. A large scarlet and gold-covered bed was in the center, flanked by nightstands covered in years of Quidditch Weekly. My old broom was in the corner, plus other Quidditch things from my travels around the league. Mum was too good of a hook up for tickets since she played for so long. Hats, shirts, replicas of throwback robes, figurines, etc. I had it all. Even photos of my friends tacked up from summers playing Quidditch in the back garden and breaking into abandoned houses.

“James! Are you coming down?” Mum sounded too much like Grandma Weasley when she yelled up the stairs. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

“Yea. Coming.” I closed the door with a sharp snap and joined the fam in the living room. Lily and Rose were still under the blankets (Mum now joined them) and Avery was curled in a rocking chair by the fireplace. Wesley was on the floor, stretched out, and Al handed Dad a hot chocolate. I sat at Avery’s feet like a cat.

“I’ve heard about Lily’s end of the term since I last got a letter from her,” said Mum, brushing a string of red hair from her face (it was insane how much her and Lily looked alike), “and I just got a letter from Albus yesterday.” She looked at me. “How are your grades, James?”

I nearly flushed. Like Wesley needed to hear this. I was his superior. “My grades are fine.” Academic of course.

“Professor Longbottom says you’ve been distracted.”

“Bleeding tattle-tale,” I muttered loud enough for Avery to hear. She kicked me lightly in the neck. “Well, you’d be distracted too if you found out your Seeker has been dating your Chaser for three months and they had it out during a snowball fight.”

I could see Dad’s cheerful Christmas face fade. Hey, Mum asked. It wasn’t my fault.

Who was I kidding? It was my fault. Just like it was my fault with Al.

“Meta and—Freddie?

“Worse,” I said. “Bink.”

Mum made a face. “Oh, sweetheart, that’s horrible. What are you going to do?” At least she was concerned with my captaining challenges.

“I tried talking. I ended up with a shoe to the head and tackling him so that didn’t work very well.”

Avery cleared her throat. “James is going to come up with consequences that fit over break so he has time to think them out instead of jumping to something horrible.” I was certain she was smiling. Aves to the rescue!

“Good idea,” Mum said. “You have plenty of time to think on it. Plenty of time out on the beach. Speaking of which,” she said, checking her watch. “I can’t believe what time it is. We could have gone faster on the highway.” She winked at Dad and I nearly threw up in my mouth. “We have to be up early tomorrow so you lot should head off to bed in a few. I know I’m tired.”

“Oh geez,” said Al. “Lily? Lily?” He shoved her with the tips of his fingers. “Bugger.” He lifted her up and carted her off upstairs (reminded me of when we were kids and we had to carry Lily around to get her not to tell on us. Like I was a bleeding pony), followed by a drowsy Rose and a laughing Wesley. Avery went to get cocoa and Mum went to show her where the mugs were. I knew Avery knew where the mugs were. She had been here a zillion times before, stayed the night and weeks and snuck in and out through my window when the ‘rents were awake reading downstairs.

“James.” Dad’s voice sounded weird and rough. He wasn’t making eye contact, but I looked up anyway. His hair was the same as it had always been—the same that my hair was at that very moment—a bloody mess. He wore a striped sweater vest and pressed gray pants. “I think we should probably chat.”

“About what?” Suddenly I felt cold. I was irritated again. Angry almost. He didn’t get it, did he? Every time we would chat it would end up the same way. I stormed into my room and slammed the door and he told me about the mistakes I was making. I wasn’t making a mistake. I was living my life.

“About what happened before you left. Do you even realize we haven’t talked since you left on the train?” He looked sad.

“Yeah. I know. Mum told me.”

“What do you think about that?”

“I think it’s bogus, but I don’t know what I would say anyway.” I shrugged, playing it off. I was good at that, but Dad saw right through me. I was glad Wesley wasn’t there. “What would I say, Dad? Hey, guess what? Meta’s meeting with scouts. We ended up picking up two amazing Beaters—one of which is Wesley. Fred keeps getting hurt at practice. Avery keeps—eugh. Nevermind. I don’t have anything non-Quidditch-related to talk about unless you want to get on the train of discussing my lack of Transfiguration skills. That is a sinking ship and a beaten horse.”

Dad stared down at me, his arms now folded in that dad-like-manner. “I just think you could be doing so much more, James. I know how much you love Quidditch. I love the sport too. But it’s only Quidditch for you. Don’t you have any other hobbies?”

“No,” I said sharply.

“Look, you can’t devote your entire life to Quidditch. What if you don’t make it professionally? What are you going to fall back on?”

I narrowed my eyes. Like that was even an option. “Then I’ll live on the streets and sell socks,” I muttered.

“Quit with the tone.” He looked frustrated. “I’m just trying to make sure you have a plan B. I want to make sure you have a life outside of Quidditch. I don’t want you to keep making this mistake.”

“I’m spending time with Al and Lily, okay? What more do you want?” I stood up. This was almost exactly the same as the start of our spat over the summer. He wanted me to have a life. I had one. I had an effing good one for that matter. Quidditch wasn’t a mistake. “The only other people I know either want to be mates with me because of Quidditch or they hate me because of it. Get off it, okay?” With that, I did my traditional storm-away-from-Dad by tossing Avery’s blanket back onto the rocking chair and stomping out of the living room into the hall.

I was surprised to see Avery out there with a mug of hot cocoa in her hands. She handed it to me with a soft smile and led me up the stairs. Her hand was warm on my back. Avery closed the door quietly behind her. I bet Mum would be frustrated she was in my room, but I never cared much. It was Avery after all.

“Are you okay?” She said this softly, sitting down on my bed and setting her own mug of cocoa on my bedside stand.

“I’m fine,” I said. I peeled off my shirt and tossed it into the hamper. Suddenly I felt naked in front of her and it was chilly in the house. Where the bleeding hell was the heat in this place? I needed a fireplace for my room. I was the eldest. Ridic.

There was a small mirror on the back of my door (something Mum let me have to make sure my hair was flat before going out to play) and I stared at myself. I didn’t look like a string bean. I looked manly. There were muscles. Sure, I didn’t have buff pecs or anything, but I was a Potter. There were ab muscles from being a Chaser though. I saw them under the freckles. Why in the name of the Holyhead Harpies was I checking myself out shirtless in the mirror with Avery on my bed?

“Are you sure you’re fine? You don’t seem fine to me.” She stood and put a hand on my bare shoulder. It was warm.

“Well, I’m a bad liar so I guess that’s expected.” I tried to shrug it off. It was quiet in my room except for some branches scratching against the siding outside. “I feel like all of this is all of a sudden. All this Bink and Meta stuff. Then I have to come home to Quidditch being the devil.”

“It’s not like that and you know it. Your dad supports you.”

“My dad lectures me.”

“He loves you.”

“He can love me right out the door,” I mumbled, though I didn’t mean it. Avery knew that. “I’m sorry.”


Truthfully, I was sorry to fight with my dad when she barely had half a dad to even talk to. I wondered why he hadn’t written recently. My stomached tightened at the thought of him bailing again. “Sorry for being such a whiner. I’m a Potter. We don’t whine.”

Avery chuckled. “James, you’re ridiculous, do you know that? And you can whine all you want. I’m here to listen. In turn you can listen to me complain about going on a date with Emerson.”

“I knew it was horrible!”

“Oh, shut up. It wasn’t that bad.”

“He ordered you salad!”

She shoved me onto the bed. “I was sort of surprised you didn’t follow me to keep tabs.” Avery didn’t make eye contact as she paced around my room, running her fingers along the posters of Arrows players scoring and the Keeper for the Tornadoes making a wicked save. He was my favorite. “Usually you cook up some elaborate scheme with Bink and Freddie to spy on me or Emerson. Well, anyone who has business you want to nose into.”

I laughed. “Why would I do that to you? It was a date.”

“I pointed out it wasn’t a date.” She narrowed her eyes and surveyed me.

I hated that look. It was one of a string of similar looks from people like my mum and Lily that I couldn’t quite prepare for. I tried not making eye contact. I think that made it worse.

“Funky bloke with a mustache and weird clothes?”

“Bugger on you!” I cried, tossing a pillow at her. It bounced off her front and landed on the dresser, knocking my figures of the Puddlemere Beaters onto the floor.

“James, you’re horrible!” Luckily, Avery was laughing. Her smile was so bright it lit up the room. Nevermind only having a couple candles in the corner lit. “How could you do that?”

“I had to make sure he didn’t try anything!” I said. “If you knew what he was capable of—the shit he says and expects to get away with—Aves, I can’t believe how many times I haven’t hexed him since you told me not to but he hasn’t stopped provoking me and one of these days I’m going to snap and just throttle Emerson Edwards.”

She narrowed her eyes at me. “I’m not mad at you. Just keep it in check, okay? You have too much Quidditch to worry about without adding detention to the mix. And he’ll do it. He’ll do it if you breathe.”

“I hate him.”

“I know.” Avery sat down next to me on the bed and put her head on my shoulder. Her hair tickled my torso. It was cold. “We have to be up early. We should probably head to sleep.” Her eyes were sad and knowing. I had no idea what that meant other than the obnoxiousness of having to get up stupidly early the next morning. Early and I did not get along.

“Early. Ew.” I stretched and visually searched the room for any sign of pajamas. Probably in the trunk.

“I guess I should get to Lily’s room.”

“Are you really going to sleep in there? I don’t think Lily and Rose expect you to seeing as you’ve stayed in there all of ten times since we’ve been mates.” I cocked a brow.

“Do you want me to stay in here?”

“Lock the door, Aves, let’s get some shut-eye.”

Why hello, five-thirty in the morning. It’s lovely to see you again.

Actually, I’m lying. Completely through my teeth. I hate your sodding guts almost as much as I hate Edwards. Almost. But you don’t try to have sex with my best mate. You do, however, sleep with her quite often so you’re on my list.

Today, you introduced yourself as Albus banging on the door. Avery hid under the bed in case it was Mum (I might be a Mamma’s boy but I was still her baby boy) and he came in flustered and annoyed.

“Mum woke me a half hour ago banging pots and pans around in the kitchen.” He paused, Potter male hair up and around his face. “We’re not even taking pots and pans and we’re eating there. What in blazes was she doing? I hate no idea. But get up before I get murdered for being the only one awake.”

“Are the girls up?” I asked, rubbing the sleep from my brown eyes.

“Lily and Rose aren’t up yet. They’d kill me if I went pounding on their doors.”

“And Avery?”

Albus looked left and right on the landing. “Mum and Dad aren’t out here.”

“She’s up.” I smiled. “We’ll be down in a few. Let me get reacquainted with five-thirty.”

Albus shrugged and left and I closed the door. I turned. “The shit is gone. You awake?”

“I’m under your bed. Of course I am. I think there’s something growing down here. Is this a sock, James?” Avery poked her head out and her hair was all over her face. I laughed.

“C’mon. You all packed?”

“I never got unpacked.” Avery stood up. She was wearing one of my long Tornadoes shirts with a pair of my baggy black shorts. “What do you think I should wear? Are we going for something nice for right when we get there or casual?”

I coughed to get the phlegm out of my throat. “Erm, I have no idea. There is snow on the ground.”

“Aren’t we Flooing to France?”

I coughed. “Er—yeah! Yeah. I just meant it’s pretty. Look how pretty it is—oh, here’s a shirt for me to wear. I found it. All by myself.” I grabbed the shirt quick and pulled it on. I felt warm and sweaty. “I’ll grab my trunk and we can head down.”

Avery stared. “Yeah, okay, crazy man.”

Mum was in the kitchen rushing back and forth throwing things in and out of bags. At one point I saw her throw a skillet into a suitcase and take it back out. Dad looked on with a cocked head. Albus was eating cereal with Wesley at the table. Mum nearly took the spoon right out of Wes’s hand.

Mum was always like this before we went on our Potter family vacations. I figured she got it from Grandma Weasley. She was hectic and crazy and everyone tried desperately to stay out of her way.

“James!” she cried.

Drat being the favorite.

“Yes, Mum?” I shot her my best little-boy smile. Fuck Wesley for snickering.

“Take out the trash before we go or it’ll smell horrible in here when we come back.” She handed me three bags. “And don’t use your wand—Muggles could drive by.”

“We live in the middle of nowhere!” I whined. I realized what I said. “I mean, I can’t wait to get a look at the beautiful countryside covered in a thick layer of fluffy white snow since I couldn’t see it last night when we arrived.” I grinned again, turning quickly and marching out the front door. It was better that way.

Well, it was better until I walked right into snow up to my shin. While I was wearing socks.

I screamed like a girl.

Like Emerson Edwards probably screamed.

My feet were soaked, but I continued to trudge through the snow until I reached the street, tossed the bags, and rushed back inside. “Son of a bitch!” I shouted, grabbing for a towel near the door.

“James Potter!”

The next one was a mental swear word as I peeked my head into the kitchen. “Yes, Mummy?”

“I don’t want to hear that come out of your mouth again.” Her face was flushed. I wondered how many more skillets went into our bags. “Why aren’t your shoes on? Honestly, James, we’re leaving soon. Harry, take care of your son.”

Dad looked at me.

I rolled my eyes and retreated to the living room. My trunk was there so I opened it and shuffled through random stuff like shirts and Victoria’s food. Her cage was next to it. Like I could leave Tory back at the castle with all of my enemies. I sighed. What a bunch of shit.

“James?” Albus poked his head in. “You okay?”

“Just a normal Potter family holiday.” I chuckled nervously. “At least we won’t have to share a hotel room with Mum and Dad.”

“And hear them snogging? Pass.” Albus smiled crookedly.

I gagged. “Al, did you have to?”

James Sirius!

“I really hate when she does this.” I hoisted myself up and returned to the kitchen. “Yes, Mum?” Fuck off, Wesley. Stop snickering. Laps for you.

“Make sure your sister is up.”

“She’s going to bite my head off.”

“Make sure.”

I shot Al a dangerous look and mounted the stairs. This was rubbish. I just had to wait until the packing was done and the suitcases were zipped and then Mum would stop being a nutcase. Lily was too much like her too. I did not want to knock on that girl’s door. Last time she tried to decapitate me with a hanger.

“Lils?” I said, knocking quietly. “Are you awake?”

“No, go away.”

“Lils, Mum sent me up here.”

“Go back down and tell her to sod off.”

“If she was here you wouldn’t be going to Italy.”

“Heard you swear earlier.”

I sighed. “Bugger. Lils, get up. Rosey? You awake?”

“Go away, James,” Rose said.

Fuck. “I’m going to come in there and deface your pink pony poster.”

“I’m thirteen!” cried Lily. “I don’t have a pink pony poster anymore!”

“I put Avery’s stuff in there. Don’t lie.”

“I hate you.”

“Love you too. Get downstairs in five.”

The village was called Montagna Bella (beautiful mountain) and it was a small wizarding place on the coast of the Mediterranean (at least I assumed it was. I didn’t know much about Italian geography). It was primarily English (which I enjoyed considering I knew squat about Italian other than “si”) since it was a tourist destination for wizards sick of the cold winters wherever they might be. Mum said she used to vacation here with the Harpies when they had brief season breaks.

When we arrived I expected to see some crazy upscale hotel with giant pillars and a venetian plaster finish with exotic plants and towel girls. Instead, I found a village inside of high, brick walls (hello, Diagon Alley) with traditional Italian-looking buildings. Even where we entered I could see the blue sea. We were up on the side of a mountain (nothing like the mountains in Scotland) and the air was warm, pushing my hair back away from my eyes.

The houses and hotels were piled up on the mountain overlooking the water in shades of beige and cream and white. It was a comforting place and I had to prod Rosey from hanging back and watching people on the street selling crispy-looking loaves of bread and potion ingredients and fresh garden flowers.

Our hotel was a small white building with some peeling letters I wasn’t bothered to translate. All I cared about was the Mediterranean air sifting through open curtains and not being in a thousand feet of snow (in my socks). Even from the front door I could see glittering reflections of the sun and people below going about their day. One woman was lazily watering her roof garden with her wand.

“C’mon, kids,” Mum said, walking in the wood door.

I was surprised to see it wasn’t an actual hotel at all, but a very small house. I made a disgruntled face. “We’re supposed to sleep in here? Are there even more rooms?”

Dad gave me a look. “There are two other houses attached. Girls, you have the next one over. Boys, you have the last one. They’re down to the left. Can you be back here in a half hour? We’re going to have a family lunch down in the lobby.”

“Lobby? You mean this place is actually a hotel?” Albus looked around for more rooms.

“Yes. The rooms are all of these miniature houses and the main lobby is down a few roads. It’s a big building with these giant windows I saw in the brochure. They have a couple restaurants and a big ballroom in there.” Dad threw his suitcases down on the suede sofa.

I shrugged. “Ready, mates?” I led Albus and Wesley past the girls’ room and down to the next where we unlocked the door. It was nicer than I figured it would be from the outside (my guess is when they made this tourist village they remodeled all of the original buildings). We found expensive furniture like the same suede sofa Dad and Mum had along with an antique table and tall dining chairs. The kitchen was a small nook off to the left with the table protruding into the middle of the room and the living room out on the right. Two bedrooms were in the back (one on the right in a hallway and one on the left) and a bathroom was straight ahead. My favorite part was the giant window that looked new in the living room looking straight out at the sea.

“Way better than Russia,” said Al, tossing his and Wesley’s stuff into the room on the right. “I don’t have to wear earmuffs and a hat.”

“Whose idea was that anyway?” I asked, kicking off my shoes and exploring the cutlery in drawers.

“Lily had one of her brief obsessions with Moscow,” Al mumbled. “I’ve never worn so many layers in my life.”

“Well boys,” Wesley said, staring out the window. His skin was highlighted by the sun. “I guess this is our home for a couple weeks. Sounds good to me. Beats the hell out of Dad and Mum snogging all the time. They’re always snogging.”

“Now you just get to see my parents snogging all the time,” I said. “Watch out—they do it spontaneously and all the time. Be careful.”


I wore a thin collared shirt and tie and we walked together to the lobby. I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be called, but lobby sounded good. The ‘rents walked in front, Dad’s hand inappropriately on Mum’s rear end, followed by Albus and Rose talking about the differences in our rooms (the curtains in Rose’s room were a salmon color while ours were navy blue), and then Lily and Wesley giggling about something or another.

Avery pushed her arms hard against her sides to keep her yellow dress from flying up. It was quite windy in Italy. She smiled sideways at me as we walked. “Didn’t expect the wind,” she said halfheartedly.

“Didn’t expect the dress,” I said, but laughed. “Ah well, it’s not like Twitwards is around to annoy me.”

“I think it looks nice.” She paused. “Don’t you?”

I looked over as we turned a corner and avoided an older woman with a large basket of bread. It smelled wonderful. “Yeah, it looks good. I like the…” I looked at it and from the wind it was clinging to her body as it blew backwards. “I like the yellow.”

Avery chuckled and her shoes clicked on the pavement as we continued. “This place is beautiful. Thanks for inviting me.”

“Don’t be stupid. Like I have any other options. You’re probably more a part of this family than I am. I think they like you better.”

“I am the cuter of us.”

I pushed her playfully (didn’t want to do it too hard in case some locals thought I was abusing her and threw me off the cliff). “I’m glad you came, Aves. You tend to make me feel better about being a completely horrible captain.”

“You’re not.”

I cocked a brow. I ran my fingers along the peeling paint of another building as we passed. I could smell the salt off the water. “I think if I go through with this Code business I’m going to lose a friend.”

“Look.” Avery put a hand on my shoulder and I looked at her pretty green eyes. “This is who you are. Bink and Fred know that. They knew you wanted to be Captain ever since your second year. It’s your ambition and you’re going to do it right. Can you also be sensitive? Yes, of course. You can still be Bink’s mate and find out what the hell happened with him and McLaggen. But there are consequences for breaking rules the same as there are consequences for skipping practice or even hexing someone in the hallway.”

“You’re right again.” I noticed arches and other architectural detailing as we passed buildings. “I just wish they understood now. I hate fighting with them.”

“Just take a breather.” She squeezed my shoulder. Avery opened her mouth to say something else, but was cut off when a floating flower appeared in her face. She leapt back. “What in blazes?”

“For you, beautiful lady.”

Oh, no. I knew that the suave Italian blokes would appear some time on our trip, but I never imagined before I got a meal in my stomach. I wasn’t prepared to hex the Italian right out of him. And blimey, he was a threat. The guy was sauntering toward us from what looked to be a café, his shirt opened a bit below the collar with his sleeves rolled up and dark hair flying in the wind.

Hey, buddy, my hair did that too.

“Oh, thanks,” Avery said, a blush forming at her cheeks. She took the flower and smiled.

“I am Costaso.” Crazy bloke took her hand and kissed it. Cheeky bastard. “Are you here on holiday?”

Avery stopped walking for a moment, clearly overtaken by what was happening. A few others were staring. “Yes, on holiday.”

“With your family?”

“Yes, my family.”

What a load. We weren’t her real family—I mean, I was her best mate. I mean, she was my family. But I think he wanted to know “family” for an entirely different reason and that reason was not up for grabs.

“Ready to go for food, Aves?” I tugged at her arm. Her dress was moving with the wind.

“Aves? Is that your name?” The Italian jerk-face Costaso was inching closer to her like a predator ready to get its prey. Oh, no, pred, my best mate was no prey. Nowhere near it.

Go prey on Edwards for a while. You can be lucky seven.

“It’s Avery.” She coughed loudly. “Erm, nice meeting you. I should be going.”

“I should hope to see you again. Good-bye, Avery.” He even pronounced her name wonky. Put your weird R’s back in your throat, Casanova.

“What a twat,” I muttered as we walked quickly to catch up with the group. “Ruining my trip by being all…well, you know.”

“James, you’re in Italy. Enjoy it and see what happens.” As she was walking, she touched my hand.

I frowned as Wesley held open the door to the lobby. It was a grand door with stained glass near the top. “See what happens. All right, just as long as it doesn’t happen with Costaso, bloody creep.”

After a fancy lunch where Mum and Dad only snogged eight times over green beans and some weird pasta, it was time for bathing suits and exploration. After all, my team (who I nicknamed Team James Potter Captain of the Quidditch Team) was in Italy for the holidays and all those suckers who weren’t could just sit up in England and mope in the snow. Twitwards could Emerson-punch himself.

“Ready for this?” I said, meeting the girls outside. Avery wore a strapless dress and I could see the tied straps of her pink and white bathing suit wrap around her neck. Her dark hair was up in a messy thing on top of her head. No one was looking so I didn’t bother to say anything protective. At least Costaso wasn’t around. Wesley was too busy drooling over my baby sister. He had no idea he was going to get thrown in the water first.

It was a shame, I thought as we made our way down sloping streets toward the water, that I didn’t feel more like myself. I felt a little glum and more formal (I asked Lily to pass the butter at dinner and she shot me a look). I didn’t feel like prankster James Potter. Captain. Ladies Man. Delicious Bloke Extraordinaire. I felt a little down. Hopefully swimming would do the trick.

“James? You all there?” Lily prodded me in the side. Her brown eyes were staring holes through me. “You look out of it. Does this have anything to do with what happened before we left?”

I gave a mild shrug. “You know it does. It’s not even the Code rubbish that’s bothering me. I want to know what happened. I want to know how Bink could possibly date Meta McLaggen and not throttle her.”

Lily patted my shoulder. “Sometimes the wrong people just suffer from infatuation.”

“What do you know about that?”

“Been there.”

My tongue very nearly fell out of my mouth. “What are you talking about?” I pulled her further back from the group. “You’ve been infatuated with someone before? Have you dated a boy? Have you kissed a boy? You’re thirteen!

She chuckled. “I don’t kiss and tell, James.” With that, she skipped ahead in her shorts and brown tank top. The bag over her shoulder was bouncing as she caught up with Rose and Avery.

Now this whole week was just absurd.

It had to be some sort of sick, freaky dream. I pinched myself. It wasn’t. I was also bleeding on my arm. Oww. What a damn week.

“James! Look!” cried Rose.

Apparently the people who founded this little snippet of tourist heaven also supplied us with a beach. It looked really strange sticking out where there probably should have been docks, but it was there, some five or six big buildings wide with white lounge chairs and people getting tan on towels speckling it. The sun was going down on the horizon but it was still warm so I tossed my towel next to Avery’s stuff, peeled off my shirt, kicked off my shoes, and ran for the water.

Sand. Hot. Ouch.

I let out a very un-James-like scream as my toes touched the hot ground and I heard Lily laughing from behind me.

Like promised, though, once Wesley came tumbling down the beach and was ankle-deep in beautiful ocean water, I tossed his sorry gawking butt in. Albus tried to stop me as well, but that only resulted in him being underwater as well. Really, he never learns. Not even after swirlies growing up.

I was a big brother. It’s on the To Do list. Well, for me it was the Want To Do list.

“James, you’re horrible.” Lily was next to go under, mostly for not kissing and telling. How was she even kissing? This whole “not knowing” thing was going to annoy me. I was going to find out about whomever she was infatuated with and just hex his brains right out. Right out.

I turned to Rosey. “Did you want to dive in?” I asked, swirling my toes around in the water. “Or did you want me to throw you in? I really don’t have a preference.”

She turned back to Avery. I choked. Avery’s bathing suit—well, of course I’d seen her in one before.


My mind was foggy. I think so. She needed to cover up RIGHT THEN because that was absurd. Stomach showing. There were some freckles. Cleavage. Blimey, it was like Nia was here. Legs. I didn’t know what to do. Bloody Costaso would probably wank to that image. I hated him so much.

Oh, here, have a flower, I’m such a bleeding tosser!

I panicked and just dove in.

A/N: I hope everyone is enjoying the first portion of Italy. It sounds beautiful! And you got some snippets of the Potter family, including some James/Harry interaction.

I hope everyone is having a happy winter!

What do you think is coming next? How about that Lily not kissing and telling? James panicking? Harry/James arguing? How much you love Costaso?

Oh, and favorite quotes?

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