By the time I was getting ready for class Monday morning I was convinced I should have just stayed in the shower and rotted there. My trunk was locked, so my books were fine (damn). I shoved them into my bag, slippers scraping against the wooden floor of the dormitory. I was alone up there, which I had gotten used to in the past few days since Edwards woke at dawn to watch birds or flirt with the squid and Bink and Freddie were avoiding me at all costs. That cost was waking up early, which I was sure Fred hated. He was probably whining about it to Bink. Or Abigail for that matter. I almost felt bad for her, but I didn’t. Because she was a bitch.
I tossed my bag onto the bed and kicked my slippers next to Victoria’s cage, careful not to get it too close since she had a newfound taste for cotton. I opened my wardrobe and my jaw fell. It didn’t just fall. No, that was an understatement. It fell through the floor into the dormitories of second years discovering puberty.
Inside of my wardrobe were four sets of school robes. They were all the same, as usual, and all fit me perfectly. The only problem was their appearance was varied. They used to be a flat black, perfect to look fly and swagger up to ladies. Not that I did much of that with Avery around, but I had the option. Now, however, the robes were a vibrant shade of pink. And not just blush pink like those crayons, but pulsating sick fuchsia pink. The worst part was the distinct floral pattern of something that looked like lilies and daisies and other things that instantly reminded me of Madam Puddifoots.
I leafed through them. It wasn’t painted on. It was magic. My robes were fucking pink.
I flew across the room, trying the handles on the other wardrobes. Locked. I tried my wand. Still locked. Fucking bastards.
Jaw still lopsided, I peeled one robe out of the wardrobe, running it under my fingers. It felt the same. But it looked like a kitten threw up. Not like Falcon Cat because Falcon Cat was brute and a soldier. But like one of those cute poofy kittens with the sad eyes. The ones that pounced at nothing at all. Or what looked like nothing at all and was actually a squeaky toy.
“James, you’re going to be late for—what the hell is that?” Avery’s eyes were wide in the doorway and her face exploded in laughter, staring at me.
“Not.Funny.” I narrowed my eyes and threw the robe at my bed. “They’re all like this. It’s Bink and Fred. They did this to me.” I kicked my trunk and immediately regretting it owing to the fact that my foot was in pain.
“Here,” Avery said with a smirkish smile. She flicked her wand, the spell silently in her head, but then she frowned. “They’ve done their homework.”
“I think Fred is secretly smart,” I mumbled bitterly.
“You can wear some of my robes, but they’ll be small on you,” she offered, biting her lip so she didn’t laugh.
“Get them,” I snapped, folding my arms and falling back onto the bed, suddenly feeling naked even though I was fully dressed in a sweater and wool slacks.
Avery waved delicately and left, only to burst into fits of laughter in the hallway. And all the way down the stairs. I heard her all the way up to her dormitory. Git girlfriend I had.
The thought warmed me for a moment, though. She was going to help me. I glanced over and noticed my Potions book was still glued to the table. It wasn’t like I needed it. I had only opened it once and that was to rip out a piece of paper to show Freddie how to properly make a paper airplane.
He still sucked at it.
She returned moments later with a robe in hand. “I’m still wondering why nothing happened to me,” she said nonchalantly, tossing it to me and leaning against the doorway. “I mean, Meta’s my roommate. She could have offed me in my sleep if she wanted to. And the boys could have snuck up there to do something horrible to me.”
“They’re terrified of you, are you kidding?” I said, raising a brow at her as I looked for the arm holes. “They know if they do something to you that you’ll do something far worse to them—Code or no Code.” I threw on the robe and looked in the mirror.
“Unfathomable,” I whispered, watching my reflection pose in a floral printed pink robe.
“Way smarter than you thought,” Avery commented, biting her lip again.
“This is way beyond not funny,” I said, stripping the robe and tossing it onto the bed. “I have to go to class without a robe.”
“You’ll get a detention.”
“Uh. Have you seen what my other option is?”
“They’ll do something else to you.”
“Do you SEE what my other OPTION is?”
Avery rolled her eyes. “James, you’re asking for it. I’m not going to help you next time.”
“Oh, you’ve been so much help.” I chucked a pillow at her. “Laughing at me and helping me into a floral-printed nightmare. I might as well take Nia back to Puddifoots and propose. Get the ring!” I slung the bag over my shoulder and made for the door, careful to kick Bink’s clothes over to Twitwards’ side of the room just for good measure.
We made it to Herbology, but only just. I was lucky that day’s class was a lecture or I would have had to haul my cold ass all the way out to the greenhouses, something I would not be impressed with without robes or a cloak. Instead, I sported the sweater look. At least I got some impressed glances from the females of Hogwarts. To which Avery shot them fierce looks.
I sat at the back of the room, sinking down into the chair in a pissy mood. Was it dramatic? Of course. I was cold. The castle was cold without robes. I could see Bink and Freddie twist in their seats to try and see me. So did Meta. I had assumed she had heard somehow. All three of them looked disappointed and Bink slammed his quill on the table, which did little to nothing other than create a burst of air that made his parchment sail onto the floor.
Longbottom was at the front of the classroom looking through his notes. His eyes scanned the room every so often, probably making sure no one was snogging or writing answers on their hands. His eyes fell on me. He frowned in that disapproving teacher way and stood up, walking down the aisle (careful to talk to a student every row or so just so it didn’t look like he was singling me out). He stopped at my side and leaned down. “Laundry trouble, Mr. Potter?”
“Does it sound weird that you call me Mr. Potter sometimes?” I ventured.
“Of course,” Longbottom responded with a small smile. “Care to answer the question?”
“In a sense,” I said, trying to pick my words carefully. “You see, Professor, I don’t have any robes to wear for an undisclosed reason.”
“You do realize how many times I have let you get away with not telling me the entire truth, don’t you?”
I thought back to several hundred times in the last two years alone. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
He frowned and Avery was moving next to me trying to stifle her giggles. “James, I want you to go back to your dormitory, get your robes, and come back here. Dirty or not, you need to wear them to class. It is the school uniform and you are a part of this school. We will wait for you.”
I gaped at him. “That’s not really—that’s not entirely necessary. I’ll just nip up there quick and grap them.”
“I’m not risking you taking a bathroom break.”
“What if I have to go to the bathroom?”
I stood up, grumbling a little, and walked out the door and back toward Gryffindor Tower.
How could this have happened to me? Two weeks ago I was an eligible bachelor with a snog buddy and girls that fanned themselves when I walked by and smirked at them. I had everything, including a team that respected me. And black robes. Now I was dragging my feet back to the tower dreading the vomit-pink robes while my friends hated me and Emerson held his head high.
Wait a second.
Emerson Edwards was behind me. About half a hallway, but still behind me.
“Can I help you?” I yelled back to him, rolling me eyes as I took to another staircase.
“Professor Longbottom wanted someone to make sure you got back to the tower all right,” Emerson explained loudly in a pompous manner.
“Yes, because I usually get lost on the way back to the place I sleep.” I rolled my eyes and tried to lose myself in thoughts again, but the fact that Edwards was behind me kept plaguing them. He was annoying. Not just annoying. He was like sitting on a cactus annoying. Like sitting on a cactus while flossing your teeth annoying. No, like sitting on a cactus, flossing your teeth, and getting a paper cut.
And he had the nerve to want to make out with my girlfriend so he wouldn’t out us. I wheeled around. “I should hex you right now,” I snapped at him, abandoning my robe quest for the moment.
“So you’re going to hex the Head Boy? Do you want to be hated by the whole school as well as your team? You’re really going for a record here, Potter.”
“The whole school wouldn’t hate me if I hexed you. They would give me my own holiday.” I paused, resisting the urge to crack my knuckles. “Who the hell do you think you are?”
“No, who the hell do YOU think you are?” Emerson retorted. “You act like you fucking run this place. You don’t. Someone had to take you down. I’m just glad it’s me.”
“Once again,” I said, rolling my eyes at him, “I’m going to point out that I would rather be loathed by everyone in this school than to be even compared to you.”
“You’re well on your way.”
“If you so much as look at Avery wrong—”
“What are you going to do?” Emerson said. “Tell me what you’ll do. I’d just love to dock some more points from the popular James Potter. Maybe he will even cost his house the House Cup. From what I hear he’s lost quite a bit this year.” He looked over my shoulder, smirking arrogantly.
“You have no pride!” I cried, throwing my hands in the air. “Go be a fucking Hufflepuff already!” I turned to finish up the stairs, only to run into something large and slightly squishy. It was a belly. A thick frame of someone that was very familiar once I glanced up into the ugly mug of Clint Lawson.
Did these people have nothing better to do than skip a class to drive me mad?
“Move it, Lawson,” I said, sidestepping him.
He moved to his right. In front of me. Chuckling. Darkly. It wasn’t a pleasant sound like when I laughed. It was like a sloth trying to ride a bull sidesaddle or something. Just awkward.
I glanced up at him again, rolling my eyes for the thousandth time that day. This was really giving me a case of the Mondays. “Can I help you, Slytherin?”
“The Head Boy was talking to you,” Lawson said with a sneer on his thick face. “I suggest you listen to him.”
“What the hell do you care about Twitwards?” I said, glancing back for a moment.
Then I realized it right when I saw the glint in Emerson’s eyes. They were working together. Never did I ever think I would see the day where not only would Emerson Edwards work with someone he would deem way below him and a little unhygienic, but also the day Clint Lawson would work with a Gryffindor and an authority figure. Apparently their hatred for me ran deep.
What else ran deep was the fact that I was between two thugs in an empty corridor. Where were the Prefects when I needed them? Albus? Rosey? Not here. No one was except for a few portraits watching intently.
Did this serve me right? Did I deserve this for betraying my team? From Bink and Freddie, certainly, but from Emerson and Clint Lawson? What the fuck?
I took a step back and flattened myself against the wall, grabbing my wand. Emerson’s wand was already pointed at me. Clint was pounding his fist into his hand. That was bad news for my abnormally pretty face. Erm. Masculine. Handsome face.
Both took a step toward me and I realized for the first time that I was a little scared. I was out of my element, heart hammering, as they came at me. Emerson’s wand was limp in his hand as he watched lazily. Clearly he didn’t want to do any of the work. Sinatra could track spells back to his wand. But she couldn’t track Clint’s fist. If I hexed Lawson, Emerson would get me. If I shot a hex at him, Lawson would beat my face until it resembled his own. Ugly.
I was in a pickle. Not just a regular pickle like I can’t remember the answer to a test question. Like an enormous pickle with a side of pickle and pickle to drink.
In one swift movement before I lost my head, I ducked, Clint’s fist surprisingly landing on the stone wall behind me. I hadn’t even seen him raise his hand. Good thing or I might have missed my mark. I dodged to the side, sparks flying at me from Emerson’s wand, and scrambled up the stairs, casting a shield at my back as I did so. Magic on the run was hard. It was also draining the energy I saved from Quidditch and my ribs were not thanking me.
I dashed down the hallway, Emerson’s voice echoing behind me. I could almost feel Lawson’s giant footsteps as he came after me. I went from the hunter to the hunted. Finally my snide comments had run out. Well, until I could think of more and my life wasn’t in danger. Then the snide comments and distinct cockiness would come flowing back into my veins.
For now, I was tearing up corridors, rushing through secret pathways, and going somewhere. I had no idea where. Could I go back to Gryffindor Tower? Wouldn’t that be where Emerson assumed I was going? He couldn’t bring Lawson in there, though. But Lawson could be waiting outside. At least I would have time to gather up a defense. Cast a hex or two. What they did down there, that sick double-team; that was dirty. And if that was how Emerson Edwards was going to play, I was going to play just as dirty.
But after everything blew over. Emerson had to think I was scared of him. Well, he would never think that, but at least think I was nervous about him. I guess my running did that trick rather well.
I still couldn’t believe that I, James Sirius Potter, had run away from a couple of gits.
I fell against a wall on the sixth floor, chest heaving as I sank to the floor. It was vacant. I cast glares in either direction, but nothing. The only sound was a sink running in the girls’ bathroom next to me. Girls were so inconsiderate for water conservation.
Now wasn’t the time to save the planet, James.
I heaved a sigh, finally catching my breath, fingers tight around my wand. How had they arranged that? Emerson didn’t know about the robes as far as I knew. It could have been sheer luck, which was a possibility since Lawson skipped class more than he went. They could have talked before about him trying to break more ribs if he met me alone. And then it might have just been dumb luck and a great opportunity.
But it could be serious. It could be that both of them really want to knock me down a couple pegs.
Was I really up that high?
Who was I kidding; of course I was. I thought I was the best thing since the phoenix core. Which I so obviously was.
Avery would be wondering where I was. And Longbottom. They probably thought I abandoned the idea of the robes because it was too humiliating. Bink and Fred would have their laugh.
I stood up. No, no they wouldn’t. I was not so weak as to let this beat me. To let something like a pink floral-print robe beat James Potter. I had faced adversity in my choice of profession, in my team, in the choices I made. But I had beaten each one. And now I was going against something pink and girly and it was going to beat me? Just like that? I was going to abandon my senses and just let this challenge win?
I got to my feet, dusting off my trousers and ruffling my hair.
“James, is there a reason you’re parked in front of the girls’ loo?”
I jumped, nearly rolling my ankle trying to escape. But it was only Nia coming out of the bathroom twisting her hair in her fingers and giving me a suspicious look. “Why the hell is everyone out of class today?”
“Lecture day,” Nia explained with a simple shrug. “Mary skipped too. But she’s upstairs studying. I was taking a walk. Care to answer that question about yourself?”
“Oh, you know, the usual,” I said, catching my breath again and starting off toward the Gryffindor Tower. She followed me. “Have to wear pink robes to class so I need to go get them and on the way Emerson Edwards tries to off me and hires crony Clint Lawson to do the job with his fist. When did Hogwarts turn into a fucking drama club?”
“When you started dating Avery,” Nia replied.
I caught her eye for a moment before she looked away. “I’m fairly certain things were dramatic before I started dating Avery,” I replied quietly. “Go on, then. Have at it. Everyone else has had a fit about it. I suppose it’s only natural you get your turn after all we’ve been through.”
“I don’t get it,” Nia said flatly. “You two have never so much as batted an eyelash at each other for like seven years. What the hell happened now? And after we had that date together…”
Oh yes, I thought, the date where Meta McLaggen pants’d me in the Entrance Hall.
“At first I thought Emerson was making it up,” she continued, not picking up on my obvious discomfort, “but then you confirmed it and everyone freaked out. To be honest, I’m not really sure why your teammates freaked out so much. Unless Bink is gay, but since he was shagging Meta I didn’t think that was true. Do you think he is bisexual? I know a bisexual Ravenclaw I could suggest to him.”
I groaned. “Bink is not bisexual.” Then again, I wouldn’t know if he was. He didn’t tell me much of anything. Well, he did. Just not in the last few days. Could he have realized he was bisexual this weekend? How much had I missed?
Nia shrugged it off just as easily as it had come. “I still don’t get it, James.”
“I understand,” I said, not really sure what else to say. I couldn’t exactly go into detail about it, could I? I couldn’t explain about how she had kissed me in Italy on a balcony and I had shouted about muffins in an attempt to shield the feeling in the pit of my stomach I hadn’t had before. And I couldn’t tell Nia about the locker room shower where I’d lost my control—where I told her bollocks on the Code, she was mine. As I look back, a little controlling.
“So then what? You’re just shagging Avery now and that’s it? There’s nothing between us?”
I gaped at her. “Who the hell said I was shagging anyone?”
“So she’s waiting until marriage, is she?”
I rolled my eyes, thankful we had arrived at Gryffindor Tower. Its scarlet and gold contents had rarely been as appreciated as that moment. I crossed the common room in silence, not bothering to justify her question with a response. “See you, Nia,” I said simply, taking the spiral stairs two at a time.
Much to my relief, Emerson Edwards was not inside the dormitory. In fact, the only being in there was Victoria humming away as she munched on a treat. “Soon,” I said to her lightly, smirking at her apparent hunger. I started at Avery’s robes on my bed. They had changed back to their black color.
Well, if they had to be pink, I would at least wear my own comfortable robes. I grabbed them out of my wardrobe and held it up to the light streaming in from the window. This was going to be a hot fucking mess. Hot because it was me. Mess because I had kitten puke on my robes.
If I was anticipating anything upon my return to class, it wasn’t anything compared to what I got. Longbottom had been painfully impatient so he had started class while I was on my journey. Emerson had made it back alive with a nasty expression on his face. It wasn’t too much different from his regular face so I held my chin high and regained confidence. Even though I was in floral pink robes. And looked like a Hufflepuff on a date. A bad date even.
Avery snorted with laughter as I sank down beside her. “Did you get lost trying to off yourself?” she asked lightly.
“Had some company,” I mumbled out of the corner of my mouth.
“Company?” Avery’s eyebrow flew up.
“Later,” I said as Longbottom approached. The class was working on sketches of the plant on the front table. He appeared at my side once again. “Hey,” I said weakly.
“James, do I even want to ask what is happening?” Longbottom said with his eyes on my highly unfashionable robes.
“Probably not,” I offered, wrinkling my nose a little. “It would take a while to explain it and I’m afraid we don’t have that sort of class time. There are plants to be learning about, sir. And I for one think we should learn more about them.”
Longbottom gave me a look that suggested we would be having a very deep conversation the next time we had a meeting. I would request a new Head of House from Sinatra once I left. He was a fantastic professor, but he had a way of seeing right through me the other teachers did not have. Even Sinatra practically patted me on the head when I smirked at her. Longbottom turned and strolled back up the aisle.
This gave both Bink and Fred time to glance back and snicker as they saw the pink robes. Fred was about to nudge someone, but no one occupied the seat I was usually in. He frowned.
Avery grabbed her quill and pressed it against her empty parchment. It was clear she didn’t care for sketching plants. Company? She wrote it in sprawling cursive.
I grabbed my own quill. Chicken scratch Healer handwriting ensued.
E.E. and Lawson. Then Nia but totally unrelated.
No, Nia was unrelated.
Other 2. James, get your head on straight.
Yes. Twit followed me. Lawson came out of nowhere. Both wanted to hurt my face.
I like your face.
Me too. Naturally, I ran.
You didn’t hex them?
I frowned. No, actually, I wrote. I knew if I hexed L than Twit would hex me. And if I hexed Twit then L would punch me. Run was my option.
We snogged in the hallway and then shagged in the bathroom.
She hates me and you together.
She can join the rest of the school.
Maybe she’ll try and hex you.
I glanced over at Avery, my brows raised in amusement. I realized Longbottom was saying something, but I didn’t much care. I was sitting at the back of the room in pink flowered robes completely enthralled in the beautiful brunette beside me. Who cared about what Nia didn’t understand?
I did care about what Bink and Freddie didn’t understand. But they hadn’t let me explain. Yet.
Avery nudged me and pointed to what she had written on the parchment as Longbottom’s dulcet tones flowed on in the background.
I like you.
I had to find them. It was obvious. Just by the way Fred frowned when he couldn’t laugh about something with me. By the way Bink’s eyes looked hurt and let down. I knew it would have been so much less dramatic had they found out differently, had they been sat down in the locker room and told exactly what had happened. Word for word. And that was exactly what I intended on doing, just without Avery since she had two essays to finish and mine to edit since apparently my grammar was horrible when I was distracted and slightly depressed.
Both of my mates were in the locker room. Just as they had been days before. Bink was waxing his broom with my broom wax. He probably assumed I wouldn’t do anything about it. It was right. He was perched on the bench next to his locker, legs up on the wood.
Fred was back at the chalk board, drawing stick figure comic strips. A few of the stick figures were wearing capes. He was humming.
“Hey,” I said weakly, shutting the locker room door behind me with a soft snap.
Both boys made a grunting sound.
“I wanted to talk to you two,” I said at last, sitting down across the room next to my locker. It was like a safety net for me, but this was the first time in years that I had locked my Quidditch locker.
“We should kick you off the team,” Bink said suddenly, narrowing his eyes.
“Yes, because that would be contusive to our friendship,” I said, a little harsher than I planned on. “Besides, I’m currently wearing a set of horrid pink robes.” I motioned to said horrid robes. “Which I had to get through Clint Lawson in order to obtain. And a whining Nia Baker.”
“Serves you right,” Fred said with a nod.
“Oh, yes, Lawson’s fist in my face would just be the icing in the broken ribs cake.”
They both looked at me.
“That’s right. I said Clint fucking Lawson. Fist. Almost in my face. Surprise.”
Bink rolled his eyes. “I can’t do this right now,” he said, standing up and placing his broom in his locker. He shut the door and locked it for the first time in years.
“When can you?” I asked, moving toward the door. “Because we need to talk about this.”
“I’ll let you know when I go to Italy and get over it.” Bink rolled his light eyes and walked out, slamming the locker room doors.
“Freddie,” I said quietly, reaching out toward him for no reason other than I missed him. I missed our conversations and the way he would roll his eyes at some of my outrageous ideas. Even his addled brains. Especially his addled brains.
“Your ribs okay?” he mumbled, turning back to the chalk board to finish the shading on a stick figure’s hair.
“Still wrapped up,” I replied quietly. “But they’re better today than they were yesterday. And the day before, for that matter.”
“Good.” Fred put on a hat that covered his ears and frowned. “See you, James.” With that he left, the door shutting quietly.
I leaned back against the locker and swore. This was going to be far more difficult than I thought it would be. What the heck would it take for me to convince them to even hear me out? Nevermind forgive me. And it didn’t help that Avery was getting off so easy. Okay, perhaps it did help because if they spoke to her like they were speaking to me I would punch them in the face.
Dara Wood and Maxwell would have a field day if they heard about this. Part of me wondered if Meta was going to owl Wood and tell her. I wouldn’t be surprised, seeing as I was sure it was Meta that informed my previous captains before the alumni fiasco. Wood would be regretting her choice already.
Could they undo captain picks?
Of course not. We only had one more match. And we had won the first two. Certainly that gave me some credibility. Right?
In the eyes of Dara Wood, a signature from the general manager of the Tornadoes signifying my signing to the team wouldn’t be enough credibility. How could I have failed this bad? Condemned my team to failure? I was their captain. I had to lead them. The only place I was leading was a ditch.
I glanced down at my pink robes and swore again. This was a mess. Perhaps there was someone who could help me fix it, though it was a long shot.
“Let me get this straight,” he said, staring at me with a raised brow. The brow was looking a little pompous too. Little git. “You want me to give you advice and help you convince your best friends to be best friends with you again? And in turn you will not put my head in the toilet and tell everyone so they can laugh?”
“Sounds right,” I replied smugly.
Albus rolled his eyes at me. “You’re hopeless. No wonder they don’t want to be your friends.”
“Shut up!” I snapped, pride wounded in one fell swoop. “It’s just how it happened. It’s not that I’m with Avery.” I paused. “I hope. Do you think Bink is jealous? He always used to talk about her looks.”
“That’s stupid,” Al said flatly. We were in his dormitory, which I noticed was a lot neater than the seventh year dorms. In fact, most things were in their place except for a stray Charms book on the nightstand of one of his roommates. All of their beds were made. Trunks closed tight. Candles directly in the center of the windowsills.
“Come on, Al,” I pleaded, widening my eyes in what I hoped to be an innocent look. Judging by my brother’s expression it came across as deranged and very out of character. I wanted my aviators.
“What do you want me to tell you, James?” he said, folding his arms in his lap. “You screwed up hiding it from your friends. To be honest, I’m still not sure why it’s such a big issue.”
Because of the Code! I wanted to say that, but seeing as Albus was not on the team I didn’t.
Damn Lily and her superspying abilities.
“And you’ve tried sitting them down since?” he asked. I nodded. “And what happened?”
“They snapped at me and left. Door-slamming was involved.”
Albus frowned. “Well, James, what do you usually do in situations like this? Who do you go to?”
“Avery,” I said immediately. “When I have problems I go to her. But we’re kind of in the same dilemma currently.”
“Do you think she might try to talk to them? Or get you a moment to talk to them?”
“She might have to,” I said quietly, pondering the idea of Avery cornering the boys and telling them, forcefully with her very attractively fierce expression, that they were to sit down, shut up, and listen to what I had to say. Perhaps Bink was right about going to Italy to get over it. I would get the Floo Powder.
“I usually go to Mum or Dad with stuff like this,” Albus added honestly, his lip twitching a little.
“Not an option,” I said quietly, eyes narrowed.
“They usually know what to do,” he offered. “Dad has been through all this stuff, you know.”
“Dad has no idea.”
He frowned. “Try the Avery thing. If that doesn’t work hex them, tie them up, and tie scarves over their mouths. And if that, in turn, doesn’t work, get Falcon Cat out and give them some battle scars.” Albus straightened the blanket on his bed and I wondered if Paloma approved of his weird tendencyies. “It’s going to be fine, you know.”
“Doesn’t look that way.” I ran my fingers through my totally amazing soft hair.
The castle was quiet that night. Not like eerie quiet or anything like there was a ghost following me (which I checked, don’t worry), just the kind of quiet that I needed to concentrate. It had only been a couple days since Emerson Edwards’ outburst and things did not seem to be getting any better. I mentally ticked off the things that mattered (and some that did not).
Bink and Freddie hate me.
Emerson is gunning for me over his (yet again) brutal loss of Avery.
Clint Lawson is after me.
I am walking alone in the halls. Not the best idea I’ve ever had.
Meta McLaggen still wants to off me. Or humiliate me.
I wore pink robes all day.
Not just pink. Floral pink. Vibrant suckers.
My ribs are still broken, but are healing fast. Madam Bones said I could take the wrapping off a couple hours ago. Yay!
Quidditch team is shit. They could do cross-country now with the amount of laps they’re running.
Albus’s weird addiction to straightening things up.
I pondered each of these for a moment, knowing the one at the top of the list was more important than the rest. I had absolutely no intention of breaking up with Avery, so I had to figure out a way to solve this. And I did not want to drag her into it. No, Avery did not need to be in my mess. She had her own life to deal with and my bromance problems were not hers.
I climbed several sets of stairs in irritation, listening for any signs of an approaching Clint Lawson, but it seemed I was alone. Which was nice considering I could have used that alone time when Avery and I were snogging and about to get caught. Funny how things work out. Or how they don’t.
The owlry was beautiful at night. Not really, seeing as there was about ten centimeters of bird dung on the ground and owls hooting at each other. Probably to shut the fuck up. The night air made it cold and bitter in there and it was not a very happy place to hang out. I had no idea what had led me up there. I probably just wanted to get as high as possible in the castle to ponder jumping off. I should have gone to the Astronomy Tower. It was much warmer there.
Even I knew that was an absurd thought. Not the Astronomy Tower being warm. It totally was.
I took the piece of parchment out of my pocket I’d taken from my room. Before I relocked my trunk. Grabbed the quill from my other pocket. I leaned against what looked to be a clean stone wall and, against my better judgment, began to write.
After all, I was desperate. And angry. And, for the first time in a long time, genuinely hurt.
Hi. Yeah. I know you don’t care and all that, but I’m a rubbish captain and I need your help. Mum will just tell me to suck it up and do my Transfig homework because of that kitten incident (it’s FINE you know and has a name: Falcon Cat. Currently bunking with Avery). Anyway. I need help. I feel like I’m losing it. I can’t do anything right anymore. Least of all fly since I broke my ribs. Tomorrow Madam Bones said I should be able to get in the air. Maybe then my team will stop revolting.
As I watched the owl vanish into the night, I wondered if I had done the right thing. I even picked an Express Owl. My insides churned with nerves. Would this work? Would Dad even give a shit that my Quidditch team was crumbling under my fingers? No. My family. My family was crumbling under my fingers. On my watch, I successfully destroyed a legendary team that had lasted for generations.
I thought about that late into the night as I lay awake in the dormitory, staring at the underside of the canopy above me. Emerson was softly snoring across the room. Freddie’s curtains were pulled, but I could see his foot hanging off the side of his bed. The sock was half-off. Bink was also asleep, muttering about newt babies with sixteen heads and a lizard with dollar bills. Then he said “y’all” and I was disturbed.
Dad’s return letter arrived late into this night-thinking, the owl rapping against the window in irritation. It was probably cold. I let it in, careful to be quiet so I didn’t wake my…roommates. The thought pained me. I hated feeling pain because usually I felt invincible and even a little cocky. Only a little though.
Meet me in Hogsmeade tomorrow. At noon. Just skip class, I’ve owled Neville already. I’ll be at The Three Broomsticks. Your mother doesn’t know anything about this.
Ps. Don’t sign your letters like that. It’s awkward.
A/N: What a pickle for dear James! Is anyone else excited that it's almost spring? In case you're in another part of the world...then you're probably not excited winter is on the way. But it's a rainy day today and I couldn't be more thankful for warmer weather on the horizon! I write so much more frequently when it's warmer.
Anyway! Thoughts? Favorite quotes? Do you think Bink & Freddie will ever forgive James? And what do you think Harry will say?
Up Next: Hogsmeade conversation, Chaser time, maybe some alcohol, and a team meeting. If things go as planned.
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