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“So Dom’s dating that guy?” April questioned, pointing vaguely in the direction of Benson flint.

“Yes,” I said watching as the members of the Slytherin team attempted to hit bludgers in the direction of my brother with concern. He was dodging them fine, and even whacking them back with a similar amount of strength... since when did he have muscles anyway?

“Oliver’s grown up a lot,” April said sadly.

“Of course he has, you’ve been gone two years.” She didn’t reply to that. “Ouch,” I said as Freddie Weasley – the other beater – took a hit to the back of the broom and went spinning off in one direction slightly. He recovered quickly and shot upwards... “I bet Dom’s cheering.” I commented, trying to search her out in the Slytherin end of the crowd – the very much thinner end. April and I were comfortably sat with the masses in the Gryffindor stand but... Slytherin were doing slightly better than expected.  Gryffindor was still winning.

“Another goal for Slytherin!” the commentator yelled. I winced slightly. James had been elbowed at some point during the game and had blood on his face, but was still shouting orders that I couldn’t hear with as much conviction as ever. Trust James.

“So you and James?” April commented lightly. I didn’t say anything to that. “Oliver’s been filling me in on all the juicy gossip – a Hogsmeade date, study sessions...” A raised an eyebrow at her. “Okay, I’ll admit it – neither of the above are that exciting, but... I have to work with what I’ve got. I want to know all the sordid details!”

“Sordid details?” I laughed, glancing back at the game to check that both Oliver and James were alive. Oliver was fine. James was doing some celebratory loops - I’d assumed he’d just scored another goal. “There have been no sordid details.”

“Don’t believe it,” April countered. “Not for a second.”

“Well,” I said with an eye roll. “Yesterday, in Herbology – our hands touched.” I said in a mock excited voice.

“I know you’re being sarcastic – but you still remembered the moment.”

“Oh go back to Egypt.”

“So you like him?” April laughed, following his progress as he flew very close to the Gryffindor stands – somehow finding my gaze and catching it for a brief seconds before intercepting the Quaffle at top speed.

“No. Yes, I mean... Maybe.” I finished. “Well, he is attractive – isn’t he? And he is nice. He listens to me, which is nice...”

“Your repeated use of the word nice tells a lot more than you mean it to,” April grinned, standing up and cheering. Everyone was cheering actually – and the reason why was quite clearly demonstrated when I glanced at the scoreboard to see Gryffindor two hundred points ahead and Lily Potter landing on the ground with her arm stretched up to the sky in the familiar seeker-victory stance.

I stood up too, but didn’t cheer – and instead just listened to everyone else feeling oddly part of things. Instead of separate, on the outside – but in the middle. The thick of it. And the feeling only increased when James flew right over the stands again as part of his victory lap and winked at me. Oliver waved and, although I was mildly concerned about him taking his hands off the broom whilst travelling that fast, it definitely made me feel, for once, that I was someone at Hogwarts.

I think I liked it.

 

 

“I have impeccable taste,” Dom said, examining my reflection in the mirror and nodding her approval. I was wearing the dress/top thing she’d brought me – although I had chosen the ‘top’ option and was wearing it with a pair of high-waisted shorts and extra extra length brown tights – stupid long legs. “Heals?”

“Not sure,” I said, cocking my head to one side and glancing at my reflection in the mirror. I had told Dom that April and me were going out for a swanky meal and a night out at some nightclub before she disappeared to Australia for an infinite amount of time (when actually this was our plan for the following weekend – so I didn’t really know what I was going to tell Dom then) and thus I had actually been able to get ready for this party.

The Gryffindor victory party that I was incredibly nervous about.

“I suppose I could wear heals – everyone else there probably will be,” Which was true.

“Not everyone else there will be six foot two.” Dom said. I frowned at her. Somehow an extra inch and crept onto my height without me noticing it. It wasn’t appreciated. I was giant enough already. “That saying, with heals – no one else could possibly have such impossibly long legs.”

Which was also true. I occasionally thought they should be people in their own right, my legs, because I was almost entirely certain that they were taller than a percentage of the human population. Especially first years – some of those only came up to my knees (well... that’s what it felt like). It was most disconcerting.

“Are you on the pull?” Dom asked.

Was I on the pull?

I shrugged at her. “Well... get your heals out and we’ll see what they look like.” I dragged out my three pairs of heals from my trunk and placed them on the floor next to my feet.  There was one pair, that seemed to go so exactly with the top/dress thing that it was almost painful. “New there was a reason why I’d brought that dress,” Dom declared happily. “Heals!” She demanded.

Couldn’t argue with that.

In any case, my legs were truly impossibly long – especially with the shorts and...

“Not too much?” I questioned warily. Oliver might have a fit. Should I have gone for the slightly longer skirt option?

“Never,” Dom grinned – which is exactly why one shouldn’t take advice from Dom Weasley, and then she pushed me in the direction of the door – which sent me stumbling uncomfortably and almost resulted in me catapulting down the one flight of stairs. Which would have been embarrassing.

“Are you going to the Gryffindor party?” Felicity demanded the second I’d tottered down the stairs.

“Erm, yeah,” I said. They were all wearing heals too – and taller heals than mine – but they were five foot nothing (well, not quite – I was sure they were perfectly average height wise  - actually Danielle was very tiny – but compared to me...). Basically I was at least a head taller than them and had to look down on them to talk. Urgh.

“Great, we can all go together then!” She declared. I smiled weakly. Why on why had they suddenly decided to befriend me? “Did James invite you?” Ah. That’s right.

“My brother did, actually,” I said – just to be contradictory, but fell into step with them all the same. They were wearing heals that were very similar to Dom’s skyscrapers, but were not quite as adept at walking in them as Dom (practice makes perfect!) so the walk seemed to take a very long time.

“Are you drinking?” Felicity asked.

“Not sure,” I answered. Now, that was something I hadn’t even given a thought to before this moment. It was true that Dom and I had occasionally had our own mini-party which involved her stealing some alcoholic beverage from her parents so that we could ‘sample it’ and... I had been invited to all the parties before, along with Dom (who wasn’t going to this one because it was the ‘home of excessive gingers’ - which meant there were lots of Weasleys around – and out of sympathy for Benson) but then I’d usually spent the time hanging around with Dom, getting very bored – occasionally flirting with anyone who went out of the way to chat me up – and making an excuse to leave as early as possible.

Was I going to drink?

“We brought some,” Felicity continued, pointing to her tiny clasp bag with a smile.

“Hmm.” I commented. What if, despite inviting me, James ignored me all evening or something horrible like that? I supposed I could hang around with these guys for awhile but... it wasn’t even like I was allowed to leave early and go back to the dorm – because there was no way in hell Dom would believe that April let me return early from a night clubbing.

“Are you nervous?” Jessica asked, snapping out of my thoughts with shock. Wow. Someone paying attention to me...

“A little,” I admitted. Then Felicity had pulled out a bottle from her tiny clasp bag – which was of course several times bigger on the insider – and offered it to me.

“Erm...” What to do? “What is it?” The bottle was an ominous pinkish-orangish colour that spelt hangover clearer than anything I’d seen.

“I’m not really sure, anymore – a mixture of stuff.” Definitely a hangover waiting to happen. I unscrewed the lid and sniffed it. I took a sip. Then a gulp. Then I screwed the top back on and handed it back to her, that familiar heat creeping over my chest.

I wouldn’t have any more.

“Anyone know the password?” Danielle asked when we got to the door.

“Yes,” Jessica giggled. “Trevor told me – Gryffindors are superior in every way and Slytherin are...” She mouthed the last bit to the fat lady, so I never found out exactly what Slytherin were... The fat lady didn’t look especially thrilled about letting us in, but did anyway. “I think she lost a bet to one of the seventh years – so they got to choose the password,” Jessica added. “Look, there’s Trevor,” And then she disappeared to go chat to one of the seventh year Gryffindors that I didn’t know very well.

“I’m going to go talk to Matt, for a minute,” Felicity said in an offhand would-be casual way which made my eyebrow rise. It also left me standing alone in the doorway with Danielle, who definitely did not like me. I glanced around half hoping that her boyfriend would turn up from somewhere, but he didn’t – so I started trying to locate my brother, or James actually, or anyone who I could disappear to go off and see.

“Autumn!” A voice called. Thank God. James Potter, now walking towards me grinning. He slipped an arm around my waist – which was definitely new (I suspected he might have already been drinking) and then attempted to lead me away. I politely pushed his hand off, which simply caused him to grab my hand and pull me in the direction of his Quidditch mates. I waved half heartedly to Danielle and let myself be pulled off.

“Congrats guys,” I said, untangling my finger from James Potter’s own and smiling at all of them. Lily looked slightly disgruntled despite her victory but my brother was practically glowing with pleasure.
“Dom brought the excuse then?” He questioned.

“Yes,” I said. “I don’t like lying to her though,” I commented. Then, “Oliver are you drinking?” He placed his bottle back on the table delicately. “You’re much too young!” I declared.

“Wounded mate,” Wood said, picking up the bottle and draining it. Which meant Oliver had already drank about half of the bottle.

“Everyone else is drinking!” Oliver complained.

“I’m not,” Lily retorted, folding her arms and glaring at James – who appeared indifferent if not used to this sort of treatment. I supposed that explained why Lily was looking so pissed off.

“Well now Oliver isn’t either,” I smiled sweetly.

“And currently, neither are you – what do you fancy?” Freddie asked. “Or do you not...?”

“It depends what you have,” I said. “I’m quite picky...” Ignoring the fact that I’d just had a mouthful of some strange indefinable alcoholic substance. Never a good idea. Silly Autumn. “I don’t really like the Wizarding world’s attempts at alcohol,”

“We have muggle stuff,”

“Vodka?” I questioned, feeling Oliver’s gaze on the side of my head. He’d never really seen me ‘let my hair down’ as Dom always put it. Freddie nodded. “With coke, if that’s all right.” I suspected that he’d take liberties in pouring it and I’d be presented with a drink that was ninety percent vodka and about ten percent coke.

Still.

“You look nice,” James commented after a few seconds of silence.

“Thanks,” I replied, that beginning-of-a-party feeling settling over all of us. Freddie returned with my drink and it was strong – just as I’d expected. I drank it quite quickly, never the less, just to break some of the awkward tension that seemed to have infested the whole conversation.

“I’m going to talk to Chris,” Lily declared after ten minutes, climbing over the back of the sofa and heading over to a group of Oliver’s pratty-mates.

“Chris?” James asked in alarm. “Is he one of your friends?” He asked Oliver, who nodded. “Well, go keep an eye on her!” He instructed. Oliver raised an eyebrow at that but left anyway. Which left me in the company of the four other remaining male members of the team (there was another girl, but I had no idea where she was).

“Don’t order my brother around now,” I laughed.

“I’m the captain, I’m allowed,” James retorted. “Another drink?” He questioned. I’d finished my glass.

“I’ll pour it myself this time,” I smiled, and we both wondered over to the drinks table – leaving the others too it. James took the glass out of my hand after I’d topped it up and took a sip. He made  a face.

“I never did understand why Muggles made things all bubbly,”

“That’s the coke,” I said, leaning back on the table and watching the party begin to unfold in front of me. Oliver had somehow gained another drink, not that I was too bothered, and he was letting Lily sneak sips when none of the Weasley/Potters were looking in his direction (which worried me slightly more – hopefully they just wouldn’t notice).

I recognised Albus Potter sitting in the window seat with Rose, both of them with glasses in their hands having what looked to be quite a serious conversation. Roxanne Weasley had now joined the other members of the Quidditch team and looked to be attempting to flirt with Wood. He was flirting back in a jokey way – I assumed they were just trying to piss Freddie off (they were succeeding too). Louis was hanging around a group of fifth year Hufflepuff girls, which made me want to laugh. They seemed to be humouring him though despite being two years their junior...

James poured himself another drink of a rich amber liquid. “You played really well,” I said lightly, not really sure what to say. It was strange – all my other encounters with James had been easy and fluid. I’d never stopped talking. Why was it awkward now?

“Slytherin were better than expected, weren’t they?”

“A bit, yeah,” I said.

There were another few seconds of mildly awkward silence. “You’re taller than me in those heels,”

“Knew I shouldn’t have worn them,” I laughed. “I’m tall enough anyway,”

“They make your legs look hot though,” James replied. I had a feeling he wouldn’t have said anything quite so forward if this had not been his second or third drink. I also found I didn’t really mind. I quite liked it actually. I’d always figured being called ‘hot’ would be slightly degrading but... no; I was more than happy with the compliment.

“Sorry,” He added as an afterthought. “You do look hot though, just... in general.” I looked at him for a few minutes.

People were dancing now, in the middle of the room – Lily was with the group of Oliver’s mates who were all swaying back and forth awkwardly to the music that had probably been playing since I entered the room. Jessica was dancing with Trevor. Danielle had located her boyfriend and was dancing with him. Rose Weasley was up there too. Lots of girls, actually. Roxanne was just pulling Wood towards the dance floor, both of them laughing at the disgruntled expression on Freddie’s face.

“Do you want to dance?” I asked, startling myself. James looked up. “I think we should.”

“Yeah, okay,” James agreed. I knocked back the rest of my drink and then followed the direction of the masses onto this newly erected dance floor, with James following close behind me.

 

 

The dancing only lasted a couple of minutes. It turned out neither of us were very good – and most of my other episodes of dancing had ended in serious injuries – and James seemed to realise the first time we’d ever really met I’d been ‘practicing dancing’ which had resulted in a long stream of escalating problems. Basically we were on the dance floor just long enough to take each other’s hands and do some weird shimmying thing before remembering that neither of us could actually dance.

Then I’d ended up trying to talk to him over the music to suggest maybe we gave up with my appalling suggestion and find something else to do, but the music was so loud that I had to step forward and yell in his ear for him to hear me. “Let’s go!” I yelled.

“What?” James yelled back. Our faces were pressed against each other as we attempted to have a conversation over the music.

“I said let’s go!”

James shook his head helplessly. He seemed to be having much more difficulty understanding me than I had understanding him... maybe I just had better hearing. “Why don’t we go?” James yelled back. I rolled my eyes at that but agreed easily. We were standing very close together at that point, and our hand remained intertwined – as if it was natural – as we left the make shift dance floor and wondered back in the direction of the drinks table.

“Can I get you another vodka and coke?” James asked – and I suddenly found being able to hear him slightly strange.

“One more,” I said.

“Better make it a double then,” James grinned, filling my glass up to three quarters full before adding the coke. That was okay, though, because that was about the amount of Vodka I was able to drink before I went to my head so much that I couldn’t walk properly in my heels – which was a level I would not exceed. I roughly counted it up in my head – four straight shots was my usual limit... and when it was with coke I could probably drink twice as much so... that was an acceptable level.

James poured himself some more of the amber liquid although considering one of his hands was still holding mine he sloshed a little over the side and awkwardly placed the bottle back down on the counter – he picked it up anyway and then we were walking over to one of the sofas (which had all been moved to the sides of the room) as if that was where we’d intended to go all along.

“It must be good to have your sister back,” James said as we sat – very close together with me leaning against him slightly.

“Yeah,” I agreed absentmindedly. Taking another sip of my drink. Maybe the amount of vodka in this drink would put me over my own personal limit?

“So what’s the weird deal with your family?” James asked me. “I mean... your sister brought you a watch – aren’t your parents supposed to do that?”

“I’m fed up of talking about me!” I declared, turning round to face him – and unfortunately breaking our hand-holding-ness. “I want to know all about you. What about your family?”

“I don’t want to talk about my family,” James contradicted loudly (we were both still yelling at each other despite now being able to hear each other).

“You’re a lot more like Dom than you think then,” I laughed.

“No I just... everyone always wants to know about my family.”

“That’s how Dom feels,”

“To hell with Dom,” James said loudly. “I’ll tell you all about my family, if you really want.” I nodded enthusiastically. “Dad eats muggle cereal for breakfast, Mum gets hideously giggly after two glasses of wine, Lily has a new crush every week – it’s hard to keep up – and Albus gets mad if you don’t close the door behind you. Anything else you wanted to know?”

“No, actually, I think you just about covered it all,”

“Good,” James said, grinning.

“Do you like having such a big family?” I asked, looking round and taking in all the various Weasleys that were scattered around the room.

“Kinda,” James said –also glancing around (although thankfully he didn’t see Lily who was now slow dancing with... unless I’m very much mistaken, my brother) and observing the various members of his family. “It’s good that I’ll never be alone, and if one family member isn’t talking to me – someone else always will be, so...arguments and stuff aren’t so bad, but then – there are a lot of them. Is your family quite small then?”

“Yeah, just the three of us and my parents really. We have cousins but we never see them – not sure I really want to see most of them.”

“They’re muggles then?”

“Erm, two squibs – on my mother’s side, then two witches – graduated Hogwarts before I came – and one cousin who goes to Beauxbatons.”

“Two squibs, wow.”

“Precisely.” I said, rolling my eyes and taking another gulp of my drink.

“Pureblood then? Not that it matters.”

“Dads a muggleborn, Mum’s pureblood. No one asks that anymore,”

“Guess it’s seen as rude.” James shrugged. “People don’t want to seem prejudice. I think it’s interesting. It is important too, not in terms of being better or worse but... in terms of how people are different. How they turn out. It’s interesting, I think.”

“For someone as drunk as you – that’s almost philosophical.”

“I’m not drunk,” James grinned. “Just a little more than tipsy, oh – shite, Al’s throwing up.” I considered the possibility that Albus had seen my brother molesting his sister but decided not to voice this comment. “Ah, shite,” James said again, pulling himself off the sofa and heading towards Al – I followed him, because what else was I supposed to do?

“All right,” James said, grabbing the back of Al’s robes and pulling him to his feet. “How you feeling?” He grinned. Al answered with a few impressive swearwords before staggering significantly to the left and bringing a hand up to his head.

“You know, Autumn, I think my brother here might have had a bit too much to drink,” in a loud voice that induced a scowl on his brother’s face. James poked him. “Alive? Good, let’s get you upstairs. You don’t mind, do you Autumn?” I shook my head at that, suddenly feeling terrified at being left alone, and turning to find someone in the crowd that I could talk too. I stepped over the vomit (trying my best not to look at it) and headed over to wear the rest of the Quidditch team had been before. Now there was no one. I couldn’t just turn around and walk back on myself without looking like an idiot, so I headed to the drinks table. I poured myself another vodka and coke, a weak one, I’d drink it slowly. My last drink. I hadn’t finished the last one, anyway. It was still at the foot of the sofa.

“Oliver!” I exclaimed wondering over and forcibly pushing myself into the conversation he was having with Lily Potter. Really, those two were spending a little bit too much time together – James/Albus any male Weasley would be on his tail in no time. “Al threw up so James took him upstairs,” I explained at his strange expression.

“So neither of them are here?” Lily asked eagerly. I nodded. “Great!” She exclaimed, rounding on Chris, wrapping an arm around his neck and snogging him like her life depended on it. I gaped a little bit. I guess my brother wasn’t the one with the problem.

“Secret boyfriend,” Oliver said, trying to not take in the obvious use of tongue that was beyond repulsive.

“Does she realise all her other cousins are here?”

“Yes.” Oliver nodded. “Anyway...” Then he subtlety left to go join his friends, leaving me on my own all over again. Bum.

“Jessica,” I said walking up to where she was stood with the guy, the seventh year one, couldn’t remember his name. She turned around and smiled at me shyly. She looked cute in her black dress. Out of the three of them Jessica was definitely the one I felt least intimidate by.

“Autumn, this is Trevor. Trevor this is Autumn – she’s one of my roommates.” Trevor looked slightly confused by this. “She’s Dom’s best friend,” Jessica continued. “But she’s nice though,” She added when Trevor frowned slightly. “The rumours aren’t true,”

“Good to meet you,” He nodded and I nodded back and took another gulp of my drink (which was quickly disappearing). Seriously though, I couldn’t drink anything else after this glass – I didn’t want to get drunk. Anything could happen. I had church in the morning!

“Autumn,” James voice said, and suddenly his hands were on my waist and he was right behind me. Thank Merlin. No, sod Merlin – thank God.

I turned round to face him and smiled. “How’s Al?”

“Let’s just say he is not going to enjoy tomorrow morning.” James laughed, his arms now wrapped around me to keep me from escaping.

“I didn’t have him down as the drinking type,” We were close to the music again now, or maybe it had been turned up – because I had to yell to make myself heard.

“I didn’t have you down as the drinking type, yet this is what? Your fifth vodka and coke, or whatever that stuff is.”

“It’s not,” A countered. Was it? I didn’t think it was. “Well you should finish it then!” I said attempting to push the glass into his other hand.

“I don’t like it,” He complained. I think he’d sobered up a little since escorting Al upstairs... he was still a little drunk though.

“Fine,” I said. The glass was half full. That was fine. I could deal with that. “But this is your fault then,” I said downing the rest of the glass in one go and setting the glass down on one of the coffee tables. It seemed to me that my head instantly felt a little bit fuzzier, although of course that was stupid, and I decided that – at some point – I might have stepped a toe over my line.

Well, in actual fact, my line of morality was hardly applicable in this sort of situation. I was lying to my best friend to go to a party that her cousin had invited me too – I was way past my line on that front. I was, apparently, even wrapping my arms around James Potter’s neck so that we were in a strange sort of stationary slow dance position. James yelled something I couldn’t hear. I stared at him blankly.

“Are you enjoying the party?” He yelled into my ear.

“Sort of!” I yelled back before increasing the gap a little. My line of morality still existed somewhere, it seemed. Just further back than I would have initially placed it.

“Let’s go find Freddie,” James said, wrapping an arm around my waist and causally leading me in his direction.

 

 

“So did you have fun?” James laughed as we walked back thought the empty and strangely silent corridors of Hogwarts. My head was still pleasantly woozy and incredibly sleepy. There was nothing I’d rather do then crawl into my bed right now and fall blissfully asleep.

“Yes,” I answered, my hands threaded though his own as he walked me back to the Ravenclaw corridor. “I can’t believe how late it is!” I sighed. It had completely blown my mind when someone had mentioned that it was two in the morning... and I was completely exhausted.

The others had disappeared back to the Ravenclaw common room hours ago... not that I minded, because now James was walking me back.

James chuckled.

“How was Al when you last checked?”

“Passed out,” James said, sounding incredibly amused. “I’m going to set off some fireworks in their dorm tomorrow morning as payback,”

“If I tried to do that I’d probably accidently set fire to his bed or something,”

James laughed. “You’re one of a kind, Autumn,”

“Either that or just a lunatic,” I returned.

James shook his head and frowned for a second. “Well I guess this is it,” James said, nodding towards the entrance to the Ravenclaw common room. He looked kind of sad.

“I guess so,” I agreed, turning to face him with a small smile. “Thank you,” Then he took hold of my other hand.

“How many points am I on?” He asked suddenly.

“Erm... ninety-nine!” I declared, picking out a random number from the air and smiling at him deliberately. In truth I’d stopped counting completely. The number had got ridiculously big and I hadn’t wanted him to get too arrogant... so I’d just stopped counting.

“So close,” James said thoughtfully. Then he leaned forward and did something so unexpected that it completely threw me for a long moment. James Potter leaned forwards and kissed my cheek. “Good night, Autumn,” He said – whilst I was still suffering from extreme shock – and then he dropped my hands and turned and...

Of course, he’d set himself a hundred point target...

“Wait!” I called out. “You just got another three points of gentlemanly conduct!”

James threw his head back and really laughed at that. “You’re drunk Autumn,” He said. It wasn’t true. Tipsy slightly, sure, but not drunk – not anymore. I watched for a moment as his back disappeared down the corridor, his hands shoved in his pockets.

I suddenly felt very wide awake.

Balls.

 

A/N - This is my last fully written chapter...and I'm so busy! This weekend I went up to london and I saw the royal wedding (and I had to stand up for like four hours or something ridiculous. Totally not worth it) but we also saw four west end shows - we never do things by halves - and all sorts of things, and now I'm back home behind on revision, work, and my exams are this month (When did THAT happen?) and thus... updates may become slower. Still, I reckon I've gotten these first chapters up pretty fast, so I'm sure you can forgive me.

On another note, check out my new (yes, another new one...) story. This is shameless advertising, I realise, but it's lonely and I like reviews. Speaking of reviews... ;)

All right, I'll stop rambling now. It's time to hit the books anyway. THANKS FOR READING (especially this long pointless authors note, which is still getting longer... damn).
 
 
 

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