For all of my new readers. Since posting the last chapter I've gotten so many people that have jumped on board and the support is overwhelming! Thank you all! Also, to Avery, for having the same name as my lovely, feisty Aves.
It was only a few more days since our adventure in Hogsmeade and already things were getting back to normal. Bink, Freddie, and I spent a good deal more time together (both intoxicated and sober) catching up and plotting how to get back at Twitwards. Many ink-sketches on his skin while sleeping outlines were mentioned. I found out that while I was out of the loop Abigail swore off missionary and Bink was not bisexual.
I stared out over my team on a dreary Wednesday night. Not that I actually knew it was dreary, but the walk through the basement corridors was always depressing because it smelled of Puffer so I decided to go with dreary. How somber.
I stood at the head of the table in the kitchens. Everyone had a dessert plate in front of them and I tried not to stare at Avery. Ever since she started in on her hot fudge sundae I couldn’t stop thinking about licking it off her freckled shoulders. So inappropriate for a team meeting.
“Thanks for coming,” I said at least, my eyes moving away from Avery and around to the rest of the group. Paloma was picking at her fruit, fork between her fingers in a delicate, bored way. She had forgotten about being peeved once I stopped giving the team laps. It was clear she was never a fan of the Code. I didn’t blame her. Wesley, however, was still surly—I assumed it was because Lily made him look like a four-year-old princess when she hexed him.
I wondered if they made up. Hoped not.
Meta was an expression of scowls. She hadn’t touched her food. Arms crossed. Eyes narrowed. Practically growling at me. Damn her for being an ace Seeker. Damn her to Slytherin.
Bink and Fred flanked her at the end. Both of them were throwing chopped nuts at each other. A couple hit her.
“We just finished a game two weeks ago,” Meta said with a wrinkle of her nose. She flicked some of the nuts off of her. “I have homework to do.”
“We’re in the same classes!” said Bink. “You do not.”
“Today,” I interrupted, “we’re meeting for a different reason. Plus we’re waiting for the Slytherin/Ravenclaw game to figure out who is playing in the final.” I cleared my throat in a manly sort of way. “I want to talk about what I did.”
“We should kick you off the team!” cried Meta.
“You mean like I did to you and Bink?” I raised a brow and she fell silent. “Once again, I want to say that I’m sorry. I’m supposed to be the leader of this team and I’ve been setting a shit example.” My eyes flickered to Avery. I didn’t expect her to glance up at me, but she did and my heart started pounding like a git. Harder than normal, anyway. “This was my fault and I let you down.”
“James,” Paloma said at last. “It’s fine.”
“It’s not!” said Meta. “He’s a shit captain!”
“And you’d be better?” Fred said with a wild snort. “You’d just scream at us, leave practice to get manicures, and sleep your way around the other teams without telling anyone.”
“I tell everyone,” Fred corrected. “Fat chance you’d be a good captain. First chance we’d all break the Code by leaving you in the damn Forbidden Forest.”
“There would be no Code!” Meta said.
I sighed loudly. “Look,” I said, “the Code is something that has worked for years. There are reasons behind it. Especially in the event of a nasty breakup or a team-wide distraction on the pitch. A team needs harmony. We need harmony. And lucky for us we had that. But we need it again.”
“Break up with her then,” said Meta.
Avery’s head snapped over. “I am going to send this sundae at your head if you don’t shut your damn mouth, McLaggen.”
Meta’s eyes widened. “Like I’m scared of you. You’re so far in the captain’s pocket you think you actually have authority.” She rolled her dark eyes. “Sorry, love, sleeping with him won’t give you power. Won’t get you much of anything since I heard about his V-Card issue.”
That was when Meta’s face was covered in whipped cream and chocolate syrup. The bowl smashed somewhere on the back wall. It dripped onto her robes before she grabbed her wand.
“Ladies!” I said. “Stop it. This is not the time or the place.” Even though I totally wanted to cheer for Avery. Or move the table, fashion a mud pit, and see what happened. By the look on Freddie’s face, it was clear he was thinking the same thing.
“This is ridiculous!” Meta cried. “I cannot STAND this team. Fuck the Code and fuck you, Potter!”
I internally pointed out that it wasn’t me who doused her in tasty goodness.
She stood up, pushed Bink’s ice cream into his lap, and marched out the door, slamming it behind her. The room went silent.
“Who is telling people about this sex thing?” I mumbled to myself, shaking my head. Twitwards probably put it on posters around Hogwarts. “And I guess that means she won’t be joining us for Seventh Year Skip Day.” I sat back down and looked across the table at the empty seat she had occupied.
“Bloody good,” said Bink, wiping at his pants and grabbing his wand to clean up the ice cream mess. “She’d probably root against the Tornadoes anyway. Who even does that?” He shoved the bowl away. “Remind me not to cross Avery, by the way. She’s feisty.”
I met her eyes. “That’s why I like her.” And her grades. Obviously.
Wesley made a noise. I nearly forgot he was there.
“Wes,” I said with a dramatic release of breath. “Mate, are we okay? Because we’re going to have to be okay. Since you’re like my heir or something.”
He arched a brow. “James, don’t you think this is a little wrong? It goes against pretty much everything you stand for.” Look at the little fifth year step up. He’d be singing a different tune if Lily was on the team. But she wasn’t allowed to fly.
“Yeah,” I replied and the Chasers looked at me. “But have you ever liked a girl so much you actually confessed it in a running shower and got your ribs broken?”
Avery’s face reddened as she busied herself with tangling her fingers in her lap.
“When you feel like you’re willing to take a hex from McLaggen?” I laughed, thinking about covering my mouth. “Am I a shit captain? Probably. Is it worth it? Completely.” That time I did cover my mouth. What a sodding romantic thing to say.
Wesley stared at me for a moment, finally leaning back in his chair. “Okay,” he said at last. “As long as you know what you’re doing. Because I like both of you and I’m not a fan of picking sides.”
“You’d obviously pick me,” I said and laughed, but seriously, if anyone was likely to screw up it would be me. Avery was perfect.
Fuck, I sounded like Twitwards. I needed to stop that.
“Don’t worry,” Avery said quietly. “Even if it doesn’t work out James and I are going to be friends. And if it blows up…well, we gradate this year.” She smirked playfully, nudging me.
“All right,” Wesley said with a heavy nod. “All right. Sorry I tried to hex you.”
“Sorry Lily humiliated the shit out of you,” I said with a snicker, finally able to take a bite out of my ice cream and brownie combo. There were few things more satisfying than that flavor combo.
Fuck. I needed to get laid.
The group fell silent for a moment. Probably in agreement of my needing to get laid.
“Sorry I screwed Meta repeatedly,” Bink piped up and then burst out laughing, closely followed by the rest of us. I got ice cream on my chin.
Now that weeks had passed the whole fiasco seemed silly. I freaked out over something silly, which was really worth a strange nickname by now. Beta. Mink. Both were legitimate ideas. It was easy now. Bink was back to hating Meta just like the last six years and Meta remained unchanged. Unless you counted being all the more irritating because she wasn’t getting regular sex. I counted that.
This, however, wasn’t going to be easy. Avery and I weren’t just going to back to being best mates. We were a couple now.
“So about the skip day,” Avery said, knocking me from my thoughts. “Is this actually happening?”
I nodded, taking another bite and glancing over at her. “Yeah. I don’t know how many tickets Mum is sending but we’ll have at least one extra now that McLaggen is a stick in the damn mud.”
“We could take Abigail,” Fred offered.
“I could cut off my toes,” Bink said, throwing a slice of banana and hitting my cousin in the gob.
“How about your sister?” Avery asked.
“World’s biggest Quiddtich buzzkill,” I mumbled. “Maybe we should though. Give Jordan a chance to bloody cool down. You stare too much, mate.”
“The correct answer was—I didn’t even know you had a sister, Captain, sir.”
“Let’s figure it out when I get the tickets, yeah?” I said, scraping more ice cream onto a brownie. “I don’t have any other seventh years I’d like to invite so I guess we’ll have to dip into future seventh years. It’ll be like training for them. Since this tradition will be living on.” I looked at Paloma and Wesley with expectant eyes. Not like pregnant expectant, like actually expecting them to do something with their lives.
“What day?” asked Fred.
“Why? Have a Ravenclaw team to dismantle?” Bink said, snickering.
“Tuesday,” I replied, topping off the last brownie. “Tornadoes play the Finches. Fucking hate the Finches.”
“They’re the damn Finches, that’s why!” I took a breath. “We’ll leave around nine. Game starts at eleven—yes, Freddie, in the morning.” I jumped as Avery reached over and took my hand. “And I’m sure they will be ace seats. Mum did play for the Harpies.”
Everyone exchanged glances for a moment and I saw them looking at my fingers laced with Avery’s. I didn’t care. Screw them. Well, you know. They were my friends and whatnot.
Seriously, though, screw those guys. I squeezed Avery’s hand.
It was finally starting to get warmer around Hogwarts, which meant I didn’t have to spend the days locked up in the castle like a princess wishing a heart attack on a dragon. Instead, I found a comfy tuft of grass a little ways from the lake and settled down there for a few chapters of my History of Tornadoes book and a nap.
I perched the book on my chest and stared up at it. The Tornadoes were so damn cool. Their history. Players. Colors. Slogans. Riots when they won the Cup. So damn awesome.
“Are you really salivating over a book?”
I jumped, book flying up and landing painfully on my gut. I let out an oomph!
Avery settled on the grass, sitting up, and stared out over the lake. “Preparing your trivia so you can brag to everyone about how much you know?”
“I already know the most,” I replied, shoving the book into the grass. “Besides, Freddie’s brains are too addled for me to really challenge him.”
“I’m glad you guys are friends again.” The wind moved through her hair.
“Me too,” I whispered, grabbing her bare arm and tugging her onto her back. “I’m far less whiny.”
“Thank Godric,” she said heavily. “Sometimes I swear I wear the pants in this relationship. And though they’re snug, chic, and completely adorable, skirts are nice too.” She winked playfully at me.
“Only in front of me,” I mumbled, moving my head to stare at her. I bit my lip, eyes tracing the lines of her pretty face. “Why do you fancy me anyway?”
“Looking for an ego boost?” Avery asked with a laugh, her eyes finally meeting mine. Like a green jungle.
“Curiosity killed the captain.”
“Worth it,” I said with a cocky grin.
“I like you because you’re you,” Avery said at last, her glance moving back to the sky. “You’re real.”
“As opposed to the entirely imaginative blokes at Hogwarts.”
“You handled that Code thing valiantly.”
My breath caught in my throat and for a moment I thought I was going to choke. Crisis averted. “It was hard,” I said. “I thought they were going to hate me forever or string me up by my thumbs.”
“And that, James, is what makes you such a special captain.” Avery’s fingers moved into my hair and smoothed it out. “You care about your team more than anything—more than you should.”
“Story of my life,” I grumbled, leaning over and burying my face in her hair. “I might also be a little protective.” She smelled like lilacs.
“A little?” Avery said, laughing. “Would you care to look back at the conversations between you and Emerson? Hell, you and Bink for that matter.”
“I plead insanity!” I grabbed the Tornadoes book, but didn’t read it because she was still rubbing my hair and it felt good as a shower after Quidditch.
If I was a normal bloke, sex would have been substituted there. Damn V-card. Worthless bugger. Couldn’t even get me a discount at Honeydukes.
Avery sighed in a content way and removed her hand. I grabbed it and put it back. She laughed. “My dad wrote me,” she said quietly.
“Really?” I asked. “He still wants to be best mates and take you out for roasted marshmallows and tell you about his gallant days as a Puffer?” I might have still been bitter about the detention documents I found.
Definitely. The damn yellow belly jerk.
Avery glanced down at me, her eyes twinkly. “Just wanted to say hello. Asked me how Quidditch was going.”
So he could throw you under the damn bus? Tosser. “That was nice of him. My dad says hello.”
She ruffled my hair. “I like you, James.”
“Is it because of how awesome I am?” I shot her a cheeky grin.
“The only reason,” she said.
As per your request, I got you some tickets for the Tuesday game. I think you’ll like the seats. I also warned the Finches captain that if he hears inappropriate insults to owl me. I know they would be coming from you.
Don’t forget to study for your exams!
I’m also pretending to know nothing about this plan. Tell Avery I say hello!
Briefly, as I grabbed the tickets from the envelope, I wondered if Mum knew about Avery and me. If Dad had told her, though, I figured she would have said something. Mum was vocal like that.
Written in all caps. With little hearts drawn around our names. She would be thinking about baby names.
Panic attack. OhmyGodric.
Little stubby legs with my unruly hair, her eyes, and some freckles.
I was sweating. The tickets fell to the table, narrowly missing the butter.
“How many did we get?” Bink said in a cheerful tone, falling down next to me in the empty seat.
“I DON’T WANT TO HAVE BABIES!”
“I didn’t ask you to,” he said, brow raising. “But our children would be adorable.”
I looked down at the tickets, lips parted from breathing so hard. “I just…holy shit.” I counted them. “Seven. No Abigail. You break it to Fred.”
“Bet she’s not a Tornadoes fan anyway,” Bink said with a chuckle, snatching the tickets and reading them. “JAMES.”
“What? Is she a Finches fan?”
“This is a SUITE.”
“Your mum got us a suite!” Bink hopped up on the bench and started to dance a jig worthy of any culture other than our own. “These are just the passes! We can take whoever the fuck we want to full the whole suite!” He looked down. “Seriously, though, no Abigail.”
“Damn Finches fans.”
“I still don’t know why Wes didn’t come,” I grumbled as we walked past a few pubs. There were early rises in there with some Irish Coffee. “Said he was sick.”
“Right,” Fred muttered darkly. He waved to a pretty girl in a sunhat. “Code for I want to hit on your sister while you’re away.”
“Should have left written instructions to keep them apart,” I added. “My fangirls would have done it. Between talking about how devilishly good-looking I am.”
It was just after ten and we making out way through Tushill on foot. The Quidditch guidelines stated that, but didn’t make the rough cobbled sidewalks any more fun. Jerks.
The previous days were spent deciding who we could, and wanted to, smuggle out of the castle on a weekday. In the end, we brought along Al and Paloma. And Rosey because she was reading nearby and I didn’t want her Prefect ass to tell on me. If all failed, I could blame it on her for not stopping us. Simple as a charm. Well, not the ones in Charms class. Those buggers were hard. Not as hard as Transfig.
I was walking with Bink and Freddie, watching out for one of the seven Tornado signs scattered through town.
“Just tell Wesley she has a disease,” Bink said lightly.
“Tell him she’s pregnant!” said Fred. “Guys will always stay away from pregnant women.”
“Ew. Babies.” Bink beamed and then elbowed both of us. Which was painful because he was boney. “There it is! There’s the sign!”
I spotted it, turning to the rest of the group and then back. This was it. The Tornadoes. Not that I hadn’t been to loads of games before, but because the Tornadoes were my favorite team and I was supposed to be in class. Ha ha, Sinatra. Ha ha.
The sign was hanging on one hinge in front of a dusty shop selling what looked to be cleaning supplies. Another sign on the window read, CLOSED.
I read, FUCK YES TORNADOES.
Bink pulled open the door for the group and just inside was a hefty bloke in Tornadoes robes with a mustache that looked to be eating his upper lip. “Tickets, please.”
Avery handed them over. I trusted them with her because with my luck they would have toppled out of my pocket halfway there and a scalper would be selling them for a down payment on a cheeseburger.
“Once you get in,” the bloke said in a low voice I assumed would be synonymous with bears if they could talk, “take the left ramp to the elevators. The suite floor button is in there. You have to punch in your code—it’s right there on the ticket.” He showed Avery. She nodded.
“Look,” Fred mumbled, “an authentic Quidditch Code.”
“Look,” I said, glancing over at him, “a factory of idiocy.”
“Once you get there, it’s suite 598. Enjoy, kids.” The man grunted and looked at the door since less awesome people were arriving. And by less awesome, I mean some families with screaming kids and I wanted to get the fuck out of there.
“Catch all that?” Avery said, laughing.
“Fuck no,” I said, wrapping an arm around her waist.
“Me either,” she whispered and we started to follow Rose toward a large doorway. It was practically sparkling.
After Rose then got us lost seventy-five times (okay, maybe Bink took a wrong turn and I needed a potty break) we found the suite. I ceremoniously kicked the door in without breaking it (my arms were much stronger than my legs. Chaser thing) and my jaw went lopsided.
“Can your mum be my mum?” asked Paloma, her expression rivaling mine as she moved toward into the room.
“Aunt Ginny loves us!” Fred start twirling around with his arms outstretched narrowly missing Albus.
The suite wasn’t huge, but it was luxurious. There were three large leather sofas facing the pitch, each up on a different level so viewing wouldn’t be obstructed. Tables on the back of the couch in front of them made food and drink positioning simple. There was a well-stocked refreshments area (No booze. Thanks, Mum) and Tornadoes posters lining the walls.
“Sausages!” Fred and Bink cried in unison, heading over to the long table draped in cream fabric that housed snacks and punch. Seconds later their plates were filled and Fred caught a flying shrimp with his elbow.
My mind was being successfully blown. It was a suite for us. The suites lined the center row of the stadium, separating the lower-level seats with the nose-bleeds. I could swear I saw famous people in other ones. One of the Chasers for the Romanian National team. Peering next door to the right there were loads of men in dark sunglasses. I should have jumped on a broom to show them what I was made of so they could sign me.
The Tornadoes stadium was a little bigger than a general Quidditch stadium. They had a higher number of casual fans, season ticket holders, and screaming fan girls.
I could get used to that.
“James Potter, just one snog?”
“Let me take off my shirt so you can sign my skin!”
“I’ll have your beautiful freckled babies!”
“Smirk one more time—just one!”
Swoons all around.
I could see it. Sauntering out of the Tornadoes’ blue locker rooms, hair flying back in the wind that smelled like freshly groomed grass. I would be wearing the Tornadoes robes—way better wuality than my Halloween ones—with a giant stitched number one on the back. “POTTER” in caps in a deep blue. I would run my index finger over every letter before a game.
Because it is who I am.
I would be making a name for myself. One that didn’t involve a last name, a famous father, or screwing up with Falcon Cat in Transfig.
The crowd cheering would become a deafening roar. It would startle me my first couple games, but I’d grow to love it. To long for it with the soft feel of robes against my arms. My broom would be steadily shouldered, bouncing as I walked toward the center of the pitch to stare down the opposing team.
They all had faces like Clint Lawson. The bastard.
“James?” Avery was waving a hand in front of my face.
“I think you just drooled on your shoulder.”
I glanced down. “Uh. Right. I was thinking about—hot women! No! Uh—Bink, help me!” I rushed over to my very-near-albino mate and hid behind him.
“Carrot cake?” he asked.
I cocked a brow. “Tell the Tornadoes to sign me.”
“I’ll write them a memo,” he said, shoving a fork-full of cake in his mouth. “I’ll even draw little X’s and O’s to increase your chances.”
“All I’m asking,” I said. Damn carrot cake was good. So good.
Avery was tapping her foot a few meters away. My eyes crawled up her body inappropriately. From her shoes up her thighs to her hips and slender—
“Oy,” Bink said, hitting me with his fork. “Keep your tongue in your mouth.”
“I wish,” I grumbled, swallowing the cake hard and making my way to the sofa in the front. My mum got the tickets. I got the best sofa.
With my girlfriend who plopped down beside me.
“You like me because I’m crazy, right?” I asked.
“I like you in spite of you being crazy,” Avery whispered and slipped her hand into mine. Her eyes twinkled.
“You’re perfect,” I said quietly so they boys didn’t hear.
“I’m far from perfect, James.” She kissed my cheek. “But I’m glad you think so.” She paused for a moment and stretched her long legs out in front of her. “We need to figure out something to do for forty-five minutes until the game starts.”
“Is that code for letting me grope you in the closet?”
“Look around,” Avery said with a small laugh. “No closets.”
I did look. “Mum has a sense about my sexuality. Bloody woman. Probably requested the suite with no closets."
“Wish we had some chardonnay,” Avery commented, squeezing my hand. “Since Albus is giving Paloma the low-down about his Potions essay. Apparently he had to do research in seven different books.”
I groaned, standing. “Don’t worry, my dear, I’m going to save the day!”
“How many more times are you going to call me my dear?”
“Zero?” I offered.
“Gold star.” Avery smirked and kicked her feet up on the rail in front of her.
My eyes moved around the room as I walked toward the exit. Bink and Freddie were quizzing Rose about Prefect duties. Then they kept giggling about the word “duties.” Albus had gotten a cup of punch for Paloma and she was ranting about the players picked for England’s National team. She moved her flowing hair out of her face as she did so.
Albus seemed mesmerized. Rightly so.
I walked out the door sans a word and found myself in a giant concrete hallway decorated with ceiling draperies in the Tornadoes colors. There were even some large rugs along the hall.
Suck on that, fangirls with glitter signs.
I looked left and right, but as far as I could tell there were no random unmanned bars. In a cat-like stealthy way, I slinked toward the next suite over. I heard adult voices. They would definitely be stocked.
“I’m tell you, Dex,” said a voice in an arrogant tone that reminded me of my father when he talked about working at the ministry and doing good in the world. “It’s going to work out. I’ve already talked to the bank and I need to get a sponsor.”
“And she’ll give it all up?”
Boring. I peeked around the corner. Very well-stocked bar.
“What?” said the first voice. “She’ll be the face of a product. She’ll love it.”
Who would love it? I would. I wanted to be the face of the fucking Tornadoes. James Potter and the Tornadoes. James Potter and the backup players that weren’t as awesome.
“And make you rich.”
“That too.” The man chuckled and I peeked in a little further to see what he was drinking. If it was orange juice I would be fucked.
“Filthy rich,” David Flynn said, smirking like a pompous fucking doucher Puffer.
A/N: Well, shit. Shit's getting real in Hogwarts land, that's for sure. Sorry for the delay on the chapter. I'm trying desperately to find a job in my field of work and move out of the 'burbs so that keeps me far too busy. But I hope you enjoyed the chapter!
Favorite quotes? What do you think is going to happen with Mr. Flynn? What do you think he's even talking about?
UP NEXT: Shit gets real. Again. Tornadoes vs. Finches. James vs. himself.
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