Thank you so much to Expecto-Patronum for doing a review of Breaking the Quidditch Code! (And your graphic is adorable!)
After the excitement of Twitwards running around as a twat settled down, the castle went back to its normalness. Though I did glance over my shoulder every so often to see if Emerson was about to A-K me. Which didn’t happen, much to my delight.
A few days slipped by without notice. Classes were horrible. I just barely scraped by on a Transfiguration quiz and part of me wondered if I needed Remedial. But it was too late for that—I graduated in a couple months and I would be free of Hogwarts forever. But probably selling socks since I’d gotten no more than a glance from a scout. Part of me wondered how I could not? I was one of the remaining four to win that grueling second match. I was the leader. The voice of the team. And yet I hadn’t had so much as a slip up parchment to invite me to an open try-out for a farm team.
Through the grape vine that was Hogwarts, I’d heard Clint Lawson had gotten one from the Arrows.
And it ate away at me nightly. What did Lawson have that I didn’t? Bad hygiene? Scorpius Malfoy as his personal lackey?
I tried to shove it out of my mind, but it kept coming back. Kept presenting the information during dinner and practice and even uncorking a bottle of wine in the common room while my Prefect relatives were out on rounds. For the first time in my entire life, I wondered what would happen if I didn’t get a letter.
Sure, I could just show up for the public auditions. But those were just for show. No one had ever made it before. In the history of every team in Quidditch. They were more a social outing for the team managers. And a bit of a joke since people on toy brooms showed up every year for Puddlemere’s auditions.
Avery knew something was wrong, but she didn’t bring it up. I figured she knew it was something I had to work out by myself. Which it was. But I hated working through it alone. So I kept pushing my team. Harder and harder. Until Meta’s glares were unbearable and Freddie’s hands were calloused from the Quaffle. We couldn’t have another repeat of that Hufflepuff game. Where there was a shred of doubt if we would actually win. There would be no shreds of doubt.
We were going to win. And I was going to get signed. And my life would be planned accordingly.
Luckily, I had a Hogsmeade weekend as a distraction after a week of Longbottom casting me unsure glances. On Friday night I suited up in a cloak and warm socks and walked with Fred and Bink into the village. Wesley was there too, but I was still a little wary of him hanging around my sister the whole time we were at the Tornadoes game.
“What’re we doing today then?” Bink asked, pulling his hood up.
“Why? Have a hot date?” Freddie said, nudging him.
“Better than your—let’s have sex and now scream at each other—date.” Bink cocked a brow.
“Fuck off.” Fred faced forward and let the chilly wind hit his face.
“You still fancy her?” I piped up, catching up to them. “Where is this going?”
“And now the bloke in a relationship thinks we should all have them,” Fred said darkly. “I don’t know where it’s going. But she takes her clothes off when I walk into the room.”
“Don’t you think you could find a nice girl that does that too?” I asked, laughing.
“Why? Does Avery? Shall I ask her?”
I punched him hard in the shoulder.
“Have you even seen Avery without a shirt?” Fred asked.
I punched him again.
“I’m going to bruise!” he whined. “I’m fragile! And now I have internal bleeding. I’m reporting you, Potter. Wes, you saw that, didn’t you? I’m reporting him. Cruel captain.” He rubbed his shoulder.
“I saw nothing,” Wesley replied. Good little git.
“Damn right,” I mumbled. “And don’t talk about Avery like that. She’s not like…Abigail.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Fred snapped. “Abigail is…”
“Really mean to you,” Bink cut in.
“Well, she’s good in bed. Shut up. You’re just mad you’re not getting laid.”
“I could be!” Bink cried. “I’m going to find a girl in Hogsmeade and go hook up.”
“Fat chance,” Wesley said from behind us.
Bink rounded on him. “You think I couldn’t? I could, you know. I could just swagger up into the pub and pick a woman right there.”
“Gaia?” I said, snickering. Bink had always had eyes for Gaia my favorite bartender, but she was never one into random sex. Like me. Well, for me it was sex at all. Damn fucking V-Card.
“She’s too good,” Bink replied. “But I can! I will. You just watch.”
I rolled my eyes. Bink would forget in ten minutes and get piss drunk or something.
The village was quiet when we rolled in, most of the students either still back at the castle or huddling up inside The Three Broomsticks for warm butterbeer. We continued down the cobbled street and ended up in that sports bar Avery and I went to on our date with the Quidditch screens in the center of the tables. All of us ordered food, drinks, and though we didn’t order them, ended up with some glances from ladies at the bar.
“So where is your beau?” Fred asked, casting a playful glance in my direction as he cut his sandwich in half.
“She said she was meeting up with people in Hogsmeade,” I replied.
“She has a secret boyfriend!” Bink cried. “Damn it. I should have tried to be the secret boyfriend. Avery is hot.”
I punched him. I was really good at punching today. “And that would have gone over so well for our friendship.”
“Right. Damn it.” He clutched his shoulder and went back to his food.
I stared down at mine for a moment, mind swimming with thoughts of Avery. How many people actually thought she was attractive. Actually wanted to take their fingers and smooth back her hair the way I did. Press their lips to hers. Taste the mint on her tongue. Too damn fucking bad.
“We should build another tent,” Freddie said absently, picking at his chips. He shook his hair back and his dark eyes went to the game in the center of the table. He flinched when a player was nailed with a bludger.
“In the common room?” Bink asked. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”
“Can I come this time?” said Wesley.
“No,” I replied. “Sorry. Reflex.” I shook my head. When was the right time to start letting Wesley in on my life? He was a member of my team. Of my family. To be honest, he was probably the best bet for Captain next year unless someone failed. Except Meta. She could fail a million times and she’d never get it. Ever. “I guess you can go in if we make a new one.”
“We should just make it in the dorm,” Fred said quickly. “Between our beds. And lock out Edwards.”
“The blankets by his end would get crusty anyway,” I mumbled, running my fingers through my own hair. “I don’t know. We can do that. If you want. Maybe we can even steal some blankets from the girls.”
“I’d like Nia to remain covered, thank you,” Bink grumbled, but he was snickering. “Unless it’s in pink. Say, James, want to head to Puddifoots? I’ve heard you have quite the following there since you stormed out. Someone told me it was because you simply could not handle how responsive you were to the pink. They say it’s your new favorite color. That you can’t live without it. That your boxers are a carnation pink.”
“How do you even know the shades of pink?” I shot back.
“I’m comfortable with my sexuality,” Bink said with a cocky nod.
“Right,” I said, rolling my eyes and finishing off my food. Fred started to say something about the construction of the tent, but I wasn’t listening. My thoughts drifted back to my woman. To Avery Flynn. I wondered what she was up to—if she was in Hogsmeade already meeting friends. She said meeting someone. I wondered if they were friends. Or if it was a secret boyfriend like Bink suggested.
I pictured her sitting in Puddifoots with her hand in the large hand of some awkward Slytherin’s. I didn’t know why I thought of a Slytherin, but I hated them, so why not group them together? Anyway, this guy is built like a jackhammer with a large chin and a tie. Girls dug ties. Even though I wore one on a daily basis. He probably told her how pretty her sparkly green eyes were. That I was a daft jerk that spent too much time focusing on Quidditch and not enough complimenting her.
The thought enraged me. Even though it was fiction.
Avery fancied me. I fancied her.
That was the way it went. We liked each other. We were open and honest.
Except when her father wanted to use her to get those big windows he wanted. I hadn’t exactly told her about that. How could I? I wanted to see her happy. And even if she had to be the face of rod-iron fences wouldn’t she be happy? How could I even think that? Her father was planning on using her. And I knew about it. All about it.
“James?” Bink shoved me a little. “You okay, Cap’in?”
“I’ve been better,” I said slowly, frowning at my friends. “But it’s fine. Keep drinking, Legace, we’ve gotta get you laid tonight. I can’t stand your sulking around the dorm in your ugly gray boxers.”
“I have to wear them when I’m not getting laid!” Bink whined. “Or I’d never do laundry!”
“How long have you been wearing them?” Wesley asked and got punched by Bink.
The pub was crowded, especially after Bink offered to buy all the women around of shots. They flocked to the blondie. Fred and Bink took to the middle of the bar, which they turned into a dance floor by pressing empty tables against the wall, and started taking turns twirling pretty ladies. I liked this new place where Abigail was forgotten. Because let’s face it. She was a bitch.
I watched them for a moment, nursing my drink, as Fred twirled two girls under his arms. He was grinning like an idiot, his face flushed from the whiskey.
“No dancing for Captain Potter?” Wesley said, taking a stool next to mine and nudging me.
“My girlfriend isn’t here to dance with,” I said, surprisingly noting my mouth curved into a smile.
“Aren’t you chivalrous?” He chuckled and took a sip of his weird womanly melon drink. Gaia had given it to him with a slice of orange. “I’m sure she appreciates it.”
“You haven’t told anyone about Italy, right?” I said, glancing over and meeting his gaze. I remembered the way he spotted me, vulnerable, waiting by a fence, not understanding the tears sparkling on Avery’s cheeks.
“What about Italy?” Wesley said and then downed an ordered shot. “Don’t worry, James, I’m not like that.”
I didn’t take my eyes off of him for a few minutes, thoughts racing back to Avery kissing me on the balcony. My heart racing. Try to find her and Costaso. Trying to make sense of what I felt. What the stirring was inside of my chest. Other than the hunger seeping up from my stomach. “Good,” I said at last. “But this doesn’t mean you can talk to my sister.”
“I’m not trying to date Lily,” Wesley replied, holding my gaze. I had to lend it to him, he wasn’t backing down. “I’m her friend. Besides, she’s a third year.”
“And you’re a fifth year!” I said, brows arching immediately. “I remember what kind of hormonal crap happened that year. It wasn’t pretty.”
“She’s your sister,” Wesley said, emphasizing the final word. “You can trust me.”
“We’ll see,” was all I managed before finishing off my drink and ordering another. I didn’t know if I could trust Wesley Jordan. I could trust him with a lot, sure, like bludgers and listening to my whistles and doing what I told him. But when it came to my fragile ginger sister with her freckles and attitude problem, I wasn’t so sure. Because however much he had convinced himself that he saw her as a friend, he was a male. He had urges. And my baby sister was not going to be at the receiving end of any of them.
Bink threw his arms around me, kissing me hard on the cheek. “I’m outa here, Pottah!” he cried, slapping my face where he’d kissed it. “Found me a ginger!” He laughed loudly.
“Stay away from gingers,” I grumbled, but looked at Wes when I said it. “Have fun, Bink. Use the protection charm.”
He saluted me and vanished with some red head. I decided we had far too many gingers at Hogwarts. We should have narrowed them down to just my family and there definitely shouldn’t be any pretty ones. I’d have to tell my family not to produce pretty ones so I wouldn’t have to worry about being the police force behind keeping them flowered.
“Fred still dancing?” I asked Wesley, ordering another round for everyone at the bar. I had money, why the hell not? It belonged to Albus anyway.
“He has a line,” he replied, chuckling a little. The music was so loud he was shouting. Gaia was always good about turning it up when we got there.
She leaned over the bar and poured a shot. So I looked down her shirt. It was all for convenience really. That’s just where my gaze happened to go. Purely accidental of course. “Eyes up here, champ,” she said, tilting my head up to stare at her pretty eyes. “Another drink or are you taking a break?”
“Another,” I said, missing Avery. I missed a lot about her. I hated that. Hated that she made me think about how much I missed her. The way she smiled at me. The way she teased me. That bitch.
Gaia smirked at me. “Where’s your lady, Captain Potter?”
“Meeting someone,” I said absently.
“Another man?” she asked playfully. She poked my arm with her manicured nail.
“Godric, I hope not,” I said, shrugging. “If she is, at least I hope I catch her and can then out her and maybe whine a little.”
“Will you cry?”
“Potter men don’t cry.”
“What about Potter boys?”
“You’re pushing me, Gaia my favorite bartender.” I arched my brows at her.
“That’s what I’m here for, James.” Gaia reached over the bar, ruffled my hair, and went over to clean some glasses. She cast a smirk in my direction and served a few guys another round of shots. They leaned over and asked if they could owl her. She said no.
Eventually I stumbled to my feet, mind clouded with images of Fred snogging two girls at the same time (it wasn’t pretty) and Wesley continued to nurse his drink. He wasn’t much of a drinker and he was already a little tipsy. And I was totally legit. Like, not even drunk at all.
Until I ran into the door on the way out. Must have just closed on me. How rude.
Hogsmeade was suddenly smaller. More contracted. The garbage cans were in the center of the walkway, which I thought was strange, and people kept jumping out at me. I didn’t understand it. Not only was it a negative way to make friends, but it was also a little weird because they kept screaming when they did it. Unsure. Had to be fairly weird. They were weird. There was a girl with knots in her hair. Whatever. Mozzarella sticks.
I sat down to rest on a bench overlooking a nice Italian restaurant. I’d never eaten there because, well, why the fuck would I? First of all, I had to wait a while on my food. And in the other places like pubs and that Quidditch bar, the wait was ten minutes tops. But in that place they made everything from scratch and I was way too impatient for scratch. Maybe from boxed foods, but not scratch.
I leaned against the back of the bench, arm flopping over the side as I breathed heavily. I had to get back to the castle. The sun was gleaming down on me and even though it was still chilly, the sun was hot. I was sweating, which was a little gross and kind of uncomfortable. So I stared into the window of the Italian place.
I figured it was either irony or karma that I saw Avery Flynn in the window. I couldn’t remember what the difference was between the words, so I just thought it was both. Whatever. I stared through the gap in the curtains at her sunshine smile, brushing her hair away from her face. Only she wasn’t giggling at the joke of Emerson Edwards, pouring her heart out to some secret boyfriend, or even looking for a one night snog. She was in deep conversation with her father, leaning toward him over the table as she picked at what I judged to be broccoli.
David Flynn had on his smile. Which was so obviously fake. But I couldn’t say he was completely using her. Because he had that expression—that one that suggested he liked her. Not like me of course. But liked her as a daughter. Maybe he realized he fucked up as a father. Which, obviously, he did. But he stared at her like he wasn’t sure what he lost. Wasn’t sure how to tame this beast I fancied.
Just fancied, though, don’t get any big ideas, brain.
He leaned over and picked through his lasagna, listening to everything that was coming out of her mouth. I wish I could lip read. Or at least be sober enough to assume what she was saying was lovely compliments about how adorable I was. Or how shiny my brown eyes were. Or how soft my hair was. Way softer than Freddie’s.
But she was smiling, laughing. He had really reeled her in.
And I knew right then and there, swaying a little on the bench and even sliding my hand into bird shit, that David Flynn was going to be harder than taking out Darian Bay or Kay Davies. No, he was going to be a real opponent. Because he had Avery on his side. And I couldn’t break her heart. I couldn’t subject myself to that look in her eyes when she was disappointed. Unhappy. Even slightly annoyed like when she got one question wrong in Charms. I didn’t want that to be directed at me.
So I stood up, grabbing onto the back of the bench, and staggered toward the castle.
It was not an easy trip. Thus went three hours.
Hangovers were never fun. It wasn’t bad, just a stabbing pain in my brain, but other than that I was okay. Bink, however, was throwing up off the side of the bed most of the night. The ginger was gone by the time I made it back (thank Godric because I had pulled open the curtains and told him about Avery’s father, to which he responded by puking on my shoes) and the dormitory was only missing Fred. He arrived somewhere around five in the morning alone with his hair all over his face and his clothes sopping wet. I didn’t ask questions.
The three of us stayed in our beds until the start of the afternoon, staring in blurry torment at the ceiling. Emerson had purposely thrown around what I thought to be elephants while getting dressed, but had left hours before. Victoria’s humming was enough to get her put in the hallway.
“Hogsmeade again?” Fred asked, coughing a little.
“I don’t see why not,” I replied with a small groan as I tried to move. My head was pounding. “Got any of your father’s tonic?”
“Only a little left. I was saving it for an emergency.” Fred looked over. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy.
“It’s going to be an emergency when I cut off your arm,” I replied with a casual shrug. “But it’s up to you.” The tonic was in my hand in a matter of seconds. I uncorked it, pouring a few drops into my mouth and leaning back. It tasted horrible. Like burnt vegetables and cardboard and the bottom end of a fishing pole. But my headache was starting to ease and I glanced back and forth between the two boys. “Drinking again?”
Bink pulled on pants and a shirt since the git was naked and shrugged, taking a sip of the tonic from Fred’s dad. Uncle George was practically a chef at hangover cures. I wanted the recipe but every time he refused me. It was probably because he didn’t want me to go out drinking every night and take the tonic before Quidditch practice. Like I would do that. I’d be far too tired from being so damn awesome.
“Might as well,” Fred replied with a small nod. He lifted himself off the bed, catching the bottle from Bink, and took a swig. “I don’t see what else we’re going to do tonight.”
“Besides ask Avery how her dinner was with her father,” I interjected.
“She had dinner with her old man?” Bink asked, raising a brow.
“I told you about it!” I said loudly, staring over at him with a perplexed raise of my brow. “But then you threw up on my shoes and I had to get them clean. Avery’s eyeliner needs to get the fuck out of my bathroom. I was drunk and tempted to draw things all over the walls.”
“James,” Fred said in a quiet voice, pulling on a crisp new button-down, “You did. There are inappropriate images all over the tile in there.”
“Well, she shouldn’t have left it.”
“Want to tell my why you’ve been avoiding me today?” Avery placed a very delicate kiss to my lips when she showed up a few hours later. I had passed back out in my tired haze and the boys had long vanished. I didn’t catch where they went, mostly because I didn’t care. Hogsmeade weekends were theirs because I didn’t schedule Quidditch practice.
“Because I’m sleepy,” I mumbled, not opening my eyes. It was too light to open my eyes. Too much like day time.
“Too hungover?” Avery sat down on the bed beside me. “Nevermind. I see Fred busted out the tonic. What did you boys do last night?”
“Fred danced. Bink fucked a ginger. I did shots.”
“No having sex with gingers?” Avery asked, her tone playful as she placed her palm on my chest.
“Not yet anyway,” I said and she flicked me. “I had a talk with Wesley.”
“Don’t remember. Probably my sister. What did you do?”
“Was it fun?” I asked.
“It was really great actually,” Avery said.
I still didn’t open my eyes. It was far too comfortable. “Who did you go with?”
“Does it matter?”
“Did you tell your father I send my love?”
“James!” Avery cried. “You’ve known this whole time and you’re trying to catch me in a lie! You’re horrible!”
She went to get up and I grabbed her hand, my eyes opening. She was wearing her hair down today and it was falling in waves over her shoulders, her gaze on fire. She wrenched her hand away from mine in frustration. “You’re such a git!” she said, standing up. Her skirt rode up her thighs a bit. She caught me looking and slapped my leg.
“Ow! Aves, come on,” I said, leaning forward and grabbing her around the middle. I pulled her back onto the bed, back into my arms as I forced her chin up to stare at me. “Avery,” I said, “I was going to say something. But I wanted to know if you even wanted me to know.”
“Of course—James, we’re together.”
“So?” I said. “It’s you and your father. Is it even my place to ask about it?”
“It’s your place to ask about anything,” she said, staring down at me, her hair tickling my neck. “I trust you.”
“Do you?” I asked her, moving my thumb down her jawline. “Okay, what did you guys talk about?”
She raised a brow. Probably wondering why I was concerned at all. “We talked about my future.”
“Well, yeah,” she said. Her gaze went downward. “But isn’t it obvious? I’ve always wanted to play Quidditch.”
“Did he mention other things? Or did you just talk about that?”
Avery narrowed her eyes suspiciously. She didn’t trust me anymore. Well, not in terms of that conversation anyway.
“I’m really excited about this and you’re going to ruin it,” she said. She tried to pull away, but I had her pressed so tight against my body she didn’t go anywhere. Though her elbow did catch me in the gut.
“I won’t ruin it,” I said, meeting her eyes. They were actually excited. I hated that. “Tell me.”
“He wants me to help him out,” Avery explained. “There are these sponsors that went to the last couple Gryffindor games and really like me. And they have this lighting company—lamps, bulbs, whatever—and they want me to be the spokes person.” She grinned. Wide. Like a happy girl with a father and the world at her fingertips.
“Ah,” I said. I had to pick my words carefully. Should I pretend to be happy? Or tell her that her father is using her to get his big windows? I didn’t know exactly what to do. Especially since Avery was now straddling me and my focus was a little clouded by the feeling of her pressed against me. Sexually. “That’s amazing…right?”
“Of course!” Avery cried. “They’re offering me this brilliant promo spot and the position on their posters once I get signed. James, this is amazing.”
“Yeah,” I said. “How much is the gig worth? Gunna pay you loads? I bet your mum will be excited to hear that.”
Avery frowned. “Dad’s taking care of that part,” she said. “He’s been working with agents for years so he said he’d negotiate the deal. But I don’t see where I could go wrong. Can you see it—my face on a poster? Wind-blown hair?” She moved down my body a little to rest her head against my chest.
I lifted my fingers into her hair. “You’re right,” I conceded. “You’d look amazing on any poster. I’d buy it. Or steal it from a shopping square to post on my wall.”
“You’re horrible,” Avery whispered, leaning her head in to place a minty kiss on my lips. “But I’m happy about that.” She started tracing tiny circles on my chest. “Are you really happy for me?”
“If you’re happy,” I said, “then I’m happy.”
Happy for firewhiskey, that was for damn sure. I was back drinking my troubles away at the bar, mind focused on Mr. Flynn’s pompous grin when he walked out of that restaurant, Avery in the palm of his hands. Which is awkward, because he has small hands. I hated myself for not being able to tell her—but then again, what proof did I have? She trusted me, sure, but how would that conversation even go?
Hello, Avery, how beautiful you look today. I know you told me about your father, but he’s actually using you to make a shit load of money.
James, that’s absurd. How do you know that?
I overheard him talking about it in at the Tornadoes game.
You must have misheard. Why would he be talking about it like that?
Because he’s a creep.
I probably am.
And scene. I took another shot, eyes darting from one liquor bottle against the wall to another. But I couldn’t let her walk into this blind. Couldn’t let her really be the face of a product when she wasn’t getting paid properly for it. And the whole thing stunk of underhandedness, especially since Avery wasn’t a star. She was going to be, that was for sure, but why bother sponsoring a person if they’re not signed? If they only end up on a small farm team? Isn’t that a waste of money since no one will even know who the attractive Keeper in the photo is?
Fred and Bink were back to dancing. Back to being carefree and shitfaced, showing up at the counter only to throw back another shot before taking another girl to the dance floor. They’d become quite popular over the weekend. Damn Fred’s soft hair and Bink’s albino-ness. Wesley wasn’t there this time. I assumed he was off with binoculars ogling my sister. Jerk.
There was a hand on my arm as someone took the stool next to me. “You’re a mess, James,” Nia Baker said, pressing her pouty lips together hard.
I shrugged. “I have internal conflicts,” I replied.
“That doesn’t sound like you at all.” Nia ordered herself a butterbeer. “What’s up?”
“Where have you been anyway?” I asked her. “I’m used to you being around and shit.”
“I’ve been staying with Darian lately,” she replied softly, the places around her ears flushing. “Most of his roommates don’t stay in their room so it’s nice to have some privacy.”
“You’re well aware that git is the one that tried to take out your entire Quidditch team, right?” I asked. “By physical force and cheating.”
“He’s a sweet boy.”
“He’s an asshole!” I countered loudly. “He’s pompous, he’s a womanizer, and he does whatever it takes to win.”
“So he’s you.”
I gaped at her, my mind running over the accusations. “I’m not a womanizer,” I said.
“You would be,” Nia said, taking a sip. “If you could be.”
“Oh, go snog Bay,” I snapped. “I don’t know why you’re talking to me anyway. Your face has jealousy written all over it.”
Nia huffed angrily and stood up. “You’re such a jerk, James Potter!” She slammed the money down for the drink and spun around. “I hope you lose your next match!”
I didn’t even look back. “Just don’t bring glitter to it and we’ll see.”
The door slammed as she left.
Seriously. What was it with women? I didn’t understand them. Fred fell beside me and found another shot. “What was Baker doing here? Trying to convince you Avery is all wrong for you?”
“Or that Darian Bay is actually a sweet boy.” I rolled my eyes. “No matter. You having fun, mate?”
Freddie nodded heavily. “Am I? Bloody fuck yes I am! These girls—James, these girls are all about it.” He did a funny little shimmy. A blond fifth year came up behind him and kissed him on the cheek. She put her arms around him from behind, nuzzling into his shoulder blade. He winked at me.
Just then his hair was yanked back and I heard a very loud noise I was not fond of.
Why hello, Abigail.
The blond fifth year was on the ground with a bloody nose. Fred lost all the color in his face.
“What are you DOING?” she shrieked. I took another shot. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you and here you are—drinking and letting easy girls all over you! Why don’t you just cheat on me for the whole world to see, you scum!” She slapped him hard across the face while still holding his hair.
I arched a brow. She was crazy.
“Potter—you’re such a bad influence!” Abigail cried. “Fred, I don’t want you hanging out with him anymore. I’m not joking. Come on. We’re going back to the castle.” She tugged his hair so he stumbled off the stool in a confused daze. “Potter, you’d better back off if you know what’s good for you.”
“If I—what?” I said, jaw falling even further.
“Let’s go, Fred.” She grabbed his arm and forced him out of the pub, nearly slamming the door on him before pulling him through at the last moment.
The bar went quiet. I looked down at the blond girl, who had tears in her pretty gray eyes. “C’mere, I’ll buy you a shot,” I said, helping her onto Fred’s abandoned stool. “Clearly Abigail wasn’t nice enough to offer.”
She chuckled a little as Bink appeared at my other side.
“THAT is why I don’t do relationships!” he said loudly. “Because of crazies like that.”
“I really don’t think Avery is going to yank me off a stool by my beautiful locks,” I replied, ordering a trio of shots and spreading them out. “We’ve got to do something about that. Seriously.”
“What?” Bink asked, shrugging. “He didn’t fight back. He didn’t say anything to her.”
“Probably because he’s about to get lucky,” I grumbled. I tilted my head back and felt the burn of the liquid move down my throat. “But this is going too far. She told him not to hang out with me anymore because I’m a bad influence. If anything you are, Bink. She just hates me because of Quidditch. Even though Paloma’s the one that hit her with that bludger. Fucking lunatic.”
“At least once he’s rid of Abigail we don’t have to worry about Fred going after the ManClaw.”
I stared. “What?”
“The bloke beater. ManClaw.” Bink chuckled and shoved my shoulder.
“That’s terrifying,” I said, standing up. “I’m getting out of here. Maybe Aves is back by now. She’s with Paloma and Albus shopping. Hopefully for sexy things.”
“You wouldn’t know if she had sexy things anyway,” Bink said with a laugh and I punched him.
I left a few shots later, stumbling into the village, and stared out at the darkened streets. It looked like rain. I hated rain. It inconvenienced my life far too much. I moved past Zonkos and Honeydukes and other blurry storefronts on my way back, knees falling into a stone bench as I collapsed down on it. “Bugger,” I mumbled.
“Drunk, Mr. Potter?”
I briefly ran through who called me Mr. Potter. Adults only. Professors, my parents’ friends when they were joking around, and people who didn’t like me. Bingo.
My eyes focused on the mug of David Flynn.
“Why hello there!” I chimed. “I don’t drink. I’m a responsible of-age wizard with a cute smile.” Shut up. Shut up.
“Right,” Mr. Flynn said. He took the spot next to me on the cold bench. “We need to have a talk. And I’m going to do the talking. And you’re going to do the listening.”
“But I’m so much better at the talking,” I replied quickly. “Since I’m the Captain.”
“Not forever,” he said. Was there a weird glint in his eyes? I didn’t like that glint. He could fuck with me all he wanted, but if he tried to fuck with my Quidditch career shit was going to get real. REAL. “Listen up, Potter. We have some things we need to clear up.”
There was a mole on his neck. I wanted to flick it.
“First of all, I have come to realize you didn’t tell my daughter anything about what you heard,” he said. “And don’t pretend you didn’t hear it. I saw the look on your face. I know little creeps like you. Hopefully it’s just a phase and Avery realizes you’re no good for her.”
“Like she’s your daughter,” I huffed. “Maybe biologically.”
He ignored me. “If you tell her, I will make sure your entire life is ruined and the best job you can get after Hogwarts is the cashier at Flourish and Blotts and that’ll be only after your father owls in a favor.”
Out of all the people to bring into it, my temper boils at my father’s mention. But words aren’t coming out.
“Avery is going to do this,” he continued. “She’s excited about it. And this company is going to pay a lot.”
“To you!” I said finally.
“She’ll get some too. It’s not like she’s working for free.” He narrowed his eyes at me. “And I want you to know I could ruin her life too. If you mess this up. I could easily put in a few mentions so she doesn’t get an offer. You have Daddy to run to. Who does she have?”
I stared at him hard. I couldn’t imagine Avery not getting a letter. Not even an offer of a try-out. The look on her face would be heart-breaking. The tears. I hated it when girls cried. It was terrifying. I didn’t reply again, voice stuck in the back of my throat at the image of Avery. What did she have? Who did she have? Well, she had me. She had my family. But how would that be good enough when she had to support herself after school? When she had to help her mum with the bills? Not good at all.
“I’m glad we’ve reached an understanding,” Mr. Flynn said, raising to his feet and dusting off his trousers. “I’m so happy we did this, Mr. Potter. Do give your love to Avery for me.” He snorted and walked off before I could so much as throw a hex at his retreating back.
A/N: There's no James quite like an intoxicated James! And geez, Abigail.
I hope you all enjoyed the chapter :) Thoughts? Quotes?
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