For Indira. For making me feel like a celebrity.
Within minutes of being down there, I knew the way to Avery Flynn’s heart was not getting plastered and announcing my love for her while straddling the back of the sofa. Not that I loved her or anything. Because I didn’t. We weren’t that far and I wasn’t even sure what love was. None of my mates had been in love and I certainly wasn’t professing that Romeo and Juliet shit any time soon. Though she was far too badass of a girl to be Juliet.
Prettier name too.
Instead, I watched my brother, for the first time in recent memory, get completely shipwrecked on Firewhiskey. He must have been harboring angst because he took to it like a fish to water. Even I cringed with that stuff, but he sucked it down. Paloma’s expression was a mixture of being impressed and shocked. I went with proud.
I grabbed a beer and nursed it throughout the evening. This was very unlike me, but I needed to be unlike me to catch Avery’s attention again. To make her talk to me. I missed her. Everything about her. And it made me sound like a stupid sod. I really had more important things to be worrying about—like my Quidditch team! Like my future! My family! And the fact that Hugo wore one too many sweater vests to be deemed manly! I was glad I got Albus instead of him as a brother. Poor Rose.
Even though Albus owned sweatervests. Mental note to burn them.
I spent part of the night instructing Bink where to throw up. Part of the night being wingman to Freddie, who was striking out again and again. His reputation was killing him with Gryffindor girls and none of them wanted to hear about his experiences in the world of handcuffs. Not even if they were fuzzy. Part of the night was also spent keeping Wesley away from my baby sister, who I had confiscated Firewhiskey from. I may have let her have some tastes before now, but she was a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team now (and besides, Firewhiskey was way too strong for her. It’d have her diving out windows soon). She continued to whine at me to the best of her negative seven-year-old ability, but I ignored it. Wesley even helped. His whining was a little more refined, but didn’t work.
Music was thumping throughout the tower and even Twitwards looked to be having a good time. He was discussing something serious with Mary Mary Quite Good Gradesie and leaning against the mantle like a twit. His hair even had a bit of gel in it. Where did this bloke get his fashion sense?
Not that I had a fashion sense. I just had common sense and I knew what ladies liked. Gel? Not so much. Made the hair stiff. Mine was soft. Not as soft as Freddie’s, but I had a plan to steal his conditioner and take the title of softest hair from him as soon as possible.
What if he conditioned his hair twice? Oh, sly, Freddie, I will defeat you.
“James!” Albus cried, crashing into me and throwing his arm around my shoulders. “James! James! James!”
“I’m so glad you know my name,” I said, arching a brow at him. Was I like this when I was piss drunk? There was no way. “What’s up, brother?”
“I’ve seen Paloma naked,” he whispered. Only it wasn’t a whisper. It was more like a yell.
I blinked. “And when was this?” I asked.
Al giggled a little. He moved his dark hair out of his face. Then it went right back in his face so he tried again. Eventually, he gave up. “Two nights ago. I was staying in her room.”
“What were you doing staying in her room?” I asked calmly.
“Sleeping,” Albus responded in the same hushed shout. “But look, James, she went and took a shower. And then she came back. And then she was in this towel, right? This like, white towel. And it was white. And a towel. Around her. And she was naked under the towel.”
“Which is usually how it works.” I tried not to picture it. She was my brother’s girl-thing after all. Seriously, what were they? Instead, my mind went to Avery in a towel. This image made me both excited and very sad.
“Then she just stands in front of me and drops the towel.” Albus giggled again.
I stared. “What the bloody fuck did you do?” I tried to imagine myself in that situation. Jump on her? Cover her up? Run?
“Said something about muffins and ran for it,” Albus said, wrinkling his nose.
Potter men and their muffins.
“She pissed at you?” I said.
“Yeah.” Albus nodded heavily. “Really pissed. Won’t talk to me. She’s so pretty, James. She hates me and she’s so pretty. How does a girl get that pretty? Do they take like pills? Or have spells? I want that spell. I wanna be pretty.”
I patted Al’s head. “You’re plenty pretty,” I said.
“What ‘em I gunna do?” he whined. It was a loud whine and a few people looked over. Better quality whine than Lily and Wesley.
“You know what you’ve got to do, don’t you?” I asked. He shook his head. “You have to go be naked for her. So it’s even.”
“Right now?” Albus looked around with his bright green eyes and spotted Paloma over in the corner laughing with Lily, Haley, and Rosey.
“No, bloody not right now!” I hissed. “The rest of the damn room doesn’t want to see you naked. That’s not okay.” I shook my head. “Promise me you’re not going to strip.”
“I promise,” Al mumbled. “I need another shot. Legace is going down this time!” He released me from the tight hold and sauntered off toward a table filled with sticky shot-glasses.
My brother. Paloma Dove, the girl who isn’t even his girlfriend, drops a towel and my girlfriend hates me because I hid the truth from her. Somehow I’m contemplating switching lives.
As night fell outside, the party grew wilder. Nia was on the coffee table in a skirt and her bra. Three fifth year blokes were standing by the window betting on which would jump with a wand. Bottles were broken against the wall. Even Twitwards were piss drunk so he wasn’t doing anything about it. My Prefect relatives were giggling and singing some folk song with Bink and Wesley. Freddie had found another one of Rose’s roommates to snog by the fireplace.
That’s when I saw Avery with Elizabeth and Mary by the refreshments table. How long she’d been there, I didn’t know. I was also puzzled since she didn’t like any of her roommates. She said they were all superficial and if they weren’t superficial (Mary) they weren’t interesting. So she didn’t converse with them. Tonight was different. Perhaps it was because we were fighting? Were we actually fighting? I didn’t recall a fight other than her getting sore with me and slapping me.
I would have liked a say in the fight. A monologue would have been nice.
She spun around, giggling loudly, and leaned against the table.
Oh my Godric Gryffindor, Avery Flynn was drunk.
I thought back to the various parties this year. She had drank, of course, but socially. Never had I seen her drunk. Not this year. Maybe once fifth year when she didn’t realize the punch at the end of the year bash was spiked. You’re welcome, Hogwarts. But this was a whole different beast. Her face was flushed as she laughed, powerfully even, and her body had an uncontrolled sense about it. Palms splayed on the table, dipped in liquor. Standing on her toes. Bouncing on the balls of her feet. Leaning. Ever leaning.
Elizabeth and Mary were pretty far gone as well and I wondered if it was a girl party tonight to celebrate something I didn’t know about. Men being idiots? Would make sense.
“Avery!” Bink cried, stumbling over to her and giving her a big ol’ kiss on the cheek. “Love, how much have you had?”
“Don’t know what you mean,” Avery replied with a giggle. Rarely did Avery Flynn giggle about anything. “I haven’t had anything. Except a whole lot of rum.”
Bink put an arm around her. “You’re my date tonight, how about that? You need a strong bloke to take care of you.”
“You took enough care of Meta McLaggen,” Avery shot back with a squeal.
Bink laughed. “Oh, you take that back!” he cried. “Unfair! I didn’t see you off being shagged anyway.”
“Calling me a prude, Legace?”
“What do you think I’m calling you?”
“Then I’m calling you a prude.”
Avery poked him in the shoulder. “Just because you didn’t see me off shagging people, doesn’t mean I’m not.”
“You’re not with Potter.”
“So you gunna?”
Avery poked him again. “That’s not your business.”
“You gunna forgive him?”
“None of your business.”
“You love him?”
“Shut up, Bink.”
Bink kissed her on the cheek again. “He was up there with Victoria talking to her. You gotta talk to him soon. He’s weird when he doesn’t talk to you.” He wrinkled his nose. “Like, weirder than usual.”
They both turned and looked at me and I looked away so fast my neck damn near cracked. Ouch.
“I’m talking to him tomorrow,” Avery replied simply. “Tonight I’m having fun. Are you going to do a shot with me or not, Legace? Or is the Chaser too weak?”
“Did you not just see me beat out Al Potter?”
Avery snorted. “It’s Albus, Bink. A first year could beat him out.”
They went out of earshot and I sank further into the couch. That conversation alone made my stomach turn. And it wasn’t from the beer. I wondered if she was being truthful with Bink or just toying with him. Had she shagged people before we started seeing each other? I told her all about my women issues and she hadn’t mentioned that at all. It couldn’t be true.
But it could be.
And she was going to talk to me tomorrow. The day after today. She’d probably have a hangover too and that wouldn’t bode well for any snarky comments that slipped out of my untrained mouth. Tomorrow. I was already nervous for tomorrow. Nothing in her tone hinted she was going to break up with me. But nothing hinted that she was going to forgive me either.
Couldn’t we just move past this?
I took another sip of the beer, grimacing, and then used my wand to cool it again. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Especially Fred, who still had his tongue down that girl’s throat. I was just having an okay time. I hadn’t hexed anyone in a while. Perhaps I’d give that a go. Where was Wesley, anyway?
That was when Avery Flynn toppled over the back of the sofa and into my lap. She was laughing like a loon. “They dared me!” she cried, pointing to where I assumed Bink was with the other girls. “They dared me and I did it now YOU LOT DRINK!”
She was in my arms again. Laying with her feet on the arm of the couch, skirt riding up too much, but I didn’t look. Her soft hair was all over my arm. Her face was lit up. My heart pounded painfully against my chest.
“You okay?” I asked her quietly, staring down into her pretty green eyes.
“Not injured,” she said, trying to get up but failing miserably as she came tumbling back onto my lap. “Thanks, James. I just totally won that game.”
“What game are you playing?” Kiss me. Kiss me. Kiss me.
“It’s like truth or dare, but with just dares and if we do them, the others have to drink.” Avery grinned up at me, still laughing.
“Daredevil!” Bink cried, snorting with laughter from behind me.
I stared down at her. “You drinking a lot tonight?”
“I wanna forget some things.” Avery pinched my cheek hard.
“I don’t,” I replied somberly.
“Oh, James, you’re just so adorable!” Avery continued as if I hadn’t said anything. I shouldn’t have anyway, so I was glad she didn’t hear me. “I could just eat you up!” Then she proceeded to bite on my shoulder. And neck.
That was not good. So not good. Avery, please stop biting my neck like that.
“Yum!” Avery cried with a giggle, her lips still against my skin. Was it really that hot in here? I was feeling a little warm. Perhaps a snow charm. Ice charm. Anything charm.
“All right, Avery,” Bink said, walking around the couch and lifting Avery off of me. “You’re clearly making James here a little crazy right now. We still playing? Or do you want to snuggle with your boyfriend?”
Snuggle. Snuggle. Snuggle.
Not that I snuggled. It wasn’t manly. I just had…full body contact time.
“I’m playing, I’m playing,” Avery said, straightening her skirt and walking back over to the others. She then dared Bink to go snog Haley Star. Bink laughed and did so. Then Lily accidentally dumped a drink all over Bink and Rose and Paloma died laughing. Lily accused both girls of pushing her. It was a hot mess over there.
I finally stared behind me to where Avery, Mary, and Elizabeth were watching this unfold. Mary was hanging on Elizabeth for support and trying to drink her Firewhiskey from a straw. Avery was bopping her head to the music. Hair kept flying into her mouth. I wanted to move it.
I was going soft. James Potter was going soft for a damn girl. I had to man up! I didn’t need this.
Her gaze flickered to me.
I needed this.
I looked away, trying to seem cool. Collected. I didn’t need to party hard like my friends. I could be mature and suave. With no one.
“James, you’re being a buzzkill.” Nia came and plopped down on the sofa beside me. “Where have you been lately?”
“Hiding,” I replied with a yawn.
“You’re always hiding from me,” she replied sharply. Then she leaned her head against my shoulder. “I miss you, James.”
“Uh…” I bit my lip. Awkward. “I thought you were having snuggle time with Darian Bay?”
“Darian isn’t really as good of a snuggler as you.”
“When were we snuggling?”
Nia laughed. I was glad because I didn’t want to be hit just in case she was having mood swings. “Avery was talking about you the other day. Have you broken up yet?”
Yet? What did yet mean? Oh GODRIC WHAT DID YET MEAN!?
“We’re together,” I replied simply. I was sweating. I didn’t want to be sweating, especially at a party. Not attractive.
“Bummer.” Nia stretched and kissed my cheek. Then she kissed my jaw. Then she kissed my neck.
I sat, stone stiff, and kept my hands to myself. This was odd.
And then, just like that, Nia was on the ground, four meters away, clutching her head. “What the fuck!?” she cried.
“Stay AWAY from him!” Avery snapped. She was standing next to the couch (well, swaying) with her wand raised. “Don’t you touch him.”
“Why? You’re not.”
“I will hex you into Hufflepuff, Baker,” Avery said, fury written all over her face. It was rather terrifying. “James is my boyfriend and if you so much as kiss another part of him you won’t live to tell the tale.” Her hand was shaking.
I was her boyfriend. Hear that? Boyfriend. Right now.
But still…Nia’s words had plagued me. Yet. I hated yet. I was not a fan of yet. I was a fan of the Tornadoes. Not of yet.
“You’re a nutter, Flynn!” Nia cried, scrambling to her feet. “If you want him you’d better keep him!” She threw a hex at Avery, which my girlfriend dodged in expert fashion.
Girls were fighting over me in the common room. Drunk girls. My life was awesome.
Avery fell onto the sofa next to me once the dormitory door slammed and Nia was gone. “She’s probably messing up all my things,” she moaned.
“You can borrow my things,” I said sweetly, moving her so her head was on my lap. I smoothed out her hair. “Unless they’re dresses. Then you can borrow Twitward’s things.”
Avery giggled. She played with the material of my shirt. “I like you, James.”
“I like you too, Aves.” I smiled. It wasn’t forced. Her hair was soft and I wondered if maybe she was stealing Freddie’s conditioner.
“Wanna go makeout?” She giggled loudly and she stretched. Her shirt was coming up a bit on her stomach.
I thought about how drunk she was at this moment and wondered if she was sober, would Avery want to kiss me? The awkward way she stared at me before the tryouts was enough to know that right now, the answer was probably a no. She still felt that I betrayed her. And I did. Me and my stupid intentions betrayed the fuck out of her.
Why was I such a git?
I got that from my father.
Or Uncle Ron.
“Wanna? Wanna?” Avery giggled, tugging on my shirt a little.
“Of course, Aves,” I replied, leaning down and pressing my lips to hers briefly. Fuck, how much I missed that. My stomach was in all sorts of knots. “C’mon. Let’s go upstairs so Bink can’t wretch on my shoes.”
When I woke up, Avery Flynn was gone. We’d fallen asleep together the night before. She was wearing one of Grandma Weasley’s sweaters she’d made me with a big old J right on the front. That and a pair of my boxers. She looked stunning and I fell asleep hours after her just watching her. That was a totally creepy thing to do, but it had felt like ages since the last time I got to do that. So I took full advantage, just in case she didn’t want to lay together anymore.
We snogged for a while too, which was beyond nice. She giggled a little, which I knew was because she was intoxicated, but it didn’t bother me. I liked everything about her. Even the way she tasted like pineapple rum.
But when I woke the left side of the bed was empty and cold. She’d been gone for a while.
Freddie was alone in his bed too (thank Godric) and was half on-half off his pillow. Bink was slobbering everywhere. Even Emerson wasn’t tossing and turning. I chuckled at this. Then I got out of bed and slammed my wardrobe door a few times.
“Stop. Noise.” Bink rolled over. Right into his saliva.
I chuckled. “Hungover, Binkie?” I said loudly.
I slammed it again (Fred threw something sharp at me) and then pulled out some clothes. “Any of you see when Avery left?”
“You two good again?” Bink mumbled, rolling over. He shoved the pillow over his face.
“We snogged and slept in the same bed,” I said, frowning. “But she was piss drunk so I’m not sure that counts.”
“Completely.” I chuckled and got into polo and khakis. “Wonder where she skirted off to. Bonus James points if it was to make me breakfast. Or at least get me breakfast. Or come out of the bathroom in a towel and drop it.”
“What’re you even talking about?” Freddie threw something else sharp at me. “Go ruddy find her. Get away from me. Stop being loud. I hate you. We’re on a friendship timeout.”
I laughed and slammed the door again and all three of them groaned.
“Before you go…” Freddie opened his eyes and brought his blanket up to his bare chest.
“Want me to sing you a lullaby?”
“Bring me Victoria. I need a cuddle.”
I rolled my eyes, wondering if I should torment him for that later. Instead, I got Victoria out of her cage and placed her gently on Fred’s arm. She nuzzled him. “Don’t roll over on her,” I warned. “Or I’ll have someone roll over on you.”
“If she’s hot let’s make that happen.”
I slapped him on the back of the head and then left to find my girlfriend.
Avery was very good at not being found when she didn’t want to be. In fact, she was almost too good. But I found her (quicker, this time) back at the pitch. Luckily, she wasn’t sitting on a hoop. This time she was on the players’ bench out on the side of the pitch where she’d been during try-outs. She still had on my Weasley sweater, but it was over jeans and unlaced shoes.
I sat next to her. “Feel okay?” I asked.
“Threw up four times this morning,” Avery grumbled, holding her arms tight to her body. “It was not a good start.”
“I can tell.” I wanted to ask her why she left. I could have held her hair back. But perhaps girls didn’t want blokes seeing them like that.
Now that I thought of it, I didn’t really want to see her dinner coming back up.
Avery glanced over at me and her hair fell back into her face. I moved it with my left hand. She smiled simply. It was a nice moment. “James, we need to talk.”
It was a nice moment until she bloody said that.
“Okay,” I said. My throat was suddenly very dry. Like I couldn’t breathe. Okay, breathing through the nose. That I could handle. Heart hammering. Had to calm that down. And she hadn’t even said anything yet.
She turned away for a moment, staring out at the pitch. A place that had been such a sanctuary for the both of us over the years. Through our turmoil. “This is really difficult.”
I stayed silent. Now feeling like I was going to throw up. This made me really thankful I hadn’t had anything to drink last night.
“James, do you even understand the pressure I’m under?” Avery said quietly, putting her hair back behind her ear. “This whole month has been an absolute mess.”
“With your dad?”
“With you. With my father. With your family. With the Quidditch team.”
“It was just…speedbumps…”
“I don’t think for a moment you believe that,” Avery replied quietly. “I think it’s best just to leave this go. It’s too hard.”
“What’s too hard about it?” I asked, my tone a little higher than normal. Throat was still dry.
“Well, there’s the Code,” she whispered. “It’s already set up for us to fail. Everyone against us. We’re not following the rules.” She shook her head. “That’s not why and you know it. Between the hatred about that, you being attacked by Lawson and Emerson…and then this stuff with my father.”
“I’m sorry!” I said suddenly, staring over at her. There was a very uncharacteristic pleading look in my eyes. “You wouldn’t hear me out and I bloody don’t think that’s very fair.”
“It doesn’t matter, James, don’t you get it?” she said. “This isn’t going to work. You kept that from me. Godric only know what else you’re keeping from me to save me or whatever. It was fine when we were friends. You told me everything. You were honest with me.”
“I can be honest!” I said. “I am honest. I’ll be honest right now. Ready? Don’t break up with me.”
“We’re not right together, James,” Avery whispered. “There’s too much pressure and it’s too hard. I’m sorry. We were always better as friends and I take full responsibility if you no longer want to speak with me. I was the one who kissed you.” She still wouldn’t look at me. “I am going to contact my father and get this whole mess sorted out.”
“So this is what you’ve been thinking about?” I asked, mouth hanging open. “How to let me down easy?”
“Don’t say it like that,” she said.
“How do you want me to say it?” I asked, voice rising. “Were you thinking about that last night while we were snogging? Didn’t seem to think there was too much pressure then! Or when you were hexing Nia for kissing my bloody neck!”
“I was drunk!” Avery cried angrily. “And that’s what I mean by too much pressure! I’m sick of all of this, James. I can’t handle it. We’re better as friends and that’s what we’re going to be.”
“Is it?” I choked a little. I couldn’t imagine going back to just being friends.
Especially with the way we would lounge on my bed in each other’s arms. The thought was painful. The way she talked about her date with Twitwards almost brought me to rage. I had fancied her that whole time we were friends. How could I go back to that without fancying her?
“It has to be,” Avery replied slowly. “Because I can’t do this anymore. It hurts too much. I have to figure things out with my father.”
“What’s there to figure out?”
“I have to figure out something!” Avery glanced over and I was startled to see the tears in her eyes. “I just—I thought things were going so well with him and I and then it turns out it’s not at all. That’s enough to crush someone’s spirits, James.” She sniffed, tears falling down her cheeks. “I’m going to talk to Mum about it and see what she thinks I should do.”
Once upon a time she used to ask me what I thought she should do.
“I’m sorry, James,” Avery said, taking in a strangled breath. “I’m really sorry. I just can’t.”
I continued to stare at her pained face. It was me. I had done this to her. The only girl I ever cared for and she was sobbing on the side of the Quidditch pitch. The girl who rarely cried, who was stronger emotionally (and sometimes physically) than me. And I broke her. This was me. And it was too hard for her to put up with my bullshit and she had to get out.
After only a few weeks.
I ruined this.
I blinked a few times, returning my gaze to the grass at my feet. “I understand,” I said in a whisper. I did understand. But I hated to understand. I hated her there, next to me crying, and there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t wrap my arms around her and tell her it would be okay. Or tell her a joke. Or kiss her gently. Or just hold her since she looked so cold.
Instead, I stood up and left. I walked numbly all the way back to the castle, cold breeze chilling me to the bone. I suspected it wasn’t only the breeze. I shuffled through the Entrance Hall, ignoring calls from third years about try outs for next year. I walked up the stairs, strategically missing the sinking step. I didn’t remember half of the journey. Talking portraits. Laughing students. A couple trying to melt into a wall as they snogged.
Somehow I found Gryffindor Tower and my bed. I locked the door. Closed the curtains. I grabbed Victoria from her cage where Freddie had left her, curled up, and fell asleep before my thoughts could consume me any more than they already had.
If I was asleep, it wouldn’t hurt as bad.
I slept through the whole night, even when Freddie told me Wesley and Lily were spending alone time on the pitch. I just rolled over with Victoria and stared at the inside of my hangings. I fell back to sleep eventually, the pain in my stomach from hunger and hurt a dull ache. I ignored it. I didn’t say anything. I just ran my fingers through Tory’s fur. Even when Fred offered me chocolate I stayed still. He left it on the bedside stand and I ate it once he was gone.
This is something Avery and I would always deal with together. Pain. I’d never experienced heartache before, but I assumed that’s what this was. Never felt so alone. So abandoned. Not even Freddie and Bink could make me smile. Not to say they didn’t try. Bink even got naked and danced around the room. Twitwards gave him a detention so Bink danced over by him for a while.
I just wanted to be left alone. Victoria and I were fine together. We were going to be a team now.
But I couldn’t help but wonder, once the dancing boys had gone to sleep, what would become of this? She insisted we would be friends, but she had to be daft to think that would happen. Our friendship was too close—too us—to just revert back to. We spent evenings in each other’s arms. We talked about horribly personal things. I’d never talk to her about another girl because she was my girl.
Not anymore, I silently reminded myself.
I had to get over this. I had to find my Captain-y strength and move on and concentrate on other things. Unfortunately, when I tried to think about other things, all I thought about was if Avery was thinking about other things. Other blokes. Other opportunities. And it sank me further into myself.
That night was a night I will never want to remember. And a night I will never forget.
The next week was a disgusting blur of emotions I was not comfortable showing. Most of them stayed contained behind scarlet hangings, but a few escaped onto the pitch. I canceled full team practices that week even though the Final was approaching. I kept to my bed, brushing Victoria, scanning Quidditch Weekly articles, and thinking.
Far too much thinking.
I attended the classes I felt like attending. And when I did, I sat far away from Avery Flynn. I didn’t hate her. I couldn’t. I still cared so much about her. Too much. I just couldn’t look at her without having a horrible ache in my stomach not unlike being kicked right in the gut after losing a Quidditch Final. By a stiletto heel. With spikes. Spikes that had poison shooting out of them.
I figured both Fred and Bink thought I was being dramatic. Hell, even Bink was together with Meta longer than Avery and I were a couple. But she didn’t break up with me because she didn’t fancy me or because I cheated on her. She broke up with me because it was too hard.
My entire life seemed too hard, and this was too easy. Too simple to just fall for my best friend. Fall in like. Not love. Potter boys didn’t love. Well, yet.
I wondered if Albus was in love with Paloma and was too scared to make a move. I bet he thought it was too late and she was just into taking towels off in front of him. Al was destined to be an old cat man. Or pygmy puff man. I’d let him babysit Victoria while I was out making a name for myself in professional Quidditch. With the ladies and shit. Since Avery Flynn didn’t want me.
I rolled over on the bed, slamming my fist into the pillow. I’d been doing that a lot lately. In fact, I was shocked the bugger wasn’t destroyed by now. My wand was on hand just in case. I didn’t want Tory eating feathers anyway.
My mind was going a mile a minute. Where had I gone wrong? Was it just not telling her? Or was there something before that? A trigger point?
It was too good to be true. She was too good to be true. It was always like that. I was stupid to think I deserved a girl like Avery. She could do so much better than me.
“James? Are you offing yourself in there?”
Bink let out a heavy sigh. “Mate, I can’t let you just stay in here all week.” It was Wednesday. I’d left to coach Haley once, Lily twice, and go to Herbology. I figured I’d owed it to Longbottom since he let me slide on several occasions. If I got another fucking detention I would be in danger of overturning the Code yet again. I’d already done enough damage.
Ah, the Code.
Avery and I breaking up was exactly what the Code was in place to prevent. Awkward encounters. Messy break-ups. Not that ours was messy—
“James, get the fuck up.”
“I said go away.”
“You’re being a shit captain.”
My eyes flashed, but Victoria moved on top of my chest and nuzzled into my neck, which made me forget about it. “What do you suggest I do?”
“Get out of bed and come practice with us.”
I tried flying. My eyes kept moving to the hoops. Avery perched on the center hoop, legs dangling over the side. Her hands on her broom, staring a Quaffle down before grabbing it out of the air. Avery in general. Dark hair in waves over her shoulders. This was going to be a difficult rest of the year. At least once the year was over we could avoid each other in peace.
Friends? Fat chance.
Not when every time I saw her I felt like throwing up.
This was unfamiliar to me. My flying was shit. My turns were shit. My dives were shit. Now instead of not sleeping, I was sleeping too much. I woke up, ate something Freddie left on my bedside stand, and went back to sleep. I lost track of my days.
All for a girl.
I wasn’t proud of it. It wasn’t my shining moment. But what made it worse was the blame. The knowledge that it was me that pushed her over the edge. She didn’t leave me for some tall, dashing Twataso. No, she left me because I wasn’t satisfactory.
Which was so much worse.
Thursday I tried flying some more. Avery was laughing with Lily in the common room when I returned. I refused to meet her eyes. I could tell she looked concerned though. I wondered if her eyes were puffy and red. Mine were not.
Friday I felt a little better and ventured downstairs for breakfast. Avery wasn’t there, but neither were most people. Lily and Haley were on the pitch practicing drills I’d given them. Nia was at the Hufflepuff table tucking a napkin into Darian Bay’s shirt. Even Elizabeth was buried in a book. I stared at my breakfast.
I had no appetite.
Blimey, I sounded dramatic. Like a fucking woman.
I shook my head. I had to get out of this funk. This plaguing disaster.
I had to move past Avery Flynn.
Bink slid into the seat next to me and helped himself to most everything on my plate. “Going home for Easter Holidays?” he asked, stuffing a whole boiled egg into his mouth.
“Is—is that this weekend?” I gaped at him. Time had not been good to me.
“Yeah, mate,” he replied. Fred sat on my other side. “Most people are gone already. Took Floo out since it’s faster. Mary and Edwards left this morning.”
“You going?” I asked.
“My parents are in the Alps,” Bink replied, shaking his head. “I’m staying right here where I can go to the pub in peace. Our housekeeper likes to fuss over me wearing ties.”
“Must be hard,” I teased, laughing a little and stealing an egg back.
“You could have a housekeeper too, Potter, don’t act like you don’t have quite the bank account.” Bink wiggled his almost-white eyebrows. “Your family just believes in you pretending to dust in order to instill values.”
“And did you learn them?” Freddie asked, laughing.
“Of course.” Fred nodded. “For example, when I pretended to dust the shelves at the shop, Pop gave me two Galleons. I now know the value of pretending. Imagination is a powerful thing.”
“See? Values.” I nodded heavily and took a drink of orange juice. Too much pulp. “Who else is going then?”
“Lucy and Hugo and Louis,” Fred said, ticking them off his fingers. “Roxanne is staying. She says her boyfriend is here.” He arched a brow. “I’m going to need to put on a disguise, find out who this bloke is, and take him down. Wanna help?”
“Might have to,” Bink replied. “You can’t do it on your own.”
“We’ll have a bloke’s week in,” Freddie said with a heavy nod. “Sound good, James?”
I nodded. “I need it.” I ruffled my hair nervously and peered around. The Gryffindor table was filled with annoying second years gabbing about classes. Why the fuck did people talk about classes? I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t something I normally dedicated precious conversation to when Quidditch could be spoken about.
Bink stole my other egg. “Avery left this morning,” he said in a quiet voice. “In case you were wondering.”
“I wasn’t,” I said quickly.
A/N: I hope you all enjoyed this chapter...even though it was really, really sad. Poor James. Getting his heart toyed with. At least Freddie and Abigail are done for good and Haley Star is getting along well with everyone.
Also, sorry about the cop-out chapter image. I had to get this chapter in the queue in a very short span of time. :) I still think it's cute though!!
What do you think? Will Javery survive?
Up Next: Rose and Lily try and snap James out of his funk, James leaves Hogwarts, and the 'rents make and appearance.
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