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It took us all of a half hour to be at the pitch. We perched high in the stands, huddled under cloaks and blankets with warm cups of cocoa because even though it wasn’t the dead of winter anymore, it was damn cold. Especially that high up. Could have had wings for as high as I was. I was flanked by Bink and Freddie, as per usual, and the rest of the team was scattered around us. Lily was there too. Now she was supposed to be since she was on the team. She was sitting with Haley Star and Avery talking about something girls talked about. Probably nail polish color or the sparkles on dog collars and how they didn’t manage to get stuck in their fur.
Something society will never figure out.
Albus was there too since we saw him on the way to the kitchens being all Prefect-like and complaining about us watching the try-outs.
“Kay Davies was there when Lily tried out,” I insisted. Albus didn’t know much about Kay Davies. I could have made up a name and he would have believed me. He knew little of Quidditch and its wonderfulness.
So it was the Quidditch team and my damn brother up in the stands with blankets and cocoa. The blanket was scarlet and gold. We weren’t very subtle. Should we have to be? Gryffindor held the Cup the last several years. We won our first two games against Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. I was sitting pretty on a throne of Quaffles and waffles.
Waffles sounded really good. I nudged Fred. “Waffles sound good,” I said.
“Waffles always sound good.” Fred tugged on a pair of mittens (manly ones that Grandmum made him, just like mine but less awesome) and focused on the pitch. “Kay’s down there. She’s pacing. I love that she’s pacing.”
“Because her standing still isn’t as attractive?” I guessed.
“Because she’s terrified.” There was a grin on Fred’s face I recognized as bitterness and spite. He rarely gave into emotions like that (I usually occupied them), but when he did it was glorious. “ManClaw down! ManClaw down!” He was now laughing loudly. It echoed a little and Kay’s eyes snapped up to is. I could have sworn there was a ‘hmpf’ before she turned back to a couple of her teammates.
“Does Ravenclaw even have anyone else who can play?” Bink mused, leaning back on the bench behind us and sighing. “They’re not exactly known for their prolific talent.”
“I’m uneasy at your use of big words,” I mumbled, warming my hands with the cocoa and taking a sip. “You think they’ll add first years to the team? Can you imagine knocking one of them off their broom?”
“We probably won’t play Ravenclaw,” Fred added. “They lost too bad to us to have a bid for the Cup.”
“Okay, Captain.” I saluted him as the doors opened from the Ravenclaw locker rooms and a whole slew of people came walking out. It was more than I thought there would be and they were being led by Abigail. Somewhere around fifteen students filed out behind her, their brooms a mixture between decent and terrible. Was that a Cleansweep? There was one of those ancient things in the shed at the Burrow. I didn’t know they still flew. I used it to get the cobwebs out from under the porch when Freddie and I needed a lair.
“They all look tiny,” Bink noted, wrinkling his nose. “They’re going to get destroyed by the Puffers.”
“Or Darian Bay will just try and off them before,” I mumbled. I watched as the group crossed the pitch and stood in front of Kay. She started spewing off some garbage about Ravenclaw loyalty. The wind was a little loud so it was hard to hear her and I thanked Godric Gryffindor for that.
“What’re you doing tonight?” Paloma asked Albus. She had on one of those sweaters that wasn’t really a sweater. It was a long-sleeved shirt with ribbing. Girl thing. She looked freezing, but she looked damn good and I figured that was the point since I had to keep looking away to stop from staring.
“Homework.” Al stretched out and yawned. Bored already.
“What about after homework?” Paloma tilted her head to the side, which I looked away from since her hair fell a little down her shirt and that was distracting.
Especially for someone who hadn’t been snogged in a while.
Where was Nia on a nice, crisp spring day like today?
Maybe Bink was right. Maybe what I needed was to most past Avery. We tried. It didn’t work. We were better off as mates. I just had to move past my feelings, she could move past hers, and we could slowly go back to being friends and talking again. I figured those nights of falling asleep in each other’s arms were gone, but I’d take what I could get. We’d been friends too many years to throw that away over a failed relationship. Besides, we still had another Quidditch match to win and I couldn’t do that when I could barely meet her eyes.
To Do List:
-Get over Avery Flynn
-Play lots of Quidditch
-Another rebound? Bink would suggest that
-Find a way to fix Freddie’s brains
-Another snog or two
-Become mates with Aves again
“I cannot believe you fucked everyone on that team,” Bink mumbled, reaching around me to punch Fred on the arm. “It’s like a big off-limits sign right on their faces.”
“Only because you’re uncomfortable with it,” Fred replied matter-of-factly.
Bink wasn’t the only one uncomfortable with the idea of a shag that Fred had already had.
“What’s wrong with having an early night?” Albus asked Paloma, finishing off his cocoa and placing the empty cup next to his feet. He was one of those guys that when we went to the Muggle theater he grabbed every tiny piece of garbage and brought it to the bin on the way out. Half the fun of the theater was leaving candy wrappers on the ground and chucking popcorn at people throughout the movie.
“Nothing.” Paloma shrugged. “Look. Try-outs.”
Try-outs weren’t even happening yet. Kay was still gabbing on about something or another. Probably about how Ravenclaw isn’t good enough and they should all off themselves before the massive embarrassment that was their next game. Or maybe she was telling them all about how devilishly good-looking I was, in which I could let the length of conversation slide.
Avery was up by Lily and Haley squinting at the pitch just like Bink was doing. She was still wearing that obnoxiously bright orange scarf.
Kay blew her whistle and the groups split off into pairs. The other Ravenclaw players moved into the air with extra padding on in case the single Bludger was too much for the prospects and the first duo took to the sky. The first group was shit. Complete shit. Kay blew her whistle two minutes in because Abigail had a bloody nose.
Freddie was howling with laughter at that.
Let’s face it, we all joined him.
The second pair wasn’t much better, though the thick blond boy hit the Bludger a few times, only to run into the hoop. Himself. Right into the hoop. Knocked himself out.
“Thought Claws were supposed to be smart,” muttered Bink. “No wonder you can bed them so easy, Weasley.”
“I didn’t shag that one,” Fred said. “Now the other one I wouldn’t mind.” He laughed, his eyes on the girl who landed. Kay told her to go and she dragged her Nimbus off the pitch with a heavy heart.
That’s Quidditch for you. Only the best survive.
And Kay Davies because she probably threatened to overthrow all of Ravenclaw if she didn’t get the Captain slot. She’d never even be on the Gryffindor team if she was a Lion. She’d get the water bottles.
I turned around. “Oy--Al?” He was sitting alone with his eyes closed. Paloma had gone to hang out with Lils, Aves, and Haley. Hales?
Al’s eyes flickered open. “What?”
“You want to sit down by the bench at the Final?” I asked.
“Good. You can get the water bottles for us. Thanks, bro.” I grinned and turned back toward the try-outs. Group three didn’t make it a minute before they were both knocked out by Bludgers.
Al nailed me in the back of the head with his empty cup.
The next few were so boring I spent the minutes playing a three-way rock-paper-scissors with Fred and Bink. Which, by the way, doesn’t work. I won every round though, thanks to the invention of “Quaffle” which destroys everything when I throw it. Boom. Mastered rock-paper-scissors-QuafflethrownbyJamesPotter. I got a punch in the arm for it, but it was worth it.
“You should still take Gaia on a date,” Bink said softly, glancing out at the two latest Beaters. A bloody mess. “Might as well get out there.”
“What about Nia?” I asked.
“Well, you’d get laid...”
I cleared my throat. “I can’t take anyone on the team on a date. There’s a Code about that.”
“Which you broke,” Bink noted.
“So did you!”
Bink shrugged. “You broke it more. You’re the Captain.”
I punched him in the shoulder. It hurt. He had a bony shoulder. “I don’t want to take Gaia out. If it didn’t work she’d spit in my drinks or something. And Nia’s so...Nia? Maybe Elizabeth?”
“Why don’t you just take Haley?” Fred asked, glancing over. He shrugged. “She’s a reserve. Does that even count?”
I thought about it. There was nothing written into the document I received on the last day of sixth year that said anything about reserves. Nothing. Just about current players. There were even details about each position. But nothing on reserves. I glanced back up at Haley Star. She was pretty and ginger (ignoring that part. Thank you, relatives) and bundled up in a tweed coat and jeans. Cute. Nice. Good at Quidditch.
“I could do that,” I mused, frowning. “I don’t know if she’d like a bloke like me.”
“She doesn’t have to like you. She just has to go out with you to get your bloody mind off of Flynn,” Bink said impatiently. “You can be friends afterward.”
“But what if--what if we fall madly in love and Lily gets injured and she has to play on the team and then we break up and she throws the match because she hates me because I lied to her about her father?” I took a very deep breath.
“Shut up and ask her to fucking dinner, Potter.” Bink yawned and leaned forward on his knees. “Another one just got taken out by his own Bludger. Are these secretly Hufflepuffs? Bloody fucking hell.”
I glanced back at Haley. She was laughing. She looked pretty when she laughed. Lily was laughing too. Avery was looking at both of them like they were crazy. I tried to ignore what I thought the conversation could be about.
“Oh my gosh, Lily, your brother is so cool,” Haley probably said. “I’m such a pretty ginger!”
“I know! I’m so jealous of his coolness that I had to be on the team!” Lily nodded.
Avery looked between them. “I let him go and I regret it every day and now I lost out because you are a pretty ginger, Haley Star.”
That was basically it.
“Just do it, Potter,” Bink said, elbowing me. He only called me Potter when he was irritated. Or talking in his sleep about pottery. Different.
“Why’s she look familiar?” Fred pointed to the next duo, who had not yet run into the hoops, been killed off by Bludgers, or gotten screamed at by Kay. One was a girl with platinum blond hair and a Ravenclaw sweatshirt (they made those? Why?) and the other was a girl with choppy brown hair and sneakers.
“That’s Amy,” I said, nodding.
“Who is she?”
“A Ravenclaw.” I shrugged.
“Why do I know her?” Fred frowned, lost in thought. His brains were addled so it took him longer than me to figure out how he knew her. “She’s mates with Abigail. They were talking a few times. I remember.”
I nodded. “Yep,” I said. She wasn’t half bad. She missed a couple Bludgers, but platinum-blond was already shrieking about her hair products. “Why?”
“Freddie wants her naked,” Bink said, laughing hard. “Lay off, mate. You said you were done with Ravenclaws after Crazy Abbey. I’ve started calling her that--can we make that a thing?”
“Consider it a thing,” I agreed. “Seriously, Fred, she probably just knows you as Abigail’s ex. That’s what I know you as. Since she still has all your dignity and all.”
I got a sharp elbow to the gut. Worth it.
Step one. Get over Avery Flynn.
I stood, leaving Fred to his drooling of the brunette, and walked over to where Lily, Avery, and Haley Star were sitting. The trio glanced at me, all of them with arched brows. Their nail polish conversation had ceased for now.
“Hey, James,” Lily said, her voice stiff. It had to be when my ex was sitting next to her.
“Hey,” I said, nodding. A whistle blew on the pitch. “Oy, Haley, can I have a word?”
“Sure, Captain.” Haley gave the corner of the blanket to Avery and stood up, following me several meters away. She brushed her hair out of her eyes. “What’s up?”
I stuffed my hands in my pocket. When was the last time I actually asked a girl on a date? With Avery I think I just told her we were going out. Did I ask Nia? Maybe she asked me? I couldn’t remember and didn’t much care. Bink probably did this for a living. I’d mooch off of him the next time I wanted a snack in the village.
“Hey, so...” I glanced around. Lily’s eyes were on me. Bitch. “So how are you?”
“I’m fine.” Haley was doing her best to suppress the smirk on her lips. “How are you?”
“Great, great.” I cleared my throat. “Some try-outs, huh?”
“Yeah. Ravenclaw has no chance.”
“Right!” I said, nodding. “No sodding chance. Like they ever did. We stomped all over them.”
“In expert fashion, might I add,” Haley said with a smirky smile. I enjoyed that. She thought my arrogance was endearing.
“You can add that all you want.” I glanced back at the pitch. “So did you want to do something this week? Get some coffee or dinner or hang out?”
Haley was quiet for a moment and since I was looking away I couldn’t see her expression. Whether or not she thought I was a complete idiot. I assumed complete idiot. Who was I to ask her out on a date? She was just talking to Avery! She knew about the breakup. Well, pieces. She knew I’d never done the relationship thing. She probably wasn’t the random snog type of girl either. Bink was an idiot.
I glanced back, brown eyes wide. “Really?”
“Sure, why not? This doesn’t break the Code, does it?”
I shook my head. “No. Reserves aren’t included.”
“Then yeah. That sounds fun.” She grinned. She had a pretty smile. “When?”
“Sounds brilliant, Captain.” Haley gave me a salute. “See you then.” She gave me a pat on the arm and went back to the girls, grabbing the blanket, and jumping into the conversation.
Well, that wasn’t so hard.
Fred and Bink were still debating Amy when I sat back down.
“She fancies me,” Fred said simply.
“You’ve never spoken to her.”
“Look. She’s looking at me.”
“She’s looking up here because there is a loud-mouthed group of Gryffindors,” Bink shot back. “She’s not looking at you. If anything, she’s looking at me.”
“I’m the Captain,” I said, butting in and grabbing my cocoa to take a drink. Except it was cold and cold cocoa is enough to send a man over the edge. Disgusting. “So she’s looking at me.”
“You ask Haley?” Bink said.
“She say yes?”
“Going to get laid?”
I elbowed him. “Shut it.” I looked down at the pitch and sure enough, Amy’s eyes were focused at our gaggle of Gryffindors. “She’s looking at me.”
“Not unless she wants a dozen of cousins-in-law and a famous father,” Bink mumbled.
“Yeah well,” I said, shoving him off the bench. “You’re albino.”
Once it was announced Amy got the slot on the Ravenclaw team, we had a good laugh and Bink did a rendition that was a little sexist about an all-girls team. But it worked out once he got punched by all the girls on the team. Since all those girls were by no means super-feminine (Paloma was like a false positive in that department), he got four enormous bruises down the side of his arm. And another in his gut from Lily.
I patted Bink on the back. “Don’t worry, mate,” I said. “We’ll get you some ice. Oh, you might want to pick up your dignity. It fell.”
I got punched for that. This was turning into a painful outing.
“All right, Freddie, let’s get Bink to the infirmary to patch him up.” I grinned and turned. But Fred wasn’t there. Or with Albus. Or the girls. Or Wesley, who was inching toward the girls. “Where’d he go?”
“To get laid.” Bink pointed down onto the pitch.
Fred was already in conversation with Amy. And she was laughing. Something told me it wasn’t about his lack of a chance with her.
Common room adventures were less adventurous after coming back from the Easter holidays. For one, Avery and I weren’t a team anymore. She sat on one side of the common room and I sat on the other. I tried to focus on my studies, but Bink’s twenty questions were making me crazy. Fred refused to answer any of them, other than to say “She’s pretty” about a thousand times.
At least things were starting to look up. I had a date coming up. Quidditch was going well. If I could manage it, I’d start tripping Clint Lawson in the hallway. Emerson hadn’t come down to the common room yet. I wasn’t in a passive aggressive fight with my father anymore. And Mum had let me bring back cookies, which Fred was currently stuffing in his face.
Most of the team was just lounging about reading and studying. Which I thought was stupid, but I had my Charms book open since I didn’t do a damn thing over the holidays other than get pudgy from Mum’s cooking. Okay, not pudgy. I was manly and sexy.
Paloma had abandoned helping Lily with flash cards fifteen minutes before because my baby sister knew every term on there and was still obsessing over them, but other than her everyone else was busy being awesome members on my team. Now that Meta was gone I could say that.
May the Arrows be damned.
“Just tell me what she said,” Bink insisted.
“She said she’s pretty.” Fred nodded and turned a page in his Potions book. Like he was actually reading. Could Freddie read? A mystery that had yet to be solved.
“She did not say that she is pretty.” Bink narrowed his eyes. “You’re a git.”
“She didn’t say I’m a git.” Fred was beaming. Like a git.
I turned away from them, bored. Amy was pretty and all, but once Fred was interested in a girl they all sort of blurred together in my eyes. Thank Godric he stayed away from Gryffindor. Nia was off by the window with Elizabeth and I still couldn’t figure out how the pair of them even spoke. Let alone didn’t off each other. Especially now that I was single.
Avery was curled up next to the fire with a thick afghan and a book the size of my head. It wasn’t for class.
I was moving on. Moving on from Avery Flynn. Things were going to be fine and we were going to be mates again. Just had to get rid of the pesky feelings and she had to stop being sad and stuff. She would punch her father and I would help her and then things would be dandy.
“You’re a fucking pervert!”
My eyes snapped up, going to the staircase of the girls’ dormitory. Paloma Dove was marching down it, her hair a little disheveled and her face on fire. My little brother was behind her.
In his boxers.
Oh Godric fucking Gryffindor.
Albus was rushing after her in his plaid (not even scarlet and gold plaid! treason!) boxers. He wasn’t tan enough for that. “Paloma--hold on.”
“In front of my roommate!” she cried, eyes wide. She didn’t look back at him. She had one of those death-looks like all the Weasley-Potter children got. No, the females. They had special talents I was still discovering.
Like Rose’s ability so smell out alcohol from the common room. Thief.
“I didn’t mean it to happen in front of them! Bloody--come back here!”
“Stay away from me!” Paloma walked by the big table by the window and threw one of the chairs back. Violent little thing. “Maybe you should go date one of them instead. Oh wait.” She finally did turn at that. I could tell she was fighting not to laugh at him for his attire. “You’re not even dating me. So that argument is invalid.” She rolled her eyes and marched out of the portrait hole, leaving Albus cold, shirtless, and looking like a tosser next to my couch.
I looked up at him. “What’d you do?”
“Shut up, James.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “Shit. Give me your pants. I’m going to go after her.”
“What makes you think I’m going to take off my pants in the common room and just hand them over?” I raised a brow. Fred was choking from laughing so hard. “What did you do?”
“Took your fucking advice.” Albus slapped me hard on the back of the head.
“What? To unorganize your sweater vests? I didn’t think she hated messes that much...”
“I got naked,” Albus hissed and Bink and Fred lost it laughing.
“What?” I beamed. “What happened? She clearly did not think you were that attractive. I’ll give you the key to the workout rooms down at the pitch.”
“Can’t you guess what happened?” Al whispered, leaning down. He really was too pale. “She went into the bathroom and I got all--well, I took my clothes off--and then her roommate walked in. And because of the shriek, she came out of the bathroom.”
I was biting down on my tongue to stop from laughing. It didn’t work. “Which one of her roommates? I hope it wasn’t that blond one. Fred’s already seen her naked and I can’t handle that enough as is.”
“It doesn’t matter!” Al snapped, slapping me on the back of the head again. Why was today so violent? “It matters that Paloma just took off out that door and she saw me naked.”
“Obviously not impressed with your scrawny frame.” I shrugged, rubbing my hair where he hit me. Git. “Go put some bloody clothes on. She’ll calm down and come back.”
“Albus, what the fuck are you doing?” Rose walked over and flopped down between Freddie and me. “Why are you half-naked? That’s awkward.”
Albus let out a very angry yell and marched upstairs toward the sixth years’ dormitory. “I am never taking your advice again!”
I chuckled and glanced over. “Hey, Rosey,” I said, ruffling her hair. “Al is having woman problems. As in he has no women because he’s pale and skeletal.”
“He’s not skeletal,” Rose said. “He’s just not Fred-caramel.” She nodded, holding out Fred’s arm and putting it against her own light skin. The difference was night and day.
“I have my own color,” Freddie said happily. “Let’s make a crayon.”
“Why was he in his boxers anyway?” Rose put Fred’s arm back down and Fred used it to start a new game of chess against Bink. “Al’s not really one to walk around in less than a sweater and trousers. Even on a bet.”
“Paloma got naked for him before and he freaked out, so he decided to get naked and be even.” I shrugged. It sounded a bit stupid to me. It Paloma Dove got naked, I would not be going anywhere. Well, since she was on the team I’d only stare. But still, I’d be there.
“And let me guess. Your advice was the him getting naked bit.”
“Could have been.”
Rose rolled her eyes. She leaned over to Fred and Bink. “If a girl got naked in front of you and you freaked out, would you go get naked in front of her to make it even?”
“Course not,” Bink said, setting up the chess pieces on his side of the board. “Girls are weird. You never do that.”
I knew this because of all my experience with naked girls and sex.
“You apologize and then seduce them.” Fred shrugged.
“Exactly.” Rose glanced back at me.
“Why? Someone get naked for you, Rosey?” Bink asked, chuckling.
“Did you not just--” Rose paused, sighed, and clearly counted to ten in her head. “Don’t you have a Hufflepuff bed to be in?”
“Don’t you have a life to get?” Bink shot back.
“It hurts so bad.” Rose rolled her eyes and looked back at me. “Can you please leave him out in the snow one day? He won’t find his way home.”
“I’ll do my best.” I leaned back on the couch, frowning. So maybe that wasn’t the best advice I could have given Al. Then again, I didn’t think he’d just wait for her to go into the bathroom, strip, and wait. Not very rugged or manly, standing there with nothing on. That was why I never played strip Quidditch. That and the splinters.
“Hey, James.” Nia was at my elbow with a grin. Apparently she wasn’t mad. Elizabeth was beside her. Same grin. Also not mad. Yet?
I nodded. “Hi, ladies,” I said. “Is there something I can do for you?”
“Could we have a word please?” Nia touched my arm.
Rose made a vomiting sound, causing Bink and Fred to burst out laughing, knocking the white king and queen from the board. Nia did not let this phase her. It was a good thing because Rose would have punched her in the face. My cousin.
I nodded again and stood, following them over to the plush chairs behind the spiral staircase. A frequent hook-up spot, though I thought little of it. Particularly because two of my cousins were out there and one of my siblings. Gross. I sat, getting comfortable, and watched the girls. The grins were still there. This worried me.
“So, James,” Nia began, folding her hands neatly in her lap. “We need to talk.”
“Are you breaking up with me?” I joked.
“It’s about Avery.”
“Fucking hell.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “Could we maybe not? Avery Flynn and I aren’t together.” I said her whole name. That was odd.
“That’s what we want to talk to you about,” Elizabeth butted in. “You deserve the best, James. You are truly an inspiring boy and you deserve someone who can take care of you.”
I was certain Bink had said that to a thousand girls throughout his years at Hogwarts.
“You need to be more careful about the girls you pick,” Nia insisted. “Avery got asked on a date by Daniel Higs.”
My fingers clutched the material of my pants on impulse. I hated Daniel Higs. Even though he took care of Tory that one time. What a piece of shit. Who did he think he was? Certainly no mate of mine. Stupid sixth years. He was practically a baby. Same age as my naked brother.
“Exactly.” Elizabeth nodded, her eyes on my fingers. “We think you should go on a date.”
“I am,” I replied.
Equal looks of shock.
“With who?” Nia’s voice didn’t sound so stable anymore.
“Taking out Haley Star,” I said with a small nod, moving to get up. Nia shoved me back down. “What? You’re still dating Gryffindor-enthusiast Darian Bay.”
“I wouldn’t be if you took me on a date.”
“Why don’t girls take guys on dates, huh?” I asked, moving away so I could stand. I managed it, even though Nia’s hand caught my belt loop. “I think I’m right sick of being tossed around like some piece of meat.” It was hard not to laugh, but I managed it. “Girls should be asking guys out and paying and treating them to shit. It’s a lot of work to think up something romantic, you know?”
Equal looks of disgust and shock.
“Good day.” I shot the girls a grin and walked back to sit beside Fred. He was making the king and queen dance on the table because Rose and Bink were lost in a debate about the salamanders in the fire.
Paloma came back into the common room, still obviously irritated about before.
“Hey, Pally!” I called to her.
She ignored me and walked straight over to the group by the window. It consisted of Lily, Wesley, Daniel Higs (what?), Avery, Haley, and Roxy. They all looked up, saying nothing.
“Wesley,” Paloma said, placing a hand on her hip.
“Hey, Paloma.” Wes smiled. He had a Potions book on his lap. Albus was walking down the spiral staircase, his hair wet from a shower.
“Will you go on a date with me?” she asked.
That was when the common room went completely silent for the first time in seven years. Absolute silence. Albus’s face looked like he was going to choke. Rightfully so. Even Rose and Bink stopped arguing to turn and watch this clusterfuck.
Wesley’s eyes darted from Paloma (not her eyes) to Albus on the staircase. Back to Paloma. Back to Albus. “Um...what?”
“Hell, Wes, will you go on a date with me or not?” Her foot tapped impatiently.
Now was not the time to interject about the Code.
“Yeah--uh--sure.” He nodded.
Albus went back upstairs. I heard something break.
I met Haley Star down in the Entrance Hall because I had just finished Quidditch practice and got ready in the locker rooms. Nice and casual. Brown pants, collared shirt, blazer. Every bloke needed a blazer. Made me look like an adult instead of a seventeen-year-old virgin. Which no one had to know I was. Except stupid Emerson Twitwards stupidfacefactory.
I leaned against the stone wall, hands stuffed in my pockets, until I heard footsteps. Haley was pretty. She was one of those girls that was always grinning and it was contagious. Way better than Gregory whatever his name was that was vying for my other Seeker slot. Was that his name? Something stupid.
She was in a cute little blue cotton dress and flat suede boots. I only knew they were suede because I had the temptation to put my hand on them and say “ooh” and “ahh.” It was a boy thing. I hoped.
“Hey,” I said with a grin. She returned it. Of course. “You look great.” That was what blokes said on dates. I had been on plenty of dates to know. It was after the dates I was unfamiliar with.
Especially when someone like Meta McLaggen pants’d me. Arrows be damned.
“You clean up nice too, Captain.” Haley hooked her arm through mine. “What’re we doing anyway? Something fun?”
“If I’m involved, it’s always something fun.” I squeezed her hand a little and led the way out of the castle. I then came to the realization I knew very little about Haley Star. I knew her Quidditch abilities, that she roomed with Rose, and that she was a pretty ginger unrelated to me. So on the walk, I asked her to tell me things. I was a fairly open book to Hogwarts (other than my private life and such) so I figured she knew a lot about my family and my dad.
Haley’s favorite color was red. But not that blood red kind. The one more like pink. She loved visiting china shops and pet shops, but she always wanted to take home all the animals. She loved running shoes. But hated running.
She was a lot more interesting than I anticipated. Not that I didn’t think she would be. I just thought she’d be a typical pretty girl. With Quidditch talent. Turned out, she was a lot more in the range of Paloma. Fantastic looks, but fierce attitude.
I led her into The Three Broomsticks, taking her jacket and shoving it on an empty stool. I left my blazer on because it was awesome. Normal blokes would never take a girl to the pub for a date. I, however, happened to hear from Rose that Haley wasn’t a frequenter of the pub. She had never tried pub food and never shared a pint of beer.
“Aren’t you a romantic,” Haley teased, grinning again. She was pretty.
“I do try.” I grabbed a menu for her, shooting a smile at Gaia, and ordered a drink and a pair of waters. “Everything on that menu is good. In fact, if you want to try everything I’ll pay for it. Just to get you hooked on pub food.”
“Sounds like a healthy habit.” Haley rolled her eyes, laughing. She crossed her legs and bit down on the side of her lip while picking. “So why did you ask me on a date anyway?”
“I wanted to go on a date with you.” I fiddled with the peanuts on the counter.
“Haley Star the Rebound.” Haley moved her hand across the air. “All in lights. How’s that sound?”
“Oh, shut it.” I nudged her. “Don’t talk to your captain that way.”
Haley laughed and ordered fish and chips when Gaia came back over with the drinks. I ordered the same and then smacked my date on the head with the menu before handing it over. “I’m only kidding. I’m glad you asked me out. Beats the hell out of studying. Or pretending to study as I usually do.”
I chuckled. Pretending to study. I liked her.
A lot. She was different. And distracting.
We sat at the bar, munching on food and sharing a beer, talking over Quidditch, players, American vs. British teams, vacation destinations, classes (that took all of thirty seconds), and mates. Gaia warmed up our food once because we were talking so long and got hungry again. We finished off five beers, all of which we shared, and even debated the ruling in school Quidditch vs. professional Quidditch. We laughed. Got worked up debating. Nudged each other.
And once we were outside in the cool air, her coat wrapped back around her, I kissed her and she didn’t pull away. She moved her arms around my middle, pulling me a little closer. I pushed the wind-blown hair off her face with my thumb and a couple who followed us out of the bar had to sneak around us.
We shared another kiss just outside the common room, this time with her back pressed against the wall. It would have been the perfect end to the perfect date, if Avery hadn’t walked out of the portrait hole.
A/N: I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter! I have the serious need to shout "She's his lobster!" regarding Javery (Friends reference anyone?) but alas, they're being difficult. I just rearranged a bit of the next few chapters, but I like the way it's looking. I hope everyone likes the reintroduction of Amy! And Haley Star!
UP NEXT: A team meeting and a hot mess of a Hogsmeade weekend. Which includes Mr. Flynn.
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