For Abzii. Your words are too kind.
I was almost knocked off my feet. My face was burning. Hell, everything was burning.
It took a moment to get my sense of direction back, but when I did my gaze focused on Avery Flynn. She looked furious. Her cheeks were red and blotchy. Arms crossed over her chest. Foot tapping against the grass.
“What on earth--?”
“No. You don’t get to talk.”
“What is the matter with you?” I rubbed my cheek repeatedly. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch!
“I got reserve, James.”
“I’m aware, Avery,” I replied dryly.
“Did you have fun on your tour?”
“Some of it was fun. Some of it wasn’t.” I thought about Ali. And Nathan.
Then Clara and Mason sodding Hurricane.
Avery reached into her bag and pulled out the Prophet. She shook it open and to the Lifestyle section. I still had no idea why it had a Lifestyle section, but then I realized it was like the gossip column of the paper. I realized because my face was on it.
I was smirking at her. She was touching my arm, leaning against me on the Quidditch pitch. Laughing. Under our picture read a small caption: Love on the Pitch?
“She’s the sodding reserve!” I said, louder than I wanted to. “Are you joking? Is that what this is about?”
“You go crazy about Cooper and then suddenly you’re snuggling reserves? You’re such a pig, James. Fame has gone to your head.” She stuffed the paper back into her bag and I heard it rip. “Have anymore interviews coming up? I bet they’ll talk about this bint. You know what? I don’t care. You can go wherever you want with the Tornados. Do whatever you want.”
“I signed some autographs and got threatened by the Captain of the Hurricanes,” I replied. “Clearly it was a vacation. You know what, you need to back off. You have no idea what I’m going through. What I’m doing. What I’m dealing with.”
“One less person, that’s what you’re dealing with.” Avery shoved past me and disappeared around the house.
Great. One less person.
On the other hand, at least I knew Avery’s jealousy was still intact.
I had no idea how I was supposed to juggle everything. At Hogwarts it had been different. Go to class. Con younger students into doing my Potions essays. Play Quidditch. Yell at people who did not play Quidditch as well as I did. Repeat. Sometimes showering went in there. And nursing Victoria back to health.
She had really taken to the flat. I wasn’t shocked, considering at Hogwarts she had to constantly live in fear that Emerson may undress in front of her. Couldn’t blame her.
I had a routine of taking her out each morning as I dressed for Quidditch practice. I let her waddle around the bed and she hummed contently. One morning a few days after Avery gave me a red bloody print across my face, Victoria scooted toward the window. She hopped onto the sill, humming.
“Please tell me there isn’t a male puff out there trying to woo you,” I said dryly, pulling on a clean-smelling polo. “I can’t take that at the moment.” I hadn’t seen Avery since her outburst and distinct hatred of the Lifestyle section. It was a stupid section anyway.
Victoria ignored me.
“Fine. This better be good.” I peeled back some of the blinds, peering down to the yard below. It was mostly just green grass and a tree or two. But in the tree that rustled the siding at night, I spotted an unfamiliar mug.
That of a cat. An orange cat. A male, orange cat.
“Oh no you don’t!” I cried, grabbing Tory and shoving the blinds closed so hard two panels fell off. TomCat could see right in. Right into the heart of my flat!
What was I supposed to do? It was clearly gawking around to find Falcon Cat, who had probably been eye-flirting with it during her stay.
Great. Even my cat was looking for options.
He poked his head in my door, hair damp from the shower. “Something wrong? Or did you decide we should have a dog. I’ve been looking around the shelter and I think it’s a good idea.”
“There is a cat in the tree,” I said, holding Victoria close to my chest.
“Sound the alarm!” Freddie cried, thrusting his fist into the air. “To your posts! We have waited for this day – this moment – this hour! On, on! Draw your swords!” He drew an air-sword from its hilt. “And on this day, we unite! We attack!”
“Enough,” I said. I placed Victoria back into her cage and grabbed a sheet. The one I was supposed to put on my bed a week ago but got too lazy to figure out which way it went. Fitted sheets were the worst. “I’m just saying you work at an animal shelter and there is a stray outside. It should be removed.”
Fred sighed and walked to the window, peeling back the blinds. “Where is it then?”
“On the fucking tree.”
He paused. “Where?”
I shoved him aside and pulled the blinds all the way up. Except there was no cat. TomCat had conveniently disappeared into the shadows of mystery. Or it had climbed down the tree and went to find something to chase. Like a ball of string or a boulder.
“Now you’re seeing cats,” Freddie said, clapping me on the back. “We really do need to get Avery back around here.”
I kept my gaze focused intently on the tree. The cat was there. I knew it was there. It was staring at me with its evil cat-like cat eyes.
“Avery isn’t coming back,” I said after a while. My fingers moved across the sill and I realized I hadn’t dusted it in…ever. “Things are done. It’s better if we just move on. She’s a reserve now and she has a lot to worry about. I support her.”
Fred left without saying anything. I assumed it was because he didn’t trust himself not to hit me.
I couldn’t blame him. I’d hit me too if I didn’t know about the Code.
But that bench. I couldn’t work so hard for something only to be benched because I couldn’t keep my hands off my best mate.
Ex best mate.
“You still look like shit.” Ali frowned. We were in the locker room after another grueling practice. Plus a short interview with the press. It was getting taxing, but I knew it was part of the life. I just wish the life would leave me alone for a bit to collect myself.
“Good to know.” I tossed my sweaty shirt into a bin.
“She still hasn’t spoken to you?”
I shook my head. “She’s probably busy practicing. And setting aside time for Cooper to bloody fawn over her.” I rolled my eyes.
Not bitter. Not bitter. Not bitter.
“Cooper Bradley? Harpies coach?” Ali tripped Jack as he went for the showers, but he caught himself just before a fall. He flipped her off and disappeared.
“Only Cooper I know.” I coolly tugged off my padding and chucked it into my locker, which smelled much worse than my Hogwarts locker. Granted, at Hogwarts I did much more yelling at people and much less nearly dying.
“I dated him.”
“What?” I swung around. Didn’t expect that. “But you’re… you.”
“Which makes me no less stupid than her,” Ali said, shrugging. “I’d just gotten here. He was charming and attractive. Blah blah blah.”
“How do I get him to leave her alone?” I asked.
“You don’t.” Ali put a hand on my shoulder. “You mind your own business.”
But that is my business. I wanted so bad to tell her that everything about Avery was my business, but I knew she was right. I’d just have to let Avery make her own choices. It wasn’t like reserves were supposed to date their coaches anyway. I didn’t think I should ask anyone about Ballo.
“One step at a time, Potter.” Ali squeezed my shoulder and smiled. “One step.” She grabbed her towel and walked into the girls’ showers. Women’s showers. Whatever.
“I see you’ve developed a bond.” Henrik Lindt was standing in the doorway wearing a charismatic smirk. “With more than one person.”
I shrugged. Stupidly. He still made me awkwardly nervous.
He was also a really pretty man, which was weird.
“Ballo told me about the fund.”
“I think it’s a classy thing to do,” he continued, closing the distance between him and his locker space. “And to insist on no publicity. Many a Quidditch player couldn’t resist the temptation of good press.”
“It would change if I fucked up anyway,” I said.
“Planning on fucking up?” Henrik asked.
“It follows me on a regular basis,” I explained, shrugging off my pants and wrapping a towel around my middle. “It’s only a matter of time, really.”
His eyes were on me. Like he was trying to figure out if I was worthy of being a Tornado.
“Has Mason always been like that?” I asked.
To my surprise, he laughed. “Actually, yes. He’s a bit of a jerk.” He paused, noticing my look. “Okay, he’s a big jerk. He just wants the fame and the spotlight. He’s been trying to pass the Hurricanes off as better than the Tornados for years. He’s a hit-or-miss when he gets a call up. Sometimes he’s spot-on amazing. Sometimes he can’t catch the Quaffle so much as throw it through a sodding hoop.”
“And Shelby?” I prompted.
“Seems as if you have yourself a shadow.” Henrik smirked. “She’s on the team. Might as well test the waters if you’re interested. Merlin knows the rest of the pool is limited.”
I leaned against the cool locker, staring away from him. I was trying to be tactful but it wasn’t working as I was standing there half-naked in a fluffy white towel. “When I was at Hogwarts, we had a rule against dating the members of the team because it would ruin the team dynamic. I never heard of not being able to date members of other teams. That’s a lot of people I have to stay away from.”
Henrik laughed again. He laughed like he’d heard all this before, which he probably had. “At least you have free reign at the tournament, huh?”
“Please tell me this tournament isn’t going to involve me being secretly tied up by Mason so he can start as Chaser.”
“Not at all. No reserves are invited, actually.” Henrik took out a comb and smoothed his hair. It was shiny. “Just the pro teams. A tournament that is more about meeting each other and having fun than it is actual competition. But the games are just preliminary to the night life.”
I looked up.
“You’ll see, Potter.” Henrik smirked devilishly. “Let’s just hope you remember the next day.”
That couldn’t be a good thing.
“James? You busy?”
I was attempting to enjoy my evening off, lounging around the flat with a Quidditch Weekly propped up on my stomach. Trying to check out the competition. “A bit,” I said, though my brother could tell when I was lying.
“Can I ask you something?” He walked up the stairs with heavy footfalls.
“You just did, sod.”
He saved his eye-roll until he was in view. Albus flopped down into the chair beside me. “I have a problem.”
“Run out of fabric softener for your sweaters?” I prompted.
“Run out of fabric softener for your sweater vests?”
Albus groaned. “Paloma and I slept together.”
The magazine fell sideways onto the floor as my eyes snapped up. “What?” I couldn’t breathe. My baby brother. Miniature Potter. Prefect Extraordinaire. Blusher Extraordinare.
“Yeah.” His entire face was red. “Last night.”
“In the HOUSE?”
“Shh!” Albus checked over his shoulder and then looked back to me. “Yes. She stayed over.”
“Does Mum know?” I asked. “She’s going to kill you. Seriously. She’s going to grind your bones to make my pre-Quidditch oatmeal. Oh! Salmon patties.” I shook my head. “Are you serious?”
Albus nodded. He shifted on the chair, propping his elbows on his knees as he leaned forward. “I didn’t know who to tell.” His face was getting redder and redder.
“How was it?” I blurted.
He kicked me hard.
“I mean… what happened?” Part of me wanted to know. But he was my brother. So part of me… well, I still wanted to know. Paloma Dove was a fox.
“She was going to go home after we finished studying,” Albus explained.
He blushed all over again. “We started our reading early so we could see each other. Her parents are a little strict so coming to a boy’s house to hang out is less than welcome to them.” Albus ran his fingers through his thick mess of black hair. Nothing happened to it. Just fell right back into a mess. “But then we got to kissing and talking and then our clothes were off and we just sort of…did it.”
I considered this. I didn’t have much expertise in sex (read: none), but there had to be more to it than that. I kindly reminded myself I would rather discuss details with Bink or Freddie than with Al.
“And?” I said.
“And then we talked for a little bit afterward and fell asleep.” He leaned back into the chair like a weight was off his shoulders. “We woke up to a Howler, but it was worth it. I think she’s in big trouble though. Hasn’t owled me today.”
Great. Now my baby brother was getting laid and I couldn’t even get Avery to talk to me.
Not that I wanted to sleep with Avery.
“Are you glad you did it?” I asked, finally grabbing the magazine off the floor. I heard it start to rain outside. The rain against the roof was loud.
“I don’t know,” Albus admitted. “I’d rather hear her thoughts first. If she regrets it I’ll feel terrible. Like I took advantage of her. In reality she kind of undressed me. Quickly, might I add.”
I chuckled. The image of the two of them fumbling to undo buttons was both disturbing and hilarious.
“Going to do it again?”
He smirked. “You bet I am.”
“Godric.” I rolled my eyes and went back to the magazine.
“Going to apologize to Avery?” he said.
“For being a tool.”
I threw the Quidditch Weekly at his face. “I’m not being a tool. She’s being unreasonable. I need my space.”
“Your private space?”
“Sure.” I shrugged.
“Meaning your private space the entire world knows about?”
“Is that really why you’re here?” I propped myself up on the couch. This was getting outrageous. Since I’d started on the Tornados everyone had been on me about what I’d been saying and who I’d been saying it to. They got to come home and enjoy dinner and spend their evenings in bed with Paloma Dove. I got to go to practice all day, soak in an ice bath, and do interviews.
And you know what, Albus sodding Potter?
It was my dream and I was living it.
Family dinners be damned.
“James, just listen.”
“I’m done listening.” I hoisted myself off the couch quickly, back cracking in the process. Gross. “I have a tournament to prepare for. Henrik said there would be a lot of opportunities to let off some steam. And I intend on doing just that.”
“Avery has a date!” Albus blurted.
I didn’t even glance over my shoulder. “That’s nice,” I said nonchalantly and disappeared into my room.
I tried to drive Avery from my mind. I tried to drive Freddie and Bink and Amy and Rose and Albus and Wesley and Paloma and even Meta McLaggen (where was she?) from my mind. It was hard, but I had a tournament. With professional Quidditch players.
The team was more than excited when I walked into the locker room, bag slung over my shoulder. They were chattier than normal. Henrik was laughing at something Smoke said.
Ali clapped me hard on the back. “Ready to let your hair down?”
I could see pieces of my dark hair resting on my forehead. “Pretty sure that’s as down as it gets.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.” Her smirk was a little scary. She knew what we were getting into. I had no idea.
“Let’s give Potter the proper orientation, shall we?” Henrik grabbed his duffle and led the way to the Floo room.
Ali hooked her arm through mine, kicking the door open after Artemis was through. “You ready?”
“I really have no idea why everyone is so excited,” I said. “I’m excited to play. And meet new people.”
She was smirky again. Made me nervous. “I’m excited to meet new people too,” she said. “This is the only place the Code does not exist.”
“And there’s only pro players?” I blurted before I could help myself.
“No Avery,” she said softly. “Sorry, killer. You’re going to have to let the other girls have a go.”
I didn’t want the other girls to have a go.
And I sure as hell didn’t want Cooper Bradley to have a go.
The Floo room was a large square space with four fireplaces glowing on the far wall. The room was painted in a violent orange, a color that wouldn’t look out of place in Uncle Ron’s Ministry office. One at a time my team went through, disappearing to this tournament I’d never heard of until I joined the team.
We were the last two left. I stood before one of the roaring fires, second from the left, and stared at it. I would finally get to play Quidditch for an audience, even though that audience was made up of my competitors. But real Quidditch. With my real team. In the pro league. The highest you could go in Quidditch and I was there at seventeen. I smiled.
Ali looked over and took my hand for a moment. She squeezed it. “You made the right choice,” she said and then leapt forward, disappearing into the fire.
I stared after her for just a moment. She was all right.
It was hard not having Freddie and Bink as my Chasers and not having someone like Avery saving the Quaffle behind me, but these players were as quality as it got. And they wanted this. They wanted it bad. And they achieved it because of talent.
Might as well show the world what I’ve got.
To say I was unprepared is like saying a puppy is unprepared for a Calculus exam. A puppy was probably more prepared for that than I was for this.
It was another world.
It was a village. A village built for this purpose and only this. Like the Olympic village used again and again every year instead of only once. The streets were lined with tall, luxury hotels. Just beyond were two Quidditch pitches, both equal in stature. Both giant and grand and out of my most selfish dreams. They towered to the sky, blending with the blue.
Quidditch players everywhere, dressed in their team robes. Canons and Finches (ew) and Wasps. And absolutely no media. Everyone was socializing with everyone else. Artemis was already in sultry conversation with some Arrow and I couldn’t find Smoke or Monroe anywhere.
The thin streets were filled with local vendors all the way to the stadiums. I stopped for a bag of handmade crisps and kept walking, weaving through the players like a maze. Some of them paused to say hello and introduce themselves, though they started to blend together after a while.
I still wished my team could have enjoyed it with me. My Gryffindor team.
“Potter!” Henrik showed up at my side with several other good-looking players, all from the Bats. “This is Frankson, McCourt, and Maxwell.”
I choked on my crisp. It was Maxwell. Literally. Maxwell. The Captain who had put me on the Gryffindor team was playing for the Bats.
He looked about the same, though his hair was graying at an early age. Probably because the Bats were a fucking terrible team. They always lost. Worse than the Canons, and that was saying something. He had some purple marks under his eyes, but he was grinning.
“Look who it is.” Maxwell shook my hand hard. “You made it to the big leagues.”
“You two know each other?” Henrik raised a brow.
“I’d like to take credit for Potter, but I can’t.” Maxwell laughed. He wasn’t a total dbag like Dara Wood. Though he had his moments. On a frequent basis. “I was his first Captain.”
“You were a Gryffindor?” Henrik made a face.
“Better than Hufflepuff,” Maxwell shot back with a snarky smile.
Henrik shoved him and they both laughed and did a weird man-hug thing. “I can’t believe you were Potter’s captain. I have to say he’s in much better hands now.”
“I was my own captain once,” I noted, but no one heard me.
Maxwell shook his head. “Absolutely not. Everyone knows I can out-Captain you.”
“You’re still a rookie,” Henrik shot back. The other two guys were just sort of standing there like spares. Spare guys. “Potter, these are our first opponents. In the locker rooms in an hour, okay?”
“We’re playing already?” I gaped at him. No one gave me a schedule. I expected to at least get settled in.
“First in the line-up.” He grinned and disappeared with Maxwell and Franksoemthing and the other guy with an Irish name.
First in the line-up. Oh good. First to show the world what I was made of. James Potter. Captain of the – no. James Potter. Tutshill Tornado Chaser.
Minus the word Captain. Well, that was sad.
I didn’t have any letters stitched on my robes except my own last name.
And just like after Maxwell took a chance on me, I had to prove I deserved to be there. I had to prove I was worthy of the media attention and the pay and the merchandise that was already coming out with my face and name plastered across it.
Except I did what any Slytherin would do in my situation.
JAMES POTTER: FLUKE?
The headline was already out in a special edition of Quidditch Weekly. It had been two hours. I was still in the showers and my body was pruny.
What if I was a fluke?
No, that was impossible. You can’t fluke your way to captain at Hogwarts.
What if the professors took pity on me? Oh Godric. What if Longbottom took pity on me because of my parents!
Still doesn’t explain all the wins.
Avery! Of course.
“Don’t let it get to you.” Jack was the reason we had won. It was by ten points. Ten. He caught the Snitch and it was one-fifty to one-forty and we won. Only it didn’t feel like a victory.
Everyone else had left an hour ago, but Jack stayed. Even when Henrik came in to drop off the tournament special Quidditch Weekly. So glad they made that, by the way.
Fuck. Maxwell was going to see that. Not that he didn’t just see the game I played.
How did I play that game? Was I drunk? Drugged? Was Clint Lawson secretly controlling me?
No. None of the above.
I just played a really damn bad game of Quidditch as the first game I played as a Tornado.
I huffed at Jack. Sometimes I thought he was the only sane one out of all of us. Good, married Jack with his steady mind and correct decision-making. He’d already told me he was going to go back to the hotel and order room service, a bad chick flick, and crash. No partying for him since his wife wasn’t there.
Was that what marriage was like?
I couldn’t think about that right now.
“Seriously, James.” Jack leaned against the shower wall across from me. “We all have our off days.”
“My first game? I’m rubbish. I’m a fluke.”
“I probably shouldn’t have let you see that.” He frowned. The water was making the room cloudy and I could see him sweating through his shirt. “You have to know that there is a reason Ballo put you on this team. He believes in you.”
“I got a lucky Quaffle past Lindt.”
“No Quaffle goes by Henrik because of luck,” Jack countered. “Every game he goes up against the very best. And every game he makes them look like complete shit. We had an off game. We’ll pick it up tomorrow.”
“I’m just going to resign,” I mumbled.
“Why don’t you go enjoy the other night games and then go back to the hotel and relax?” Jack said. He looked concerned. Like I was his younger brother. Why were there responsible people around?
What Freddie’s response would have been: Get drunk.
What Bink’s response would have been: Get laid.
What Avery’s response would have been: Go back to the hotel and relax.
“Yeah, all right.” I nodded and rinsed my hair again. I’d washed it so many times I grew concerned about it falling out.
“We still believe in you, Potter,” Jack said, waving. “Even if you don’t.” The door shut quietly behind him and I was alone.
The game had been a disaster from the very start. Maxwell was shouting out some of my signature moves to get in my head. Joking around. But it did just that – got in my head. Got under my skin. I started dropping the Quaffle. I couldn’t find Artemis in the sea of stupid Bats. I threw it to one of their Beaters once on accident. I wasn’t covering anyone. Ali got taken out by a Bludger because of my shit aim. Henrik faced quadruple the amount of shots he usually faces in a game. We were lucky it was that close and Jack could bail us out.
I couldn’t look any of them in the eye.
Maybe Jack was right. Maybe I needed to go back to the hotel and relax.
I couldn’t. I was being swallowed with guilt and shame and flukiness. The Arrows were playing the Harpies, which I considered going to watch but the Arrows were stupid and the Harpies…
Avery’s date wasn’t with Cooper Bradley this weekend. It couldn’t have been because Cooper Bradley was in that stadium coaching the Harpies.
So Avery had a date with someone else. Other than her stupid gross disgusting man-boy two-first-name coach.
No. Jack wasn’t right. He wasn’t right at all.
Bink and Freddie were right. I was not going to live my life as a Hufflepuff.
The hotels were absolute chaos. As the games came to a close more and more people joined us. There were no curfews or drink minimums or rules. There were people and songs and laughter and more drinks than I cared to admit.
The night blurred together. I was doing a pub-crawl, but in various hotel rooms. Everyone had their doors propped open and no one mentioned the Fluke title from the tournament magazine. Everyone clapped me on the back and shook my hand and asked what it was like to be the son of Harry Potter. I said I was supposed to be an Auror. They laughed. Hard.
More drinks. Shots. Tequila. Something with red food coloring.
Ali said goodnight somewhere around two. She snuck off with a Beater on the Kestrels. Others began to do the same. I started a game of strip spin the bottle, which I never realized was two games. I lost my pants at some point.
The girls were laughing. Everything was spinning.
I was kissing Artemis around four and her back was pressed against the hotel room wall. Some Canon’s hotel room.
Five things were starting to settle and people were passed out in the hallway and on balconies overlooking the street and the Quidditch pitch. Music was being shut off or turned down. I stumbled down several flights of stairs, taking at least twenty minutes to figure out which room was mine after asking the front desk clerk in four languages, three of which were made up.
Under the covers. The room was spinning. I felt sick.
I hated when Avery was right.
The pitch was bright. It was around eleven and I was still hungover from the clusterfuck that was the Tournament Village the night before. My head was pounding, but the cool summer air felt nice. Felt rejuvenating.
Artemis was to my left. Ali to my right. Both were equally as hungover. I was awkward with Artemis for all of ten minutes that morning before she pulled me to the side, told me that shit happened all the time at tournaments, stop being weird, and I wasn’t her type anyway but I had good form.
Jack look stupidly well-rested and on top of his game. Git.
Smoke and Monroe were snickering about the Finches, who were lined up before us. Ugh. The Finches. How I loathed the Finches to my very core. Their corrupt organization and sulky players. It was a place Mason deserved to play. And Clint Lawson. And Meta. The perfect team of gittery.
Scorpius Malfoy could join, but he wasn’t old enough. I’d have to have a discussion with Lily about him now that Lawson wasn’t there.
It wasn’t Jack or the Finches or even Scorpius Malfoy that worried me, though.
It was Henrik. He hadn’t so much as looked at me all morning. Or after we’d been demolished yesterday. He was doubting me and was being really obvious about it. At least Artemis snogged me instead.
“Fluke,” one of the Finches said. Their left wing Chaser. Tall bloke with greasy dyed purple hair and a sorry mustache.
I wanted to shout something back. Some dirt on him. I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t care. I just smirked. I smirked at that sorry son of a bitch.
If there was one thing about James Potter, he certainly knew how to make a comeback.
I was a Quidditch player.
A fucking Quidditch player.
And I was not going to take this.
So I didn’t.
I kicked off hard after the whistle, cool air now becoming cold against my cheeks, and grabbed the Quaffle right away. Pass to Artemis. Her eyebrows raised. Back to me. To Ali. Undercut odd-mustache-bloke. Back to me. Up the center. Dodge a Bludger. Dodge a player. Back to Ali. To Artemis. To me.
To the goal.
We kept it going – the momentum, the scoring, the celebrating. Henrik was shouting instructions at us and we were following. He faced four shots the entire game. We scored twelve. Jack caught the Snitch once again. Smoke and Monroe lifted me onto their shoulders and I pretended to lift a Cup in celebration.
“Way to go, Potter,” Henrik said on the way back to the locker room.
“You had doubts,” I said. I only said it because I hadn’t played like shit.
“Maybe.” He ruffled my hair. Another older-brother figure. Now I knew how Albus felt but I was a way cooler older brother.
“None.” Henrik smiled and held the door for me. Artemis pulled me into a headlock. How had I snogged her? Really? Ali gave me a big kiss on the cheek. Jack then mocked her by giving me another big, wet kiss on the cheek.
There would certainly be no “Fluke” on the tournament magazine in two hours’ time.
This was what I wanted. Quidditch. To win. To love what I was doing.
“So what’s wrong?” Ali asked once the others had gone to watch the other games. “We won. You played brilliantly. You may have even played better than me, but I won’t admit that outside this room. Why the sour face?”
I shrugged and stuffed my things in the bag. I was glad our games were over. I was emotionally and mentally exhausted.
“What is it?” Ali sat on the bench beside my bag. She started to straighten the clothes inside.
“It still seems surreal, doesn’t it?” I said. “I’m just not used to it.”
“The adrenaline is a bit different,” she admitted. “It’s just not the same as school. As with your friends.”
She could see right through me. She knew. She already knew and wasn’t saying a word. “I think I made a mistake,” I admitted.
“By snogging Artemis?” Ali smirked. “We all do that. I made out with a Kestrel. Broke several of my own personal rules. He was a hot piece though, right?”
I cocked a brow.
“Right,” she concluded. “Come on, James. You know what you can and can’t have. You know what the consequences for all of your actions are. Have you weighed everything?”
I looked at her. “No,” I said. “I haven’t.”
“Maybe you should,” she said softly.
“Yeah, maybe I should.” I zipped the bag. “But for once, right now, I’m going to ride the adrenaline. I made a mistake and I’m going to fix it.” I made for the door, bag damn near dragging behind me.
Ali let out a sigh. “We’ll miss you tonight,” she said as I pushed open the door. “Tell Avery I say hello.”
A/N: Thank you all so much for all of your love and support and snuggles and TOMCAT.
A lot happened in this chapter. I'm pushing forward like a steam-roller. I have a lot of plans for Javery and Freddie and Bink(ie?) among other things. So I hope you're all on board for some interesting twists and turns.
Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in a review. I appreciate each one and am working on replying to all of them!
UP NEXT: Mrs. Flynn. Avery comes back from her date. Someone gets a right hook to the jaw. It isn't James.
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