For ScarletRoses. YOU NAMED YOUR DOG BINK DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW AWESOME THAT IS?!
For nott theodore ... for seeing the progression.
For Jess94, for pointing out that same thing in that same chapter.
For "Jimmy" who had one of the best reviews I have ever read.
And for velociraptors. Because ... well, duh.
While Avery did her best to explain our situation to Amy, Fred dragged me into his bedroom. I didn’t sit on the bed. He closed the door with a tight snap and rounded on me like I was TomCat and he was me.
“How could you not knock?” he said.
I blinked. “Because I’ve never knocked in our dormitory or at your house or here?” I guessed.
Fred paused. “Okay. Fine. But still. Do you even understand what was happening?”
“I may be a virgin but I’m not daft,” I muttered. My ears were red again. Could I re-do today and just not come home at all and stay out on the gravel road snogging Avery? Because I would like that.
“We almost shagged!” Fred cried, throwing his arms into the air. Calm down, buddy. “I haven’t shagged a girl since batshit crazy Abigail. Do you even…?”
I held up a finger. “Please don’t finish that sentence.”
Fred fell onto the bed and sprawled out. “She told me she loved me,” he said. “In response to me telling her I love her.” He draped an arm over his eyes, face all sorts of red. I was happy to see his hair was all over the place looking not-so-soft.
“So you love each other.” I swallowed hard.
“Yeah. We do. We love each other.”
“What’re you going to do when she goes back to Hogwarts?” I asked. Seemed obvious.
“Keep loving each other?”
It was a question.
Fred and Amy left a little while later to head to the animal shelter. Amy wanted to spend some time in the cat room taking care of the underfed sick ones and Fred wanted to walk the biggest, meanest dogs and try to change them. He called it Doggy Anger Management. Not very creative and I fully expected to find his arms bandaged when he returned.
Avery and I fell onto the sofa and turned on a movie, followed by another movie. She was in my arms again, drifting off during the boring parts as I ran my fingers through her hair.
I just kept thinking. That was never a good thing.
How could I get around this?
How could Fred be almost shagging Amy?
Where the hell was Bink Legace?
What was Mr. Flynn eating in prison? Ha.
Avery sighed a little. She was asleep. She looked calm. She always looked calm unless she was about to hit me in the face. Or take down Lawson.
I just wanted to know what the hell I was supposed to do. Where I was supposed to go from here. Instead I was a little lost and considering just taking her and disappearing from England. We didn’t need Quidditch or our friends or family. We just needed each other. Right?
It was like a jolt of energy snaked up my spine.
Avery blinked and stared up at me, the right side of her face bathed in the light of the television, flickering. Her leg was twisted around mine, fingers wound into my shirt. She looked drowsy, like she could drift off again at any moment.
“I love you,” I whispered as the credits to the movie started to play. The room darkened against the black screen.
Avery was quiet for a moment and my stomach knotted. Was that too sudden? We weren’t even together. I shouldn’t have said it. It was actually pretty stupid. I should probably take it back and say I said I love loo. I love the loo. That was what I said. How could she possible even assume that I loved anyone because that was absolutely absurd and only Hufflepuffs said things like that.
Instead, I waited. I laid there, fingers still in her hair, and waited.
“About time you realized,” Avery replied and I could barely hear her over the credits music. “Though I owe Lily ten Sickles.”
If there was any response I was waiting for (one specifically came to mind), it wasn’t that.
Avery leaned up on her elbows and kissed me for a while. It was true. Everything about it was true. I loved the shit out of Avery Flynn and I didn’t care who knew it.
Except it was going to get me benched.
“I love you too,” she said against my lips, eyes still closed. “Though I thought you’d be daft for at least another few weeks.”
“Don’t pay Lily,” I said, kissing her again between each word. “She’s a bint and I’m making Paloma Captain.”
“Only because you want to train her and see her in those tiny shorts,” Avery said, pulling herself against my body.
“Will you borrow her tiny shorts?” I mumbled, breath coming shorter now. I was kissing her harder, my fingers cupping the side of her face as her leg curled around my body.
“Maybe,” Avery breathed. Her hair was spread out over the pillow and suddenly I was over her, kissing her lips and her neck and her collar bone. She gasped a little as my teeth brushed her skin and I shuttered. I couldn’t help it. She smelled amazing.
My hair was in Avery’s fist. My lips were back on hers and I was having a hard time breathing.
That was until the door downstairs slammed and I fell unceremoniously off of Avery and onto the floor with a loud thud and injured backside.
Son of a bitch.
Avery was giggling. I was still trying to catch my breath because I’d gotten a little carried away thinking about her in those little shorts Paloma wore around the pitch. Godric, I was a sucker.
We met eyes for a moment, both of us realizing the phrase we’d used in that conversation. Before either one of us could comment, a familiar face appeared at the top of the stairs.
“You have got to be shitting me,” Gaia my favorite bartender said, annoyed. In her arms was a passed out Bink Legace with his mouth hanging wide open and his arms all spaghetti below him. “I just bloody walked ten blocks with this son of a bitch. He passed out at block three. Left my sodding wand at the pub.”
I couldn’t stop staring. Gaia looked the same. Still sassy as shit. Still beautiful. Still my go-to to make Avery jealous (even though that was pretty much impossible nowadays).
“How?” I said after Gaia dropped Bink in a chair and let his head hit the arm. Hard.
“He’s a mess,” she said and took the seat on the sofa next to Avery now that she’d sat up and flattened her hair. “Didn’t get his tryout so he comes to the pub and tries to drink me out of stock. Haven’t seen a kid his size put it back like that before. Starts ordering all the mixers and pours them together and steals my shaker and makes himself something that looks like the liquid plague.” She made a face. “Within ten minutes he was beyond real sentences. Told me some interesting gossip though.”
“Ah?” I swallowed hard. Bink knew way too much.
“Rose is your cousin, isn’t she?”
I stared. “What did he say?”
“Not my place.” Gaia smirked and crossed her legs like a sassy she-devil and I hated her for it. “So I figured I’d bring him back while he was still breathing and not crying.”
Avery shot me a dirty look. “Thank you, Gaia.”
“So are you two a thing again?” she asked. “I’ve been watching the papers and you’re quite the ladies man, Potter.”
Another dirty look from Avery.
“It’s complicated,” I said.
“Yeah. That mark on her neck makes it look really complicated.” Gaia stood up and ruffled my hair before making sure Bink was breathing. “I have to get back to the pub, but make sure he drinks a lot of water and tell him the next time he comes in I’m giving him juice and that’s it.” She waved, smiled, and left.
Avery and I looked at Bink. He was drooling a little.
“What’s he going to do?” she whispered, standing and covering the mark on her neck as she walked over to his sleeping form. “Without Quidditch, I mean. His parents already don’t want him coming back until he wants to be Minister or something stupid. You think he’ll cave?”
I shrugged. “No way to know. I don’t get why he’s not getting these tryouts. He’s good. I worked with him for years. I know how good he is.”
“Maybe he doesn’t mesh with teams.” Avery smoothed his hair back away from his face. “I wonder what he said about Rose.”
I already knew. If two of us had said it today, it was only a matter of time until it came out of Bink’s mouth.
“The tournament went well.” Henrik Lindt was at the front of the meeting room with a dry erase marker in his hand he hadn’t used yet. Instead, he was tapping it on the table and making Jack jump each time. “But there’s a lot we need to work on. The good news is, we have a little bit of time. The other good news is I now have a lot of information on the other teams.”
“Did you flirt again?” Ali asked, groaning.
Henrik smirked. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“What d’you mean?” I whispered to Ali.
“At every function Henrik tends to … play to his handsome features for information.”
“I do not!” Henrik said, his stubbly cheeks reddening. “I just ask.”
“With that smile,” Ali said matter-of-factly. “And he leans in like he’s genuinely interested in that girl. The girl who happens to be new to the team and has huge doe-eyes.” She did an impression, blinking a lot and puckering her lips. “But it works.”
Henrik changed the subject and went into the Falcons and their defensive work. His scribbles on the board reminded me of Dara Wood. Freddie and I used to play tic-tac-toe during tactical meetings and I always won because I cheated.
“What happened?” Ali whispered out of the corner of her mouth. We were at the back half of the table and hadn’t gotten a chance to talk since the meeting started. Practice was a mess of passing and sweating so there were no side-conversations to be had.
“Good and bad,” I said. Jack looked over and then turned back. He was like my dad.
“We made up,” I said, pretending to take notes on formations of the Falcons even though I didn’t give two shits. “Bad is that I’m in love with her and she’s a Harpy.”
“At least you know.” Ali shrugged. “Not much you can do, is there? Maybe you can get away this weekend and pretend you’re taking some time. We have Saturday and Sunday off this week. I’m heading to my Grandma’s in London for her birthday.”
“Thrilling,” I said.
“My grandma can put back more tequila shots than this team,” she said.
I stared. “What’s she doing in London then?”
“Came back to be with this creep of a guy she met while coming to a game last year,” Ali said, shaking her head. “Fell in love or something. Whatever. They can have old-people sex if they want.”
“I want to leave,” I said.
But I said it loudly.
“What, Potter?” Henrik said, turning away from his charts. “Too much for you?”
“Absolutely not,” I said. “I meant I want to leave so I can go kick some Falcon ass. You know who my cat is NOT named after? The Falcons. They’re a pushover of a team. They’re probably full of Huff—” I cleared my throat. “Slytherins.”
“More than likely.” Henrik gave me a very twinkle-eyed-I-know-what-you’re-up-to look and I tried to ignore it. “Unfortunately, your enthusiasm is combined to this room since we don’t play them for two months. But it is appreciated and maybe it will spread to Monroe who is digging the shit out from under his nails while I’m talking.”
Good. Now everyone was looking at Monroe and I turned to Ali.
“I’m going to get benched,” I breathed.
“Take the weekend and think about it, okay?” she whispered. “But you have to stay for Jack’s party Friday night.”
“Jack’s having a party? I wasn’t invited. Jack hates me since I snogged Artemis.”
Ali rolled her eyes. “Going to pretend I didn’t visualize that.” She shook her head and kicked me on the shin. “It’s a party for Jack’s wife. She’s thirty-five this year and he’s going to get inappropriately drunk and handsy with her all night.”
“I’m there.” I wanted to be the sober one when Jack was drunk for once.
I turned back to Henrik as he switched gears to the Holyhead Harpies and what a big tool Cooper Bradley was. Now that was something I could take notes on.
In order to mask the fact that I was in love with my best friend, I brought all three of my best friends (plus Amy) to Jack’s party on Friday. It was the dictionary definition of an adult party from the outside. Posh cars outside, no keg, and ties.
At least I looked good in a tie.
Adults were sneaky about partying. There weren’t any plastic cups or chip bags layered on the dining table, but I could see it in their eyes. A guest just had to give it an hour or so before the wine started taking over. Not to mention the craft brews.
Jack and his wife, Sandra, were hammered by the two hour mark.
Bink, surprisingly, was recovering nicely. He was using his albino charm to sweet-talk Ali (who could see right through him from what she told me, but thought he was adorable so she humored him). After a while, he moved to discuss tactics with Smoke.
Fred and Amy were the hits of the party. Jack and Sandra took to them immediately, having them tell the packed living room about their adventures at the shelter. It was strangely awesome. Everyone was laughing because Freddie, like his father, knew how to tell the shit out of a story. Amy looked at him in admiration and corrected him when he over-exaggerated just how big the Great Dane was (“No, Freddie, it was not the size of a small house,” she said. “Dog house?” he offered).
After Bink and Smoke were joined by Monroe, Ali snuck away and found Avery, Henrik Lindt, and myself in the kitchen enjoying nameless snacks and champagne. She grinned her sassy American grin and stuck out of her hand.
“You must be the infamous Avery Flynn,” she said tactfully. “I’ve read a lot about you and heard about your antics from Potter.”
“Did he tell you he snuck into my tryout because over his dead body was one of his players not getting on a team?” she said.
“Snuck in?” Ali said, raising her brows at us.
“In drag,” Avery added, sipping her champagne.
“Is that true?” Henrik asked. Avery was staring at him like she knew how handsome he was and I was a little jealous. Not jealous that Henrik would steal Avery, but kind of jealous I didn’t look all rugged and Lord of the Rings.
“There is no proof to back up that argument,” I said.
“How about an abandoned wig that fell from the top box?” Avery offered.
“You wore a WIG, Potter?” Ali said, laughing so hard she had to steady herself on the table.
I popped some nameless snacks in my mouth to keep from answering. My face was on fire. Damn it, Avery.
“So how do you like Cooper?” Henrik said, leaning in a little. Don’t you try that look, Lindt.
“He’s all right.” Avery shrugged. She knew how I felt about him.
“All right meaning horrible?” guessed Ali.
“They dated,” I butted in and Ali punched me in the arm.
“He knows Quidditch,” Avery said like a politician.
As I continued eating, I kind of liked that Henrik was flirting with Avery. She was flirting right back too. He had no idea. No idea about any of it. He didn’t even see the stolen glances across the table when I went to grab another bottle of champagne.
Ali, however, saw all of it. And she smirked the whole time.
Jack stole us away somewhere around midnight and gave us a sloppy tour of the house. It was big and out in the English countryside. Somewhere. I didn’t ask too many questions in case he was actually a spy and I was kidnapped and tortured for information. The downstairs was pretty general, but the noise tapered off once we were on the third landing. The walls were lavender.
“Is this where the magic happens?” asked Ali, looking at all the closed doors.
“Is there even magic?” asked Henrik.
“Oh, there’s magic,” Jack said, giggling. Ha. Who’s the drunk one now, Jackie? “But not up here. This is where the kids are.”
“Kids?” Avery said, pinching my side. I had to bite my tongue to stop from yelping. She was a little drunk herself, cheeks tinted pink. “How many?”
“Two kids. Jonah and Chloe. Four and six.” Jack pushed open the first door and a light was on inside. It was a large room with butter yellow walls and colorful flowers painted everywhere.
An older woman was perched on a velvet sofa with a story book in her hand. Both kids were watching with mouths open, clearly impressed.
“Hey, cookies,” Jack said with a sloppy grin.
They waved and scrambled to their feet, racing over to half-tackle Jack, almost sending him back into Avery. Henrik steadied her. Yeah, you would, Lindt.
“Who’re they?” Chloe said with big eyes. They were enormous. Really. Wow.
“This is Henrik. He’s the Captain of Daddy’s team.” Jack slapped Henrik on the back. “And AliCat. She’s from the United States. Remember where that is on the map?”
“Yankees!” Jonah cried.
Jack ignored him. “And this is Avery. She’s on a different team, but she’s really good. She’s a Keeper. Remember who’s a Keeper?”
“The Captain!” Chloe pointed to Henrik and looked very proud of herself when he nodded.
“I didn’t know you were a Keeper,” Henrik whispered to Avery, who nodded.
Back up, King Henrik, you sod.
“And this is James Potter. He’s our new Chaser. Can you say hi to James?” Jack was leaning against the wall.
Both Chloe and Jonah launched at me, grabbing me around the legs and holding on like I might fly away. I briefly wondered if that was true. I patted them awkwardly on their hair.
Kids were weird. Not that I didn’t like kids. Hell, I grew up with a family full of them, but by now most of them were older. I didn’t have to take care of young kids. Just annoying cousins that wanted to play games at family functions instead of just staying away from me.
These were small. Fun size.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, unsure.
Avery was snickering. So were Ali and Henrik.
“Looks like they’re fond of you, Potter. Want to babysit?”
Jack stepped back into the hallway. Avery followed. Then Henrik. Then Ali.
I stared, but still had the kids awkwardly attached to my legs. Jonah was squeezing the circulation out of my left thigh.
Then Henrik reached forward, grabbed the door knob, and closed the bloody door.
I looked over at the sofa. “Hi. Uh. Hi.”
The woman smiled warmly at me. “They’re your kids now,” she said with a brief laugh. Then she stood and walked into the connected bathroom, closing the door. I heard the shower start. Are you effing kidding me? You’re going to shower when I have children attached to my limbs?
I would not panic. There was no way I was going to panic. Absolutely not.
“Let’s play a game,” Chloe said.
“Sounds marvelous,” I said. I tried the door handle. It was locked. My wand was downstairs. Why was my wand downstairs? “What’re we playing?”
“Tea party,” Jonah said. He was smirky. I was wary of smirky people. Especially children.
“Here.” Chloe let go and half-dragged me over to a child-sized pink table in the corner. She forced me into a chair and then shoved a thick-rimmed hat over my eyes. I adjusted it. The hat was pink. The plastic cups were pink. The plastic tea pot was pink. The plastic saucers and plates and sugar dish were all pink.
It was a mini Puddifoots with less Nia. And sexual innuendos.
“There we go.” Jonah took the seat to my left. Chloe was on my right. A giant plush bear was in front of me and it appeared I took the spot of a stuffed dragon. Sorry, mate.
So there I was. Sitting at a miniature pink table playing tea party with two children. And a bear who had a hat similar to my own.
“How do you take your tea, Jamie?”
NO. NO ABSOLUTELY NOT.
“Two sugars, please,” I forced out and Chloe pretended to plop two sugar cubes in my pink cup. I steadied my hand. “And cream please.”
Might as well be honest.
She pretended to add cream. Then she gave Jonah seven pretend lumps of sugar and I wondered if he was going to get diabetes from this game.
I sipped obediently and Chloe gave the bear some tea. His name was, curiously, Mr. Lion. It was a very solid, Gryffindor name and I approved.
Ugh. I used to be the Captain of a Quidditch team and I was playing tea with children.
How the mighty fall.
“How is your tea, Jamie?”
I grimaced. “It’s brilliant, thanks.”
“Care for some cakes?” Chloe asked.
“Sure, thank you.” I nudged my pink plastic plate forward.
She pretended to cut a piece of cake and slide it into my plate. “It’s carrot cake. My favorite.”
“Aces,” I said.
“ACES.” Jonah said. It wasn’t even real sugar, mate.
The water was still running in the bathroom. The hall door was still closed and I still loathed everyone on the other side of it. I was babysitting through a party.
“Do you like my daddy and mommy?” Chloe asked like she was questioning my intensions.
“I do,” I said.
“Will you be my boyfriend?” she blurted.
“Ah,” I said, choking on my pretend tea and cakes and dignity. “Well.”
“Do you already have a girlfriend?” Chloe asked, her previously wide eyes now narrowed and angry. “Because you should tell me if you do.”
“I do. I have a girlfriend. And it’s not nice to have two girlfriends at once because then they fight and it just gets messy.” Nia knew that all too well.
“I wouldn’t fight,” Chloe said. Now she was whining. “Be my boyfriend, Jamie. I think Jonah is boring and I like you more and you’re handsome. Like the Prince in all the movies.” She motioned to a shelf stacked with Princess movies.
I looked over. “Which Prince?” I said. Then I shook my head. “Chloe, I can’t be your boyfriend. But you are very pretty.”
Her eyes watered. “I wanted to be Rapunzel.”
“Is your hair long enough?” I asked.
That was when she started sobbing. Uncontrollably.
Jonah was picking at his toenails.
I had no idea what to do. She was crying. A little girl was honestly crying over the fact that I wasn’t going to be her boyfriend. They weren’t pretty, innocent sobs either. This was the real deal. Frown, wet tears, and that horrifying whining weepy noise.
“Ah! Um! Stop please?” I said. Then I paused. “Wait, did that make me Flynn Rider?”
“Son of a—“ I stood quickly and the chair fell over behind me. Jonah was balancing the cup on Mr. Lion’s head now. “Listen. It’s been a great time. Thank you kindly for the tea and near-proposal. I have to rejoin my party and oh look there’s your nanny who trusted a seventeen-year-old kid to watch two children which was a truly terrible life decision.”
The woman stepped out of the bathroom with a white fluffy towel around her head. “What did you do?” she asked, seeing Chloe’s devastated expression.
“I wouldn’t be her boyfriend?” I guessed.
She sighed. “Why on earth not? She’s not proposing, Potter. Do you know anything about children?”
“I’m supposed to lie?” I said.
Chloe was sobbing again and the woman sat in the small pink chair and added pretend sugars to Chloe’s cup. Jonah was sharing his chair with Mr. Lion.
I side-stepped to the door and ripped it open, thankful it was unlocked. Jack had ventured back downstairs with Henrik and Ali, but Avery was still in the hall. She was leaning against the opposite wall, giggling.
“Hear everything?” I asked, closing the door behind me.
“Every little thing,” she said. She closed the distance between us after checking each end of the hall and kissed me. “You still lied anyway.”
“I know. I’m a terrible person.” I kissed her and my hands moved around her.
“James?” Avery whispered against my lips.
“Are you turned on by my ability to rangle children?” I breathed, kissing her again and pressing her back against the wall.
“You’re still wearing the hat,” she said.
Eventually (after snogging in a closet), we made our way back to the party to find Amy doing karaoke, Freddie demonstrating the best way to swim in the air, and Bink in the kitchen surrounded by people I didn’t know having drinks. He was laughing though, swirling his glass as he talked to a pretty girl with dark brown hair.
Things were going great. But it was the kind of great that could never last.
That kind of great seemed to be following my lately.
“Good to see you, Potter.”
“Evening, Mason.” I nodded to the reserve, who was in a stupid tie and stupid pants with a stupid matching blue shirt. All in all, it was pretty stupid.
Mason had a bubbly glass of champagne at his lips when he spoke. “Good evening, Avery.”
“Great to see your jaw healed,” she snipped and excused herself to get a drink. Bink poured her one and whispered something into her ear. She whispered something back, nodding to Mason.
“I see you’re breaking some rules,” Mason said softly, finally taking a drink. His eyes did not leave mine, which was creepy and made my skin crawl. He reminded me of Twitwards a lot, but with a bigger agenda and less bird-watching.
Could bird watching be code for girl watching? Could bird be code for Avery?
WAS HE WATCHING AVERY?
“Rules?” I said.
“Like I don’t know,” Mason replied. “I’ve been a reserve…”
“For ages,” I said, wishing I had another drink. I needed it. “Hurricanes are good, though, right? Brilliant team from what I hear. Congrats on that. You’ve made quite a name for yourself.”
“Changing the subject won’t help, Potter. I know what you’re trying to pull behind their backs. You won’t get away with it.”
“Are you going to say meddling kids because I don’t think I’ve had enough champagne yet.”
Bink was starting a dance. Everyone was following his movies.
Update: Bink had no moves.
“Look, Potter, I want that spot on the team.”
“Do you? You can have it, you know.”
“What?” Mason almost spilled his drink. His brows flew into his hair. His stupid hair.
“Yeah. When you’re better than me you can have it.” I grinned, shouldered past him, and joined Avery and Bink.
“Drink this!” Avery cried over the music which had gone from the mundane light rock when we arrived to some techno stuff with one hell of a beat. She shoved a tall glass of something peachy in my face and I tipped it back.
It was brilliant. Like peaches and pears and some sort of liquor. Sort of tasted like fall.
“What is this?” I searched around for the bottle.
“Bink made it,” she said loudly.
“What? Out of what? Please tell me I’m not drinking like body parts or something.”
Bink appeared at my side. “Are you for real right now? Body parts, Potter?”
“I don’t know your life,” I muttered and finished the glass. “Gaia teach you a thing or two at the pub while you were drinking her out of stock?”
“Passing the time,” he said, shrugging. “You like it, though?”
“Yeah. Brilliant.” I stared at him for a while. His cheeks were flushed from the alcohol and his blond hair was up all over the place. His tie was loose around his neck. “You okay, mate?”
“I’m going to make another batch!” he cried and ran back toward the crowd shouting the same thing. They cheered, the drunk bastards.
“What did he say?” Avery said, nodding to Mason.
“We need a plan,” I said softly, still watching Bink. I was right, though. We needed a damn good plan and I was going to use my weekend off to think it up.
While I was at it, I was going to get the heck out of dodge and take Avery Flynn with me.
Misery loves company. As does James Potter.
Me: DTTT isn't done yet so I'll have to update Heroes first.
Me: *arrives home, Internet is out*
Me: *opens DTTT and rereads 500 words of DTTT chapter 8*
Me: *furiously types the entire chapter*
Me: Just kidding pretend I didn't say that it's done I did it right now thanks.
ANYWAY. I hope you all enjoyed the chapter. And Jonah. Because, reasons.
NEXT UP: James and Avery disappear for a weekend to figure things out. They need a plan. James should really be more specific about the kind of plan he needs, though.
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