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The kitchen door was unlocked and all I could smell was a roast. Mum didn’t make roast often in the summer and now that I thought about it, when was the last time she actually made a roast? Like a real one. Not the kind from a box or brought from Gran’s and passed off as her own. Not that Mum couldn’t cook. Oh, she could. But goddamn she hated it. One year, Dad bought her an apron as a joke. It gathered dust until I bullied Albus into being a French maid for Halloween.

The dining table was empty except for Mum, sitting behind a steaming mug of coffee. She didn’t look up.

It had been two hours since Avery and I left Italy. We apparated back to my flat and the boys weren’t there. We fed the animals, hugged, and I told her everything was going to be fine.

Two hours and Mum was staring into a mug of coffee. There was roast happening.

“They called me for a quote,” she said after a dramatic pause. “That phone never rings except when there’s trouble and why would this be any exception?”

“A quote?” I believed this to be the safest response.

“It appears Witch Weekly got the story first.”

Clara.

Clara Robinson.

“Mum,” I said, sinking into the chair opposite her. I briefly wondered if this was a good idea because women liked to throw drinks. “It’s not what you think.”

“You know what that reporter said?” Mum asked. “She asked for my opinion on the rushed wedding. On the elopement. She asked if I thought you’d be together forever.” She looked up and her eyes were red. “I had a reporter tell me my son was married.”

“Mum,” I started again.

“Your father doesn’t know yet,” she explained. “I was the only one home. No doubt it’ll hit the Ministry any moment now and he’ll find out that way. Lily’s at St. Mungos for the day shadowing. Albus went to the park with Paloma, which I’m guessing means they’ve found a cozy bush to snog behind.”

It was like she took tweezers to my heart, plucking it bit by bit with her words. I never wanted Mum to find out this way. How could I? She was everything to me. She was my support system when Dad was against a potential Quidditch career and Lily was negative seven and Albus thought I wanted to shag Paloma. She was the only one who fully trusted me because, truthfully, I was just like her. I just never quite got that ‘see through people’s lies’ stare down.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“James, what happened to you?”

“What?”

“I don’t even know who you are anymore.” Mum shook her head and took a sip. “This entire summer you’ve been racing off to practice and fundraisers and interviews. You haven’t had time for anyone. You haven’t let anyone in.”

“In where?” I asked. I didn’t make the very obvious ‘pants’ joke.

“Your head,” Mum insisted. “You already know what attention is like. You’re our son. But you’ve taken it to an entirely different level. Now you’ve run off with Avery and gotten married without so much as a note. Hey, Mum, thanks for raising me and supporting me -- oh, by the way, I’m going to get hitched in Italy because I really enjoyed it from the vacation you paid for.” She scoffed.

“It’s not like that,” I said.

She shot me the look. The ‘you’re interrupting me and I am going to hurl a wooden spoon at your head’ look she acquired from Gran. Lily was getting good at it too.

“James Sirius Potter you are grounded.”

“What? I’m of age. I don’t live here.” Probably not my shining moment on replies.

“I don’t care.” Mum crossed her arms. “I’m going upstairs. You’re to go to your flat and stay there and I’m not sending up the roast when it’s done.”

I had rarely been actually grounded in my life. Usually, Mum grounded me and then felt bad and brought up sweets and talked to me like a human as to why my behavior was incorrect. Dad just got all rage-y and slammed doors. He usually forgot about grounding me. He was a busy man, my father.

Mum meant it this time, though. She was disappointed. I was her oldest son and nothing was happening like it was supposed to. I was a professional Quidditch player. One injury and I was jobless, not to mention my resume wasn’t exactly stacked for a real career. I was constantly in the papers for doing something absurd.

Then I went and got married without even telling her.

Imagine, finding out your eldest son got married from a reporter.

I couldn’t imagine it, so I nodded and left. No roast.

Bink and Freddie were still gone so I flipped on some lights. I had to warn Avery or she’d be blind-sided. Witch Weekly grabbed the story fast. Chances are, her mum might be grounding her this very moment.

The phone rang a few times before she picked up.

“Aves,” I said.

“They called Mum.” Avery’s voice caught a little.

“Come over. We’ll make a plan.”

“I don’t want to make a plan, James. I want to get out of this.”

“We can’t,” I countered. “We have to make the best of this. We can’t let them beat us.”

“Are you seriously thinking about the stupid press right now?” she snapped. “Stop being an idiot. My mother just had to find out via phone interview with your saucy best mate Clara.”

I knew it had to be Clara. We couldn’t keep it from them. Not when we were wandering about Italy and got snarky with the judge. There was no way it would be kept a secret if someone could make a buck off a photo. I knew what the front page of Witch Weekly would look like tomorrow.

“I want to see you,” I said. “We’ll make a plan together.”

“Good bye, James.” The line went dead and I tossed the phone at the sofa. A lot of good that thing had done since we installed it.

So the Quidditch world knew we were married and I had practice in two hours. I had no idea how to play it. Like we were thrilled to be together? Avery didn’t seem to like that idea. But to say we had made a mistake … that would feed right into the gossip and the articles and the nonsense. That would keep the code in place and keep me on the bench if I kept seeing Avery, which I had every intention of doing.

I couldn’t read her, though. I couldn’t do what she didn’t want me to do.

Goddamn it.

It was scary to think how my father would react. And Lily and Albus. Sure, they’d see it for exactly what it was - a drunken mistake. But they will be disappointed. Probably ashamed. I couldn’t imagine Albus being ashamed of me. It would be like the Paloma nonsense all over again.

Lily would either be ashamed or stupidly excited, feeling as if this would bring us closer together since Avery and I don’t have the best track record of making things worse. Just a couple weeks before this marriage nonsense we were barely speaking.

David Flynn’s fault.

I called again and Avery answered. “I have practice today,” I said.

“Shoot straight,” she replied dryly.

“Why are you mad at me? I’m trying to make this right.”

“You’re trying to work this,” she whispered and i heard a door snap shut. “You’re trying to work this into your advantage for your Code and I feel like I’m a pawn in it.”

“Aves. Come on. If we have to do this, which, by the way, we do because it’s out in the open, then we should get what WE want out of it.” I ran my fingers through my hair, pacing before the sitting room window. “I just mean that I’m sick of always trying to hide things or get around things. I want to play Quidditch and I don’t want your family to get hounded or you to get hunted down by the press because of this. You shouldn’t be in gossip magazines. You should be in Quidditch Weekly because you’re a damn good player. I don’t want a night like that to make things bad. Things just got good.”

“A night like what?” Avery asked.

“You saw the video too.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I did.” I heard the smile in her voice.

“So what do you think?” More pacing. So much pacing. All of the pacing.

“All right,” she said after a pause. “We’ll do things our way. I’ll come over tonight, but right now I’m making Mum some Irish coffee and explaining what happened.”

“And practice?”

“We’re a happy married couple, but we’re very disappointed it was leaked as fast as it was,” she said calmly. “We wanted some alone time after the Wyoming incident.”

“Yes, dear,” I said. I told her I loved her because it was true and put the phone back on the hook.

I could do this. We could do this together. Couldn’t be any worse than the fallout after the Code when Bink went nutso and Meta tried to off us.

Meta McLaggen. What the fuck was going on with her?

I didn’t want to know. She wasn’t shagging Bink and that was all I cared about.

Shagging Bink. What the fuck was going on with Rose?

Ugh. Gross.

I decided to put that nonsense on the backburner until this marriage stuff was taken care of. At the very least I had to concern myself with not walking in on Al and Paloma.


*


I apparated directly into the conference room. It was empty, but I found my team lacing up in the locker room throwing towels at Artemis, who used her wand to light them on fire when they got too close.

Once the door slammed behind me, everyone looked up.

It was that “yeah, we heard but we have no idea what to say” look. Like when I had to talk to Al after I walked in on him and Paloma. Awkward. A whole lot of awkward.

Ali was the person I looked to. She bit her lip once the white practice shirt was tugged over her shoulders.

Henrik was still at his locker, floppy hair sticking up weirdly. Artemis let the last flaming towel drift to the floor. Monroe and Smoke stood shoulder-to-shoulder, frowning. Jack ruffled his hair and looked concerned.

“Hey, I got married,” I said. “Did it make the magazines yet because it just happened so I haven’t had time to see how amazing I look.”

“They got your good side,” Ali said. The silence broke with that as the team laughed and Monroe patted me on the back and Jack gave me one of those weird fatherly hugs. He still didn’t remember anything about the tea party fiasco, which I was thankful for. Artemis nodded, probably because she couldn’t fathom how I’d conned a girl into marrying me.

Henrik was the only person to look skeptical, but he was right to. It was only days ago I’d been banned from the first game and he saw my reaction. It wasn’t dignified at all. This was an obvious ploy to get back into the game and even though I didn’t find the loophole on purpose, I did find it.

He shook my hand, said congratulations, and told the team to hurry up since we were burning daylight.

Ali and I were the last ones out and linked arms walking toward the pitch.

“Loophole, Potter? I wasn’t serious with the suggestion.”

“I wasn’t serious with the marriage,” I whispered.

“I knew you looked hungover,” hissed Ali. “You sly thing. What’s Avery think of all this? Did you get it taken care of?”

“Wizarding law,” I reminded her. “We have to stay married thirty days.”

“So you’re making the best out of it.”

“I want to play,” I told her.

Ali nudged me with her elbow. “Good. The last thing I want is that asshat Mason to play. He doesn’t have the right rhythm.”

“I have the rhythm?”

“Well, you name doesn’t start with an A, but I think you’re doing all right.” She patted me on the back and we mounted our brooms for practice.

Henrik kept an unusually close eye on me for the duration of the drills, but otherwise things were pretty much back to normal. Jack asked if we were going to do a reception for our family and friends and I told him it was so spur-of-the-moment we hadn’t discussed it. We could get away with not doing it, of course, but it still tugged at my heart. I was too young to get married, but the idea of being married to Avery wasn’t freaking me out as bad as I thought it would.

Hell, my sister dancing with Wesley freaked me out more than this.

For once, Avery was the one on edge and I kind of liked that. If possible, that made me love her more.


*


Before my arranged meeting time with my now-wife, I knew I had to handle the family dramatics. Still getting used to being grounded.

Dad helped Mom in the kitchen as she pulled the roast from the oven and my siblings were seated a little too formally at the table. There were placemats. Pretty gold ones with white trim. The Christmas placemats.

There were four.

Everyone saw me come in, but no one spoke. Instead, Al busied himself with shining the silver and Lily leafed through a magazine (not Witch Weekly). Dad wiped his hands on his pants and went to fetch wine glasses from the cabinet.

“Does the grounded thing come with a silent treatment?” I asked.

Still, no response.

“Fine,” I continued. “You lot sit there and I’ll talk. I know all of you are angry and disappointed and think I’m a nutter. Maybe I am a nutter, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Things got crazy. I didn’t tell you a lot because I was trying to do things on my own. I was trying to be an adult and make choices and you know what I did? Messed everything up and now I’m looking up from the bottom of a hole.” I took a breath, horrified that it trembled. “I’m going to fix this. I promise I’m going to fix it, but you have to understand for just a moment that maybe I’m not just skipping around letting life knock the wind out of me. Maybe there’s a reason for some of it that I’m trying to handle.”

Mum slid both oven mitts off and returned them to their hooks over the sink. “There’s a reason you got married and didn’t bother to tell any of us?”

“Come on,” I said. “Do you really think I just ‘didn’t bother’ to tell you? Like I’d be able to keep it from any of you.” I groaned and fell back into the door. The glass rattled. “The second we realized what happened, we went back to get it fixed. On our own. Taking responsibility. Immediate responsibility, by the way.”

“Oh, the I was going to tell you excuse,” Lily commented.

“I don’t need this from you,” I snapped. “You lot have absolutely no idea what I’m trying to go through right now. A Code, being benched, having finally landed the one girl who has been under my nose since the boat ride… I am doing the best I can. And if that’s not good enough for you, I’m sorry.”

I threw the door open behind me and turned to find all four pairs of eyes on me.

“I’m goddamn trying,” I said and left.


*


Avery appeared through the fireplace a half hour later with a thermos full of Irish coffee and a frown. “Mum’s a mess,” she said. “Not so much about what happened, but the calls and owls that are already arriving. We have to set this right.”

“I know.” I uncapped the thermos and helped myself before telling her my family’s reaction. “Cold and starved. I snapped a little. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t do any of this on purpose.”

She slid onto the sofa next to me and kicked her legs into my lap. “Let’s make a plan then.”

“It has to be a plan for us though.”

“For us?”

“I’m sick of trying to do everything to make everyone else happy.” It was true. The eggshells we walked on were long ground into sand and I couldn’t look over my shoulder when we moved forward. Trying to keep things calm messed us up before, and that wasn’t going to happen again. Not on my watch. We had to do this for ourselves.

“All right, we’ll do it for us. What’s your plan, Potter?”

“Well, Mrs. Potter, I think it starts with deciding what we want.” She elbowed me for calling her that, but I didn’t mind. It sounded good. And also hilarious. Besides, if she needed to get into a concert venue or big wig meeting, the last name might help. “I want to be with you. I also want to actually be able to play in my first game. Lastly, eventually, I’d like to give Clara Robinson a piece of my mind.”

Avery leaned further onto the arm of the sofa. “Noted. I want to be with you. I want to be recognized for my Quidditch abilities rather than being hounded by the media for being your arm candy. Lastly, eventually, I would like to hex Clara Robinson while her back is turned.” She paused. “No, while she’s looking directly at me.”

“Feisty,” I said, smirking. “The fundraiser is coming up. Bring your wand.”

“Will she be there?”

“I don’t think she’ll pass up the chance to see me with tears in my eyes.”

“How unmanly of you,” Avery replied, trailing her fingers down my arm.

“Sometimes you have to take a day off from being manly. It’s overload.”

“Noted,” she replied. Avery closed her eyes and exhaled through her nose. “Let’s do this then. We’ll be happily married for thirty days. We’ll be together without having to sneak off to cabins and you’ll play your games. When the media grows bored of our tameness, my picture will fall out of the papers and I’ll go back to being a reserve Keeper. We’ll discuss the options with Clara later.”

“And after the thirty days?” I prompted.

“We’ll cross that bridge when it comes. You know we’ve never been good at long-term goals.”

I adjusted on the sofa and snuggled in beside Avery. “I’m grounded, apparently.”

She snorted. “You are? What’s that mean?”

“Mum’s cross with me and I don’t get roast.” I kissed her. “Worth it.”


*


Cynthia set up everything. The hall and the guest list and the catering. She mailed out tasteful invitations and put my name nowhere on them. She also told me it was stupid for how many hits my career was taken not to put my name on it, but I told her I didn’t want it to seem like I was doing this for my career. I wasn’t.

I was faking a happy marriage for my career, but not this fundraiser.

When that Saturday evening arrived, I stood in front of the mirror for a while adjusting three different ties before settling on my scarlet standby.

Freddie poked his head in. “Ready? Amy’s here.”

“I can meet you,” I replied, still watching my reflection. Freddie left and the front door slammed a minute later.

Tonight was something unlike any event I’d been to. It was for something. Not just a nameless charity scraping money together while Quidditch players drank and socialized and talked a little trash. Tonight was about Nathan. About every Nathan who framed a magazine cover or wished so hard for something they didn’t know if they’d ever achieve.

It hurt to think about, to consider the loss of anyone close to me. To imagine the grief felt by Nathan’s grandfather was unthinkable.

Yesterday I told Avery I’d meet her there. I knew why, even though when Bink asked I told him it was closer to her than coming here. It was because with her standing with me before I left, I’d think about her. About what would happen if I lost her. I’d frame magazine covers and tabloids and the first sparkling collar she bought Falcon Cat.

Grief is a terrible thing. It turns you into something completely different.

Yet I think it makes you realize who you actually are.

Tonight I had to be everything Nathan thought I was. The heroic Gryffindor, captain of the Lions, winner of the Quidditch Cup, Tornado from an open try-out. I had to be everything he wanted me to be and everything he assumed I was.

His memory deserved the best.

The most respect.

I wiped my eyes, shut off the lights, kissed Victoria, and left.


*


The room was every bit as stunning as Cynthia said it would be. She rented a golf clubhouse overlooking a course, though the sun was setting now and creating an orange glow over the grass and in through the grand windows. The room was massive with tall ceilings and round tables decorated with flowers and gold plates. There were three bars around the room and plenty of people already had drinks and were mingling.

It was astonishing. So many people I knew were there - Quidditch players, executives, and people I knew had no connection to the Quidditch world. Cynthia must have pulled a lot of strings.

She must have also name-dropped, but watching the sealed envelopes being dropped from pockets into the donation box, I didn’t care how many times she used my last name.

On the back wall, between two bars, was a long stretch of table filled with grand frames. Inside each frame was the photo of a boy or girl. From reading the descriptions I realized each of these children had passed away in the last year. Each of them was an extraordinary Quidditch fan. There were photos of their bedrooms decorated in posters or them waving flags at matches.

I spotted Nathan too fast.

It hurt.

Nathan was a small, mousy boy with curly brown hair and one of those shit-eating grins. Like when you look at someone and just know that smile is easily twice the size of a normal person’s. In the photo he was in front of a wall of posters and artwork. Pictures of Hogwarts and the Tornados and players zooming in and out of the frame.

Around his neck was a Gryffindor tie, undone like mine so often was.

There was a hand on my shoulder. “I was hoping to find you before you saw this.”

I wrapped my fingers around Avery’s. “That’s a picture of me. That’s our team photo.” I pointed behind him. Avery and I were both waving and my tie … was undone.

“You’re loved,” she said.

“Do I deserve it?” I whispered.

“Every day.” Avery kissed my shoulder. “You look handsome tonight. I like the ode to Gryffindor tie.”

“Thanks.” I turned and was satisfied that she took my breath away yet again in a long black dress, hair tied back in a loose way that made strands fall over her ears. Effortless. “You clean up nice, Mrs. Potter.”

“Don’t start with that. Let’s get you a drink and a seat. Freddie and Amy are there already. Bink’s off getting shots because he says the room’s full of people who rejected his abilities.”

On a normal night, I would roll my eyes and say Bink is a fool for letting this get to him when he has something great that makes him happy. Tonight was not a normal night, though. As we found the table, I glanced over my shoulder and saw Nathan’s face again.

Tonight was not about me.

“James.” Amy kissed both my cheeks like some French person and handed me a glass of champagne. “This is so beautiful.”

“Thanks. My agent really took care of everything. She’s brilliant. She also thinks I’m a nutter.”

“Then she really is brilliant,” Freddie said. He raised a glass from his seat across the table. His tie was already undone and draped around his shoulders. “Really, mate. It looks great.”

It did. It absolutely did.

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Not a decoration or a photo or a centerpiece. Something else.

“You okay?” Avery slid a drink into my hand and we took our seats after a cluster of people came by to shake my hand. That cluster included the captains of plenty of Quidditch teams.

“Fine,” I told her and grinned at a few other people, thanking them for coming out for the cause. Captains and players and executives shaking hands and patting my back. It wasn’t until Cynthia took the stage that people found their seats and food appeared before them.

She spared no expense, as she was instructed. Great food and top quality drinks.

First, Cynthia thanked everyone for coming and talked about what an important cause this was, not only for me, but for Quidditch itself. I stopped listening for a while, not because I didn’t like her speech, but because every sentence reminded me of Nathan’s grandfather standing before me. Holding the Quaffle, looking content with life and at peace.

Was I at peace?

Could I hold a Quaffle to a player if it was Lily?

Why was I even playing Quidditch?

All questions I never wanted to answer and never wanted to consider.

I was James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team of Awesome and these weren’t things I was supposed to be thinking about. I should have been concentrating on my shirtless calendar or the skimpy girls in the first row of matches or what new kind of Firewhiskey is out.

It wasn’t until Cynthia started talking about the inspiration for this fundraiser that my attention was caught. Avery’s hand fell into my lap.

“When James first told me to do this, I was skeptical,” Cynthia said with her trademark smirk, fingers flourishing into the air as she spoke. “I did some digging. I found the trigger – the boy that touched his heart enough to melt that tough exterior we all know he puts up.” The crowd laughed. Some because they thought I had a tough exterior. Some because they scoffed at the idea. “His name was Nathan. One conversation with his grandfather told me all I needed to know – the tragically short life of this little boy as he hung onto the only constant in his life – Quidditch. Oddly, he enjoyed professional Quidditch, but his heart was in Hogwarts Quidditch. For those of you who attended Hogwarts, you know what it’s all about. Blood, rivalries, and the common room parties full of alcohol nicked from the kitchens.” More laughter. “Nathan knew he would never be able to play at Hogwarts with his medical issues, but he wanted to watch more than anything.”

Everyone was quiet now. I fidgeted and Avery tangled her fingers with mine. I took a few drinks and realized she had handed me Firewhiskey. What a keeper.

Pun intended.

“Nathan’s grandfather took him to a game last year,” Cynthia continued. “He was ten and for his birthday, he was promised a grand surprise. So when his grandfather pulled off the blindfold and Nathan realized he was at Hogwarts, he started crying. The game, too, was a perfect Hogwarts Quidditch game to attend. Injuries, and a tie game decided by a shoot out and some amazing saves by a Keeper currently in attendance.” People looked toward our table, but we were married so they didn’t seem weirded out by this. “Nathan didn’t stop talking about it for weeks. About how he couldn’t wait to go to Hogwarts and see the Quidditch teams all year and save his allowance to see James Potter play for the Tornados once it was announced. Unfortunately, Nathan’s life was tragically cut short before he could, but it is because of his boy that we are here tonight promising not to let empty allowance jars keep children like him from their dreams.”

Applause. Some people stood and others cheered, but I was stuck to my seat staring at Cynthia because she had done exactly what I imagined. I couldn’t put together the event or make a speech like that or even look that many people in the eye and say that. My wildest inclination of this event didn’t include half as many people.

When the cheering subsided, Cynthia lowered her hands, grinning.

“The money raised from the silent auction and donations will be put to multiple causes,” she continued. “The bulk will be contributed toward boxes at each stadium in the league so children can see the game. Other funds will be donated to St. Mungos for research and the rest will start a line of clothing which will have seventy-five percent of its proceeds go toward making Quidditch dreams come true.”

More cheering.

“Now, I know I’m going to be met with a scowl, but I’d like to invite James Potter up here to say a few words.”

My eyes widened. What. No. That’s not what I signed up for.

I had her do it because I was content sitting in my chair. The only interviews I wanted to do were silly Witch Weekly ones and about the game of Quidditch. I could handle interviews about the game. I knew how to answer questions and keep things in my favor.

I didn’t know how to make emotional speeches, especially when there was a giant lump in my throat.

Could I even talk?

I coughed. Okay, I could cough.

“James,” Avery muttered because people were staring and clapping and shouting “Speech!”

“Bugger,” I said, putting on that charming smile I thought I’d left at home. I stood, letting Avery’s hand fall back into her lap, and wove my way between tables to the front. Cynthia clasped my hand and grinned. There were glossy tears in her eyes.

“Thanks,” I said, moving before the podium. People were on their feet clapping and someone spilled a drink on someone else. I think it was a Falcons player, so that was fine.

Eyes were on me. People were eating and drinking and being merry and I was at a dusty podium in a suit and the tie was too tight. I pulled it away from my neck and a few people laughed.

The thing was, I could see Nathan’s picture in the back.

That wasn’t the only thing I could see.

“You know,” I began, “This isn’t exactly my thing. I grew up – well, you lot know how I grew up. It’s not like my family was out in the country. We were all well except a few stints in St. Mungos or that one time I dared my cousin to jump off a roof and he pushed me off first.” Freddie raised his glass from our table. “I lived in a world where I was protected. I put on a smile for the media. My family was healthy. At Hogwarts, the hospital wing cured everything except Freddie’s brains.” More laughter and he flipped me off. “I was in a world with a safety net. If I strayed too far, it was hidden from me and I kept moving toward my own goal.”

I ran my fingers through my hair, loosening what little gel I stuffed into it before I left. “I cared about my own goals deeply. Pursuing Quidditch. Winning my father’s approval. I also cared deeply for the goals of my friends and teammates. Sometimes, their goals outweighed mine. But not once can I remember considering the people I didn’t interact with on a daily basis – what they might be struggling with that’s keeping them from reaching their goals. I knew what was keeping me from a Quidditch career. What was keeping that third year from being a journalist? How about that fourth year Ravenclaw from inventing the next great Potion? In short, it was during a signing when Nathan’s grandfather told me about the Quaffle that I realized this.” I paused. “That I knew I had to change it.”

I laughed a little because it was almost absurd. Some seventeen-year-old kid standing before a crowd of professionals and legends telling them about goals and dreams. But there I was, privileged Potter kid, telling them I had made a mistake. And I had.

“I want it to be known that I’m not going to give up on this,” I said. “I have personally purchased a box for every Tornados game this season and I will see that it is filled to capacity, even if they’re fans of the opposing team … or Henrik Lindt. I guess he has a few lady admirers.”

More laughter and Henrik tipped his hat. He was wearing a hat because he could pull off a hat.

“I want to bring this to the attention of the media. I want to see that this is not overlooked.” I motioned to Nathan’s grandfather, who was sitting at a table in the back with a Quaffle as the centerpiece. “And I will personally deliver Quaffles to that man, each signed by a different Quidditch team. I may be a rookie and hell, I haven’t even played a game, but some things are more important than keeping up appearances in calendars and gossip magazines.”

That got a lot of people to lift their glasses. I wasn’t the only one hounded by Witch Weekly about my wardrobe and emotions.

“Cheers to Nathan,” I said and Cynthia handed me a fresh drink. “Let’s drink to his memory and the future of all the bright children out there who think their dreams are unattainable.”

Everyone raised their glasses.




A/N: WHOOSH. 

Had to hurry to get that one into the queue before the holiday closure! 

The next update may take a touch longer, because I'm going to try and reread all of BTQC before I continue. Or I may get a few chapters in and get the itch to write. Who knows? Just an FYI. 

The other two WIPs are on schedule to be updated once the queue reopens.

I don't know about you, but I'm quite proud of James.

UP NEXT: James and Avery are ... married. Let's see how that works. 

 

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