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Crap. My finger was bleeding.

“Why is your finger bleeding?” Freddie asked.

“I got a paper cut on the letter Chase’s mum sent her.”

“Why did she even give you that?” He looks at me questioningly.

I plop down criss-cross applesauce onto the couch here in the common room. The two of us were sitting down here while Louis and Chase got Lady Francesca settled up in her dorm. I didn’t doubt that they wanted to go up alone for a reason: there was probably a lot he wanted told about whatever it is Rose was yelling at her for.

“She asked me to burn it for her. We probably shouldn’t do it in the fireplace here, though, she said she didn’t ever want to see it again and it’ll probably barely be rubble by the time she comes back down. Why don’t we go burn it in the Ravenclaw common room?” I get up and head towards the door.

Freddie follows me, “But what if we run into Lucy?”

I roll my eyes, “Despite what everyone seems to think, I don’t have a problem with Lucy. I have nothing against her. If she has a problem with running into me, I could honestly not care less.”

“I think you’re probably the least dramatic person in this absurd family,” he chuckles.

“Tell me about it,” I sigh; Hugo had once tried making Team Lily t-shirts, after Lorcan did make Team Lucy buttons, “It’s not that Lucy and I don’t like each other; we just don’t get along and don’t want to be friends. Our cousins seem to think that means we’re arch nemeses or something.”

“Our whole Potter-Weasley clan is a bit weird,” Freddie laughs, “That’s why, except for the occasional prank with James, I haven’t really involved myself with everyone. But I’ve come to realize that, despite all the craziness, our family will always be there for us if we need them. I decided I should really become more of a part of that.”

“And is dating Maylin a cause or an effect of that decision?”

He blushes and looks at the floor, “I guess you could call her further incentive.”

I smile at him and keep walking.

“Hey Lily?”


“You’re a smart kid. You don’t think I’m stepping on your brother’s toes with the whole Maylin thing, do you?”

“Albus? I know he’s good friends with Maylin but I don’t think he’ll mind,” I joke.

Freddie rolls his eyes, “You know what I mean. With James. He did kind of confess his love to her just the other day, I know he says he’s okay with me going out with her but I feel like it might be way too soon.”

I decide he deserves a serious answer, “Honestly, I don’t think James is okay with it. But if he doesn’t have the knackers to tell you that, then why should you be the one walking on eggshells?”

“You know what? You’re right. If James doesn’t want me to go out with her, he can say it to my face. Thanks, Lils, you’re pretty wise for your age.”

“Yeah, I know,” I grin at him. We reached the Ravenclaw common room and walked in. Apparently house rivalry had really gone down since McGonagall had taken down common room passwords.

“LORCAN, I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU SPILLED ORANGE SODA ALL OVER MY DIVINATION ESSAY!” A huffing Lucy is the first thing we see when we walk in.

Lysander gives her a strange look, “Lucy, we don’t have classes this week.”

“IT WAS EXTRA CREDIT, OKAY? AND I WAS TALKING TO LORCAN,” the blondish-brown-haired girl’s pretty face is all red with anger.

Lorcan sips at his new cup of orange soda, “It’s fine, Luce. Just calm down.”

She sighs and some of the redness goes away, “You’re right, Lorcan. I’m sorry for yelling at you. We don’t even have classes this week.”

Lysander rolls his eyes before looking up to see Fred and me standing terrified just inside the door, “What are you two doing here?”

“Oh, um, hi Lysander,” I blush, earning a questioning look from Freddie, “Err, we just need to burn this letter in your guys’ fireplace.”

 “Sure…?” Lysander raises an eyebrow and stands up to hold out his hand for the letter.

“Erm, sorry, I think it’d be best if I burned it myself,” I tell him, “It’s a very personal letter.”

“Well we know nobody’s sending you any love letters,” Lorcan laughs.

“Oi, no need to be rude,” Lysander rolls his eyes again, “What has she done to you?”

“Well there was that one time she replaced my chili with warm dog food…”

“Be nice, Lorcan,” Lucy sighs, “Let her burn the letter and be on her way.”

“Hey, Lucy,” Freddie waves to his cousin while I go to throw the letter into their very neatly decorated fireplace.

“Hi, Freddie. I heard you asked Maylin out…? I thought she and James were a thing.”

“No, they had this big fight. They decided it would be best if they just stayed friends. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Maylin anyway, I’m pretty glad she and him are done with the whole on-and-off snogging thing for good now.”

“Okay,” I say once the letter is officially in ashes, “We can go now.”

Lysander looks at his watch, “It’s about time for our seminar. Why don’t the five of us walk there together?”

“Sure,” Freddie smiles, “Let’s go.”


I take a deep breath once I’m out of that stupid Divination classroom. Comforting Rose right now was not fun. I would prefer an emotional Chase to an emotional Rose any day, but Rose IS pregnant and she HAD kind of just been in a coma; it wasn’t really much of a choice.

But right now I had to face the consequences of a choice I did make: letting Maylin go and agreeing to ask Sienna out. Sure, I’d made out with Sienna before, but it had been the same deal as all the other girls in the school. We kissed for a while, it didn’t feel right, so I told her she was “too special to me” for us to go all the way. Was she still dating her boyfriend at the time? Well, yes, but is it my fault that she wanted to cheat on him? She was the one who came to me, after all. Okay, so maybe she had lied and told me beforehand that they’d broken up, and maybe I did feel kind of bad afterwards when I found out she’d been lying, but it was just one time. It’s not like I was her regular man-on-the-side or anything.

Now it was real, though. They had really broken up, I had really screwed things up with Maylin, and I really had to ask Sienna out. I looked at my watch; I had just enough time to find Sienna at breakfast before I had to come back to the Trelawney’s classroom.

I passed by a window and stopped for a second to look at my reflection; I looked like shit. My hair was even messier than usual and I needed to shave. Luckily, girls somehow love when I go with the whole bed-head and stubble look.

Suddenly, a conflicted looking boy collides straight into me.

“Sorry, I keep running into people today—Oh, hey James. Wow, you look like shit,” Danny Boot dusts himself off.

“Hey, Danny. Yeah, I know,” I sigh. Though I used to be close friends with the guy, he and I haven’t really talked since the whole incident with him trying to sleep with Chase in some sort of retaliation when Rose got pregnant.

“Were you just with Rose? Is she okay?”

“Uh, yeah. How did you know about that?”

He gets a guilty look, “I ran into Chase and them and they told me everything.”

My jaw drops, “You mean Chase told you about the fight and you left her to comfort Rose? Wow, that’s cold.”

“Yeah, I know,” he looks at the ground, “It seemed like the right choice at the time. But, I mean, how hurt can she really be? She and I may be friends now, but she did choose Louis over me. She’s dating HIM.”

“Right, and Rose is dating Scorpius. The difference is, despite whatever insane infatuations you may have, Chase is the one that actually kind of cares about you. But hey, you’re right. She’s the girlfriend of my best friend; I’m perfectly fine with you completely blowing her off so she can be happy with him. But she’s also one of my closest friends, and I don’t want a punk like you to hurt her like you have before,” Wow, why did I always sound so wise when I talked to Danny? No wonder he always came to me for advice.

Realization seems to settle over him, “You’re right. Rose doesn’t want me there, and now Chase probably doesn’t either. I think… I think I’m going to give them both some space for a while.”

I half smile and give him a pat on the shoulder, “There’s the Danny I used to know.”

“I’ll see you later,” he walks away thoughtfully, and I give a friendly salute.

I start to turn a corner when I stop in my tracks; Chase, Louis, Albus, Lily, and Freddie were just walking out of the Great Hall. Albus told the group he had somewhere to go, and the rest of them went off towards the common room while Al walked more in my direction.

“James,” Albus said in surprise when he saw me, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m about to go ask Sienna out. What was that weird clicking noise that was following you guys? It sounded almost like hooves.”

“Uhmm, not sure. Maybe it was one of the ghosts. How’s Rose holding up?”

“Oh, she’s fine. She cried a bit more after you guys all left, but Scorp calmed her down. When I left everyone had engaged in a friendly game of charades to help distract her. How about Chase?”

“I can’t really tell. She seemed like she was doing okay, but then she got a letter from her mum. You know how she is, it’s hard to tell if she’s taking it well or not.”

“Really? That on top of the fight with Rose and Danny taking off? Merlin, I should have gone with you guys instead of staying with Rose,” She had plenty of people there, and Scorpius was all she really needed anyway.

“Yeah. How did you know about Danny?”

“I just ran into him, he told me the whole story. I think I gave him some pretty good advice. Anyway, I really have to go find Sienna. Hopefully this will go fast.”

“Good luck with your freaky double date,” Al waves before walking off. I had too much on my mind to wonder where.

I finally make it into the Great Hall, and see Sienna in her usually place eating egg whites with Jenny Corner. I muss up my hair a bit more before walking over.

“I have to go,” Jenny winks just as I walk up, “I’ll leave you two to talk about whatever.”

“Hi, Sienna.”

“Hey, James. Sit down,” though she never lived there herself, Sienna’s mother was from Spain so her inflection always had just the tiniest twist of a Hispanic accent.

“Oh, I don’t really have time to sit. I actually just wanted to ask you something.”

Sienna was a pretty girl. She had light tan skin and long, wavy light brown hair, along with greenish hazel eyes. She was pretty, but she couldn’t quote Hemingway. She couldn’t make me laugh to the point of tears. She was too short. She had too wavy of hair. She didn’t have a face that showed me her emotions just like reading a book. Sienna was pretty, but she wasn’t Maylin.

“Really? What did you want to ask?”

“I was wondering if you wanted to go on a double date, you and me with Freddie and Maylin.”

She smiles; she has dimples. Maylin doesn’t have dimples, “Sure, James, I would love to. Where and when?”

I give her all the information decided on by Freddie and Maylin, Maylin and Freddie, the perfect couple. But they weren’t, because Maylin and I were the perfect couple.

I remind myself that Maylin and I are just friends, despite the fact that I essentially put my heart on a platter and handed it to her. I guess she didn’t like the taste.

I smile a goodbye to Sienna, and she does the same. I decide I don’t like dimples and start on my way back to the seminar.


Setting up a nice little pen for Lady Francesca in the dormitory was easy. What was more difficult was the pain that came back once I was no longer distracted.

“What am I going to do?” I sigh, sitting down on my bed and putting my hands over my face.

I feel Louis sit down beside me, “You stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

I look up at him, “What?”

“I want you to feel happy again more than anything, but treating you like a wounded puppy isn’t going to do any help. A lot of crap is going on in your life all at once, but if you let it get the best of you then it’s all for nothing. You need to just suck it up and face it all like the brave Longbottom I know you are. You never really did take after your mum’s side, anyway.”

Gaping at him in astonishment, I start to smile, “You know what? You’re right. As usual, you are completely right. I can’t fix anything by moping around like this. Wow, this whole tough love thing you’re pulling is really attractive,” I lean up to kiss him.

“Not now,” he says between kisses, “We have to get to Trelawney’s.”

I groan, not wanting to take my lips away from his, “Do we have to go? I know I need to face my problems but do I have to do it right now?”

“These seminars are mandatory,” he says, though he doesn’t seem too eager to stop our little kissing session himself.

“Mandatory schmandatory,” I sigh, and he almost seems to give in.

Suddenly, his lips stop moving against mine.

“What is it?” I ask, very disappointed.

Louis starts to almost giggle, “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this with your donkey staring at us.”

I turn around to see Lady Francesca watching us very intently. Great, Louis and I have been cockblocked by a donkey. A few days ago I would never have thought I would ever be saying that sentence for so many reasons.

Sighing, I give in, “Alright, we probably should go to the stupid seminar.”

I give Lady Francesca a carrot and we head towards the Divination Tower. I notice Fred and Lily have gone from the common room, she must not have wanted to burn the letter in the Gryffindor fireplace. Smart girl.

“So I was thinking we should give our first date another try,” Louis says thoughtfully.

I laugh, “What? You mean all of your first dates don’t usually go like ours did?”

He rolls his eyes, deciding to ignore my comment, “I think we should just play it simple; it gives less room for disaster. How about Hogsmeade on Saturday?”

“Maybe we can actually have a normal evening together. It sounds absolutely perfect.”

“Of course it does. I mean you do totally want to marry me.”

“Are you ever going to let that go?” I can’t help but smile at his reference to me explaining our wedding plans to Frichard the live-at-home potion master.

“Probably not. Oh, I meant to ask you. I get that Rose was in a bad position and whatever she was yelling about was probably irrational, but what was she actually angry about?”

Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no. Why did he have to ask that? I couldn’t very well go on and say, ‘Nothing much, she was just angry at me for dating you while secretly hosting involuntary feelings for Wonderboy. So how about that weather?’ But I also have zero desire to start lying to him one day into our relationship, or at all really. Maybe I would just have to… omit the truth. That’s not nearly the same as lying. Is it?

“She was angry about some weird stuff that happened in her nightmares, like me having an affair with Scorpius and her baby being Nosferatu. Like you said, irrational things,” that wasn’t necessarily lying. It wasn’t the whole truth, either, but no one had to know that.

We continue walking until we’re just outside the classroom. I stand there staring at the door. My stomach didn’t just have butterflies, it had entire moth men fluttering around in there.

Suddenly my hand was enveloped in the warmth of Louis’s. I looked up at him, and he raised his eyebrows back down at me.

“Are you okay?” he asked. The familiar sound waves of his voice wafted around me, tugging me towards the reality I had to face. It reminded me of when we were kids, him standing right there beside me and whispering assurances into my ear like he always had when I needed to be brave. I don’t think I had ever understood until now just how much I had always needed him; I would never be the person I was today if he hadn’t been the angel on my shoulder all of my life. And yet I still felt the need to omit the truth from my guardian angel of a boyfriend.

“No,” I realize I’m whispering and I’m not sure why, “But I have to do it anyway. You were right when you said I need to face this. No matter what happens, things can always be worse. Let’s just hope the worse isn’t what happens right now.”

“Okay, I’m proud of you,” he leans down to kiss me on the cheek, and I feel his smile on my skin. Why couldn’t I just be happy with him? He was absolutely perfect, and yet my subconscious couldn’t seem to grasp the fact that Louis was all I needed. I couldn’t just have the angel on my shoulder, I had to go and add a devil named Danny too.

I let go of Louis’s hand—I didn’t deserve it right now—and walk through the door. I take in a deep breath of air and look around at the people I considered family, mentally preparing myself for whatever reactions they may have.

I had not been expecting everyone, immediately after seeing me, to push me into a corner alone with Rose and then rush off into the other corner acting like they hadn’t all just had an instinctual instance of sabotage. Fortunately, Louis and Scorpius hadn’t been in on the little family plot, so they were also standing speechless next to us.

“Well,” Scorpius shrugs with a smile as Rose looks at me with watery eyes, “I guess you two better get talking.”

Rose nods, “You two should go. There are things we need to talk about that are just between us.”

I give her a grateful look. She didn’t have to do that; she could have just told Louis right there and then about how I still had feelings for the very boy he’d saved me from and had lied about it to top that all off.

“Thank you,” I half whisper once they’ve cautiously left.

She looks at me sadly, “There’s really no reason for me to be so angry at you about this. Who am I to judge you for feelings you don’t even want to have? I just… It was so scary. The nightmares. When I woke up it took me a while to remember who’s good and who’s bad. But now I’m awake, and I know you’ll always be good.”

I’m overcome by relief, “Oh, Rose, I’m so glad to hear that. But I mean you weren’t unjustified in being angry; it’s a messed up thing I’m doing, and I know I need to tell Louis the truth, but I just can’t right now. I just got him after all this time, I’m not quite ready to let him go yet. With everything that’s been going on lately… I get why you’re mad at me, I’ve been stealing the attention that rightly belongs to you and you’re not used to that and neither am I—“ Oh no, why did I keep talking? Why did I have to add that last part? I knew this wouldn’t end well, what was wrong with me?

“Stealing my attention?” Rose blinks at me, “Is that what you think? That I’m some conceited egoist who can’t go a second outside the spotlight?”

“No! That’s not what I said! It’s just like, you’re the star and I’m the sidekick. And I like it that way. That’s how all friendships work; one person always outshines the other. And I’m fine with being the non-shiny one.”

“All friendships are not like that, and as far as I’m concerned ours definitely isn’t either. Every pair doesn’t need a shiny one, any two people with something in common can be best friends,” Rose states indignantly.

“You and I both know that’s not how friendship works. A dull person latches on to a sparkly person, they don’t need anything in common. I mean, think about Posey. If she had some shred of a heart you two would be like the same person. But do you want to go out for tea with the likes of her?”

“I’m sure if we had to we could get along just fine! What about you? You have nothing in common with Macey Ackerly, but there’s no doubting her ‘sparkliness’.  Maybe the two of you can have a slumber party! You could dish all about who has better hair, Louis or Danny!” she giggles sarcastically.

I pout like a little girl, “I could hang out with Macey Ackerly if I wanted to! I’d bet you anything I’d last longer as Macey’s best friend than you would as Posey’s.”

“Anything?” Rose raises her eyebrows mischievously, “How about Ol’ Faithful?”

My jaw drops. She wanted me to put my beloved car on the line?

“You think that car is the ugliest thing on the continent. Why would you want her?” I ask suspiciously.

Rose smiles sadistically, “It wouldn’t be so ugly if I were to reupholster the seats and go over that awful paint job with a nice pink.”

“Ew! You’ll go nowhere near her awesome black racing stripes!”

“It looks like a bumblebee!”

“It looks hella sick!”

“If by sick you mean unhealthy with illness then yes, hella sick.”

“Nobody insults Ol’ Faithful,” I glare at her before holding out my hand, “You’re on.”

We shake on it. She then looks at me with an unsure expression, “But does this, uh, does this mean… Can we still be friends again in the meanwhile?”

“Of course,” I smile, and then can’t help but laugh, “But I can’t be your best friend since that position is soon to be filled by Posey Parkinson-Johnson.”

Her nose wrinkles in distaste, “Right. Posey. Well, I guess we better go tell everyone that Hogwarts is no longer a war zone.”

We do just that, before having to sheepishly explain our bet to everyone.

Luckily, after all that’s been settled, I find myself sitting in a corner alone with Louis.

“It’s been an hour,” he says, “I don’t think Trelawney plans on showing up today…”

“Bummer,” I feign disappointment as I wrap my arms around his neck, “I guess this means we won’t get to participate in friendship ruining, coma-inducing activities for today.”

“Hmm, what on earth will we do instead?” Louis looks deviously around to make sure no one is watching us before pulling me into one of our usual amazing, mind-numbing kisses.

Except this time, it’s… not.

He pulls away and gives me an almost alarmed look, “That kiss was, uh… not our best. Here, hold on.”

He kisses me again, and then again, and then again. Each time it’s just as rather unusually awkward as the last.

“This isn’t right,” I frown after the fifth kiss.

“No,” Louis bites his lip, the gears in his head spinning as he tries to figure out what happened to our sparks since we kissed perfectly just a few hours ago, “No it’s not.” 

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