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The sound of the Potters’ doorbell interrupts our - ahem - bonding session.

And by bonding session, I mean his lips bonded to mine. I really hope I didn’t need to make that clear.

I was trying to be delicate, all right?

...anyway, the doorbell goes off and James groans slightly as he leans back.

“I should probably get that,” he mutters. “Might be important.”

“Yeah, you probably should,” I affirm, gently brushing away the wrinkles on the front of his shirt. Best not to let the world know that James Potter’s been snogging away the whole morning.

Dang, did I just use the word snogging? Stupid place is rubbing off on me. Ugh.

James pads away towards the front door while I busy myself with poking around the Potters’ kitchen for either 1) food or 2) embarrassing photos. Except I stop searching when I hear James pull the door open and a single, strangled word escapes from his mouth.

“Jett?”

Oh, no.

No, no, no.

Wizard God, no.

“What’re you doing here, mate?”

Jett (who’s apparently at the door) sighs heavily. “I broke up with Aria. For real this time.”

“Really?” The word comes out like a squeak from James’ mouth, which he attempts to cover up with a gruff clear of his throat. Smooth, Potter. Real smooth. “Sorry.”

“Yeah, me too.” Silence, then - “Can I come in?”

Sweet Merlin.

“Uh - I mean - yeah, I guess?”

“Thanks.” The door shuts, and I listen intently as I hear their footsteps echoing through the entryway. They get softer and softer until I figure they must have stopped in the living room, as I can just barely hear the sound of muted voices.

Well.

This is awkward.

Should I sneak out the back? Stay in the kitchen?

God dammit.

This would happen to me, wouldn’t it?

“Psst.” I glance up at the whispered hiss in shock, only to find James in front of me, eyes darting frantically over my face. “My room. Upstairs, first door on the right,” he whispers. “Don’t leave. I want to talk.”

I nod slightly and watch as he pulls open the fridge, grabs two cans of soda, and pads back towards the living room, but not without one last shooing gesture in my direction. Ugh. Controlling idiot.

“So, what happened?” I hear James ask tentatively. His voice floats out of the living room and into the entryway as I sneak down the wooden floors, light on my feet. Thankfully, I’ve had a lifetime of practice sneaking out of the house, so it doesn’t pose too much of an issue. Course, I’m pretty sure my parents always knew when I did it, but not because I was loud or anything. And I wouldn’t have had to do it if they hadn’t give me such a stupid early curfew. Just saying.

“I dunno, mate. You know how things have been weird between us lately, right?”

Just as Jett says this, I make it to the stairs and lightly begin my ascent, making sure to go extra-cautiously in case of squeakiness.

“Yeah.”

Two stairs successfully climbed. Ten to go.

“So - I dunno. I thought maybe we could sit down and work things out over the holiday.”

Eight to go. Still no squeaks.

“I asked her if we could meet this afternoon and she said yeah, of course, so I thought things were maybe looking up.”

Five to go.

“And then we sit down and start talking and her - I really don’t know who he was, to be honest. Some crazy ex-boyfriend shows up and sits with us.”

I have to slap a hand to my mouth to prevent the snort from escaping. That would not be good. Instead, I’ll just have to mentally laugh.

Ha. Crazy ex. Yeah, that’s Ryan, all right.

“And it was just like - I asked for one hour of her time. Just one. And she couldn’t even give me that, you know?”

Two to go.

“It was just sort of a shitty thing to do. And I know we’ve been sort of off for a while, so I guess... I dunno. I guess it just felt like things needed to end.”

Freedom!

As soon as my feet touch the carpet on the second floor, I basically full on sprint towards the first door on the right. It’s already slightly ajar, and by what’s barely visible beyond, I can already tell it’s James’ room.

The whole thing’s decked out in red and gold, of course. Crimson walls, golden curtains, Gryffindor bedspread. And when I actually make my way into said room, I know there’s absolutely no way to mistake it for someone else’s.

Posters of Quidditch players stare down from the walls, a few of them signed. I recognize most of the names, seeing as Father Dearest plays against them on a weekly basis, but some of them look like they’ve been passed down from James' parents. And then there’s the one right above his bed - the same one I’ve got above mine.

It’s my dad. Grinning goofily at the camera, as per usual, and flashing a cheeky wink. Ah, yes. The good old Fields charm.

...which apparently I never inherited. But who’s bitter? Not me, that’s for sure.

(THANKS FOR NOTHING, DAD.)

There’s other decorations scattered around the room, of course, but none of them seem as prized as his Quidditch posters. Old schoolbooks tossed here and there, photos with friends propped up on his dresser. It’s all just so... him.

Even the copy of Quidditch Weekly splayed out over his desk - dog-eared and torn up and clearly been read a hundred times - just screams James. It’s folded over on itself, with only half a page showing, but I can tell it’s one that he’s looked at over and over.

Curiously, I grab the magazine and glance over the article he’s so interested in. U.S. Quidditch Star Hayden Fields Traded to the Arrows, the headline blares, and my dad’s grin peeks out at me again from the top of the page. I’m not exactly sure why James loves this particular article so much; it’s hardly a breaking news story anymore, and the actual content isn’t -

Oh.

Down at the bottom of the page, another set of photographs stare up at me. And it’s - well - me. My dad and I tossing a Quaffle around at that Quidditch supply store in Diagon Alley. Another shot of me throwing back my head and laughing as Dad attempts to stack a series of Quidditch gloves (and fails miserably). Me noticing the camera and glancing away shyly.

“According to several sources, Fields’ daughter, Aria, will attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the fall, where she plans to continue her own amateur Quidditch career,” I read out softly.

That’s why he loves the article so much. Because I’m in it.

“James,” I whisper, feeling my cheeks blush a flaming red. I know he can’t hear me, but - Merlin. That stupid, romantic idiot is going to be the death of me, I swear.

Sighing, I wander over to his bed (decked out in red and gold, of course) and take a seat on its soft plushiness, magazine still in hand. I swear I don’t mean to fall asleep - I really, truly, don’t - but after I’ve flicked through the magazine once and he’s still not done talking to Jett, I feel my eyes growing heavier and heavier by the minute.

And then, before you know it, I’m drifting off to wonderland.

I honestly can’t even figure out why I fell asleep - I rested pretty well last night, after all - but I figure it has something to do with the stress of the day, also known as Ryan King. Honestly, anybody would want to hibernate for a year after having to deal with him.

At any rate, eventually my eyes flutter open to the sound of a page being turned, and the sight that greets me is one that I think I could definitely get used to. James lounges against the headboard lazily with a book in his left hand and his right arm casually tucked behind his head, messy hair splaying every which-way.

Yeah. I really wouldn’t mind waking up to this every morning.

“Hey, sleepyhead.”

How he even noticed I’m awake, I’ve got no idea. But that’s James for you - ridiculously observant, even when it looks like his attention is somewhere else.

“Hey,” I say roughly. A beat of silence passes, and James makes no indication that he’s going to continue the conversation, so I clear my throat and try again. “What’d Jett want?”

“Eh, nothing really.” James shrugs and places his book down on the duvet. “Mostly just to talk things out. Kind of an awkward situation for me, though.”

“You don’t say,” I tease lightly, at which he promptly scowls and sticks his tongue out at me like the mature gentleman he is. “Well, I hope you were an appropriately supportive and caring best friend.”

“Psht. You doubt my charm, my charisma, my social adeptness, my -”

“Oh my God, shut up,” I groan as I make a move to smack him in the stomach. Of course, this fails miserably, as James catches my arm and tugs me towards him, so it’s my face landing on his chest instead of my hand.

I giggle slightly as James presses a light kiss against my temple, his hands moving to encircle my waist, and the world seems to flatten out slightly. Sure, there’ll be hell to pay when we get back to school - sorting out the Jett mess, Quidditch, exams, gossip - but just for the moment, all of that seems so far away.

And for the first time in a very long time, I finally feel at peace.



“ARY!”

The shrill shriek of my supposed best friend reaches my ears just before her arms wrap around me in a chest-crushing hug. No, really. I’m pretty sure Dom actually snapped one of my ribs. I really hope Aiden doesn’t murder her for harming one of his Quidditch players...

“AH it’s so good to see you and I’m so sorry we couldn’t hang out over break, Mum sprang the trip to France on us with no warning -”

“It’s - okay - Dom,” I wheeze.

Yeah, in case you couldn’t tell, she’s still hugging the life and all the air out of me. Someone needs to teach this girl how to give a proper hug.

Or, you know, simply how to not accidentally strangle your best friend. Either one would do quite nicely.

“Let’s go find a compartment, yeah?” she says brightly, and then we’re off towards the train. My lungs thank her for letting go of me, but my legs?

Yeah. Not so much.

This girl can move.

Eventually we settle on a compartment towards the front of the train, and it’s not long before various Wotters and honorary clan members begin popping in to say hello. I catch a brief flash of little Lily (never been a big talker, despite the fact that her family members never shut up), along with sprinkles of Rose and Al, and an awkwardly long chat with Aiden (who wanted to talk about Quidditch, naturally).

Then finally - finally, after ten minutes of listening to Dom rant about her sister - in wanders the person I’ve been waiting to see.

“Hello, ladies.” James pops down next to Dom and kicks his feet up on the bench across from him. One hand shoves its way back through his dark mess of hair - because it definitely wasn’t messy enough already - and shoots a cheeky wink in my direction.

“How was your break, Jamesie?” Dom twitters distractedly. She’s much too busy staring at Connor, who’s just followed James into the compartment, to care about whatever her cousin has got to say. Honestly, the two of them (or “Donnor” as we’ve dubbed them) are starting to disgust me.

“Eh. You know, could have been better. Didn’t really do much. Mostly just hung around,” he says nonchalantly.

I let out a snort before I can stop myself and shove his feet off the bench. Could have been better. Little liar. He’s been a freaking ray of sunshine all break.

James meets my gaze and raises his eyebrows, but says nothing. Donnor, of course, are too busy - ahem - canoodling to notice our silent exchange. Which is probably a good thing, seeing as Dom is just a bit too observant for my liking.

“So, Aria,” James says, clearing his throat. “How was your break?”

I can’t help it - I let out a laugh. “It was probably about as good as yours. Just mostly hung around, too. Oh, and Jett broke up with me, so there’s that.”

Really?” James gasps in shock. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”

Yeah, I know exactly how sorry you are. It’s a good thing Donnor are paying more attention to each other’s lips than to us, because otherwise they’d certainly be asking questions about the smirk plastered all over James’ face.

I think we’re going to need to work on the whole “keeping a low profile” thing.

Course, compared to Donnor, we’re practically the definition of subtlety. I mean, they’re practically - okay, ew, I did not need to see that.

“I’m going to get some air. Or something,” I announce loudly. I can’t take this anymore. It’s just gross. Like, come on, guys.

“I’ll join you!” James announces brightly. Which, of course, draws no reaction from the couple kissing next to him, but garners an eye roll from me.

What. An. Idiot.

“You are so dumb,” I mutter to him as soon as the compartment door slides shut behind us. No need to be subtle with that comment, I suppose. It’s not like everyone doesn’t already know how much I like to berate him in public.

“C’mon, let’s go find my brother. Or Fred. Or literally anybody else.”

“Or me,” a familiar voice says from behind me. I already know who it is without turning around, and I’m not quite sure that I want to. Sure, I’m a much better actor than James, but put me in an awkward situation and bad things are just bound to happen. I mean, I pretty much have the social skills of a mutated flobberworm.

“Jett!” I squeak at an awkwardly high pitch. James winces, so I elbow him in the side. Hard. “Hi, how are you -”

“Hey, mate,” he says, swinging his arm around James’ shoulder. “Let’s go get a compartment, yeah?”

“Er - sure?”

And with that, the two of them make their way down the corridor, leaving me in the dust. I guess I don’t even exist to Jett anymore, huh?

Sigh.



When my alarm goes off the next morning, it only reaffirms exactly how much I do not want break to be over. And exactly how much I am not a morning person. And exactly how much I -

“Aria!” Any thoughts of drifting back to sleep are (sadly) shattered by the shrill shriek of the forever peppy Sophie Fincher, who - as far as I can tell from my hazy vision - has just jumped on top of my bed. Personal space, much? “Oh my gosh I am so glad to see you again, I have so much to tell - Aria?”

I groan from beneath the fabric of my pillow, which I’ve stuffed over my face in an effort to drown out Sophie’s chatter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the girl, but she is very distinctly a morning person. And I, as has well been established, am very distinctly not.

“Come on,” she grunts as she attempts to pry the pillow off my face. “I want to talk to you about boys -”

“Boys?”

Well, that’s certainly got my attention.

Sophie’s trademark auburn curls slowly swim into focus as I remove the pillow from my face. It’s a very jarring contrast from the rest of the room - her redish-brown curls glinting against the fuzzy, out-of-focus background of Ravenclaw blue. Honestly, her hair probably would’ve complimented the Gryffindor common room quite well -

“Aiden.” She blushes a bright pink, which also clashes tremendously with her hair. Poor girl. “He wrote me every day of break. Mostly about Quidditch, but still.”

Snort. Of course he would try to flirt with a girl by talking about Quidditch. I guess it’s the effort that counts, though?

“I mean, it’s good that he wrote me, right? Like, even if it was just about Quidditch, he was thinking about me? Like, do you think he fancies me -”

“Sophie. Calm down. Breathe,” I say soothingly. The pink on her cheeks has slowly faded to a dull red, not unlike the color of her hair, and it’s mostly because she hasn’t taken a breath since she started talking. “Of course he likes you. I mean, hasn’t he taken you to every Hogsmeade visit for the past three months?”

“Yes.” Now her flush brightens - a flaming, deep color that could give a Wotter a run for their money - and she looks down at my bed. “But, like, that’s it. I mean, we talk and stuff, and I kissed him that once, but he hasn’t made a move. And sometimes he still calls me Sarah. But I like him, Aria, like really, really like him - I never thought I would because he was always just that dumb Quidditch jock who somehow got put in Ravenclaw - but he’s not, he’s so interesting and driven and I love how passionate he is about the things he cares for -”

“So then why don’t you make the first move?”

I can practically see the wheels turning in Sophie’s head as she sits there, contemplating my suggestion. Looks a bit like Aiden when he’s drawing up new Quidditch plays, actually. Like they can both see a plan literally forming in their heads.

“Yeah,” she says slowly as she slides off my bed, a determined glint sparking through her eyes. “I think I will. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”

“Sophie -”

But she’s already gone, shutting the door to our dormitory with a bang behind her. And I, of course, scramble out of bed after her - oh my Wizard God it’s freezing and I’m only wearing shortie-shorts and a strappy cami - and run down the stairs after her. For the smartest Ravenclaw in our year, Sophie honestly has some of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard when it comes to boys. Somebody needs to save her from her own stupidity.

...except by the time I skid down into the common room, I’m pretty sure it’s already too late. Damn, that girl can move. She might even be faster than Dom.

“Aiden,” I hear Sophie crow recklessly - honestly, she really should have been in Gryffindor - “Aiden Wood.”

The boy in question lifts his scruffy head of hair from a desk in the corner, where he’s dutifully scratching lines and squiggles over a piece of parchment. Probably drawing Quidditch plays; I swear to Merlin’s ratty old socks I’ve never actually seen him complete a school assignment.

“Sar- I mean, Sophie, hi!”

Palm, meet face.

How can he possibly still be this nervous around her? I swear they’ve been spending more time together than Sophie and I have, and we freaking live together.

“Aiden, listen. I’m not one to beat around the bush -” Well, that’s the understatement of the year. “- and I thought it was obvious, but apparently you’ve taken one too many Bludgers to the brain -”

“Oi!”

“- so I’m just going to say it: I really like you and your Quidditch obsessed personality and everything that comes with it and we only have about two months of school left before you graduate and I -”

Oh.

Well.

Did anyone see that coming?

No?

But - wow.

It seems I’m not the only one who noticed, either. The whole Ravenclaw common room, which (as usual) is filled to the brim with students cramming to get a last minute study session in before breakfast, has pretty much dropped their quills to stare at the couple. Because Aiden just picked Sophie up like a tiny ragdoll, tossed her over his shoulder, and carried her off to the boys’ dormitory.

Well.

I guess he’s finally making a move.

As soon as the couple disappear around the bend in the staircase, the whole common room springs back into motion. Whispers hiss around me - Can you believe it? - I’ve never seen him take charge like that off the pitch - Who saw those two coming? - I think she tutored him last year - but within a few minutes they dissipate back into their books.

Which, come to think of it, I should be doing, too. Given how, you know, I didn’t exactly spend break studying like I should have. I mean, I tried, but every time I brought a book ‘round to the Potters’ house, James had a fit and showed me a much better way to use our school-free time.

Oh, Merlin, I’m so far behind.

Stupid James and his stupidly attractive face.

Actually, you know what? Just damn all boys to hell. They’re good for nothing except distracting you from schoolwork and causing heart palpitations and being utterly annoying.

This is what I think about as I rush through my morning routine - brush teeth, comb hair, throw on uniform, grab school bag - and frump my way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Honestly, it’s probably the only good thing about being back at school. This morning they’ve got bacon (praise Wizard God), toast of all variety, eggs, sausages, mmmm.

If I’m going to study, I might as well have some food to make it bearable.

Well, I was going to study, but just as I bury my nose into a copy of Advanced Transfiguration, a certain half-French Wotter flounces down into the seat across from me with an unbearably large smile on his face. Albus, who’s sitting diagonally from me and also studying in peace (see! It’s not that weird!), grunts a greeting to his cousin and takes a bite of toast.

“Morning, Lou.”

“Good morning, everyone! I have some fantastic news -”

“Is it the answer key to the Arithmancy exam? Because if not, I’m not interested,” Al cuts in dully.

“Well, fine, because the news isn’t for you anyway. It’s actually for Aria.”

Oh, sweet Merlin. Why me? Why can’t the universe just let me actually be productive and study for once?

“What?” I ask in disinterest as I flick to the next page of my book. Okay, so to change the color when transfiguring an object, you have to -

“There’s a party this weekend!” Louis exclaims brightly, apparently unable to read any social cues whatsoever.

“Fantastic.”

“Seriously, I’m so excited. They haven’t had a party all year! You have to come,” Louis whines. “It’s so much fun. Seriously.”

“Isn’t that what you said about James’s back to school party?” I ask, shutting my book with a snap. Louis winces and shoots me a half-hearted smile. “You know, the one that led to two weeks straight of detention and was not fun at all?”

“Relax, Aria. This party actually is fun. It’s a Gryffie party,” Albus puts in. His eyes roll back into his skull a bit at the mention of his brother’s gang, but other then that, he seems pretty sincere.

“Oh.”

Can’t you just sense my enthusiasm?

“Gryffie parties are the best,” Louis says excitedly. “And don’t worry, it’s a real party this time. With alcohol and everything.”

“Oh?”

Okay, now I am a little bit intrigued. All year I’ve been hearing about these so called “Gryffie parties,” yet I’ve never actually seen one. And, if memory serves, Jett once told me that James hardly ever drinks - and Wizard God, I’d do anything to see that boy drunk.

“Now she’s excited,” Al mutters, snickering slightly.

“What?” I ask innocently. “Can’t a girl like to drink a little?”

Al rolls his eyes. Side note: what is it with these Potter boys and eye rolling? Jeesh. “Sure you can. Although I’d be willing to bet you like to drink more than a little.”

“Shut up, Potter.”

“Ouch. That’s hurtful, Fields,” comes the snarky response. Except it isn’t Al who says it - nope, this voice is slightly deeper and warmer, and definitely isn’t coming from the person sitting on the other side of the table.

“Hi, James,” I say, trying to resist an eye roll of my own.

“Hey.” He drops into the seat beside me at the Ravenclaw table with a thud and helps himself to a large pile of scrambled eggs, as apparently he intends to stay for a while. “No need to sound so excited to see me. I mean, I’m just fabulously handsome and charming and all around awesome. Right, Al?”

Al rolls his eyes. Again. Seriously, they’re going to get stuck like that if he’s not careful.

“Mmhm. Whatever you say,” I say playfully. James grins and digs into his breakfast with his right hand, while his left busies itself with gently intertwining our fingers beneath the table. Yeah, because that’s totally not visible to anyone walking by. Idiot.

“James,” Louis says suddenly, “please tell Aria that she has to come to the party on Saturday. She’s being unreasonable.”

“There’s a shocker,” he mutters under his breath. I elbow him in the ribs - hard, I might add - and he responds by squeezing my hand lightly. “And what makes you think that she’ll listen to me, Lou? In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t exactly get along particularly well.”

I let out a snort and shovel a bit of eggs into my mouth before I can let free the rest of my sniggering. Yeah, we totally don’t get along. That’s why we spent every free moment over break kissing each other senseless.

Course, Al and Louis don’t know that. No one does, really. No one but me and James. James and me. Sigh. That feels so good to finally say - er, think.

“Urggghh.” Louis lets out a rather troll-ish sounding groan and stabs his fork into his breakfast. “Aria, just come. Please. I don’t want to be left alone with these nutters.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be there,” I tell him sweetly. James squeezes my hand again beneath the table, and I smile, blushing slightly.  

“Great. Just bloody fantastic,” Al mumbles. He’s got his head stuck into a copy of New Theory of Numerology - because apparently that’s fun to read or something - and just the top of his inky black hair peeps up at us from behind the book’s thick pages.

“I take it you won’t be joining us, brother dearest?” James asks conversationally.

“Arithmancy exam next Monday. Have to study.”

“You’re such a Ravenclaw,” James mutters in disappointment. “Well, I’ve got to run. Places to be, people to annoy. I’ll see you in Charms, Aria.”

And then he presses a sloppy kiss on my cheek.

Idiot.

I swear this guy was dropped on his head as a child. Multiple times. There’s clearly been extensive brain damage done up there, seeing as he just went and kissed me.

Granted, it was on the cheek, but still.

James’s eyes fly wide open in shock as he realizes what he’s done, exactly mirroring the expressions plastered across Louis and Al’s faces. And mine too, I’m sure.

I mean - but - why the hell would he do that?

“Shit,” he whispers. Then he glances between me, Al, and Louis, and promptly sprints away from the table, black bag banging along behind him.

What a brave, valiant Gryffindor I’ve got here.

I mean, he literally just ran away.

“Um... what was that?” Al asks quietly.

I shrug, glance after James thoughtfully, and pop another forkful of eggs into my mouth. “Like I know how your brother’s messed up brain works.”

Well, it’s true enough.

At that, Al returns my shrug and burrows himself back in his book. Which, you know, I would think is a bit odd, except for the fact that we’re Ravenclaws and at the moment we’re literally all studying for post-break exams. Not really doing much to dispel those pesky stereotypes, now are we?

“Well, I’d best be off as well,” I announce, shoving my plate away from me. Al grunts from inside his book and Louis sends a half-hearted wave, but apparently neither really care much about - you know - me leaving before we’ve got a decent conversation in.

Such great friends I’ve got, haven’t I?

I swing my bag over my shoulder and make my way out into the entrance hall without another parting word to the Dynamic Duo, instead choosing to silently run-through the charms we’d been working on before break. Auguamenti conjures a stream of water. And then - oh, shoot. What’s the one that turns vinegar into wine?

But before I have time to ponder this further, a hand snakes out of a random doorway I’m walking past and drags me into the empty room, which I vaguely remember Jett telling me to be the first-year holding room before the Sorting ceremony. Note to self: never walk by the holding room again.

I’m just about to let out a shriek - oi, I am getting kidnapped over here - when James slaps his hand over my mouth and lets out a short laugh.

Of course it’s him. Of course. Because pulling an unsuspecting girl into an empty classroom is just a totally normal James thing to do.

I really know how to pick them, don’t I?

“Shhhh, Bel. It’s just me,” he says soothingly.

“Don’t scare me like that,” I hiss back. James rolls his eyes - honestly, these Potters are obsessed with it - and leans forward to press a light kiss to my lips. Except we haven’t had any alone time since we got on the train yesterday morning, so a light kiss isn’t exactly what I want.

“Woah, there,” he murmurs, and now it’s my turn to roll my eyes. “Somebody’s excited to see me.”

“Oh, shut up,” I grumble back, and before he can come up with another sassy response - something sure to be along the lines of make me - I do, in fact, make him do exactly that.

Ah, yes. The utter romance of sneaking off to make out in an empty chamber used to herd together first-years. Almost as romantic as the library. Not quite, but close. Who needs flowers and chocolate when you’ve got dusty chairs and broken pieces of chalk?

“Aria,” James warns. “Come on - we’re going to be late -”


“Since when do you care about the rules?” I murmur, and he groans as I press another kiss at the corner of his mouth. His fingers tighten instinctively from their position at my waist, practically burning through the cloth separating my skin from his.

“Don’t tempt me.”

“James, come on,” I pout, slumping dejectedly away from him. My legs find a rickety old stool - one that might actually be used for the Sorting, come to think of it - and I plop down with a pout. “We haven’t been alone since -”

“I know.” He runs his fingers through his hair in frustration, ruffling up the tips, and glances out the window towards the sloping lawn. “Trust me, I know exactly how long it’s been, but we can’t. For Jett.”

He’s right. I know he’s right. Jett would freak out if he knew - it’s just not fair to him. And James and I talked about even trying to not do - well, this - until Jett’s had enough time, but we both came to the conclusion that we’re utterly incapable of staying away from each other. As, you know, evidenced by our complete inability to do so at any prior point this year.  

“We’ve only been back at school for a day and it already sucks,” I comment disheartedly.

That week of break feels almost magical now. We didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing us or sneaking around or finding times where it wouldn’t be we suspicious for us to both disappear. One of us would just owl the other and then we’d meet up in that massive field behind his house where no one could find us and conjure up some portable fires to keep us warm. It was simple and easy and clearly not how things are going to be back at school.

Sigh.

James gently grabs my hand and tugs me off my seat, pulling me along until I come crashing into his chest. I sigh as his arms gently wrap around me, keeping our bodies as close as they can physically get, and feel the rhythm of his breathing as we stand in motionless silence.

I want this.

More than anything, I want this.

I want to be able to hold his hand and feel his arms around me and have our long, insane, totally ridiculous conversations out in public. I want everyone to know that he’s mine and that I -

“At least we finally get to do this,” he murmurs. Then he presses a sweet, gentle kiss against my lips and I swear to Merlin it’s a good thing he’s got more self-restraint than I do because just having him this close to me does crazy things to my head. “Tell you what? Let’s just make it through this week, and then we can do something after the party, okay? Maybe everyone will be so drunk that they won’t notice if the two of us sneak off.”

“Okay,” I whisper, and for the first time in months, I think it actually will be.



A/N: for those of you that are new, welcome! If you’re an old reader, welcome back! I know it’s been ages since I’ve done anything with this story - or with HPFF in general - but I’ve recently found myself getting sucked back in. And if there’s one thing that I always come back to, it’s Aria and James. I hope y’all have enjoyed the ride as much as I have, and I’m so excited for the things to come.

The next chapter will feature: Party! Drunk James! Jett! The whole crew! Fluff! And all that jazz! So make sure to check back in :)

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