I apologize for the delay. Life has become quite hectic. There was a death in the family and family drama after that. Between class and work, ughhhh.... anyways, hope you enjoy! Leave a review please.


It was a cloudy and dreary morning that found Nautica ambling slowly to her first hour Care of Magical Creatures class. The cold wind whipped it's way beneath the thicker threads of her jacket as she winced with each step. They had added a secondary potion to her first, hoping that it would help to shrink the mass in her breast, but with it came new symptoms. These new side effects were body aches, especially in her hips. Merely walking has her wishing for a cane or wheelchair to sit upon. She had left breakfast early enough to get to class on time, well so she thought. But now, she's thinking she should've left at least five minutes earlier.




She had hoped Santiago would have come with her, but he had been too focused on conversating with Tess to give her more than a glance. Which is something that is happening much too often. Tess had at least given her a wave and a smile. Now, Nautica knew that Santiago had the right to be friendly with whomever he pleased, as did she, but this was something that was entirely new to their friendship structure. Neither had really ever had more than a passing fancy, so had been entirely dependent on each other for support. And in her mind, this couldn't have happened at a worse time.





When she needed him the most. When he knew she needed him. He was nowhere to be found. He was too busy with his head shoved up Tess' arse to even give her a second thought. Well, maybe she was being unfair to think such, but the pettiness welling deep inside her was clawing it's way to the top. She needed her best friend like she never had before. She knew she should speak to him about it, but wouldn't this be something he already knew? But then again, it's not like she had told him about the tumor's growth. She had kept that information to herself.




Nautica had justified it in her mind that that was okay, because she no longer saw him often or long enough to actually tell him that the situation had become much worse. Sighing, she finally reaches the hut where Professor Babbot resides, her legs aching with an intensity she's never felt before. There is already two others here before her. One of which, is Albus Potter. He is a sixth year, but seeing that the seventh year class was so small in size, they had paired them with the younger class.




"Are you okay?" Albus asks, upon seeing the redness of her cheeks and the grimace painted plainly on her face. He took a step toward her as she wobbled, but she gave a shake of her head. She was fine. She'd make it.




"I'm alright, thanks," Her tone is clipped as she drops her satchel to the cold, hard ground with a weary sigh. "How are you Al?" Now James Potter was one thing, but Al, he'd always been alright in her book. He has his father's emerald green eyes and shock of dark hair, the spitting image of him really. He also is a Slytherin, but that had never bothered Nautica in the slightest. He was always respectful to Professor Babbot, and any time she saw him in the halls, he was far from being obnoxious. In fact, he was a Prefect as well. Something she wished that his brother would've been behaved enough to be.




"Not too bad," He smiles brightly, adjusting the glasses perched on his nose. Doing so, drew her attention to the spatter of freckles across it and his cheeks. They'd always been endearing to Nautica. "There's going to be a party this weekend in Gryffindor house. Celebrating my git of a brother's birthday." And her mood instantly darkened further. Stupid James and his stupid good-lucking face. Unfortunately, whenever she thinks of him now, all she sees is him with Ophelia.




"Oh yeah, sounds like fun," She says with a false smile, wishing that she could just turn around head back to her dormitory. At least it was Thursday, she only had one more day of walking around and then she could hide her face until Monday.





"A-Actually," Al says, stumbling over the word with a show of uncharacteristic nervousness. "I was wandering if you'd come with me?" The rest of the sentence comes out in a rush as he bites the inside of his cheek. Just as she was about to say no, that she'd rather jump in the Black Lake naked in the middle of winter because she hated his brother with a passion, she glanced back at the castle to see James coming down with Freddy by his side. And like that, she knew she had to. In a rare show of pettiness, she nodded her head quickly.




Within two seconds guilt overcomes her as the largest smiles crosses Al's face. "Great," He claps his hands together awkwardly. Before she can take back that nod or die of embarrassment at her actions, Professor Babbot comes gliding out of the hut with a grin on his face. Al turns quickly to attention, leaving Nautica to stand there with a now gaping mouth. How could she have done something so idiotic? It's as Babbot begins to explain what they'll be doing today that Santiago comes to stand beside her. James and Freddy both stand on the other side of Al, their arms crossed over their chests.




She feels the tension radiating from James like a hot wire waiting to burn her. She can barely focus on the lesson, her eyes keep roaming to him. Damn him! Why must she care so much about who or who he may not be sleeping around with? It's as Professor Babbot assigns them into partners that she finally lets out a deep breath. Who gives a flying shit about James Potter anyway?




"Nautica and Freddy."




Of bloody course.




Pushing down the bile rising in her throat, she makes her way to Freddy who is waiting for her with a smile on his face. He starts heading toward the edge of the Forbidden Forest, reminding her that they were searching for the fairies that reside in clusters of brightly colored plants. "How have you been?" Freddy inquires with an air of seriousness, his personality usually lacks.





"Well, I'm not dead yet," She tries to joke, but fails miserably. His face instantly morphs into a grimace as they approach a particularly bright cluster of flowers. She sighs, knowing she's probably ruined any chance of a normal conversation. Both become quiet as they lean down to examine the petals for signs of fairy dust.




"I've actually been alright, I suppose," It's true. Despite the sick feeling anytime she so much as glanced at James or Ophelia, the feeling of abandonment brought on by Santiago and Tess; she was okay. At least her parents were on okay speaking terms again. At least she was still breathing. "How about you?"




"I've been dealing with a very mopey James lately," Freddy says honestly, his brows raised at Nautica. "And let me just say, it's not a side of him that comes out too often. So thank you." He turns around and walks away abruptly, leaving Nautica staring after him with a gaping mouth.




How dare he?! How dare he insinuate that she was the cause for whatever foul mood James is currently in. Narrowing her eyes and giving an uncharacteristic stomp of her feet, she follows Freddy burning with anger. She is so focused on her target, she fails to notice that other students are peering in their direction with curiosity.





"Freddy Weasley!" Her voice is loud and rings with impatience. "Get your arse back here now!" He ignores her, continuing his walk along the Forest edge. If her stomping after him hadn't caught the attention of others, her yelling out had. They all stare openly now, wandering what on Earth could be happening.





Finally, after what seems like an eternity, Freddy stops and turns to face a very disgruntled Nautica. Whose chest is heaving with the effort of moving quickly. She doesn't feel the ache in her bones that's come from the second potion, but that must be due to the adrenaline coursing through her veins. "How dare you try to blame this on me?" She says angrily, poking a finger into Freddy's chest.






Now yes, she knew she was being bloody unreasonable, but how dare he blame her for his stupid cousin and his stupid attitude. James had made it perfectly clear to her that he was into someone else and he had been toying with Nautica's feelings. He had made it seemed like he cared, but he hadn't.





"Why wouldn't I?" Freddy says, a rare spark of fire in his tone as he glares down at the short girl in front of him with the wild hair. "I get that you're going through a rough time. I GET IT, but you need to look past your own nose for a minute and see that he's been pining away for you since fourth year!" The revelation draws Nautica up short as she stares at him with shock. "There is no one else in the picture. It's only been you, especially now. When you need him the most and he needs you, but you hold onto that stubborness. A stubbornness, I've always admired on the Quidditch Pitch, but not in real life, Nautica." He sighs and rubs at his eyes as though that'll wipe away the anger and frustration burning in his gaze. "Ophelia and he were never a thing. "






Who knew that mild tempered Freddy Weasley had an angry side of him? Who knew that he'd lay it all out there and call her out on her bullshit? Both stare at each other with heaving chests, the anger melting away as quickly as it had come. Nautica becomes painfully aware of two things.





One, her hips ache with a fervor that it had lacked prior to her stomping across the grounds. And two, they had drawn quite the crowd. Freddy's eyes had focused on something behind her, making her turn to see not only James and Albus standing there, but the rest of the class. Al looks disappointed, having realized the girl he'd ask to his brother's birthday party not only twenty minutes ago, was actually very into his own brother.






And James....





He looked many things. Anger, that his own cousin would throw his feelings out there to Nautica and the rest of the class. Frustration at his own inability to lay it out there himself. And hope. It was the hope that brought reality crashing down on her. Freddy's words had been the catalyst for the emotions bubbling inside her chest as she stared at James.





Maybe she had been wrong in assuming he and Ophelia were together. Maybe, she'd been wrong this entire time when she'd been running from the warm feelings that James invoked. Without pausing to think, she takes a step toward James, unsure of what to do or say. He makes the decision for her.






Heart in his throat, he moves toward her with an intensity in his eyes she had always found mildly intimidating. Before she can do or say anything, his hands are cupping her face and his lips are pressed against hers. She's never been kissed, unless you count the awkward kiss on her cheek back in her Muggle primary school. She had always seen the passing couples in the corridors and had convinced herself that snogging wasn't that great. But this, his lips were soft and gentle, moving with hers. Teaching her unpracticed mouth. A feeling of content and happiness flares in her chest as she moves her hands into his hair without thinking. Was it always like this?






When they finally break apart, they are breathing heavily with large smiles on their faces. As Nautica looks into the deep brown eyes of James, she feels the rightness of this in her bones.

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