I was not expecting an owl from Jo on New Year’s Day, so when I saw the letter, I worried something bad had happened. We had heard news of some disturbances and some people going missing, and whilst I wasn’t too concerned, it was starting to happen a bit too often for us to simply ignore it. I was so not prepared for the confession she had penned. I put the letter down and grabbed a quill and some parchment straight away.
OH MY GOD. I don’t even know what to say! Well, I do. Firstly, do not worry. I could not care less what Potter does, seriously and honestly, you are totally free to hook up with him or date him or whatever you want to do with him (I want deets!). It is very sweet of you to think about me, but I assure you his obsession has always been that, a one-sided obsession. I am glad he is over it. Cal will be thrilled too (I think he has been a bit worried about it).
Second, are you sure you’re okay? I know you say it was a friendly one, but a breakup is a breakup anyway, and they suck. Let me know if you want to talk about it, I’m here for you.
Third. Oh My God. I just cannot get over it. Who knew James Potter could be a romantic? I can’t wait to see you tomorrow on the Express, I want ALL THE DETAILS. All of them!
P.S. Have you told Alice?
My head hurt tremendously. Our New Year’s Eve party had been huge, and I had had a few too many drinks. Jo’s owl flew in through the open window and dropped a small letter on my lap. Had something bad happened? I couldn’t think of anything she’d have to tell me that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Surely any gossip could wait until we were on the Express. I thought, with a small pang of fear that if she was writing today, it had to be for good reason. With a great display of willpower and mind-over-body control, I conquered my hangover and sat down to read her letter.
OH MY GOD.
All thoughts of headaches and nausea forgotten, I ran downstairs and took the landline phone my parents kept for communicating with the few muggle friends they had. I punched the only number I had ever memorized and waited impatiently as the line rang. I had to give it to muggles, they did have some smart workarounds to overcome the fact they couldn’t use magic.
“Evans residence, who’s calling?”
“Hello Mrs Evans. Is Lily available, please? This is Alice.”
“Hi Alice. Yes, one moment dear, I’ll go get her.”
“Lily, did Jo write to you?”
“OH MY GOD!!”
“This is going to upset so many people,” I said, feeling secretly happy. There were a couple of bitchy girls I knew who had massive crushes on Potter.
“Alice, this is going to completely change everything” she said. “I mean, there’s no way Jo isn’t going to want to spend even more time with the guys.”
“I don’t think that’s such a bad thing, though. Is it?” I said, thinking of Remus.
“No, it’s not. I’m just pointing it out.”
“I wish Remus had kissed me like Potter kissed Jo,” I said, pouting even though Lily couldn’t see me through the phone.
“You know… I really didn’t see that coming. I was convinced it was going to be Black,” she said.
“I doubt Jo would have allowed Black to get near her enough to even attempt to kiss her, though.”
“I… I just thought, I don’t know. They have been getting along recently, in that weird way of theirs,” Lily said. Then, she dropped her voice to a whisper and added “plus, the way he looks at her makes me feel a bit dizzy, have you not noticed it?”
“What? No, I haven’t,” I said. What was she talking about? “I think that’s it’s just because they get on each other’s nerves so much. Like, sure, there’s some sexual tension there but then again Black has sexual tension with pretty much everyone. I don’t think Jo likes him that way… I mean, they can’t have a full conversation without at least a swearword, an insult and an eye roll. Though that’s mostly on Jo’s part.”
“I guess I was hoping Jo would have one of those epic love stories. The ones where they start out hating each other and end up madly in love. She deserves that kind of romance,” Lily sighed. I thought I was supposed to be the hopeless romantic.
“It could still happen, you never know. We still have almost two years left of school. It’s a long time,” I said.
“I doubt Black would try anything after she’s been with Potter. They have many faults, but their loyalty to each other is enviable,” she replied.
“Anyway, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen now. According to Jo’s letter, they aren’t dating or anything.”
“I just hope that when Remus hears about this, he realizes it’s okay to take a risk…” I said, daydreaming of what it would be like to kiss him.
“You know you can also just make the first move,” Lily pointed out.
“No freaking way. Where’s the romanticism in that? I want to be swept off my feet.”
“To be fair, after reading Jo’s explanation of that moment, Cal’s got some serious wooing to do. I can’t believe an impromptu snog with James Potter can be a million times more romantic than any date I’ve had with Cal” Lily said indignantly. I chuckled.
“You tell him, girl!”
“Yeah, I will,” she laughed. “Petunia wants to call Vernon; I need to hang up. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow.”
All my worries that things wouldn’t just be back to normal had dissipated by the end of the first week of the new term. A week after that, and I couldn’t even remember why I had ever worried that our friendship with the guys wouldn’t work out. True to his word, James didn’t act like anything odd had happened. It wasn’t like we were pretending we hadn’t kissed; we were just focusing on our friendship as a group more. The main difference was that the more time we all spent together, the less awkward we felt around the guys, and even Lily had started opening up to them a bit more. I think knowing James wasn’t going to suddenly start stalking her again had put her mind at ease once and for all, and they were even on speaking terms.
Sirius and I had resumed our beater practice together, fitting it in when we found time. We couldn’t use the same move again, as everyone was now very aware that I was just as dangerous as he was. But we had a few other tricks up our sleeves. I loved these sessions and looked forward to them. No matter how annoying Sirius was at other times, when we were both flying together, we were a perfect unit. I never thought that we would be so in sync with each other. We anticipated each other’s moves and understood each other’s signals perfectly.
“That was bloody brilliant, Jocelyn!” he said landing heavily after we finished a practice. It was freezing cold, but my cheeks were flushed with the effort of training.
“I know, right? I am awesome,” I beamed at him and he laughed, hard. “I need your help with the second swinging style though, I’m not sure I got it,” I told him.
“Let’s see it,” he came over to me and we dropped our brooms on the floor.
I grabbed the bat and did a practice swing to show him. He nodded. “I know what you mean, the arc isn’t quite right. Here, look,” he stood behind me, and put his arm around me so he could close his hand over mine on the bat.
We did a few swings like that and I got what he meant. Without thinking, I turned my face towards him. “YES! I think I got it. It feels right, you know?”
It was only then that I became suddenly hyper aware of how close he was standing. I could feel the heat of his body on my back, the calluses on his hand which was still wrapped over mine. My cheek was almost grazing his nose, and I could see his breath and mine mingled in one single cloud of mist. I froze.
“Good…” he said. It sounded like he was distracted, thinking about something else. He still hadn’t moved.
Then, it started raining. We sprang apart quickly, and I picked up my broom pretending nothing had happened because, well, nothing had. Had it?
It was a day like any other late January day. I had been delayed in coming back to my room by a very annoyed Professor Slughorn, who wasn’t happy I had weaseled my way out of his most recent dinner gathering. I hadn’t been kidding when I told Lily I had no plans to go to the Slug Club again. Slughorn had delayed me, and I was almost late. With a sigh, I threw my bag on my bed and I grabbed my broom quickly. I half walked half ran down the stairs into the common room, ready for our Thursday practice. I bumped into Matt by the portrait.
“Ready for the first storm practice of the new year?” he asked. We started walking together.
“I don’t think so,” I said, looking out one of the windows as we walked past it. It was a miserable day. It hadn’t stopped snowing since the night before. We had already had three or four sessions in the blistering cold, but we had been lucky, and it had been mostly dry up in the air so far. Not this time.
“Cap is especially mean in this weather, be warned,” he said ominously. I shook my head.
“I swear he gets a kick out of making us suffer,” we both laughed and walked comfortably in silence for a while.
“So, I know it’s none of my business, but I heard you… well, that you broke up with your boyfriend,” he said shyly.
“Yeah, we did. We broke up over the Christmas break.”
“Are you alright?”
“Yes. It was a friendly break up. Not sure if you knew, but he is a muggle and it was just too complicated. He could tell it wasn’t working. It was sad, but it was for the best,” I said, pushing the door to the grounds open and stepping on the snow.
“So… well, I’m sorry if it’s too early, you can totally tell me that but I was wondering if you’d like to go to Hogsmeade this weekend with me?”
“I didn’t know we had a Hogsmeade visit this weekend, I thought we were having the winter party,” I said.
“No, you are right. There isn’t an official visit, but I’m going to town with some other guys to buy a couple of things for the party. We have permission from McGonagall, and well, I thought maybe you’d like to come with me?”
“Are you asking me on a date or a grocery run?” I joked.
“A date. Definitely a date,” he said.
“I am not sure I’m ready to date anyone, Matt,” he looked deflated. “But I’ll go to Hogsmeade with you. We can hang out, see how it goes. I just don’t want you to have any expectations.”
“That’s cool with me. And, like I said, I know the breakup must still be fresh, so I probably should have waited. I just didn’t want someone else to beat me to it.”
I smiled at him as we reached the practice grounds. A few people from the team were already there, preparing the kit. I went inside to grab the bludgers box, since Sirius hadn’t arrived yet. As I dragged it outside through the grey slush, the wind started picking up. It was going to be a miserable practice indeed.
“Oh my Godric. I am dead!!” I threw myself unceremoniously on a bench in the changing room with a dramatic sigh. My bat fell loudly on the floor next to me.
“Cap, I think you broke Jocelyn,” Annie said. James choked on the water he was drinking. I giggled a little.
“I thought you were fit?” Sirius teased.
“This has nothing to do with fitness,” I protested. “We’ve been dragging ourselves through freezing mud for hours. I’m going to have to soak all night in a bath to get rid of it all.”
“There are worse things,” chimed in Matt. He took off his cloak and dropped it on the floor. It landed with a very heavy thud, testament to the amount of soil we were covered with.
“I’ll pay good money for someone to levitate me all the way back to Gryffindor Tower,” I announced.
“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, BLACK,” I shouted, sitting upright and terrified that he’d go through with it. He started laughing hysterically.
“He didn’t even have his wand out,” said Cal. I sighed.
“Seriously, though. I hope you’re not planning on making us do this every session until the Hufflepuff game,” I told James. He came over to where I was and, without giving me any time to think, scooped me up in his arms.
“Stop being a crybaby, Jocelyn,” he said with a grin.
“What are you doing?” I heard Matt’s voice, but I couldn’t see him. I was suddenly very distracted by how close James’ face was to mine and how bloody strong his arms were. I wasn’t heavy, but soaked and muddy Quidditch robes were.
“Going back to the Gryffindor Tower,” he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“I was joking James; you can put me down,” I whispered as he started walking out of the changing rooms.
“I don’t want to,” he said, simply. I didn’t have anything to say to that.
He carried me all the way back to the common room, whilst Sirius complained nonstop that in all their Quidditch playing years James had never done anything even remotely as nice as this for him.
“You are a lot heavier than she is,” James pointed out.
“That’s not the point. I object to this favoritism. Do I need to make out with you to start getting special treatment?”
“Send in your application, I’ll review it,” said James. My belly was hurting from laughing so much when he put me down on the floor.
“Thanks,” I said. “Now, I’m going to soak until this dirt peels off. See you tomorrow!”
It took me an hour to feel clean again, and by the time I was done, my entire body felt sore. So, I dragged myself to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
The next morning, I cursed James and every ancestor he had as I struggled to get out of bed. Everything hurt. I did not even want to think about how the rest of the team felt. I knew for a fact I was the only one who did other training and exercised outside of Quidditch practice. If I was feeling like this, I didn’t want to know the levels of pain they must be in.
“Are you ready for breakfast?” Alice asked.
“Yes, sorry. I’m just so sore everywhere,” I said, putting my scarf around my neck loosely and following them out the door.
“Good morning!” Peter was just walking into the common room as we reached the end of the girls’ staircase.
“Hi Pete, you guys going for breakfast?” Alice asked, subtly glancing around.
“Just me. Mo… Remus is a bit unwell, so James and Sirius took him to the infirmary. Nothing to worry about, just a cold but he wants to recover quickly for tomorrow’s party,” he said. Alice’s disappointment was so obvious it hurt.
“Let’s go then,” I said.
We headed to DADA after breakfast and met James and Sirius as they were arriving to the classroom.
“Hey, got you these,” I said, pulling out two apples and two granola bars from my bag. “It’s not much, but better than nothing, I guess.”
“You are queen of my heart, Jocelyn Silverway,” said Sirius, bowing until he was almost touching the floor. James just laughed and grabbed his food.
“Thanks, that was very nice. You didn’t have to,” he said.
“I still had to tick off my charitable action of the week,” I replied. Sirius grabbed his food too and winked at me.
DADA was one of my favourite classes. Our teacher this year was a foreign professor with loads of field experience. He had been an auror prior to getting into education. We were working on dueling skills with him, and I was loving it. If my calculations were correct, today we would duel each other for the first time. Of course, we had done this before, dueling was a constant in the curriculum every year, but now that we were getting into really advanced spells and counterspells, I was eager to test them.
I was right, and the professor announced that we would start with demonstrations. He cleared the classroom and made space for two duelers to face each other in the middle.
“Mr Potter, Mr Black, please take positions,” he said. Oh, this was going to be interesting. I had always known that even though I was very good at Defense, James and Sirius shared the top spot and there was no doubt about it. I was slightly jealous, competitive as I was, but they were just too good at it.
I made my way to the first row, ready to pay attention. Sirius and James faced each other and held their wands firmly, waiting for the signal to being. I didn’t know where to look. They were both putting on an impressive show. I had seen them duel before, but never like this. Their movements were precise and elegant but strong and powerful at the same time. Watching them duel was not just an excellent magic lesson, it was also hot in the way that watching attractive boys be brave and reckless and appear to be invincible was hot. I was sure I wasn’t the only female getting tummy flutters watching them, and I even heard a sigh or two from the audience.
At one point, Sirius even had time to look at me and give me one of those disarming smiles he very, very seldom used. My heart skipped a tiny beat, but I blamed it on hormones, and his undeniable hotness. Anyone would have skipped a beat if Sirius smiled at them like that. It didn’t mean anything.
“Thank you, thank you. That was outstanding,” the professor said when they finished.
‘It was outstanding, alright’ I thought to myself. I could not stop thinking about them both, no matter what I tried. I couldn’t remember the last time I was this flustered. When it was my turn to duel, against Cal, I struggled to focus on what I was doing. Thank Merlin Cal wasn’t the best wizard in our year, or I would have been in trouble.
I met Matt in the common room at noon on Saturday. It had stopped snowing, so I was actually looking forward to our trip to Hogsmeade. He looked dashing in a pair of jeans and a dark green sweater. He smiled as soon as he saw me. The conversation was easy, as it always was with Matt. We walked down to the school grounds and were joined by some other students also going to gather ‘supplies’ for the party that night. It wasn’t an official school thing, but the teachers knew that the only way to keep a bunch of hormonal teenagers under control was to turn a blind eye every now and then and let them have a bit of fun. So, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor were throwing a party together in a couple of joint classrooms on the third floor. We spent quite a bit of time looking for everything Matt had on the list he had been assigned, but eventually we got what we needed.
“We’ve got about an hour left before we have to go back. Can I buy you a coffee?”
“Sure, a hot drink sounds lovely right now,” I said.
We sat in a small table in a coffee shop and ordered hot chocolate. I was secretly very pleased he hadn’t taken me to Madame Puddifoot’s.
“So, what was that about the other night after practice?” he asked me. Uh oh.
“What do you mean?” maybe if I played dumb, he’d drop it?
“You know, Cap picking you up and that,” he said. I could tell he was trying to play it cool, but he really wanted to know.
“It’s just a bit of banter. You know what they’re like,” I said.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time with them.”
“Yeah, we have,” I shrugged.
“So, there’s nothing going on with Potter?”
“We’re friends,” I said. I didn’t want to lie to his face, but I also didn’t think he needed to know, so I settled for that.
“Okay, cool. I know I’m going to have a bit of competition, but I’m not sure I want to be going up against Cap,” he joked.
“He’s not that scary,” I protested.
“Not scary, just… you know. Nobody wants to be on his or Black’s bad side.”
“I’d be a lot more worried about Sirius. After all, he’s the one with the big heavy bat,” I pointed out. He laughed.
We changed topic after that, but I realised that a small part of me was bothered by the fact that he hadn’t asked if he had to worry about Sirius. I mean, he obviously didn’t, but still. I guess I wanted to hear someone thought I was in Sirius’ league. Was I? I didn’t know.
“Where the hell is Padfoot?” I barged into our room with Moony, who had recovered from his little ‘episode’ the night before, scaring the bejesus out of Wormtail.
“No idea. He said he had to go get something for the party and hasn’t come back yet.”
“The party starts in half an hour!” I protested.
“He knows,” said Wormtail. Moony sat on his bed and started going through his clothes, looking for something that would help hide his paleness. It was just such bad luck that the party was right after the full moon.
“Are you going to make a move on Jocelyn tonight?” Moony asked.
“I think so, yeah. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since New Year’s Eve,” it was the truth. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about our kiss. I wanted more. It had been almost a month since we’d been back, and I felt like we had proven to each other that our friendship was safe no matter what. We would always be friends first, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t explore something else.
“What about you and Alice?” I asked Moony.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said, defeated. “I really like her, but you know…”
“Moony, mate, you are allowed to date just like everyone else. It’s not healthy to close yourself off like that,” said Wormtail.
“I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
“Stop over thinking it,” I said.
“Overthinking what?” Padfoot walked into the room.
“Where were you?”
“Hogsmeade,” he said. “Went to grab a few things. Who’s thinking?”
“Stop thinking, I agree with Prongs,” he said. Moony looked a bit lost, and sighed.
The party was busy. Pretty much every student in sixth and seventh year was there, even the Slytherins. I saw a couple of fifth years too, probably other people’s dates. I spotted Alice, who was taller than both her friends, and we made our way there. Lily was with her, but Jocelyn wasn’t around. I felt the pang of disappointment a bit harder than I expected.
“Where’s Jocelyn?” asked Padfoot. I gave him a sideways glance. For someone who insisted had no romantic interest in her at all, he sure always found excuses to be around her. I felt bad almost as quickly as I thought that. Padfoot had never lied to me, ever. I was probably just being paranoid.
“She’s gone to get a drink with Matt,” said Lily.
“Do you guys want a drink?” Moony asked.
“Let’s go to the bar together,” said Alice, hooking her arm on Moony’s and leading the way. We all looked and smiled knowingly at each other, even Lily.
Jocelyn was, indeed, by the bar. And she was laughing with Matt. I felt a sudden urge to punch him in the face. But, I reminded myself, Jocelyn was not my girlfriend and there was no reason she couldn’t talk to, or – gulp – even kiss other guys. If I wanted to prevent that from happening, I had to take matters into my own hands.
“JAMES!” Wormtail yelled at me.
“For the fourth time, what do you want?!” he said, visibly exasperated.
“Ah, sorry. Firewhisky, thanks,” I grabbed the glass he gave me and took a deep gulp. Jocelyn must have heard him, because she turned around. Seeing us, she came over followed closely by Matt.
“Hey,” Matt nodded in our general direction in what I assume he thought was a manly greeting.
“Where’s Cal?” Jocelyn asked Lily.
“He’ll be here in a second, he had to finish a letter home before coming.”
“Ah. Oh, guys look,” she gestured behind us and we all turned. “Be subtle guys!”
Alice and Remus were talking. No, Alice and Remus were flirting. It was pretty obvious, and it was going very well by the looks of it.
“We must protect them at all costs,” said Lily. I nodded approvingly.
“Let’s just watch out so nobody interrupts. I have a feeling tonight’s their lucky night!” said Jocelyn, clapping her hands quietly. I chuckled.
“Well, if we’re going to stand here and patrol, we could do it in turns, hang around here and keep an eye on them. I know there’s a sixth year Ravenclaw who has his eye on Alice, he mustn’t interrupt them!” Lily informed us. We all nodded solemnly.
“Great idea, Jocelyn and I can take the first watch,” said Matt. I had to bite my tongue to refrain from pointing out that nobody was speaking to him. He had no business being here. This was our group. Go away.
“Actually, I’d like to borrow Jocelyn for a while,” I said instead. Much more civil. I was proud of myself.
“Is everything okay?” she asked. Padfoot was giving me a funny look that I decided to ignore.
“I’m sure it can wait,” said Matt. To my utter surprise, Lily cut in.
“I can take first watch. Matt, would you mind keeping me company until Cal gets here? Please?”
I knew there was a reason I had spent years pining after Lily Evans. She was, after all, really smart and pretty. Evans for the win!
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