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September 5th, 2021

Quidditch Pitch

 

James heaved a big sigh, leaning heavily on the railing as he reviewed the results of the last two hours of quidditch tryouts. The air that hung over the pitch was balmy, and the afternoon sun was beating on his back as if it were still mid-July. 

 

He admitted, it was a bit early in the year for quidditch tryouts. Classes hadn’t even started yet, due to commence tomorrow following the long weekend the students had been granted after they had arrived at Hogwarts late last Wednesday. But James had wanted to get the jump on the other teams this year. Their first scrimmage against Ravenclaw was at the end of the month, and their first official game, against Slytherin, would come only a few short weeks later. And while quidditch had always been important to James, this season... Well. This season really mattered. 

 

“So, what’s the prognosis, doc?” Fred Weasley said peering over James’s shoulder at his notes, before slowly wrinkling his forehead in confusion.

 

“...James, mate. Is this in English?”

 

James flipped up his writing pad and whacked his cousin on the arm with the clipboard with an exasperated sigh. He would have usually played along with Freddie’s antics, but the long, hot, and stressful afternoon of trials had left him feeling a little on edge. And sure, he hadn’t had the best penmanship, and his notes may have been a little haphazard as he scribbled observations about the players, but it’s not like Freddie could talk. 

 

“The last time I borrowed your Charms notes, they looked like they’d been written by the disembodied hand of a troll,” James shot back. 

 

Freddie barked out a laugh, rubbing his arm, “Alriiight, someone’s touchy today. Please... interpret these holy symbols for us ignorant proles.”

 

James shot him a withering look, but followed him down on the grass to sit with the rest of their team anyway. 

 

“What are you thinking, James?” came the rich Scottish lilt of Lewis Wood, a tall and slim boy with a tall and slim nose, who was a chaser along with Freddie, as well as being one of James’s closest friends. Next to him sat the team’s third chaser, Kian Wilkinson, a brawny 6th year with bushy eyebrows and a jocular disposition, who was looking expectantly up at James. The final member of the huddle, Naomi King, a 6th year beater who had a tongue as sharp as her aim, was fanning her neck with her long, high ponytail. 

 

“Okay, we should start with choosing a second beater, since Naomi probably has some insight, and then we can move onto the seeker…” James said, shuffling his papers around, trying to decipher how 1-hour-ago-James decided to organize his thoughts.

 

“You also noticed I held short trials for keepers and chasers… Me, Fred, and Lewis are leaving this year, so I want you two especially,” he said, glancing at Naomi and Kian, “To help pick out a couple promising people for the reserve squad.”

 

“Yessir!” Kian grinned saluting James, and he offered a small smile back after finally locating his notes on the beaters and scanning them. 

 

“So as far as beaters go, it’s pretty much down between Jenson Peakes and Jackson Park… They were basically shot for shot in the target practice tests… Peakes does have more power since he’s bigger, but Park is only in 3rd year so he’s got room to grow… Thoughts? Naomi?”

 

Naomi held out her hand for the clipboard, but it took the girl quite a few minutes to decipher James’ untidy scrawl. James unhelpfully tried translating, but he was having trouble too, as he unfortunately overlooked the two candidates’ rather similar names when he made the ill-fated decision to only refer to them by their initials. Naomi eventually gave up with an exasperated sigh, tossing the clipboard to the grass.

 

“Never mind the notes. I already decided during trials that I want Park,” the girl said with conviction.

 

“Why’s that?”

 

“Peakes already developed his own style which I dunno would work with mine, and I’m partial to someone more… pliable,” she replied with a smirk. 

 

Although she’d been two years younger than her last partner, Naomi’s decisive personality had her calling the shots in the beaters’ strategies since nearly the moment she joined the team two years ago. James learned over time that it was best not to dispute his strong-willed teammate. Anyway, as a wise and perceiving captain, he generally trusted his players’ judgement, especially when they were holding a bat, like Naomi was at that moment. 

 

So, he just nodded, adding, “It’ll be good to have someone younger on the squad to stick around longer anyway... Any objections?”

 

“Nay!”

 

“Alright, moving onto seeker... This one’s tougher…” James said, pausing. Seekers were the hardest players to score objectively since their role was so distanced from the main gameplay. “I think the ones with the flying skills for the position would be Hopkirk, Doge… and Potter.”

 

James pinked slightly. It was hard keeping objective about family members, especially when he had so many floating around the school, but he also felt a flush of pride thinking about Lily’s tryouts. His sister had always been a fair player, but he could tell how hard she’d been practicing recently from the marked improvement in her flying today.

 

“I think we should eliminate Hopkirk,” Lewis said, “Gweneth did well, but she’s graduating with us this year and won’t do these two any good next year.”

 

Nods of agreement bobbed around the circle. “Right, so between Doge and Potter, they’re both really decent flyers and both very quick too…”

 

James stopped, not wanting to say something that wasn’t objective. After a few beats, Kian slowly eased into the silence.

 

“This might be crazy…” he started, looking apprehensive, “But I think we should use Isla as the seeker.”

 

Nearly everyone in the group turned to look at the chaser in surprise, quite a few glancing sideways at James for his reaction. 

 

“Not that Lily wasn’t good!” Kian blurted quickly, “The opposite actually! She was the best in the chaser tryouts, so I thought we should keep her on reserves to train her up for next year. She’d be brilliant to play with as a center…”

 

Kian looked helplessly at Lewis, imploring him to jump in and help him. The older boy looked thoughtful, nodding his head, “She’s fast… If you want to run our plays next year, you’ll need that for my position…”

 

“...Actually, I’ve been practicing the Gryphon Formation with her for center, Lewis,” Fred pitched in helpfully, “She was quite good at that barrel roll you do...”

 

Like many of the Wotters, Lily had spent a number of afternoons this summer in the sun-soaked field behind the Burrow, playing scrimmage matches with their cousins. Often playing as chaser with Freddie, she’d even given James the slip the few times they’d played against each other, using her smaller frame and speed to get goals past him. 

 

Kian was looking apprehensively at James, anticipating his response. He chuckled internally, realizing that his extended silence had probably put the boy even more on edge. 

 

“I agree,” James said, finally granting some respite to the boy. 

 

“Lily’d fit best as a chaser, after she gets more training. And more pressingly, Isla would make a solid seeker for this season. If we improved her technique a bit, she might be faster than Elena last year…”

 

As he continued talking, James had to stop himself from laughing aloud when he saw Kian let out a visible sigh of relief. James wasn’t known to be the easiest of Quidditch captains, the sport being one of the most serious things the otherwise easy-going 17-year-old considered in his life, but he didn’t think he was that intimidating... was he? 

 

In the end, they decided to add Jackson and Isla to the main squad this season, retaining Lily and an aspiring 5th year keeper, Siobhan Finnigan, as reserves for the next. He knew Lily would be slightly disappointed that she didn’t make the starters, and James was disappointed he wouldn’t get to play with his little sister in matches this year, but he also played enough quidditch to know that objectively, it was a sound decision. 

 

“Hey, Kian,” James called to the younger boy, who’d just finished wrestling a bludger back into its place in the quidditch trunk. The team was just about done tidying up the pitch after announcing the results to the hopefuls. 

 

Kian looked up towards him. “What’s up, James?”

 

“That was a keen call today. About the seekers. Be a little more confident in your instinct, yeah?”

 

Kian flashed him his brightest grin. 

 

“Yessir!”

 

-------

 

September 5th, 2021

Entrance Hall

 

The din of a packed Great Hall and the unmistakable and tantalizing smell of Sunday roast dinner greeted James and his teammates as they trudged through the school’s front entryway. The sun had been low on the horizon by the time he’d emerged from the locker rooms, his dark brown hair dripping from a fresh shower, and now, James’s stomach grumbled in protest of the long afternoon he’d spent on the pitch. It propelled him forward toward the clattering plates and the long tables heaped with food, but before James could step into the Hall, from behind him, a lofty voice called.

 

“Oy, Potter!”

 

James slumped defeatedly, and from beside him, he heard Freddie scoff with annoyance. He’d gone almost the whole week, but he supposed his strain of good luck had to end at some point. With a push of effort, James turned around slowly, squaring his shoulders and jaw as he did. 

 

“Llewellyn,” he said, dripping with mock-pleasantry, “Have a good summer?”

 

The broad-chested, golden-haired Hufflepuff was swaggering toward the group, looking much like a preened cockatoo as he was trailed by Roy Fawley and Reuben McLaggen, the two beaters on his quidditch team. 

 

“Yeah, it was alright,” Caleb said with a cocky smirk, “I spent the off season at the Catapults training camp, actually.”

 

James rolled his eyes. Caleb spent every summer at the Caerphilly Catapults training grounds - his family had practically built the Welsh quidditch powerhouse - but he never missed a chance to remind James of the fact. 

 

“Finally gotten around to signing a contract with them then?” James dead-panned.

 

“I’m taking a look around the market first,” Caleb said, meeting his eyes challengingly, “You and I both know how good the Falcon’s keeper program is… Puddlemere’s alright too, I suppose, even though they’ve got Wood running the show.”

 

Caleb glanced at Lewis mockingly, and the tall boy responded with a chilling glare. Lewis also came from a family of quidditch greats (probably much to Caleb’s ire). His parents and his older sister had all gone pro at some point or another, and his father was renowned former keeper, Oliver Wood, who now worked as one of the coaches for Puddlemere United.

 

Beside Lewis, James bristled. Knowing Llewellyn, he’d meet him trial for trial for every team he expressed interest in just to spite him. James’s stomach turned, and this time, it wasn’t from the hunger. As much as it pained him to admit, Caleb did have better connections than him, and it made James anxious for the coming year.

 

Of course, the Hufflepuff immediately took notice of this and regarded him with a haughty smile. 

 

“Not to worry though, Potter. The Catapults are still on the table. They do have one of the strongest squads in the league, and the head coach says I would have a promising future with them.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure that was very reassuring to hear from daddy,” Fred jabbed, smirking, “I reckon he’s bound by parental obligation to say that sort of thing.”

 

“And remind me again what does your father do, Weasley? Makes fart jokes for a living?”

 

Actually he runs an extremely successful multi-million galleon company, thanks for asking,” Fred shot back, holding his hand up for a high-five from James, who gladly obliged. 

 

Caleb was reddening. “Listen here Weasley, I know you’re probably too busy stuffing dungbombs up your nostrils to read the news, but the Catapults have won two league championships in the last five years. You don’t get that kind of record without talent on your squad, but of course… You lot probably wouldn’t be familiar with that sort of thing, would you?”

 

Caleb looked around appraisingly at the Gryffindor team, letting out a mocking laugh. 

 

“I hear you were holding try-outs today, Potter. I hope you finally got a seeker who can spot a Snitch when it’s fluttering at the tip of her nose. And at Cup Finals no less,” Caleb tsked. 

 

James laughed cheerlessly, “You mean the Cup Finals that Hufflepuff got locked out of last year?”

 

The smile slid off of Caleb’s face. “Your dweeb brother may have made some lucky catches last season, but if you think that Slytherin or any other team can save you from Hufflepuff whooping your ass in the Final this year-”

 

“Ah, so you’re saying that we’re the team to beat,” James smiled, “That’s so sweet of you, Llewellyn…”

 

Caleb was beet red now, his eyes flashing with anger. He looked just about ready to sock James in the face, and likely would have... had Archie Longbottom not come down the grand staircase at that exact moment. 

 

“What’s going on here?” he said in an authoritative voice that James only ever heard when his friend was in Prefect Mode™. 

 

“None of your damn business, Longb-”

 

Caleb turned angrily, the spitting remark halfway out of his mouth until his eyes landed on the HB pinned to Archie’s shirt. 

 

The Head Boy regarded him with hard eyes and a set jaw, as he shifted just so. The polished badge caught in the candlelight, like an unspoken warning. 

 

“Go on…?”

 

Slowly, the Hufflepuff looked between Archie and James, resentment flaring in his eyes as James flashed him his most irritating grin. After a moment, however, Caleb seemed to make a decision, and he ticked his head in annoyance before plastering on a pleasant smile. 

 

“It’s nothing, Longbottom… Just catching up with Potter about his summer.”

 

“Right,” said Archie, looking thoroughly unconvinced, “Well, I’m sure you and James will have plenty more opportunity to ‘catch up’ on the quidditch pitch this year.”

 

Behind Caleb, James and Fred let out whoops of amusement, but Archie shot them a rather chilling warning glance before he continued. 

 

“...You’d best head in, Llewellyn... Fawley, McLaggen,” he said, inclining his head toward the door, “Go ahead, before all the popovers are gone.”

 

With a final glare at James, Caleb grunted to his two cronies, and the trio disappeared into the Great Hall. 

 

Archie approached the group of Gryffindors with an exasperated look on his face.

 

Really, James? It’s been five days, and I already walk into you and Llewellyn on the brink of a fist fight in the entrance hall…”

 

But James hadn’t a trace of remorse on his face, instead looking positively gleeful. Behind him, the rest of the squad looked as though Christmas had come early. 

 

“Archie, you beautiful man, if I ever take the mickey out of you for being a prefect ever again, feel free to jinx me…” James said, looping his arm around his friend’s shoulder, but Archie shrugged it off. 

 

James, I’m serious. You’re a 7th Year now... What would the first years think if they saw two of the house team quidditch captains dueling before dinner… Merlin...”

 

James grinned at him jovially, “Not to worry, Arch. As Llewellyn pointed out, we were just exchanging pleasantries about our holidays...”

 

“James.”

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

“...Sorry,” James said finally, buckling under Archie’s hard expression. His friend was still set on Prefect Mode, and he braced himself for the chewing out that he’d probably need to endure before the Head Boy had said his piece. 

 

To his surprise though, Archie just sighed and said, “...Remember what McGonagall did to Hadrian Cootes our second year?”

 

And immediately, James sobered up.

 

Hadrian Cootes. One of his god-brother, Teddy’s mates. Former Gryffindor captain and star chaser before James even made the team. Got into a small argument about technique with one of his beaters which turned into a half-joking 10 second duel on the pitch. McGonagall grounded them both for the rest of their final season, and Gryffindor came in dead last in the Cup that year. 

 

The headmistress had ruthlessly strict conduct code for quidditch players, including a no-tolerance policy for fights, even silly ones like that. James hadn’t even played a scrimmage this year yet, and the thought of no more quidditch… He paled.

 

“Ah, did you have to mention that, Archie, look what you’ve done to the poor boy…” Freddie said sympathetically, patting his shoulder, “James, mate… It’s alright… You can breathe…”

 

“It was just a reminder… I want to see you guys do well this season just as much, you know...” Archie defended, but he looked hesitantly at James.

 

It was always quite eerie for his friends to see the affable boy’s humor clam up so quickly. Truthfully, only quidditch had the power to do that. 

 

“Archie, I’m very sorry for having dragged you into it,” James said suddenly, taking his friends’ hands and looking at him sincerely, “But thank you for intervening - I’m very lucky to have you as a friend.”

 

Archie sputtered at the sudden declaration, the sharpness in his previous tone already lost, “That’s- uh- that’s alright, James...”

 

Lewis was chuckling, shaking his head at the exchange, “Alright, settle down, captain… McGonagall hasn’t dragged you hollering off the pitch yet…”

 

“Aww, mates, let’s hug it out,” Freddie interjected with a grin, not even pausing before he swallowed the pair in a bear hug.

 

“Oy-!”

 

---

 

“By the way, Archie, that was preeeetty awesome!” Kian said, after the group had finally steered their way towards the Great Hall, “I’ve never seen Llewellyn shut up that quickly before.”

 

“R-really?” 

 

Archie was hooked on either side by Fred and James as they made for the Gryffindor table. Now that he had simmered back down to his usual mild-mannered self, his friends didn’t fail to notice to pink blush creeping up on his cheeks. 

 

“Yes, really! When you were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ - did you see the look on his face? I know you’re still a bit cross with us, Arch, but that was well done, Mr. Head Boy, well done…!” Freddie said with a wicked grin, clapping the boy hard on his back and inciting a few pained groans in response. 

 

“Actually, my personal favorite was ‘Before all the popovers are gone’. That was quite cheeky that was…” 

 

Lewis was walking ahead of them and tossed a wry smile over his shoulder before cooly adding, “...Now tell me, Archie, how long did you spend polishing that impeccable badge of yours last night…?”

 

By the time the group arrived at the table, it was with a very red-cheeked Archie Longbottom in tow. James wasn’t quite sure how the boy put up with them honestly, except for the fact that he was an immensely good sport, but ringing true with his words earlier, he was exceedingly glad he did. 

 

Soon, Kian and Naomi bid them goodbye to find their respective groups of friends, and the four 7th year Gryffindor boys settled down to an empty spot on the bench. As the boys filled their plates with roast, Fred regaled Archie about their encounter with Llewellyn before he arrived, slightly dramatized as per the usual Fred Weasley tale. 

 

“... and so after I told him I could basically buy his sorry ass, he had the gall to bring up the last Cup Finals that his team didn’t even play!” 

 

Archie raised his eyebrows and looked at James, who confirmed with an exasperated nod. Bringing up the Finals last year was a low blow. So, of course it was right up Llewellyn’s alley. 

 

During James’s 6th year and first season as quidditch captain, the Gryffindor team (unlike the Hufflepuffs) had pulled in a strong and consistent showing throughout the year and were the favorites to win going into the Finals. It was a tough match against a very capable Slytherin team, who were well-known for their tricky and illusory flying skills. 

 

But James had been solid on the hoops and Gryffindor had pulled ahead. However, while performing a particularly elaborate play, one of the Slytherin chasers - Margot Beauregard - fumbled on a barrel turn and fell off her broom, before she was narrowly caught by one of her teammates. The Gryffindor seeker, Elena Entwistle, had been so distracted by the drama that she hadn’t noticed Albus zooming straight past her as he dived for the Snitch. 

 

Needless to say, James had taken the loss hard, but it only served to add fuel to his campaign this year. He never did get a straight answer from Al whether that fall had been intentional or not, either… But James thought it best not to dwell on it too much. He knew the Slytherins could put in a scary amount of commitment to their plays when they wanted to. 

 

Fred was scoffing, “I dunno where Llewellyn gets off acting so smug… as if Ravenclaw didn’t score 30 points on him in one go last year…”

 

“Well, I suppose you wouldn’t understand his position, Freddie,” James quipped, and his friends looked at him curiously, “As a fellow keeper, I can say it’s completely necessary to leave the hoops unattended to demonstrate a Wronski Feint once in a while…”

 

The boys snorted into their Yorkshire puddings at the memory. 

 

Fred continued, chortling, “All I’m saying is that he hasn’t got grounds to talk about Elena when Albus got the jump on his seeker last year, too… Lucky catches, my ass…”

 

“That’s right!” James exclaimed, suddenly remembering something, and the boys looked at him in surprise. “That prick called Al a dweeb…” 

 

James narrowed his eyes, shoving an angry mouthful of potatoes in his mouth. “‘-nly I’m allow’d t’do that…”

 

“...You truly show affection in the strangest of ways, James,” Lewis said, slicing himself a wedge of pumpkin pie. 

 

James only shrugged. Sibling dynamics were meant to be complex. 

 

------

 

September 6th, 2021

Greenhouse 4

 

“Oh. Shit,” James whispered with a sudden realization, as soon as he settled into his seat for his very first class of the year, Herbology. When Archie and Lewis turned around from the bench up to peer at James, they found him looking in panic at the empty seat next to him. 

 

“...Something wrong, James?” Archie prodded. 

 

James looked up at his friends in sheer distress. 

 

“Quick - can one of you switch seats and be my partner?”

 

Archie and Lewis looked at each other hesitantly. James had many talents… but Herbology wasn’t one of his strong suits. 

 

“Please?”

 

At the sound of voices coming up the path to the greenhouse, James began paling quickly, looking as though he would cry if one of them didn’t act soon, and so Archie sighed and began collecting his pack from beneath the table.

 

“Hurry, Archie,” James cried, “...please.”

 

When the boy finally dropped down next to him, James released an exaggerated sigh of relief. 

 

“Wait - ah, James, no -” But it was already too late. James had leaned over to plant a sloppy kiss atop Archie’s golden-haired head. 

 

“Ugh…” the boy groaned, wiping his forehead in disgust. 

 

“Thank you,” James said earnestly, taking the bewildered boy by the shoulders, “Thank you.”

 

“Mind telling us what this is all about, James?” Lewis said, watching James’s dramatics with a disparaging look, “...and don’t tell me this is about pulling up your ‘Acceptable’ from last year.”

 

The boy looked understandably peeved - he’d just lost his claim to the best bench partner in the class, after all. Archie had inherited his dad’s brilliance for Herbology. 

 

“Uhhh…” James started smartly, but was interrupted by a particularly chatty entrance at the front of the room. 

 

Into the greenhouse walked a large group of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw girls, led by Samantha Haywood, who was in the midst of recounting a funny holiday story to the crowd. The outgoing and pretty witch was probably the most popular person in their year. She was friendly, charming, and absolutely impossible to disentangle yourself from once she had locked you into a conversation. This James could attest to, having made the mistake of being her Charms partner in 4th year, which was also the same year he’d gotten a Howler from his mum for getting one too many detentions for talking in class. He grimaced at the memory. 

 

Moving from the chattering blonde, James’s gaze involuntarily wandered right. 

 

The sudden flip in his stomach warned him before his eyes even registered the willowy silhouette and sheath of red hair tucked neatly behind freckled ears. 

 

Piper St Claire, Sam’s best friend and fellow Gryffindor. 

 

By habit, his eyes lingered around her heart-shaped face and button nose longer than they should have. And as if sensing the gaze on her, Piper glanced his way, her blue eyes widening at the contact with his. 

 

Shit. 

 

Shit. Shit. Shit. 

 

James forced his gaze down and repeated his mantra in his head, but it was no use. The group of girls began to move from the door towards the empty benches on the far side of the room, most unfortunately passing right by his and Archie’s bench. 

 

James’s neck was burning hot by the time the group neared them. Tugging his shirt collar as far up as he could, he looked up when Piper hesitated next to him. 

 

“Hi, James,” she said expectantly.

 

“Hey… Piper,” James said, straining to keep his voice even.

 

“...I guess… We’re switching up bench partners this year, huh?” she said, glancing at Archie seated next to him.

 

“Oh, uh. Yeah… Archie’s asked me to tutor him this semester, so...”

 

James gave her a small apologetic shrug, steadfastly ignoring both the sharp jab to his side from an annoyed Archie and the snort of derisive laughter from an amused Lewis. 

 

“Sorry,” he finished quickly, hoping she didn’t notice them. He hated his friends, sometimes. 

 

“Oh no… That’s… that’s alright…”

 

“Thanks for understanding.”

 

“Yeah, sure…”

 

“...”

 

“...So, umm… How was your summer, James?”

 

“...My summer? Oh.. Uhm, it was alright... Quidditch conditioning, family stuff… Usual.”

 

“Oh. That’s good.”

 

“...”

 

“...”

 

“...How about you? How was the rest of your summer?” James was pushing the words out now. 

 

“Oh... Yeah, it was alright. Me and my sisters went to Dorset after- um…well… We… uh… you know...” 

 

Piper trailed off, looking as though she wanted to say more, but mercifully she didn’t. James dropped his gaze down to the desk, rubbing his scarlet neck.

 

Yeah, he knew.

 

“Piper!” Sam’s voice called like a saving bell for the pair. She had set her bag on a bench across the room and was gesturing her friend to the empty seat beside her.

 

“I’ll see you later, Piper,” James said, finishing the conversation for her. 

 

The red-head only gave one last awkward nod before she shuffled away towards her friend, and James let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. 

 

A rumbling chuckle sounded in front of him, and he looked up to see Lewis regarding him with much more humor and understanding than before. 

 

“Mate, if you ever need to clear a room fast, replay that conversation for them - people will flee out of sheer secondhand embarrassment.”

 

“Thanks, Lewis.”

 

“So, that’s still happening then, huh?”

 

James sighed, “Actually, more accurately it’s not happening… We called it quits in July.”

 

Lewis clacked his tongue cheekily, “Mhmm, for how long?”

 

James gave him a withering glare. “For good this time, alright?”

 

Archie, at least, had the tact to look a little more sympathetic as he gently said, “James… To be fair, that’s what you said the last time you broke up, too…”

 

“No guys…” James heaved a sigh, “It’s like, for good, for good this time…”

 

His friends continued looking at him incredulously, although he couldn’t exactly blame them. 

 

James and Piper had been on an on-again off-again relationship since 5th year that had been taking them, as well as their friends and really, any casual onlookers on a wild roller coaster of emotions. In fact, they’d broken up and gotten back together so many times, James was pretty sure there was a column in the Hogwarts newspaper dedicated to it. 

 

To be clear, James really liked Piper - she was nice and easy to talk to, and he found her hair quite pretty. But she also had a virulent streak of indecisiveness that plagued their relationship. James often felt as though he were a slightly gaudy dress in her closet that she was unsure whether she wanted to wear out or toss. In the past, he’d had been dumped for as little as a sandwich crust (no, really), but as per this most recent split...

 

“... I broke up with her,” James said. 

 

“What?” Lewis and Archie said in surprised unison. James had always been the dumpee in their relationship. 

 

“Well,” James amended, “I guess she had been pretty wishy-washy about us all summer… But I’d been the one to say it in the end.”

 

His friends gaped at him. 

 

“... I’ve got quidditch this year to worry about… If it’s gonna be like always... I can’t keep on with this relationship when I need to focus on getting recruited.” 

 

“That’s…” Archie started after regarding him for a moment, “That’s really good, mate.”

 

James nodded his head in reassurance, partially for himself, too, “Yeah…  I think it’s for the best.”

 

A slow, wry smile spread across Lewis’s face. “Our Jamsie is finally growing up.”

 

James rubbed his neck. “That’s uhm. That’s why I needed one of you to sit here. Since we were Herbology partners last year, I figured she’d try to… yeah,” he trailed off.

 

Lewis hummed, looking at him appraisingly, “Well, in that case, I suppose I could let you borrow Archie for the term.”

 

He reached out and ruffled James’s hair (eliciting a very irate, “Hey!” from the latter) before turning around and unpacking his things from his rucksack. 

 

James smiled after him and tilted his head toward Archie. 

 

“...It was also ‘cause I wanted better marks this semester,” he told the blonde, laughing when Lewis tossed him the bird over his back. 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

Hey! I'm back! Life update is that all went well with the move! If you didn't know, I've moved to Seoul very recently, and I'm settling into my new job and apartment and city now. I find my new home quite inspiring, and I've been itching to write more recently. Thank you for waiting patiently, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter :)

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