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"I'm not hovering in your pigsty any longer than necessary-"
I pulled a face, as I examined the wrapping job. “You could have looked at it while wrapping it...”
“See, this is why Aunt Ginny only let you have a pygmy puff when you went to Hogwarts. Imagine you trying to look after an owl or a cat.”
“Sometimes I wonder whether I did raise you, or whether you grew up with Fred or Hugo," Mum said.
It was refreshing to wake up to a girl who wasn’t trying to propose marriage.
“Put it this way, James. Do you remember, in Fifth Year, when you decided to jump off one of the Quidditch hoops without a broom?”
“You are insufferable,” Mum complained. “Honestly, who raised you?”
"You this week's trashy pull then?" Lily asked.
Carlotta sighed. “I’m beginning to forget what you look like, you know.”
"Nothing is going to go wrong," I said firmly. "Trust me, I know what I'm doing. It won't go wrong."
I’d broken the Statute of Secrecy.
“What’s it like?” I asked gently. “Having someone Obliviated?”
“I’m sorry,” I continued. “You weren’t supposed to find out that way.”
“What could go wrong?”
“She, um ... she knows. About us. About magic.”
Carlotta was looking at the teapot with a fascinated expression on her face.
"Stop being so modest, Junior, it doesn’t suit you."
"Uncle Percy and Molly may bore you to death, Louis and Hugo might try teasing you rotten, Grandpa Weasley may ask you about rubber ducks, and Dora and Remus may try crawling all over you, but generally we’re harmless."
“Can’t I sit next to my own wife?” Uncle Ron grumbled, as he took the seat in front of her.
“Transylvania? That’s not even a country...”
“Unfortunately, Albus picked a time Carlotta was around for his routine ‘The Malfoy family persecuted Muggles’ rant.”
“It is a screw cap. Why do wine bottles not have corks these days?”
“We’re not just a team. We’re a family. And I wouldn’t leave for anything.”
Then she said six words which just about broke my heart.
The World Cup was all that the journalists could talk about. They’d all written articles, listing the players they would choose if they were picking the England squad.
"Tell me, James; what do they mean by the 'boy who lived'?"
"I didn’t want you knowing my dad is this all-powerful hero of the wizarding world and that I’m his biggest let-down!"
I remembered what had happened in dribs and drabs when I woke up.
I was feeling positive. Today was going to be a productive day.
I’d been hounded by the media before. It was something I’d had to get used to, even when I was at Hogwarts.
“The Lair? You went to the Lair and didn’t invite me?”
By Saturday, I truly was alone in the world.
“You’re only here because I've done something wrong!”
Ingrid Feversham had always been beautiful.
“I let myself go off the rails!”
Brigid stared at me for a moment, her expression a mixture of bemusement and remorse. It was a while before she spoke.
“Thank you, James. For coming back.”
"I’ve loved your father since I was eleven years old and he saved me from a memory kept in a diary."
“If you really care as much as you make out that you do, then why don’t you do anything about it?”
“We won’t need to be under any pressure to win. We’ll do it. Trust me.”
Dad gave me a curious look.
“So, you’re just going to let this dictate your life for you?” I said. “You won’t let yourself be happy-”
“You still know me too well,” I said wryly.
“We’re not agreeing all of this on your terms-” she began.
“You have so many wonderful creatures in your world,” Carlotta mused. “Speaking of which, I fed Cordelia earlier. I figured you wouldn’t have fed her in a while.”
“Do you ... do you feel as though your parents’ marriage ... affects you, in any way?”
“Do you think you’ll win the Cup?” Carlotta asked.
“Hopefully we won’t need to give her that kind of pep talk again. And if we do, ideally she won’t be wearing wet, skin-tight clothing.”
“You cared about everyone, even people you didn’t know. You didn’t have to do any of it, but you did anyway. You still do. And that’s far more attractive a trait than good looks or charm.”
“It’s a funny name, dragon pox,” Carlotta mused. “And it’s actually connected to dragons?”
Mum paused. “My only daughter ended up Head Girl, and she’s now going to work for the Ministry. Remind me why I’m proud of her?”
“Pumpkin doesn’t go with fish,” Carlotta said by way of a greeting.
“What if I screw up?” I whispered.
I felt that Tamsin seemed unconvinced by something. I just hoped it wasn’t me.
“First orchestrating some good publicity without my help, now you’re remembering to buy birthday presents without prompting ... before long you won’t need me any more!” Brigid laughed.
Even Uncle Percy and Aunt Hermione, who both lacked the rest of the family’s enthusiasm for Quidditch, couldn’t deny their awe of the atmosphere a home Quidditch World Cup created.
Cordelia was letting out squeaking noises which I took to mean she was enjoying herself – I liked to think those were happy squeaks at any rate, otherwise she was the world’s unhappiest pygmy puff.
“Have you been taking crazy pills?” I asked.
“They should really give out pamphlets on professional Quidditch when they do careers advice in Fifth Year, emphasising how the pressure and expectation will completely wipe all the fun out of playing.”
I looked up, a huge smile on my face. “Thanks, Dad. You’re the best.”
I’d never played a game against Ryan before.
Dad looked so full of pride and admiration. It was the look he always gave Albus or Lily when they’d achieved something, the look I’d always wished he’d give me. And now I realised he had given me that look before, countless times, whenever I won a Quidditch match. I’d just never noticed it for what it was.
“We were good, weren’t we?” she said thickly, as a tear rolled down her cheek.
"Only you could whack a broomstick round a pygmy puff’s head."
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