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Chapter 4: It Started with Quidditch
It started with Quidditch.
The next morning I made my way to a nearby open field, broom in hand. That was the nice thing about living in Godric’s Hollow. I didn’t have to worry about the neighbors noticing me flying. They were all used to it, as they were all witches and wizards themselves. I try to fly once a week or so. I miss it. It’s my me time, just like biking to work is, only without the hazards. I’m much more comfortable and confident on a broom than I’ll ever be on a bike.
Andy and I grew up flying. Dad got us started on those little toy brooms almost immediately after we learned to walk. We spent so much time flying over the fields, partially as a job, and partially just for the fun of it. When you’re in the air, everything else just seems to fade away. Everything seems perfect.
My perfection was ruined by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Hovering nearby me was James, also perched on a broom. “Your brother wasn’t kidding. You are a menace on that thing.” I had been doing laps at top speed around the field for a few minutes before switching to flying at a more leisurely pace.
“Are you following me now?” I teased. James and Andy had really hit it off last night at dinner. Andy already adored him, and had invited James over next weekend to watch whatever pro match was on. My brother’s adoration for our neighbor meant that I was forcing myself to tolerate him. Some times it was easier to do than others.
He smiled back at me sheepishly. “I saw you heading out with your broom, and I was curious. What have you got?” His eyes were examining my broom. “Never seen one of these before.”
“That’s because you haven’t experienced the world beyond your Brit brooms. This is a Dawson Hurricane.” I gave my baby a loving pat. It was just about the best that our broom industry had to offer. A lot of the professional American Quidditch players rode this broom. It had been a college graduation gift from my dad. And not a cheap one too, either. “See, we’re too concerned about the quality of our brooms to ride something silly like your Firebolts and Nimbuses.”
James glanced quickly back at the label on his own broom, a Nimbus Unlimited. “Ouch. I had come to tell you about the local amateur team, but I don’t know if I want to share that information with you now. I might have to defend mine and Annabelle’s honor.”
I raised a brow. “Annabelle? Your broom?” I brushed at my hair with a hand. “You could just admit defeat now and tell me about it.”
He let out a heavy sigh. “Fine, but I demand a rain check on this race. I’ll have you now that I’m incredibly competitive, believe it or not.” I didn’t doubt that for a second. “We’ve got a team here, the Godric Goblins. We get to play a minimum of six matches in a season, more if we make it to the final tournament. There are nine teams in the league right now, counting us. And we happen to be looking for a seeker.”
A chance to play Quidditch? I rubbed a thumb against my broom, eyes on the ground. “I’ll think about it.” It would mean being on a team for something with James, and I wasn’t sure if I could handle that. He had already infiltrated his way into my life enough. “Thanks for telling me about it.”
His mouth turned up in an amused smile, and James began to fly a tight circle around me. “I’ve never felt so strongly disliked by someone before.” He sounded way too happy about that fact. Weren’t people supposed to want to be liked? “You’re different.”
“And you’re annoying.” I stuck my tongue out at him. “You didn’t exactly make the best first impression.”
“And what about giving me a second chance? Do you believe in those?” James taunted, dark eyes shining.
I tilted my broom upward, and flew above his circle. “Maybe you’re already getting one. Maybe you’ve already gotten one.” I retorted down to him. “I’m not just another girl you can charm and have your way with. If you want me to like you, you’re going to have to work for it. You’re going to have to prove yourself. Be a real Prince Charming.”
His flying came to a halt. “I told you that I’m not Prince Charming, but I’m always up for a challenge. And I’d already planned on winning you over anyways. I’m really not as bad as you think I am.”
“I never said anything about thinking that you’re bad. Stupid, yes. Severely annoying, yes. But not bad.” James couldn’t hurt a fly. I had all the proof that I needed for that. I had seen the way that he had light up when he had talked about his family the night before. He was a sweetheart under it all. An obnoxious sweetheart.
I should have taken James seriously. He was almost as stubborn as I was, if not more so, and he took the challenge to make me see the better side of him seriously. Monday morning, I went out to find a banana bread recipe on the porch along with a small handful of flowers.
“These are from down the road.” I protested to Andy as I showed him my presents.
He just shook his head, and grinned. “Girls are supposed to like flowers. It’s the thought that counts, and all that shit, right?”
It just got worse from there. James Potter became a regular fixture at our house. He could be found in our house on Saturdays from morning until early afternoon, screaming at the television with Andy, and then making us lunch. At least he was useful. I couldn’t really object to him hanging around considering all the benefits that I reaped from it. He cooked, he cleaned up after himself. When Andy couldn’t figure out how to go about completing a project he was working on, James always seemed to have the answer, or at least he knew someone that did.
After two weekends of Quidditch, he showed up on a Tuesday evening with an armsload of groceries, and a grandiose plan about the dinner he was going to cook for us. Technically, he lived with his cousins Fred and Louis. Fred was a Hit Wizard, and Louis was the Curse Breaker that he had mentioned to me that first night. Louis was gone more than he was home in Godric’s Hollow though. James spent far more time with Andy and I than he did with his own cousin. He had pointed Fred out to me before, but that was as far as our interactions went.
The next day he showed up at my classroom just before lunch. James had gotten it into his head that he was going to read to my students. Whether I liked it or not, they adored him, so I couldn’t say no. He gave me a chance to relax for a few minutes. He always showed up with something for the kids too. Cookies, a new giant box of crayons. It was hard not to understand why they adored him. He gave each character a voice, and put me to shame. I started to think that my students might like James more than they liked me.
I couldn’t bring him up to Mel anymore during our conversations without her giving me a sly smile. She was off in her own delusional world. She didn’t know what things were actually like between me and James, whatever that was.
Andy was no better. On a Friday night a few weeks after James had started coming to my class, he looked up at me during dinner. “You know, I think James is courting you.”
His word choice made me snort. “Courting me? Oh, mercy! A suitor for a little ol’ gal like me?” It sounded so archaic. Next thing I knew, Andy was going to bring up dowries and betrothals. “Andy, he’s just… He’s nice.” If James was truly the idiot I had first take him for, he would have given up long ago. Yes, I was warming up to him, but that was all he was getting.
He raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, sure. Cee, nice guys don’t cook for you, and drop by your work with presents weekly.”
“What, so are you saying that you’re not a nice guy?” Andy didn’t do those things for any girl, and never had, but he was just as nice as James was. “He’s young, and rich. He’s got time and resources to throw around. That doesn’t mean that he’s…. courting me.” I pulled a face and stuck out my tongue as I said the words.
My brother just stared at me. “So are you saying that you wouldn’t say yes if he asked you out? Like you said, he’s a nice guy. James isn’t the enemy. He’s not a bad guy.” Andy let out a heavy sigh, and ran a hand down his left cheek. “I’m just worried about you, Cee. Don’t you think it’s time to move on?”
Of course he had to bring that up. I shook my head. “Andy, this is…. I’m not reluctant to go out with James because of that. I have moved on. But things with James aren’t like that. He doesn’t like me like that.” And I definitely was not going to examine my feelings for him.
Andy let out a loud laugh. “No guy hangs around as much as he does unless he likes someone, and I really don’t think that I’m his type, so that leaves you. Fine, fine. It’s your life. I’m not going to try and trade you for a cow and two sheep.”
I stuck my lower lip out in a pout. “Excuse me, I think I’m worth a cow and three sheep at least.”
Author's Note: Alright, folks, what do you think Andy and Cecilia are referring to? What does she need to move on from? Or who? Review, review, review! And if you want to learn about how James and his ex Gracie ended, and how Al and Gracie began, go check out The Story of Us!