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Chapter 1: Who are You and What are You Doing in my Brother's Bedroom?
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James opened the front door cautiously and stepped inside, looking left and right to see if anyone was home. “Mum? Dad?”
No answer. He kept the front door close to him as he moved further in. “Albus? Lily?”
Again, no answer. James nodded and pushed the door open the rest of the way. “No one’s home, it’s just us. Come on in.” James moved out of the way to let another boy in. He pushed his light brown hair out of his eyes as he walked into the house, taking in the cream colored wallpaper in the average sized hallway. It wasn't what he was expecting, James could tell and he found it hard to swallow a chuckle. He managed to make it sound like a cough when their eyes met again.
“Nice place,” the boy commented. He took off his jacket and James hung it up on the rack by the fron door.
“Thanks,” James answered. He turned around to see a huge orange stain on the other boy’s previously white t-shirt. “My room’s this way, Oliver. Follow me.” James led Oliver up to his bedroom and pulled open his wardrobe.
Again he watched as Oliver circled the room. It wasn't much better than the hall in terms of extravagance. The walls were his favorite shade of dark blue, but it could hardly be seen due to the many posters he kept, his love of sports and music shown clearly for Oliver to see. It was a good size, big enough to fit in his double bed and maybe even a single at the end, but only if the room was spotless and not cluttered with his things. Organised chaos, James liked to call it when his mother told him to tidy up. Right now he kind of wished he had, but Oliver didn't seem to mind. He didn;t comment on the mess, instead he motioned to the open wardrobe with a small smile, his right cheek curved slightly to reveal a dimple.
“Thanks for doing this, James,” Oliver said. “I don’t think I could have been able to walk all the way to my house looking like this. Talk about embarrassing.”
The boys laughed lightly. “I guess walking into me was your lucky day, even if it did involve getting bright orange pop all over you. Take whichever top you want,” James replied, pointing to his wardrobe. “I’m just going to the bathroom.”
Oliver nodded, “Okay. Oh, James,” he called him back, suddenly looking confused. “Why were you being weird before, as if you were sneaking us into the house?”
James chuckled before clearing his throat, “Erm, my parents don’t like strangers in the house, mainly because of reporters and people selling stories. My dad’s still famous and reporters are still around, looking for information. They’ve grown a little untrusting of anyone who isn’t family or close friends being in the house.”
Oliver just smiled and nodded his head, allowing James to leave. As soon as he heard the click of the lock on the bathroom door, Oliver turned to the wardrobe. He went through each shirt he could find, keeping his back to the door, until he found one reasonable enough to take with him. There were numerous outfits for all occasions all just thrown in and Oliver tried to find one that looked presentable enough to walk around it, but one James wouldn't miss so much until he got it back at school. Hearing the door open he spoke. "Hey, James, will this do?” He pulled out a plain white dress shirt and started to turn around to hold it up. “I know it’s a little dressy, but –“
Oliver stopped, mid-sentence, seeing a red-headed girl staring wide-eyed at him instead of the person he had thought. “You’re not James. You’re Lily, right?”
Lily snapped out of it at the mention of her name and grinned. But instead of answering him, she asked him a question: “Who are you and what are you doing in my brother’s bedroom?” Before Oliver had a chance to answer, James came in, having heard her voice. Lily turned to him. “I knew it! I always knew!” She ran out of the room.
“Lily! Get back here!”
“What did she know, James?” Oliver asked.
James shook his head, “Nothing. The shirt’s fine. Wait here.” He ran after his sister.
“I always told you he was, but you never believed me! Now you can!” he heard Lily say.
James followed her into the kitchen to find the rest of his family circling the breakfast bar, his mum's hand still in a shopping bag. “It is not true!” he told everyone adamantly.
Harry turned to his son and raised an eyebrow. “So there isn’t a topless boy in your room?”
James conceded. “Maybe that bit's true. But it’s not what it looks like, so don't listen to her and her stupid theory.”
“Exactly,” Albus jumped in. “I mean, Scorpius is in my room all the time and you don’t think anything of it. Maybe this topless boy is just a friend.”
“He’s not topless!” James shouted. “Anymore… I think.”
Lily started laughing again. “I always knew it. Where’s the floo powder? I have to tell Hugo!”
“No!” James tried to stop her, but he was too late. He narrowed his eyes at Harry, “I’m going to kill her.”
“Relax, she’s only going to talk to Hugo,” Harry tried to reassure.
“Relax?” James screeched. “She’ll tell Hugo, who will tell Rose, who will her friends, who will tell the school. You know? That place I go back to in two days. I can’t go back there for my seventh year with my own sister's rumors that I’m gay.”
“Why not?” Albus asked. “You’re gone with worse rumors before.”
James ignored him. “It’s just a misunderstanding. I know Oliver from school. We hang out in groups with other people, but we’re not exactly friends; we’ve never actually hung out together. I bumped into him today – literally. I got soda all over his t-shirt and brought him here to get him a clean one because my house was closer than his house. That is it.”
They heard Rose shout from the fire place and James knew nothing could stop the rumor. “Too late now.”
The four Potters all turned to the new voice. “You must be Oliver,” Ginny was the first to answer, smiling. She made her way over and took his hand, welcoming Oliver as though he were a friend of James' she'd met before. It was the first thing James noticed, his mum's reaction. Once she knew a person wasn't after a story, they were pretty much welcome anytime in her eyes and the rest of the family agreed without question because "she was always right." Intuiation she called it.
“Yes, Mrs Potter,” Oliver smiled back, then dropped his hand. “I couldn’t help but overhear," he cleared his thoat and glanced at James, "from all the shouting I heard fromupstairs… I figured I should just come down.”
“So, Oliver,” Harry spoke, obviously trying to relieve the awkward tension. “Are you a Quidditch fan?”
Everyone looked to Harry, confused by his random question. “Sorry?” Oliver asked.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the counter, more awkward than before. “It’s just if you hang out with James, you automatically think Quidditch fan.”
James rolled his eyes while Oliver laughed. “No. In fact I think I’m the only one in the group who isn’t. I don’t mind watching with friends, but I’m not much of a fan and I don’t play, not even for fun. Though, that’s partly because I’m afraid of heights.”
Albus grinned and pointed to him, “I like you. I'm not a very big Quidditch fan and it's pretty much all he talks about.”
“Then you be on the receiving end of Lily’s rumor,” James snapped.
Albus smirked. “No, thank you. I’d rather watch you squirm.”
“Albus!” Ginny snapped. “Get your sister and go upstairs before James pushes you both into the fireplace.”
“Aww, Mum, I wouldn’t do that,” he sighed, then glared. “She’s floo calling; it’s the wrong kind of fire.”
Oliver’s eyes widened a bit and he coughed trying to cover up a laugh, so not to sound rude. “Wow, you’re a little scary when you’re angry. No wonder girls are so afraid to ask you out. And I always thought it was because of your last name.”
Albus ran out of the kitchen as he laughed, so James couldn’t reach him to hit him. He turned around to Oliver. “You’re not helping.”
He narrowed his eyes, confused. “Was I meant to be?” Then he smirked and James knew he was joking.
“Oliver, how long have you been in England for?” Ginny asked, distracting James. “I can tell by your accent you’re not from around here.”
“I moved from Florida when I was thirteen. I transferred from Salem to Hogwarts in January, third year,” Oliver explained. He glanced at his watch. “I should be going. James, I’ll give you back your shirt at Hogwarts. It won’t be too hard; we do share a dorm.” James groaned, thinking about the rumor Rose was going spread thanks to Lily. “It was nice meeting you,” He nodded to Harry and Ginny. “I promise there won’t be any gossip about you in the papers.” He winked to James. “Bye.”
James followed him out the door. “Thank you again for the shirt, James. And I’m sorry this accident caused your sister to think you were gay.”
James shrugged. “Not your fault. She's been saying I am for the last two years. I always knew she'd use something eventually, I just hoped it would be after Hogwarts. People can talk about me all they want, I just don't like hearing it. It's hard not to when you're all in one place."
Oliver nodded; he understood what rumors could do. Even James had said something about him when he'd first started Hogwarts, but he'd grown up, was no longer saying thing about anyone. Others hadn't.
“One thing confuses me,” Oliver spoke after a moment.
Oliver looked him in the eye. “When your brother said ‘Maybe this topless boy is just a friend’, you only denied I was topless. You didn’t stop the insinuation of me being more than a friend. I didn’t even know I was your friend, let alone more.” He noticed James’ cheeks were a little pink. “Just a thought, Potter. Just a thought.”
A/N: New banner, new motivation, hopefully a new chapter soon. But, for now, yay for edits, I think. :)
James stood by the entrance to platform nine and three quarters, a little away from his family. He leaned casually against the wall, resting his foot against the bricks, with the hood of his dark jacket over his head, just showing his fringe. He glared at his uncle Ron through his dark sunglasses. “Will you stop staring at me?”
Ron flushed, embarrassed and clearly feeling awkward. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of if it’s true.”
James sighed angrily, “How many times do I have to tell you that it’s not true before you all decide believe me? It’s. Not. True.”
Lily snickered. “That’s not what Witch Weekly says.”
James narrowed his eyes in his sister’s direction, though she couldn’t see because of the sunglasses. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Harry spoke quickly.
“Show me.” Lily happily obliged to her brother’s demand. She took the magazine from her bag and handed it to him. On the cover was him and Oliver; it started with them bumping into each other, to James taking Oliver’s arm. He had to admit; they were extremely close to one another. If it had been two different people, James would have thought the same thing. He paled at the thought.
His and Oliver’s close proximity unnerved him; how had he not realised at the time how compromising their position would look?
He roughly handed Lily back her magazine. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he denied. “It’s not true. Why did none of you tell me about it?” He was confused by the way Lily was still smirking.
“We were worried about your reaction, sweetie,” Hermione answered honestly, looking a little guilty. “You’re not exactly taking this well.”
James looked around the platform; every so often someone would look his way and laugh or a guy would wink. Whether or not they were joking, he couldn’t tell. He sincerely hoped they were. He turned back to his aunt. “Would you?”
“Seen the magazine yet, James?” Scorpius asked, smirking, as he walked past them. “It really makes you think, doesn’t it?”
For once, James had nothing to say. Malfoy was right; it was making people think. Not that he’d admit that. Instead, he pushed his sunglasses up, said good bye and left his family on the platform to get on the train. He made his way to an empty compartment at the back of the train. He locked it, sank back into the couch and sighed. Finally alone, he pulled down his hood and took off the sunglasses. He wasn’t exactly sure why he wore them; people still knew it was him. His dad had made a comment about him trying to be invisible. James had replied that he wouldn’t need them to act invisible if his father had given him the cloak like he had asked.
It felt like forever for the train to leave, but instead of feeling the usual signs of impatience, James was glad. The longer it felt like, the further away the rumor seemed; as if it was a dream he couldn’t quite remember. He closed his eyes, enjoying the first bit of peace and quiet he had since this started. But it didn’t last long.
The click of a camera startled James and he sat up quickly. He let out a sigh of relief when he saw it was just Oliver; someone who understood exactly what he was going through right now. “For a second, I thought a reporter had gotten onto the train,” he smiled a little. “New camera?”
“Yeah,” Oliver nodded. “How did you know?”
James shrugged, “You’re always carrying a camera with you. This one is different to the one you had during sixth year.”
“Right,” Oliver replied, not knowing whether to be pleased that James actually noticed something about him or dejected because of why. Though he wouldn’t tell him that. James didn’t notice his conflict of emotions. “So…” Oliver started. He wanted to say something about the situation they were in, but the thought of seeing James angry because of it made Oliver hesitate; he didn't want to be near an angry James Potter.
James raised an eyebrow. “So…?”
“Have you seen the article?” he rushed and James had to ask him to repeat slowly.
“I only saw the cover,” he answered honestly. “But if Witch Weekly has a cover, I’m not surprised they wrote something, too.”
“Witch Weekly?” Oliver asked, confused. “I was talking about The Daily Prophet.”
James shook his head slowly. “They wrote something aswell?” Was that why his family were looking so guilty? They hid that from him as well? He knew now why Lily was still smirking. Why didn’t she tell him? “Do you have it?”
“No,” he said. “Sarah does, though. You can read it at the feast if you really want to or when you’re in the common room. It basically just talks about us being ‘secret lovers in a forbidden romance’, asking if I’m only with you because you’re a Potter, did your parents even know you were gay. It’s nothing really. They’re very interested to know who I am and your father's reaction, not so much you.”
"You're a new story and they like that, but we're not important to them really. Dad won't give them what they want, though," he said, sounding more like a broken record. Oliver felt he was beginning to understand a little bit more about why James' reaction to the press hadn't effected him as much as his family or the mention of school had. He didn't care about the press. James pushed his head back against the couch, his eyes shut tight, and groaned. “This is why I don’t do good deeds. I still get in trouble.”
Oliver rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help the slightly hurt look on his face. He was glad James couldn’t see him. “I wouldn’t exactly call this trouble. Inconvenient maybe, but not trouble.”
James scoffed, not moving. “I can’t believe that I’m not even surprised that Lily would do this to me. I would never do something like this.”
Oliver couldn’t help himself; he laughed. “I beg to differ.”
Now, James sat up. “What are you talking about?”
“January, third year, I started Hogwarts and I didn’t know anybody. So I kept to myself,” Oliver started. “After a few days, people were asking why I was so quiet and instead of anyone asking me, you told them it was because I was half and half and didn’t want people to know!”
James turned red and gulped. “I am so sorry; I completely forgot I did that. I think I blocked it out along with them memory of you screaming at me and punching me in the face… Which is now coming back.” He narrowed his eyes at Oliver. “You know, I don’t think I deserved all that.”
“You told people I half boy and half girl!”
James held out his hands in surrender, “Okay, maybe I did.”
They stared at each other with serious expressions for only five seconds before Oliver started laughing, followed by James. “Well, well.” They looked up at the door. “Look at this, guys, it’s Hogwarts’ favourite new couple.” Scorpius moved to the side to allow Rose and Albus to see.
“Maybe it is true,” Albus mused. “I couldn’t truly believe it until now.”
“Wow, I keep forgetting that you three are best friends,” Oliver exclaimed in mock excitement. “And it’s only ever the three of you. Are you trying to be the next Golden Trio? Let me guess, Malfoy,” he laughed. “You and Rose are the next Ron and Hermione. It’s too bad you don’t have a sister for Albus, but you do have a cousin.”
He winked at Albus then turned to James. “Oh, wait. That can’t happen. A Malfoy doesn’t fit into that equation; it would never work!”
Scorpius lost his smile and sneered before walking away. Albus couldn’t help but smirk; he never expected that from Oliver. “Harsh, Ford.”
“Maybe I spend way too much time with your brother,” Oliver answered, looking a little guilty. “I’ll apologise to him later, it’s just getting annoying that’s all.”
Albus shrugged, “Don’t worry about it. Scor’s a big boy, he’ll get over it.”
“Still…” They both nodded and Albus left.
“How do you spend way too much time with me?” James asked. “We hardly spoke to each other till now.”
“We still hung out as a group,” he told him. “Just because we didn’t talk, doesn’t mean I wasn’t there.”
They sat in silence for a while and James couldn’t help but wonder how comfortable it was, how comfortable he was with Oliver. Why weren't we friends from the beginning?
The first years had been sorted and the start of year feast had begun. Noise filled the hall; laughter, shouting, eating, drinking. James felt good to be back. He looked around the hall one more time before turning back to his plate. Across from him was Oliver, who was sitting next to Sarah Walsh, his best friend since he had started in third year. She had been the one to stick up for him when he first came to school and James had spread the rumor. It was her who told Oliver to talk to him. James heard that they were so close because they were both Muggleborn, but he suspected it was something more than that, or, at least, besides that.
“So, Oliver,” he said, deciding to act on his thought of him actually becoming his friend by getting to know him. “Why do you always carry a camera with you?”
Oliver took the camera from his pocket and took a picture of him, “Because I want to be a photographer. One day I’ll be the one taking pictures of you, getting all the juicy gossip. Unfortunately, that way I won’t get as big a part in your life as I am now.” He winked at him and Sarah starting laughing.
Maybe I don’t want to be his friend after all, he thought. But James could tell he was only joking. “Shame,” he answered instead, playing along. He balanced his elbow on the table and cupped his chin in his hand. “I’ve been seeing you in a whole new light since I saw that picture in Witch Weekly this morning; the way we were, the feel of your hand in mine. The thought of being with you is so…” he sighed.
Everyone around them turned to Oliver wanting to know what he’d do next. He watched James as he felt his cheeks go hotter and could see that James was trying not to laugh. He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. Oliver took another picture before James had a chance to move. “It will forever be known that James Sirius Potter tried to seduce me today.” The other housemates starting laughing again. James groaned, disappointed he didn’t get the reaction he had been hoping for. “Don’t mess with me, Potter, you know what will happen.” He put his hand into a fist and wiped it on his robes, pretending he was polishing it.
James scoffed, “That was so lame. How old are you?”
Oliver stood up, “About the same age as you. No one says lame anymore.” He rolled his eyes dramatically and started to leave, Sarah following. "And before you get the wrong idea, no, I don't actually plan on being the one taking your picure when you go on to play Quidditch professionally, like you think you will. I want to be a professional photographer."
“Did you see?” Sarah shouted when they were alone in the Gryffindor common room. “James was watching you leave.”
“'So'? What do you mean ‘so'?” she asked. “James Potter doesn’t watch anyone leave! This rumor could be so good for you two. You’ll finally get your guy!”
Oliver stopped her from saying any more. “James is not my guy. He’s not even gay.”
A/N: Edited. For now. Let me know what you think? :)
Chapter 3: Explanations and Fan-Girl Moments
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The alarm clock rang noisily and Oliver slammed his hand down on top, silencing it, before turning to lie on his stomach. He pulled his bed sheets up over his head, blocked out the sounds of his room mates getting up, ready and dressed, and tried to go back to sleep.
Oliver groaned when his covers were pulled back, exposing his bare back. He shivered lightly, the morning breeze hitting him. "Get up, Ford! You're gonna be late!"
"Leave him, Tuck," he heard James call. His bed rocked slightly and he heard James' friend groan loudly; James had pushed him into the bed, he guessed.
"Watch it, Potter," Oliver growled. He ignored the breeze crawling across his skin and dug his hand into the fabric of his bed sheets, falling back asleep.
Just as he started to doze off, he heard someone enter the room again. "Your friend, Walsh, is just outside the door. She said she knows you hate potions, but if you don't get up now she'll come in and get you herself and after she's done, no one will be talking about our rumor for a while." Oliver jumped up and narrowed his eyes at the oldest Potter, who let out a soft chuckle. "She said that you'd understand. No offense, but I kind of hope you don't get out of bed. I really want to know what she means."
Oliver swung his legs to the side and stood up stiffly, glaring at the boy who had currently become the bane of his existance. He ignored James as he grabbed his uniform from the top of his trunk, which he had placed there the night before for days like this, and made his way to the bathroom for a quick wash and to get changed. He thanked God he remembered to get a shower the night before; he was later than usual, judging from Sarah's shouting.
He dressed quickly, fixed his collar and tie and made sure his shirt didn't stick out of his jumper before leaving the bathroom. He could no longer hear Sarah and he assumed she had just left for the Great Hall to get their class schedules, which didn't surprise him. What did surprise the boy was that Potter was still standing by the door. He kept his back to him as he put on his cloak, feeling the brunet's eyes on his back, studying him.
"You're not a morning person, are you?" he asked finally.
The awkwardness Oliver felt had lifted, the pressure of being stared at gone, and he turned around, his eye-brows raised. "It depends on the day," he answered. "Some days I'm up before anyone else. But we share a dorm for four years and only when we enter seventh year, you start to notice?"
"We rarely spoke to each other," James stated matter-of-factly. "Why would I care?" He shrugged casually, unaware of the effect of his words, and left the room, as if proving that point still stood; he didn't care.
Oliver swallowed the lump that began to form in his throat, shaking off the feeling of rejection he knew he shouldn't be feeling. Maybe he'd only imagined them getting to know each other yesterday, maybe he'd misunderstood the boy, maybe he didn't want to be friends after all. He grabbed his bag and camera and followed the direction James had taken, forgetting his insecurities.
What he had said was true; Potter had only been stating a fact, he had to remember that. Oliver made his way quickly down the stairs and into the common room, sidestepped a first year girl and left Gryffindor Tower, inwardly groaning when he saw that James and his friend was in front of him. Oliver continued to walk, hoping they'd ignore him, but the friend grabbed his arm and pulled him to his side, so he was between Oliver and James.
"So, Ford, what's it like being around a celebrity?"
Oliver raised an eye-brow. "Potter is hardly a celebrity, at least not in my eyes."
He grinned. "Please, I was talking about me."
"This is why no one else talks to you, Tucker," James told him, rolling his eyes. He pushed himself to the side, forcing Tucker to release his arm from James' shoulder. Oliver took that moment to do the same, stepping closer to the wall to put distance between them. "Just ignore him, Ford. Tuck's been saying that everyday since he could speak, just because his dad works in the Muggle film industry."
"I do listen to what people say around here," Oliver replied, rolling his eyes, too. "I'm neither deaf nor invisible."
He continued to walk away, ignoring the friends' confused looks. Maybe he had sounded a little too bitter, but nothing he had said had been wrong; he knew exactly what people said, was friends with a few of those people and more, so why were they telling him things now? As though he was the new kid and they were trying to include him and make him feel welcome at school. They hadn't done that in Third Year, Sarah had. What was going on with them? With James? Why did Sarah have to choose this morning to leave him to walk to the Great Hall alone?
Was he wrong to feel bitter about feeling as though he'd gone from being treated like nothing before, to now suddenly worthy of their attention?
Oliver shook his head once; it felt good, as though he was actually clearing his mind of negative thoughts, but he didn't want to seem like he was crazy if people saw him. James could do as he liked, he always had really, and he probably didn't even realize how Oliver was taking it. He could talk to Oliver one day and go back to ignoring him the next, that was just how James was and Oliver didn't hate him for it. Sometime he and Sarah joked that James had the attention span of a goldfish, and they debated if it was due to one too many bludgers to the head or if they should have listened to Lucy Weasley last year when she said he'd been like that since birth.
When Oliver and Sarah thought about it, they wondered why he liked the oldest Potter son to begin with. "The heart wants what the heart wants," his best friend would frequently tell him. "The saying is there for a reason."
He held back a scoff; students had started to make their way to the hall, too, with James and Tucker Matthews not far behind him. He entered quickly, pushing through a group of giggling girls who'd noticed his arrival, and found Sarah. She waited until he was sat down next to her before handing him his class schedule and a piece of toast. "Thank you," he said between mouthfuls and scanned through his timetable for the day. He groaned loud enough for people to look up; Sarah hadn't been lying, they had Potions first. How had she known that?
His head snapped up when his schedule was snatched from his hands and James sat beside him, looking over it. What the hell?
"You must really hate Potions. Why?"
"Because I suck at it," Oliver told him honestly. "I'm barely passing."
"It is difficult, you need to be absolutely exact, so you don't make an entirely different potion or make it explode," James said, looking serious, as though he'd given a lot of thought to his answer, but he was enthusiastic at the same time. He liked it. Oliver already knew that. "But once you've really got that down, you can pretty much make any potion."
He handed the parchment back and grabbed breakfast of his own, while Oliver sat and stared, part of him wondering if that was actually true or if he had just said that because he was naturally good at the subject and thought it was true. His eyes were narrowed slightly while he tried to figure the boy out, but nothing came to mind. He didn't ask until James wanted to know what was wrong. "You're in a better mood than yesterday," he pointed out, trying not to sound suspicious. He had no idea why he sounded suspicious really, being in a good mood was not a crime, but James hadn't taken the last few days very well. So, why now?
"I've decided not to let it get to me," he said brightly, once he'd swallowed a bit of egg. "It looked bad, but we know the truth and our friends do and that's all that matters. We can get past this, who cares about everyone else?"
"I'm pretty sure those were my words last night," Tucker jumped in.
James waved a hand. "Whatever. Just be thankful I've decided to take your advice; it's not something I do often." He turned back to Oliver, whose expression quickly changed from suspicious to surprised. What did this mean? "And I think we could be good friends."
"You do?" Oliver choked out, surprise now turning to shock. Sarah nudged him in the back and he swatted her hand away as discreetly as he could, not wanting to see her smug face now or later.
"Yeah. We practically hang out already, because of our shared friends, but now we can talk to each other. Don't you?" James asked slowly and for a moment, Oliver thought he saw disappointment in his eyes. His face, however, remained passive.
"Maybe," he shrugged. "Depends on how Quidditch obsessed you really are."
James laughed out loud, a long, throaty chuckle that made his chest move up and down noticeably and everyone want to join in. So Oliver did. "Well, my dream job is to play professionally. I'm sure that could give you an idea."
Oliver pretended to think about it, wishing James would laugh again, just because he loved to hear it. And he started to remember why he liked him, despite all of their differences and their first impression years ago. But he still hated the saying... "Our friendship will definitely have to stay in the maybe pile until I can get past that then," he finally said, though his responding smile told James he was only joking. Quidditch, though he'd never understand it, he could actually enjoy watching. It was flying that he hated. Just the thought made him nauseous. That put him off watching.
"I'll just have to find a way to get you past it," James grinned. "Until then, we have a Potions lesson to get through."
"We do," Oliver agreed, nodding and only slightly happy about this new friendship arrangement, he didn't want James to notice anything that could ruin it, and being able to spend at least the morning with him. Then he frowned. The morning? "We do?"
James laughed again, more at him this time, and it was quieter; Oliver wasn't sure he liked it as much. "We're in the same class this year," he smiled. "Maybe now your pass might not be a 'barely'."
He gave a quick good bye to his friend, who'd been watching in amusement, and started to walk away. Oliver was quickly reminded of his joke that James' concentration lacked; he was walking away as though his words about being friends had never been mentioned. But then he stopped at the door, pushed his dark hair back in a way that made Oliver want to sigh like a lovestruck fan-girl who'd just met her idol, and frowned. "Are you two coming or not?"
It took him longer than he would have liked to remember that Sarah was also in his class and that James had been speaking to both of them. She pushed him forwards and they walked the way to the dungeons together, Sarah asking James class-related questions while Oliver caught eyes with everyone who watched them walking, until he couldn't take it any more. "Maybe I should hang back a little," he muttered.
James finally noticed and shook his head, pulling on the boy's arm until they were side-by-side. "Maybe you still need to get over what happened?" he asked quietly. "I feel like I've made it worse by overreacting, I'm sorry for that. I really shouldn't have, Lily is always doing stuff like this. Last year, she told everyone that Al wore pink underwear just because someone accidentally put a red t-shirt in with the white washing. For weeks girls were trying to get a look, but they all forgot about it pretty quickly soon after." Oliver nodded once in agreement; he remembered that. "With us, all they can really see is that we hang out, which we technically did anyway. Now we will talk to each other when we'll be in our group, that's all. This will all blow other soon."
"If you knew all of this, then why did you freak out so much?" Sarah asked curiously.
James went a little pale, but swallowed and shrugged. "I had a bad relationship experience. My ex is a little bitter. Anyone talking about my relationships is a bit of a sore spot, that's all. No matter what it is about."
Oliver's eyes narrowed hearing his words. Melanie Randell had been James' only relationship in school and had lasted for a couple of years before their breakup at the beginning of summer. She was mental, in his opinion. Not clingy or possessive in an obvious way, but she'd had this way about her that told you to back off whenever she caught you within speaking distance of James. The rumor was that James had left her, though no one actually knew why. But she still gave people 'that look'; Oliver had felt her eyes burn into his back all through dinner, though he hadn't given her the satisfaction of her knowing he'd acknowledged her look or that it had gotten to him.
Once or twice, Oliver wondered why he'd finally dumped her. He'd even considered listening to the mass of rumors and try to figure out which would most likely be true. He always decided against it quickly; he didn't like rumors and it was none of his business.
Rumors; why where they always how trouble started in this school?
"Fair enough," Oliver heard Sarah answer him. But they left it there and found their way to class. Or 'Ollie's Personal Hell' as Sarah liked to call it. "Keep your jealousy in check," she whispered in his ear, letting him see her smirk and wink before she entered.
Crap, she'd noticed. Had James? That thought made him more nauseous than flying.
A/N: Oh, my... What is this? A new chapter for Stuck in the Middle? *pinches self* Nope, not dreaming, it's actually here, for y'all to enjoy. And I hope you do enjoy. Fingers crossed updates become more regular, although I have just started college again, so we'll have to see.
Please let me know what you think. :)
Oliver snapped his head up quickly, hearing students around him move about the classroom, and he sat up straighter. He'd feared he'd fall asleep again, and while the idea sounded appealing now, he knew it would come back to bite him on the ass when he took his NEWTs at the end of the year. If he kept this up, he'd never pass History of Magic, never mind Potions. Oliver checked the corners of his mouth distcreetly, a habit he'd picked up after Sarah had joked about him drooling (she'd been talking about him watching James in lessons, but what if he was ever caught while sleeping? That would be embarrassing, too).
Oliver stood up, packed his school bag and walked out of the classroom, ignoring Ryan's snickering completely. Ryan Marsh was a Slytherin Chaser and a part of the 'group', friends with both Oliver and James. He was always afraid that Ryan knew something when they caught each other's eye; he'd give him sly wink, like he'd been watching him and knew, and then he'd turn away. It made Oliver uncomfortable, but neither one ever said anything, which comforted him a little - wouldn't Ryan speak to him if he knew? - and he was a good friend. Until he laughed at Oliver after History of Magic. It was a class they shared, and the only one he had with neither James nor Sarah.
...Maybe they had the right idea.
But Oliver was interested in History of Magic, it was as close to a Muggle lesson as a subject in this school was ever going to get, and part of him missed that life. History had been one of his favorite subjects. He wondered more than once what it would have been like if he'd not accepted being a wizard or never been one at all, but those thoughts disappeared just as quickly. Despite a few bumps in the road, he loved his life, both in Salem and in Hogwarts, learning magic with his friends and having his family's support in everything. Although, he knew there would always be a part he'd loathe more than anything; he hated Potions just as much as he had hated Chemistry.
History of Magic would be better if their ghost teacher wasn't so dull, the dead man's voice put him to sleep, or if Ryan would stop laughing at the end of every lesson. Why do I sit next to this boy again?
"Good first day, Oliver?" Ryan asked pleasantly, a hint of a chuckle still on his lips. In a moment of childishness, Oliver rolled his eyes and continued to walk, ignoring him completely. It wouldn't last, he knew, but it would annoy Ryan enough to be satisfactory revenge. "Oh, come on, Ol," he whined. "I have to ask; you went back to Florida for summer, I've hardly seen you till now."
"Potions mainly consisted of going through what we'd be studying first and the homework is researching the potion for next lesson." He answered his friend's question as though neither his friend's whining nor his childish pretense had ever happened, and ignored Ryan mutter that he was there in Potions and he knew all of that. "Since I didn't have to make anything and I'm not failing my other classes which makes me enjoy them, it's been a good first day. How was yours?"
"Good. And your summer?"
Oh. He knew what Ryan was trying to talk about now. And he also knew how to distract him, if only for a few minutes. James may have found a way to accept it and Oliver was able to ignore completely in public, but alone, when he only had his thoughts and those stupid feelings for the boy, he didn't think he was ready to talk about it yet. "Summer was great, Ry, you should have come. We went to Orlando, to the theme parks."
"That sounds like so much fun," he replied, feigning sadness. Very well, he had to add silently. "And, er, how are you and James? You seemed okay this morning at breakfast."
Damn, that didn't last long.
Oliver shrugged as they continued to walk along the corridor, they would reach the stairs soon enough and Oliver would go up to Gryffindor, while Ryan went downstairs to Slytherin. This conversation wouldn't last long. "We're okay," he answered finally. "He's found a way to ignore it, he said Lily does this all the time."
There it was again, that look. Oliver hated it. "I'm fine," he said as nonchalantly as he could, not wanting Ryan to notice anything wrong. "It's just a stupid rumor and it'll all blow over soon enough."
Ryan nodded and smiled, nudging Oliver with his elbow. "Okay then."
"Aren't you Slytherins supposed to be all mean and tough?" he joked. "Why are you being all nice and supportive?"
"Because you're my friend. And no one is around to see me be nice and supportive," Ryan added, smirking. "But if you tell anyone, you might just find yourself in the hospital wing," he winked.
Oliver nudged him back until it became a sort of game to see who could push the other further. It lasted until they got to the stairs. "America!"
Oliver turned to the new voice and glared; he hated the nickname some people still called him. Then he saw who it was and froze. "Randell," he muttered eventually.
Melanie stepped forward, like a lioness stalking her prey, and stopped in front of him. She turned her icy gaze to Ryan. "You good here, Ol? Yeah? Great. I have to go."
"Ryan, get back here," Oliver called out to his friend's retreating back, not caring that the crazy girl in front of him knew that he didn't want to be alone with her. "Coward! We are no longer friends! What do you want, Melanie?"
"What game are you trying to play with James?"
Despite his hatred for the girl in front of him, both for known and unknown reasons, Oliver couldn't help but laugh at her question, which seemed to be the most idiotic thing he'd ever heard her say. That she could actually think he'd risk his secrets to get to James, that he'd play some game with a guy who had a psycho for an ex-girlfriend? It was the funniest thing he'd ever heard. He could love Janes for the rest of his life, and he'd never do anything to act on those feelings.
Because he knew that James would never feel the same. And he was okay with that.
"What's so funny?" Melanie demanded to know, glaring. Her eyes darkened and she looked as cold as he had imagined her to be.
But he already suspected that of her, so it didn't stop his smile, even though it did falter slightly. "You. Are you so obsessed with Potter that you actually believe those rumors?"
Melanie leaned in, almost menacingly. Oliver had to force himself not to step back and keep looking her in the eye, his smile gone completely now. "I've seen the way you look at him. I'm not stupid, Ford. I wonder how James would take that."
Oliver tutted, shaking his head despite his growing fear; is she telling the truth? Does she really know? He hid his thoughts and swallowed his emotions, all but one; hate. It was enough to make anyone do crazy things."I really don't respond well to threats, Melanie. Makes me a little mad, if I'm honest. Who knows what I might do."
"What do you mean?" Oliver shrugged his shoulders, feigning innocence easily. She lost her calm, cold demeanor for a moment, but it was long enough for him to realize that she didn't know him as much as she thought she did; she had no idea what he could do. The revelation made his bluff easier to follow through with.
This could be fun.
"What are you going to do, Ford?"
It was Oliver's turn to lean forward, his lips pressed as close to her ear as he could stomach without touching her. "I'm going to see your ex." He moved back, his smile returning. "He wants to be friends, you know."
Then he walked away, leaving her alone in the corridor, more angry than he'd ever seen a person. He knew she'd most likely keep a closer eye on him now than she would have before, but Oliver decided he would just cross that bridge when he came to it. Maybe he'd even tell James what had happened, once he knew for sure that messing with her wouldn't cause any consequences for him and James since he knew the boy wanted nothing to do with her. If James didn't completely hate the idea of getting back at Melanie Randell, he might even play along to an extent.
That thought had Oliver walking away, a new spring in his previously exhausted step. Getting to be with James Potter while bringing Hogwarts enemy number one down a peg or two; what could be better than that?
Nothing could bring my good mood down now...
Oliver's good mood didn't last.
After his run-in with Melanie, he went straight to Gryffindor without hassle from anyone. Once inside, he stopped. The common room went quiet the moment they'd seen him, and they had seen him quickly, like they'd been watching the door specifically for him. He took hesitant steps forward, his eyes each meeting each student; they looked away, not returning his gaze.
Something was very wrong.
"What's up?" he asked nervously.
"It was an accident," one of his roommates answered softly.
That was all he needed to say. Oliver pushed past the remaining students and darted up the stairs, taking them two at a time, until he reached his dorm room. He froze mid-step once he reached the open door, unable to believe his eyes; on his bed was his camera from last year, which hasn't been there when he'd left that morning. He was almost afraid to look, the feeling of dread burning in the pit of his stomach a clear indication that something really was very wrong. He took a step forward, then another, until finally he was at his bedside.
Oliver took his new camera out of his pocket and placed it gently onto his bedside table, then he picked up his one from last year. The lens was cracked, practically gone, the front and back was covered in scratches and the string that was meant to wrap around his wrist had come off, was put on the bed.
Someone had dropped his camera.
Oliver sat down slowly, not quite able to believe that this could have happened. His cameras were always locked away in his trunk, no one should have been able to get in except for Sarah and she knew to be careful. He felt like someone had come over, surprised him and punched him in the gut. His camera was close to being ruined.
Oliver's head snapped up to find James standing by the doorway. "Hey," he muttered back.
James slowly moved across to sit next to him. "Roxy said that Brian asked around for a Charms textbook to copy up notes he'd missed," he explained gently. "Sarah couldn't find hers, but said you'd be okay with him lending yours as long as you were told as soon as you got back. She unlocked your trunk for him. He found the book, but your camera came with it when he pulled it out and it fell onto the floor. He's really sorry, he's hiding right now apparently."
"It's just a camera," Oliver whispered.
"No, it's not," James replied gently. "You carry your cameras everywhere, you're always taking pictures talking about photography. We all how much you love your cameras." He took it from Oliver's hands and Oliver let him without a word. James wondered if he was in shock, but chose not to comment on it. "It's a few scratches, maybe we can repair it, like when my aunt repairs my dad's glasses because he can never remember the stupidly simple spell. Should we try?"
Oliver finally turned to look at him, the eye roll a clear message to stop talking to him as though he were a child. James knew that was the message, only because he knew Oliver would never say no to fixing his camera. He knew that much about his new friend at least. Eventually, he nodded. His frown was his only indication that he didn't have much hope.
James removed his wand from his inside pocket, ignoring Oliver's doubt, and pointed at the camera, muttering the 'Reparo' spell. One by one, the scratches disappeared and James held it out to him with a triumphant grin.
"Take a picture," Oliver said quietly. "Not of me."
Confused, James held up the camera to see the dorm's door through the screen and pressed the button. Even James could tell that the noise it made was not one it was supposed to and the image on the screen looked distorted. The look on Oliver's face confirmed it. "You fixed the outside, but the inside is still damaged. I'll take it to the shop when we finish for Christmas," he said, taking the camera back and putting it safely away in his trunk. "Brain doesn't have to hide, I'm not mad. Even I've had accidents and dropped my cameras. It's just -"
"Just what?" James prompted.
"It's stupid, but I feel like this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't spoken to Melanie Randell. It's like every time I do something, bad luck seems to follow."
"You spoke to Melanie?" James asked. He knew that would be the thing Potter would pick up on.
He nodded. "She doesn't like the articles about us, she wanted to know what game I was playing. She threatened me. I didn't like that. I left her in the corridor after I told her I was leaving to see you, which is kind of true," he said, gesturing to the boy. They were talking and therefore seeing each other.
"You're messing with her head, aren't you?"
Oliver held up his thumb and forefinger, putting them close together so only a small gap was between them. "maybe a little."
He watches James for his reaction. "Strangely, I'm okay with that. As long as I don't have to play a key role."
"It'll mostly be sly comments and the occasional dig over the fact that you dumped her and would rather be my friend than hers. I know she wants more, but I'm going to go with friend," he assured, changing his mind now that he'd had to think through his earlier plan. Getting back at her was definitely not worth risking his secrets. "You did dumb her, right?" James promised he did. "Then you don't have to be involved; she threatened me, not you."
"I can't believe I'm actually going to say this, but have fun," James said, grinning. Then he turned serious. "Be careful. She's not always worth it."
"Knocking the bitch of her broom will definitely be worth it," Oliver said with such confidence that James almost believed him. "I know you're only letting me because you don't know how to deal with people when they're sad and you'll probably try to stop me tomorrow, but thank you. I feel better now."
"I'm glad," James said sincerely. "I'll see you at dinner, yeah?"
James left him alone, closing the door behind him, and Oliver fell backwards and crawled upwards to lie on his bed. Sleep was catching up with him again and it seemed like the perfect way to end a bad afternoon. He closed his eyes, intending on taking a quick nap till dinner.
He never went to dinner; James found him still asleep on his stomach, his hand curled underneath his head. His mouth was parted into a small 'O' shape and every so often a light snore escaped him.
James couldn't help but think that Oliver looked kind of adorable.
Not that he'd ever tell him that.
A/N: New chapter. Sorry for the long wait. I'm on the verge of planning the chapters for this story, so hopefully the next wait won't be so long. Let me know what you think. :)
Oliver kept the curtains close to him open through the night, so while the rest of the dorm was dark, moonlight lit up the corner between his and James' beds. It was late, close to four am, and Oliver was still wide awake. He lay on his stomach and stretched out his hand, used the light to make shadows and puppets on the floor. He blamed the light for keeping him awake, but he knew really that it was because he couldn't switch his brain off; he couldn't stop thinking about what he'd said to Melanie and his camera being broken being bad karma he didn't think he deserved.
It didn't make him want to get up and shut the curtains, though; he'd loved that camera, his parents had saved quite a bit of money to get it for him, so he'd take the punishment whether he thought he deserved it or not.
Slowly, once he felt his arm start to ache, Oliver dropped his hand and relaxed it by his side, his eyes finding their way back to his clock. He groaned; he considered it a little too late to try and get some sleep, but way too early to get up and ready. Which meant all he could do was lie in bed and wait, feeling time drag so it felt like much longer. Oliver tried to focus on the positives: maybe if he stayed awake during the day, he'd be able to crash straight after his last lesson. He'd just have to remember to set an alarm or have someone wake him for dinner.
Oliver looked away from the clock, his eyes wondering the dark room, until he finally allowed himself to stop at James' bed. His roommate seemed to be asleep, he could barely see the steady rise and fall of the boy's chest, and his head was facing away from him, so Oliver couldn't see his eyes. He looked so peaceful, relaxed, and Oliver wanted so much to touch him, to feel his heartbeat beneath his hand and his lips on the pulse at James' neck.
Karma's an evil bitch.
He didn't notice James turn to look at him. "Can't sleep?" he whispered.
Oliver jumped, causing James to laugh softly, and shook his head. "No," he answered. "You?"
James scratched his chest, just over his heart, where Oliver had wished he'd been able to touch moments before, and sat up slowly. "I was. I gotta pee."
Oliver couldn't help the chuckle that escaped him and he clamped his hand over his mouth as James put a finger to his lips, using his other hand to point to their still sleeping roommates.
"So blunt," Oliver said quietly, turning to watch him leave. James winked and continued on his way to the bathroom.
Oliver lay on his stomach again, his eyes on James' empty bed, and waited for his crush to come back. Even if James would never be with him the way he wanted the boy to be, he still liked the idea of being his friend and friends talked to each other during times like this, didn't they? He and Sarah did when she stayed over during the holidays, when he came back from Florida, but it was rare for him to still be up at this time and Sarah would usually have to keep him awake if she wanted to talk to him.
In the silence, Oliver heard the chain flush and the sounds of James' footsteps as he came back into the dorm and into bed. He took a similar position to Oliver, lying on his stomach to face him. He smiled briefly, just a slight curve of the lips, and shut his eyes.
"Why can't you sleep?"
Oliver shrugged, only to remember that James couldn't see him anymore. "I don't know, nothing specific. I just can't shut my brain off."
"That sucks," James muttered. "I like sleep."
"I know you do, I've shared a dorm with you since third year," he replied. "You talk in your sleep, mumble. Do you know that you do that?" James nodded once. "Do you dream?"
"Lots of times," he whispered, drifting off again, and Oliver knew he'd be asleep again any minute. "You?"
"Yeah," he said, his head filling with memories of dreams he could remember.
"What do you dream about?"
Oliver opened his mouth, then snapped it shut quickly, having no idea what to say to answer that. He didn't want to be too vague in case James decided to ask more questions, but he couldn't tell him the truth. He didn't need to worry, though; the sound of James' light snoring left him free to answer the question without James actually hearing him.
The alarm rang loudly, rousing Oliver from his peaceful sleep and forcing him to open his eyes. He did for a minute, then squeezed them shut and stretched out a hand to turn it off, only for another to do so before him. The intruder thread his fingers between Oliver's and dropped their hands onto the bed.
"It's too early," he muttered sleepily. "It's not time to get up yet. Go back to sleep."
Oliver chuckled and turned onto his back, knocking into a hard, warm chest. He opened his eyes again and smiled up at James' still sleeping face. "You're allowed to say that, you have a free period first. I have to get to class."
He started to get up, almost managing to sit up completely before James was able to snake his arm around Oliver's middle and pull him back down. He moved to lie on top of the surprised boy and briefly kissed the side of his mouth before leaving a trail along his jaw to his ear.
"Why can't we just stay here?" he whispered, nipping his earlobe, then burying his face into the space between his lover's shoulder and neck.
"People will notice," Oliver said quietly, guiltily. "I'm not ready."
"Be ready," James told him softly. "Everything's going to change."
Then the alarm went off again...
Oliver jumped up quickly, catching his sheets at his waist, and shut off the alarm with a groan. It was his first proper sleep since he'd spoken to James a few nights ago and it just had to be the night he'd dreamt about the guy, then he had be woken up by a clock on a Saturday. Not even the fact that it had just turned eleven, meaning someone had changed the alarm time for him so he wouldn't have to be up early, helped with his mood.
What's going to change?
He really hated dreams.
He fell back down, his hand in his hair as he groaned at no one in particular. The open window let in a calming breeze and Oliver shut his eyes, welcoming the feeling. Somehow he just knew that it wouldn't last.
The door swung open, hitting the wall with a loud bang, and he watched Sarah make her way to the end of his bed. "Come on, you. Get up. You said we were sorting out your pictures today. I don't want to wait anymore."
Nodding and let himself smile, Sarah always did make the task fun, Oliver kicked the covers away and stood up, fixing his pajama pants, so that they weren't twisted, before walking to the boys' bathroom. His shower was quick and he brushed his teeth while he was still in the bathroom, coming back to find his friend rummaging through his trunk. He let her, knowing she would be careful with his cameras, and waited on the bed for the inevitable clothes show.
"I like this top. Do you like this top?"
Oliver rolled his eyes and contemplated wearing it. It was nothing special, just a plain white t-shirt, but he'd grown a bit since wearing it and, while it just about fit, it clung to his body in a way that seemed a little revealing. "A little tight, don't you think?" he asked, not wanting to say the real reason because she knew it anyway.
"Maybe James will notice," she said with a wink and a grin. He groaned; he had to stop her trying to get them together. Although, it wasn't like James was taking her hints and his friend Tucker was too busy trying to Sarah's attention to really notice, so it wasn't like either of them would figure it out any time soon. It still made him uncomfortable, though. She threw him the top and started looking for pants. She eventually pulled out a pair of loose fitting jeans that always found a way of stopping just below his hips, no matter how many times he pulled them up or if he had a belt. But he liked them because of the cool chain that went from the loop by the zip to the end of his right front pocket. If you looked closely, you could see that the figures going across it were cameras. "I'll meet you in the common room. Hurry up."
Saluting Sarah sarcastically, Oliver waited for her to leave and for him to slide his underwear on before he dropped his towel. He dressed, dried his hair with his towel, so it was still damp, grabbed his sunglasses and the bag with his equipment in and left the room.
"What's with the glasses?" Sarah asked as soon as she noticed.
"The sun is out; I'd like to see what we're actually doing."
"I get that. Why are you wearing them now? Inside?"
"I didn't want to carry them," he told her honestly, grinning innocently.
"It's so hard to think of something negative about you when you look so adorable," she pouted a little. She really couldn't; it was like her mouth just stopped working when he smiled in that way - lopsided and playful, with his head tilted just a little to the left. She called him crazy no matter what, but she considered that a term of endearment; she didn't think she'd love him as much as she did or be as close to him as she was if he wasn't his crazy self. "I don't even know if I want to try."
She looped her arm through his and pulled him out of the common room, along the corridor to the Great Hall. "Then don't try," he replied.
"But it's like a challenge now," Sarah pointed out, shrugging. "It'll just take a while. But if I can think of something negative to say when you're not being adorable, I can do this, too. And believe me when I say that took a while."
Frowning, both because of what she was doing and what she said, Oliver stopped her. "You said something negative about me?"
"When you dropped all your books and started swearing and I called you a Silly Billy," she reminded him seriously.
"Yeah. That one really hurt my feelings," he said between laughs he just couldn't hold back.
"Hey, Oliver, Sarah."
Sarah ignored him and waved at the two girls walking past. They were friends in their group, not too close to them, but they liked the girls. They looked like they had come from the Great Hall; Oliver briefly wondered if there was any food left. His laughter ended just in time for him to move his sunglasses to his head and turn around.
The two girls posed, grinning at the camera just as Oliver took the picture. "What are you going to do with all of the pictures, Oliver?" one asked, the other nodding as though she'd been wondering the same.
"I'm going to make scrapbooks for the end of year. I'll give them out after Graduation because I think that should be a picture that goes in there."
"Oh, that's a great idea," the second girl squealed. "We'll have all of our memories."
"Thanks," Sarah answered excitedly. "It was my idea. We're going to get started now."
"Good luck. They'll be amazing, worth paying for, I bet."
"Don't worry, you can have them for free," Oliver promised, nudging Sarah in the ribs before she could talk about prices. "I'm not going to make people pay for something that is for you. Come on, Sarah. Bye, ladies."
"The money we could potentially make would help us pay for the holiday we've been planning," she sighed unhappily. "That reminds me; where do you want to go?"
"We have until summer to decide, right now focus on paying for it," Oliver said rationally. She knew he was right; they'd only be disappointed if they planned where they wanted to go only to not go because they couldn't afford it. The woes of being poor, Sarah called it.
There was food left in the hall, but Sarah was too excited about sorting through his pictures to let him stay for very long. But even though he only had a couple of pieces of toast, which he mostly ate on the way to the lake, he was okay with it. He was kind of excited, too. The lake was unoccupied except for one person, who was sat against a tree quite a distance away from where Oliver and Sarah stopped. They could barely see him, but they could definitely hear him.
Hugo Weasley was the youngest in the family, the baby everyone wanted to protect - even though Lily Potter was only a month older him. Even so, he was the most self-reliant. And the smartest, with an eidetic memory and above average IQ, though he never talked about it or gave an exact number. He was alone more times than he was with friends and family, it was how he preferred it, and if he wasn't in the library, speeding through yet another book, he was more likely to be by the lake... singing. He wasn't necessarily interested in music as a profession, from what little Oliver knew about the boy, he was sure Hugo would get bored and stop the moment someone would talk about making it a career. He sung because it relaxed him, he played the guitar just so he had a tune to sing to. His sister Rose had overheard Oliver ask once and told him that Hugo had found the instrument in a shop window and, unable to think of something else to do at the time, had bought it, figuring that would be the thing he'd try to learn that year, other than a language. He was quite talented and the only one in the family who could really sing, though apparently Albus Potter and Molly Weasley weren't that bad.
The song he was singing now was a slow song, a love song maybe, and Oliver wished he could hear the lyrics properly. But Hugo was too far away.
Oliver took out his camera, zooming in. He could just about manage to get a proper picture; Hugo was clearly noticeable, including the guitar in his hands and the glasses on his face, but he was small in the picture, like a little action figure. It would have to do.
"He'll get you for that," Sarah said. Hugo wasn't camera shy, he'd certainly had his fair share of photos taken thanks to his mum's campaigns, but unless you wanted broken bones and a disfigured face, you had to ask him first. He was a private person; there wasn't much anyone knew about him, including his family.
Oliver shrugged; Hugo hadn't noticed the flash. "He won't know until he's shown the scrapbook at the end of the year. Then he'd have to find me."
"What if he does?" Sarah asked.
Oliver scoffed, taking a seat in the ground and opening up his bag. "I'll get my new best friend to protect me."
Laughing, Sarah joined him. "No offense, but James is more likely to forget all about it. Face it, Ollie-Pop, unless you hide or get rid of that picture, you're a dead man."
Oliver shook his head; he was not afraid of Hugo Weasley. Though it was clear from Sarah's look that he should be. He knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving, but Hugo was just too adorable for him to be scared. Every time he saw the kid, he just wanted to hug him. It helped that Hugo himself liked hugs. He just had to like you first and they'd never really talked. That's what Oliver found so weird about it.
A problem for another day, he said to himself. He took out a plastic board from his bag, putting it onto the ground in front of them, then a box marked 'Third Year' and handed it to Sarah, along with another one marked 'Fourth Year'. He had five, one for each year he'd been at Hogwarts, and the first four had every picture he'd taken in those years. They weren't very big boxes, he'd had to put extension charms on them to hold all of the photos, but they would do. After Christmas, when he'd be able to use his computer, he'd start adding his seventh year photos. Until then, they were going through the one's they had, finding the best one's to potentially use for the scrapbook. He'd brought the board so that he wouldn't have to put his pictures on the grass; he didn't care if the weather was warm and the grass was dry, it just wasn't happening.
They talked and they laughed, reminiscing over what was going on in each photo, and they listened to Hugo play. He stopped about an hour in - he was now just lying on the grass, Oliver checked - and Oliver dug around his bag for his iPod. He loved his iPod, wished he could play it all the time, but he couldn't charge it here and had to be careful. The longest he'd made it last for was a month and that was only because he hadn't touched it at all throughout September. There was an old classroom in the school designed for Muggle appliances to work; it was an experiment, a way of seeing if it would work, and had ways of charging phones and music players and laptops. It even had WiFi, though because it was an experiment, the school wouldn't invest in computers and students had to bring their own laptops if they wanted to use it. There was a charm around the room that prevented magic from being used inside, that way it wouldn't interfere with Muggle technology. The room was scarcely used, though some Muggleborns tried, including Oliver, to keep in touch with families. Most were more interesting in the new world they'd come to, and people hadn't taken into account that the charm around the room to keep magic out was a charm, magic itself. Though it was around the outside of the room, it was still there, still within proximity, and things messed up often, more so if you left the door open. Oliver didn't trust the room to charge his iPod and he never brought his computer. The only reason it hadn't been closed off yet was because it was used, if only a little, and mostly by the kid behind them. He seemed to know how to keep his laptop working.
He probably read it in a book.
"Oh, I love this song!" Sarah cried happily, turning the iPod up as far as it would go and singing along.
She dropped the pictures onto the board, the iPod on top so it wouldn't get stood on, and pulled Oliver up, bringing him closer.
"No, I'm not dancing," he protested meekly.
"Fine. Sing then."
"I'm a crap singer."
"You're only saying that because you've been listening to him." She pointed to Hugo. "Ignore him, he's just good at everything."
"Not everything," Oliver reminded her. "He's as afraid of heights as I am. Which is saying something really; I thought I was the only one who would go so pale I'd almost pass out."
"Sing or dance," Sarah ordered, holding out a hand expectantly. She didn't expect him to grab her hand and spin her to him while singing. "Ollie!"
Oliver continued to sing the song, proud that he managed to get the words out while laughing at Sarah's hilarious dance moves. She nodded as the song neared the end; he had to do something, too. He couldn't just stand there and sing along semi-quietly. He belted out the last line, his arm outstretched and his hand in a fist.
"Now don't you understand that I'm never changing who I am!"
They jumped and turned when they heard people whistling and applauding. Oliver put his head in his hands and cursed fate the moment he saw that James, along with Tucker, was watching them.
"What are you two doing here?"
"We came to make sure Hugo remembers to eat," James said, still chuckling. "We didn't expect the show. Well done."
"That we can charge for," Oliver told her.
"Hey, Sarah," Tucker tried to flirt with her.
Sarah put her hand between them. "No. Just no."
"Walk away, Matthews."
"Wow. Anti-climatic or what?" James laughed. "You should have heard his 'this is the day Sarah acknowledges me' speech. Moving stuff; I swear, I felt a tear form. Yeah, I was just imagining the slap on the face he'll eventually get."
"You should listen to your friend," she warned him. "He knows what he's talking about."
"So, what are you doing?" James asked Oliver, both of them ignoring Tucker defend his reasons for thinking Sarah would date him.
"Sorting through every photo I've taken here," Oliver replied, picking up his camera. "We're going to pick the best and make a book."
"Cool. I like... this one," he finally said, looking through the stack of fourth year photos and pulling out a picture of Oliver asleep in History of Magic. Again.
"Er, no. I said all of the pictures that I took. Sarah took that one."
James grinned, continuing to look. "Oh, is it weird that I also like this one?"
He turned it around, held it up for Oliver to see. Oliver tried to control his body's reaction, not wanting to blush when he saw it. It was of James during the summer of fourth year; they were in Hogsmeade one last time before they finished school for the year and Oliver had been about to take a picture of the joke shop when James ran through it. He stopped right in front and Oliver got the picture just after Tucker and Ryan had soaked him. Thankfully, Oliver had Muggle cameras or the picture would be showing James taking his top off right now.
"You got in the way," Oliver muttered. He cleared his throat. "But it's an alright picture, I suppose. I'll add it if you want it. And, yes, it is weird that you like a picture of yourself."
"Are you adding this year's pictures to it?"
James held out a hand, putting the photos back onto the board and, nervously, Oliver handed him his camera. He took a picture of Sarah and Tucker, stunning them into momentary silence because of the flash. James turned back to Oliver. "Because people should see the look on their faces."
"Or they could see another picture of you, too," Tucker glared.
"We're not talking about that anymore," James warned him. "Do you want help choosing your pictures?"
"No," Oliver said, hoping his voice didn't actually sound as shaky as he'd thought. There were more pictures of James over the years; it would be too embarrassing to let him see. "We're putting them away, going to lunch. You can help another time."
When I've removed the pictures.
"Okay. I'll help." James put the pictures into the box Oliver pointed at and then put the board away. "There. I look forward to seeing your book. You've never let people see your pictures before."
"First time for everything," he replied. They started to walk, their friends still having their own conversation behind them, and Oliver almost forgot that James still had his camera until he was stopped.
"We should have a real picture, one that says 'we're officially friends'. That way my family can't think I've lied about it," James said.
"They think that?"
"Well, they'd never met you before this, so," James shrugged. "Come here."
James put Oliver in front of him, so that he could hold the camera with both hands, and murmured "smile" into his ear before taking the picture. "I think it looks pretty good, don't you?" he asked, handing it over.
"Yeah, it does," he said softly, unable to look away. They looked more like a couple in this than they did in the media one. Was there someone looking down on him just wanting to torture him?
"That was adorable," Sarah gushed.
"That was trouble waiting to happen," Tucker corrected, pointing in front of them.
Melanie was watching them and if looks could kill...
A/N: Aww, poor Ollie-Pop (it's weird how much I know love that nickname - the reason for it will be in the next chapter). :)
Now don't you understand that i'm never changing who I am - It's Time and belongs to Imagine Dragons. It fits with the overall theme I want for this story. Don't expect any more lyrics, though, I think it's a rare occurance. :)
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :D
People were already whispering as they entered the Great Hall for lunch and the moment they paused to stare, Oliver knew that Melanie had opened her mouth and spread some sort of rumor about him and James to force them apart. He heard James' intake of breath, a surprisingly calm echo of his own, and let himself be pushed towards the Gryffindor table. Only their friends spoke to them as though nothing was going on, James' cousin Roxanne and her friend Aidan joining in as soon as he'd been dragged to the table, but everyone else chose to whisper about them. Occasionally, Oliver would look up and spot James' teammates nudge the other and point - wanting the other to ask if the rumors are true, he guessed.
Lunch was almost over when he dropped his fork onto his plate, not able to try to eat anymore. "Do these people have nothing better to do?" he demanded to know, loud enough for people around to hear.
At least they have the decency to look embarrassed, he thought to himself.
"You're just new information again," Rose Weasley shrugged. "You're a bigger piece of gossip because it adds to the drama they read about during the summer. It's drama they haven't seen a hundred times a day thanks to being stuck with the same people twenty-four/seven. They'll talk about it for a couple of weeks, then forget all about it."
"I agree," Roxanne nods along, stabbing her fork through her last bit of dessert, only for Aidan to grab her wrist and eat it. She dug her elbow into his ribs until he moaned, then pushed him away so that she could finish what she was saying. "Trust me, boys. I talk for a living, remember? I know these people and how they act better than they know themselves; they'll stop soon. It'll stop faster if they find something bigger to talk about."
"Maybe you should tell them about your agreement with Aidan, Rox. Or about the almost vicious fight you had with Bonnie Kennedy because she tried to take him," Rose suggested, a mischievous glint in her eye that made Oliver think that she'd spent a little too much time around Albus and his friends. "Gossip about you is rare for anyone to see; everyone will go 'Oliver who?' and 'Potter does a lot of things'."
Oliver broke off a piece of biscuit, still bypassing his main meal thanks to his bad mood, and waved it in front of James' face. "I may have got 'Oliver who?', but you got the last name. Now that's just disrespectful in a whole other level," he said sarcastically. Oliver who?
"And you are?" James asked, feigning confusion too well for Oliver's liking before smirking. Oliver's hand froze, his biscuit almost touching his lips, then crumbled it in his fingers, letting the crumbs fall into James' lap. "Oh, not cool, Ford! Are you crazy?"
"If I was, do you really think I'd admit it?" He frowned, starting to think about it. "Then again, do crazy people know that they're crazy? How would you know if I'm lying?"
James gave him a long, hard look, then took the rest of his biscuit. "Definitely crazy."
Oliver shared a look with Sarah; one nod confirmed that they were thinking the same thing - Did he just take my biscuit? He did just take my biscuit. He took my freaking biscuit!
"He's joining you in crazy town," Aidan said knowingly, speaking for the first time. He shook his head condescendingly, letting his shaggy dark hair fall into his eyes. "You don't take food off of other people's plate, James; that's stupid. You don't take biscuits off of Oliver's plate; that's insane."
"Says the guy who casually took Roxy's not five minutes ago," Rose countered, pointing at him.
Aidan shrugged. "No, that's not the same. You want to know why? Because it was on the fork and in midair, therefore not on the plate, that's why. Think about it."
Oliver laughed at Aidan's slightly odd logic, knowing he'd have made some sort of excuse at some point no matter what. He liked Aidan; he sometimes took things too seriously and he often tried to control the situation he was in - he guessed it was an alpha wolf thing - but he didn't let everything get to him, which made him fun to be around. He only really hung out with Roxanne, only sometimes joining her with James' group, and not many people were comfortable being around a werewolf, but it didn't stop him. Oliver respected Aidan for that, even wished he could follow that example with his secret.
"Plus, you know, they're sleeping together, so he probably thinks he can make Roxanne forget about it," Oliver added, pushing back his secrets and thoughts. Now was not the time. There was never going to be a time. "Now is that really a secret? Because not only do I know that it's true, I also have pictures of you two making out last Halloween. And not with other people."
"Given the situation, I will not put my arm around your shoulders, but you just became my new best friend," James said in awe and grinned; no one talked to Roxanne Weasley like that, not unless they wanted their secrets told to the world the next day. Oliver prayed she didn't know a thing about him. That she liked him enough to leave it wasn't something he liked thinking about, but could live with. James ignored Tucker's protests on the best friend comment. "Can we see these pictures? And by we I mean the school in general, because I don't want to. That would be weird."
"No," he answered, watching Roxanne for a reaction - she was shocked that he'd seen, but not angry that he had or nervous about it being known. And she didn't look like she knew anything about him. Oh, thank God.
"Spoilsport," James pouted, then nudged Oliver lightly to show that he was joking.
"So, Oliver, the pictures you have, that was just you happening to see us while taking pictures of the night?" Roxanne asked casually.
He shrugged. "Yeah. I don't look for specific people and use the pictures against them. That's mean."
"Awesome," she said with a nod. "I was just thinking that if you use those Halloween pictures in your scrapbook, feel free to add it."
They all knew that Roxanne had, in her own way, confirmed her relationship with Aidan. It was more than they thought they were ever going to get.
Their group conversation gradually broke apart, their friends moving away to speak to others, and as Oliver once again began to notice the onlookers gossiping about him and James, he felt the change in the air, the feeling of awkwardness between them closed around them like an uncomfortably thick blanket. From the corner of his eye, he saw James shift and fidget in his seat. Oliver knew it wasn't because of him, they'd been fine during their moments alone, it was because of everyone watching.
Got to fix it.
Oliver scanned the room for anything he could use, knowing he was likely to get in trouble for it, but not caring as long as people got the message. It was a long shot, people liked to talk whether it was true or not, but Oliver was going to try.
"You okay?" James asked cautiously.
He nodded once, sharp and quick, and continued to scan the hall. It was always the busy on a weekend, during the day; breakfast lasted from seven until lunch because everyone got up at different times, then at noon it would change and last until two. Then the hall would empty until dinner around seven. It was nearing two now, people were starting to move; he could see clearly enough.
"Then can I ask you a personal question?"
"Sure," Oliver muttered distractedly.
"What's with the really right t-shirt? Are you trying to impress someone?"
Yes. The sudden thought caused Oliver to pause and look down at his top; Sarah had said that James might notice, and he did, though for different reasons than what she suggested and he wanted. And he hadn't disagreed to wearing the top despite the weak protest. Was he trying to impress James? With what?
"No," he said instead. "Sarah grabbed the first things she could because she didn't want to wait for me and we could sort through the pictures," he half lied. She had picked his clothes for that reason, she'd just been looking for the t-shirt.
He ignored the wink she gave him, an 'I told you so' ready to part with her lips.
"Oh," was all James said and Oliver went back to looking around.
He stopped at the Hufflepuff table, finding a younger student with books all around her, probably finishing some homework, and aimlessly tapping the feather of her quill against the top of the parchment. Oliver got up and walked over, well aware that eyes were on him and James had followed him, keeping a bit of a distance - he was curious, not ready to stop him.
"Hey, kid," Oliver smiled, kneeling on the bench opposite her. He made his smile seem as charming as possible and knew from her blush and the stammered out 'hey' that he'd at least gotten something right. "Can I be annoying and ask for some of your parchment please?"
"S-Sure," she replied, her voice coming out as a whisper.
"And the quill, too?" he asked. She handed it over wordlessly. "Thanks, kid."
"Haley," she blurted out.
Oliver grinned. Obviously, not everyone believed the rumors. "Thank you, Haley."
He settled down at the table and started writing his message. He ignored Haley's stare, answered her few, very random questions and made himself sit still, so that he couldn't turn around and tell James to get lost. As soon as he was done, Oliver handed back the quill, thanked her again and turned the parchment over, so the writing couldn't be seen. He pulled out his wand and cast an enlargement charm, making the parchment grow bigger, checked to make sure the writing was still clear and cast a sticking charm along the edges.
Now for the main event...
Oliver levitated the parchment carefully, turned it around and pointed his wand upwards, then back, so that a large sign was now stuck to the wall above the doors of the Great Hall, in full view of the staff and students of Hogwarts.
Oliver Ford is not shagging James Potter - not now, not ever! Keep spreading these lies and the hospital wing will find themselves out of beds.
Yeah, I'm looking at you, Melanie.
There was a collection of gasps from around the room, more because he'd actually done what he did, he guessed. It was drastic, he knew, but he'd live with the consequences.
"Get the message!" Oliver called out to the room. "I know you all love the drama, so I thought I'd add a bit of my own."
"You've made your point, crazy boy," James said, his eyes on the sign. "Although the exclamation mark after the 'not ever' kind of hurts my feelings a little. At least give us all a little hope," he joked. He sobered quickly when they noticed their Transfiguration teacher coming their away and they knew the consequences were coming. "I'm sorry that this is driving you so crazy that you felt forced to do this."
"Really? I thought it was because I really wanted to stick something to the wall," Oliver grinned sarcastically, but without venom. He was playing, reassuring James that it wasn't his fault.
"Oliver, what an interesting way of having your opinions heard," Professor Burns chuckled. "The art of conversation is well and truly dead to this generation. Now, Headmaster Digby has given me the pleasure of giving you detention. He says defacing school property and threatening students are against the rules."
"In that order?" Oliver asked. "Wow, his priorities are - there are no words."
"Come on, Oliver. I know you're angry and upset that people are talking about you and making it very personal, but even I have to agree with the man; making threats is not okay, even fake ones, because I know you well enough to know you would never."
But she threatened me! Oliver wanted to yell out, but he kept it to himself. He didn't need anyone else interfering. "Yes. I would never act on it, and unfortunately she knows that as well, but she is the one spreading the rumors and that is not okay."
Professor Burns didn't seem phased in the slightest; he nodded. "And I'll deal with that. As for you: since this is your first offense, so to speak, Digby is not revoking your Hogsmeade privileges this time, but you do have detention with me during the week. We can do the extra reading."
"You mean the stuff I asked you for?" Oliver smiled a little.
"Yeah. But now you've got to read them with me; I have basically given myself detention, it's awful!"
"At least you have a student who knows what they're talking about," Oliver shrugged nonchalantly. "Maybe you won't have to repeat it ten times."
"My students are excellent," Burns scoffed. "You just happen to be an exceptionally good one." They ignored James' thank you.
"At least I'm getting Outstandings in something," Oliver muttered once Burns walked away to tell the head he'd given out the detention, pointing at Melanie and gesturing for her to follow him as he did so. She gave him one of her glares before she moved, one he'd seen many times recently, then her eyes moved to the sign and she laughed.
"She's going to make you pay," James told him regretfully.
"She can try, but I have something that she doesn't and it kills her. I will always have the upper hand."
"Oh, yeah? And what's that?"
Oliver looked James up and down, until it seemed as though minutes had passed and he finally understood.
Oliver ended up falling asleep on the common room's couch after spending the night looking through and removing pictures he didn't want other people to see. He knew exactly where he was when he woke, he expected the silence he'd wake to.
He did not expect to see Ryan staring down at him.
"Ah! What the hell, Ryan?" he shouted, jumping up. "What are you even doing in Gryffindor?" he demanded to know from his Slytherin friend.
"Some second year was leaving just as I got here, she let me in," Ryan shrugged, not caring that he'd just scared the crap out of a friend. "I am here because your Hogsmeade privileges haven't been revoked; we're going now, so get ready. You know, I love that as a seventh year, we can go any weekend we want, for as long as we want. I hear that they never used to do that."
"We could do that as sixth years, only it was a ten o'clock curfew rather than a midnight one," Oliver reminded him as he made his way to the stairs.
He washed and dressed quickly, thankful that, despite the couch not being as comfortable as the bed, he'd gotten decent nights sleep and didn't look like hell. He moved his pictures from his bed to the lock box in his trunk, grabbed his camera and put it around his neck and met Ryan downstairs.
"After you," Ryan bowed at the portrait, stepping out after him. "I also came because I wanted to congratulate you on your daring little message to the school; no one is talking about you and James. Well, not in public. Some of the whispers are interesting."
"How so?" Oliver asked, only mildly curious. He was just grateful it had been somewhat successful.
"Some are betting Melanie kills you, some are thinking it's just a ploy from James to make Melanie jealous," Ryan laughed, an 'as if' quickly following. "My favorite, though, is the whisper that you're better for James than her, that you're perfect for each other. I have no idea who started that one, but I like it."
"Great," he muttered, needing to talk to Sarah. No one knew about him, not even the great Roxanne Weasley; the only way people could even contemplate him being gay without the help from media photographs would be if she whispered. Because she'd never hurt him so much that she'd outright tell people.
Oliver hoped it was her, more than he hoped it wasn't. He knew how to stop it if it was, it was just another rumor to add to the mix and no one would know the truth (which was why she'd have done it), but if it wasn't, it would mean another person in school at least suspected something and that wouldn't do.
"That's all I've heard about you," Ryan continued speaking. "None are bad. Oh, and they think the banner was brilliant. Crazy, but brilliant. I think people are still laughing about it. They wish Melanie wasn't joining in, though. She's also got detention, you know? For starting the rumors yesterday. She's with Hernandez, so your paths won't cross."
"Anything else I need to know?" Oliver asked once Ryan had paused for breath.
"Yeah, one more. You're about to find out the biggest reason why people are no longer talking about you and James," he winked.
Ryan pointed to their group, waiting just outside the doors - James and Tucker stood by the castle wall; Sarah was with a Ravenclaw friend Emily; Jacob Wood, Gryffindor's keeper and next in line to be captain after James graduated, was jumping around with the few other teammates who'd whispered about him; Aidan pulled Roxanne closer to kiss her.
"Yep. She kissed him in front of the Great Hall no long after you left, made sure you were no longer talked about. Which you would have known if you'd come for dinner," Ryan said sternly.
"I ate in the kitchens. And I'm obviously not having breakfast," he added. "Is my sign still up?"
"No," Ryan chuckled. "It took a bloody long time, but Digby finally got it off the wall. You used a really strong sticking charm, Ol."
Ryan grabbed his sleeve and pulled him towards the group, calling to everyone that they could go. Sarah linked her arm through Oliver's and handed him a toasted bacon sandwich. He thanked her gratefully and held her back a little, making sure there was a bit of a distance between them and the rest of the group before speaking to her."
"There's a whisper that James and I are 'perfect for each other'. Was that you? Another one of your ways of getting him to notice without outright telling people that I'm gay and like him?"
"I wish," Sarah muttered back. "But I'm not brave enough to do that to you. I mean, I'll give hints to James himself, sure. But to spread it around the school? You'd hate that. So, no, it wasn't me. I heard it this morning."
"Wait, you wanted it to be me?" she asked in shock.
"If it wasn't you, then someone in this school suspects something about me," he whispered. "And that is worse."
"One; no, it isn't. Louis was openly gay, no one cares. You're just weird. Two; this didn't start until after the media photos, so it's probably just someone who thinks you two look good together. You've got to admit, Ollie-Pop, you two look pretty damn cute together in that picture."
Oliver shook his head, knowing rationally that Sarah's reasons made sense, and ignored the cute comment. He didn't want to be cute, he wanted to be... Hell, he had no idea what he wanted to be, but it wasn't cute; cute was what you called a child.
"Are you two coming or not?" Emily yelled at them.
Sarah assured Oliver that everything was fine, grabbed his hand and ran to reach the group. Oliver held onto his camera and prayed his breakfast wouldn't come back up.
They found themselves in the Three Broomsticks after an hour or so of wondering around. They found the biggest table and squeezed around it, Oliver conveniently finding himself between James and Ryan when he was usually near the end with Sarah. He gave her a look before sitting, giving his drink order to Dion Halfpenny, a Chaser on the Gryffindor team.
The conversation quickly turned to Quidditch talk, about the first game of the school year, the Gryffindor team playfully ganging up on Ryan, who was the only Slytherin to regularly hang out with them, more than Aidan, Albus and his friends. Oliver felt like more of an outsider than he usually was, pressing himself back into his seat and keeping quiet; at least when he was sat in the corner with Sarah and Emily, they could have their own conversation.
"Will you be taking pictures for your book, Ol?" Dion asked, pointing at James, Tucker and Ryan. "Since it's the last season for some of us."
"Of course he is," Sarah grinned. "When does Ollie-Pop not take pictures?"
"Ollie-Pop?" James questioned, amused by the name. Oliver put his hand on his chest. "Ollie? Yeah, I got that." Oliver put his finger into his mouth, pressed it to the inside of his cheek and pushed it out, making a popping sound. "Pop. Oh. Okay."
"She saw me do it on my first day; the name stuck," he explained quickly. "It's kind of a habit I have when I'm concentrating, it's very random and I don't realize I'm doing it. Ryan's seen it."
Ryan nodded. "I have. I'm going to stick with Ol, though. And Sleepers. And Sir Snores-A-Lot. Ouch."
He rubbed the spot where Oliver elbowed him, muttering about it not being his fault that Oliver always falls asleep in History. James patted Oliver's arm, looking both amused and apologetic, and promised that he'd stick to normal names.
Oliver wondered how long it would take before the place where James touched him would stop tingling.
A/N: New chapter for y'all. And I have a writing plan, which I hope to stick to, so updates should become more frequent. :)
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :D
Trigger warning: self harm is implied. It's one of the reasons for the sensitive topic/issue/theme that is in the warnings. It only plays a small role in this story, it's in the past, but I'm warning you anyway. It does not glorify the issue and does not happen in this, but if you're uncomfortable, it's okay if you don't want to read. It's only alluded to in the beginning.
The scars were always visible, pale white lines crisscrossing over his tanned skin. During the year, when the tan had faded, they were harder to see, but right now, after spending most of his summer at home in Florida, they stuck out like sore thumbs. His glamor charms kept them hidden from others, kept people from asking questions when he wore t-shirts. It had worn off just before lunch, while in Transfiguration; he'd felt the magic wear off, causing him to shiver. It had felt like icy hands were crawling up and down his skin, but it was necessary. He'd been so thankful that he had kept his shirt sleeves rolled down.
In the safety of his dorm, free to sit and hide alone, Oliver had rolled up his sleeves, fully intending to glamor his arms and cover the scars again. But he found himself staring at them instead, sometimes tracing them with his fingers without actually touching them. He remembered the reason for receiving each and every one of his scars, not just the ones on his arms but up and down his body, and he hated them all. And he understood them all.
He wished he could get rid of them, but he had grown to accept that he couldn't and instead saw them as a reminder; he was so much stronger than he had once been. He'd never put himself through that hell again.
The door opened and Oliver yanked his sleeves down, covering the skin just as James walked in; they may have made him stronger, but it was still another secret he didn't want people to know about. He hasn't even told Sarah.
He was both grateful and annoyed that his distraction had come in the form of James Potter; he was better able to forget his scars now that his crush was in the same room as him, but his crush was in the same room as him and they were alone and that couldn't be the best thing in the world.
Oliver watched curiously as James cursed all the way across the room to his bed, where he pulled off his cloak and jumper, then he moved to undo his trousers.
"Whoa," he blurted out, hiding his eyes as though he was five and finding it the most appropriate thing to do. James jumped and snapped his head up to frown at him. "Someone else in the room, dude."
"Yeah, I can see you," he laughed. "I just need to check my leg."
"Why?" Oliver asked, hesitantly lowering his hand. James dropped his trousers, but only to his knees, and his underwear was mostly covered by his shirt. Oliver tried not to show his relief; he saw less than that when they got up in the mornings. It was fine.
"Peeves found me on my way here and I hit the corner of the staircase trying to get away from him," James moaned, gently pressing against his skin. Oliver forced himself to keep his eyes on the spot the man was poking and saw a bruise begin to form. He must have hit the corner hard; it would probably be bigger and darker soon. "My leg hurts like hell and there's a huge rip in my trousers. See?"
James put the hand not holding his trousers up inside and was able to put three fingers through the hole with room to spare. Then he pulled his hand out to lift his shirt up a little. Oliver could see a large, tangled web of string coming from the hem of his boxers.
"Pulled my underwear, too," he muttered sadly. "I don't deserve this. These are my good ones."
"Surely they're not you're only good ones?" Oliver grinned, though looking skeptical.
"Well, no," James amended. "But they're my favorite pair. Compared to my cartoon ones, these make me feel like a grown up and I like that."
James stepped in front of him properly, practically daring him to look, and Oliver had to wonder exactly what the guy was thinking, if he considered this an innocent gesture. He probably did; James didn't hide as much as he did and even Tucker complained that he knew too much sometimes. James could easily mistake this for an innocent gesture, not comprehending what it was doing to Oliver's state of mind.
Why would he? You're a coward, who won't tell him the truth.
Oliver brushed the thought to the back of his mind swiftly and glanced at James, only for a moment longer than he should have; the underwear definitely suited him, all black and molded to fit his body perfectly. James didn't notice.
"You don't believe I can be grown up?" James asked with a wink. He looked down to pull at the tangled string; he didn't see Oliver blush.
He waited for his face to cool and cleared his throat. "I agreed with you, didn't I? Come here."
"Why?" James asked, sounding confused and, if Oliver guessed correctly, a little nervous now.
"Just come here," he answered, rolling his eyes. James shuffled over so not to trip over his trousers and stopped in front of Oliver, suddenly feeling awkward, and he refused to look him in the eye.
Oliver kept his hand at the hem of his underwear, trying not to touch his skin, but he had to to keep his grip firm. He tried to focus on his breathing rather than how warm and strong James felt, ignoring the man stiffen. Quickly, he wrapped the string around his free hand and pulled it off, then he grabbed his wand and sewed the hole in his trousers back together. He let go, leaving the bruise in case he accidentally made it worse, and James pulled his trousers up.
"Thanks," he murmured, moving away again. "That was a lot better than going to Lily, she'd just gloat about her being better at those sorts of charms than I am, and I can't find my other pairs."
James pushed his cloak and jumper to the end of his bed and jumped on top, moving to get comfortable. He let himself fall into his pillows and was his old self again by the time he looked back to Oliver, who had copied his actions and was already watching him.
"So, why are you up here all alone?"
Oliver shrugged, scratching his head and then his arm involuntarily; he still needed to hide his scars. He shook his head at James and did what he did best; he lied.
Potions was the last lesson of the day and Oliver both dreaded and looked forward to it. He looked forward to it because Sarah, or whatever partner their teacher gave him of she chose to pick them, was more likely to help him when it was the last lesson, because they knew he sucked and they didn't want to stay longer than they had to. He dreaded it because they made him start and he knew he was going to screw up whatever they were to make, which wouldn't help his grade.
He couldn't exactly remember what had possessed him to take Potions to NEWT level, he'd barely scraped the E students needed to continue. He vaguely remembered Sarah trying to persuade him to take the subject with her and he was sure that he had said no, even when she went into detail about how good a Potions NEWT would look on his résumé, then James had come in after Quidditch training, only wearing a pair of shorts because it had been too hot to wear his uniform. They'd hung low, just below his hips, and held Oliver's interest for the rest of the day.
It was the clearest image in his head. He mind went blank when it came to anything else from that day, including saying yes to a subject he hated.
I don't even need Potions. I'm never going to use it for work.
He jumped when a bag was dropped onto the table, frowning when he saw James take the seat on his left. Normally, he'd be secretly pleased to have the man by his side, especially when they were around others in a classroom where he couldn't embarrass himself, but that was Sarah's seat and she wasn't going to be happy.
"Why are you here?"
"Tucker told me to sit next to you, so that he has the last seat and gets to sit with Sarah," James answered, shrugging. He didn't seem to mind being moved. "His actual words were 'move or die', but I don't think he was serious."
Oliver laughed nervously. "You don't think?"
"Does he look like the type?"
James pointed to the table right across from them, which his friend was currently occupying alone; Tucker looked completely out of sorts, something Oliver couldn't recall ever seeing. He usually hid any insecurities very well, sometimes acting overly confident in his effort to get what he wanted. Now he was fidgeting constantly, bouncing his legs up and down and drumming his fingers against the desk while glancing toward the door.
Then it clicked; he was nervous about sitting with Sarah. Tucker was his overly confident self when they were in the Great Hall or outside, with a bit of distance between them and no way for Sarah to hurt him when she rejected him. She was going to be annoyed once she saw that the only empty space was by Tucker, then mad once she knew that James wasn't going to swap. She wouldn't be able to argue because the professor would start the class. She'd probably hurt him afterwards, because they both knew he'd try to ask her out again.
"The world is safe," James chuckled quietly.
"From Tucker maybe, Sarah is scarier," Oliver added with a whisper.
Sarah came in, saw the seat and the look she gave Oliver was a promise; he was in so much trouble.
And I didn't do a thing.
Tucker moved over just a little, opened his mouth a couple of times and went back to his textbook. Unable to keep a straight face, Oliver was happy to watch them while the professor started the lesson. James left him alone during the professor's explanation of how to successfully brew the love potion, Amortentia. He listened to every word the teacher said, from the different ways people feel around it to the risks of brewing it wrong and side-effects that have happened. Oliver stopped watching his friend and Janes' once he knew nothing bad or embarrassing was going to happen while the professor spoke, focusing on her just as she got to the dangers that can come with someone drinking a love potion so powerful.
He sat back, a little wide-eyed, when he heard about a number of the cases the Ministry had to deal with over the years.
"Whoa," James muttered once she had given them their assignment. He mirrored Oliver's own thoughts.
"The last one, the woman who was given it when she thought it was juice," Oliver murmured, torn between frowning because he didn't believe it and staring in disbelief because he couldn't believe it. The odd look on his face would have made the class laugh if they didn't seem to agree. "Who does that?"
"People who are given to much," James replied. "The guy who gave it to her would probably be in jail if he weren't, you know, dead."
"Sucks to be him," Oliver said sympathetically. "So, what are we doing?"
"You really weren't listening, were you?" James asked with a laugh.
"I zoned in when she got to the dangers, but I zoned out again when she got to the crazy lady at the end," Oliver admitted with a shrug. "It was way too freaky."
"Right," the man nodded and Oliver didn't know if James was agreeing with him or just being sarcastic. He continued speaking before Oliver had the chance to ask him. "The potion is our assignment; we need to make the potion and write about it, find a case to talk about or the effects in general. She had to go through the dangers of making it wrong to prepare us for making it, but we could even go into more detail on that. We have two weeks to make it and write it up. There's not enough time to make it in this lesson; I figure that we can either start planning our essay or we can pretend to do that while we wait for Sarah to explode."
"I like the second option."
James winked. "I thought you might."
Oliver pulled out some paper and a pen to make notes on, preferring the Muggle way because he made less of a mess than with quill and ink, while James turned his textbook to the page on Amortentia. It was mostly just the ingredients they needed and the steps it took to brew it, with a description of the potion, but he knew that he could easily lie about making sure he could get everything if the professor asked why they weren't working. When they next turned to their friends, Tucker was obviously trying to focus her attention on them rather than the work. Sarah was stubborn, though; they couldn't hear everything they were saying, but it was clear when Sarah shoved the book in front of him that she didn't want to talk about anything else.
"I'm gonna pay for this later," Oliver whispered to James.
"It's not your fault; Tuck planned it and I wouldn't move," he said back.
"Yeah, but I didn't stop it and I'm easier to get to."
"You have my pity," James chuckled. "Do you think she'll crack?"
Oliver smirked, raising an eye-brow. Will sarah crack? Ha!
"I don't know, Tuck can be pretty persuasive," James said innocently. "He can also drive people mental until they say yes, but that's beside the point."
They shut up when their friends glanced their way and focused on the textbook for a few minutes before looking back up; half the class were reading and the rest were messing about, but everyone was talking. It made watching Tucker and Sarah easier, but talking to each other a little harder when the noise rose the closer it got to the last bell.
"Personally, I think that Tucker should just give up," Oliver told him honestly. "She just doesn't seem to be that interested."
"I don't know, they might surprise you," James replied with a knowing smile. Oliver caught what he was referring to just in time; Tucker had said something that caused Sarah to turn away from him, so he missed the small smile she couldn't keep hidden.
James leaned in closer, his lips pressed to Oliver's ear; the shiver that ran down his back was uncontrollable and he knew that James noticed, but he couldn't bring himself to care about that. This was different and it was both dangerous and exciting.
"Not all surprises are bad," he said softly, his breath tickling Oliver's ear.
It was only after Oliver had moved closer that they both realized the room had gone weirdly quiet. Someone cleared their throat and they found Sarah giving them a smug look, a small amount of worry just concealed and only for him. Oliver dropped his head in his arms, hiding the fact that he'd gone unnaturally red.
He almost kicked James when he spoke.
"What?" he asked, still entirely too innocent.
A/N: Hey, guys. So, I hope this update was quicker than the last and that it continues to be. I want it to be, but despite my new list making updating easier, I still have a few WIPs to update, so updating each one may still take a while.
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter and the James/Ollie (now named Jollie - how adorable :P) moments. I'm also free to give hugs because of the beginning of this chapter. *hugs*
Please let me know what you think.
Between the assignment he'd been given in Potions, his other homework pieces and the detentions Professor Burns had given him for the poster he'd stuck to wall in the Great Hall, Oliver didn't have a chance to even think about what people were saying about him, let alone do anything about them. Not that he had much to do; the rumors he did hear were tame at best, now turning into a one-sided romance for James, and any he didn't hear were probably because of Sarah and Ryan, if there were any. The only real trouble he had was from Melanie; the girl didn't like the idea of James liking him, nor did she like that they were working together on Amortentia. She pulled pranks that embarrassed him, such as sticking his pants to his seat with a sticking charm so they came off when he pulled, and whispered about him using the Amortentia on James.
No one seemed to put much stock into the whispers and given the mood Oliver was in, plus remembering what he did in the Great Hall, only a few people were brave enough to laugh. Since James had obviously taken a hint after Oliver ran from Potions class and stayed away except for when they worked on their assignment, it all died down pretty quickly, leaving Oliver to act as Hogwarts' background character, sticking with his few friends and the occasional member of the group who wanted something.
Just how he liked it.
Oliver met James for the Potions assignment in their joint free periods, on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons; making it had been relatively easy since James actually was good at Potions. He was the calmest Oliver had ever seen him when he was concentrating; this was his element and he obviously loved it. All Oliver had to do was sort out ingredients and try not to cut off his finger, and that was fine by him. They didn't do much talking that wasn't work, except to ask about mutual friends and to occasionally laugh over Tucker's continued attempts with Sarah. It was never about themselves in case someone heard and created another rumor. Oliver's detentions were Tuesday and Thursday nights, with the rest of his time allotted to the rest of his homework, hanging out with Sarah and the Saturday Hogsmeade drink now that they were seventh years and could go whatever weekend they wanted.
So, despite sharing a dorm, it was only natural to Oliver that the next time he saw James in an entirely social setting was over two weeks after the classroom incident, during Quidditch tryouts.
Oliver spent the Saturday morning finishing the last couple of paragraphs of his History essay and writing out the theory of changing a transfigured object back into its original state. When that was done, he made sure his scars were hidden and removed his jacket; it was too hot in the Gryffindor common room even with the window open, so he knew he wouldn't need it. Then he put his work away, grabbed his camera and left to find Sarah; she mentioned something about an event she was planning for Halloween, but didn't want to tell him until he was finished and free to listen. With any luck, his friend would be in the Great Hall, where people were more likely to listen to her, but that would mean he had good luck, so he didn't hold his breath.
Whatever slither of luck he did have held, because he found Sarah one floor above the Great Hall, flattening down what looked like some kind of poster.
"Hey, you," he called out with a smile, stopping to read what she was posting.
He quickly realized it was the event she had been referring to and was pleasantly surprised that he was apparently the one who had created it and was hosting it, he was even more surprised when he realized he was okay with it.
"Do you like?" Sarah asked with a grin, her eyes on the poster. "Everyone else seems to love your idea. They think it's genius, a compliment you're only too happy to accept and share with your best friend."
"I amaze myself with my genius," Oliver continued the joke with a chuckle. "Everyone should love it. My photographer can't wait to start."
Honestly, he couldn't. They'd never planned an event like this one; Oliver took pictures of what was around him, like Quidditch and the feasts and people's faces after they've finished their end of year exams. But this Halloween show, this was brand new, and for the graduation book according to the poster.
People would be talking about this until Halloween, Oliver knew; debating what to wear and if they'd be good enough for the camera. And he would be the center of attention again, but at least this time it was for something he publicly loved rather than secretly loved and was better prepared.
Sarah looped an arm through his own and lead him away, past the Great Hall and outside. "Come on, Quidditch tryouts are about to start. There are rumors that James is topless and in shorts again; you can take pictures. Pretend they're for the graduation book, say you're making memories of our final year."
"With a story like that as backup, how can I refuse?" Oliver asked sarcastically. Sarah rolled her eyes and said nothing; they both knew he'd do exactly that.
"Has it ever occurred to you that James might actually like you?" Sarah asked once the Quidditch pitch was in sight and unintelligible yelling could be heard.
Oliver pretended to think. "Er... no."
"I'm serious." Sarah stopped them and pulled on Oliver's hand until he was facing her completely and he could see that she truly was. Her eyes were wide and earnest, her smile small and reassuring. She meant every word she said... but he was too afraid to believe it. "All that flirting, the touching, the smiles, that is entirely too innocent to really be innocent. Unless he's had too many bludgers to the head and doesn't know that he likes you... but he can't be that oblivious. Right?"
"Yes," Oliver replied immediately. "James really can be that oblivious. It's his gift, I'm sure. But that's not the point; not only am I not 'out' here, I don't want to be. So even if he did feel the same way, how would it work? Not that it matters because he doesn't. I've dealt with the fact that James Potter will always be a what if for me, a crush I had in high school that I will reminisce over every time I open my old albums, so please drop it and let me take my pictures so I have albums to open."
"Fine," Sarah sighed, wagging a finger in his face. "But if I'm right, you're getting a big, fat 'I told you so' and I have bragging rights every time people ask you how you and him got together."
"If me and him ever get together, we'd have to leave the bedroom before people could ask us that."
Oliver smirked and started walking, leaving Sarah alone to more or less say exactly what he expected her to say. "I'm trying to decide how much information is too much information and where that statement goes on the TMI chart."
James rode a broom in a similar way to how he brewed potions; with grace, finesse and a look on his face that was so calm, it looked as natural as breathing. Oliver hated heights, he hated sitting up in the stands with everyone else and pretending to cheer when he honestly felt faint, but as long as he looked at James, as long as he got to see that calm, he could pretend they were on the ground. Because there was nothing else in the world to either of them once James was in his element. Oliver could look at him all day and not get bored, could pinpoint him among a crowd and still think of him as the most beautiful.
He never said this out loud, he didn't need Sarah's comments (or Ryan's teasing if he were ever to know), but Oliver was willing to admit it to himself and that in itself was a step up from the start of sixth year, when he wouldn't even admit to himself that he liked James let alone admit to Sarah that he loved the other boy. But if the sly grin Sarah kept giving him was anything to go by, it was so obvious thanks to the look on his face while he watched James fly that he didn't need to say it at all.
"Shut up," he muttered to her, leaning back against the Gryffindor stall to hide his face in the shadows. They were sat on the back row, James was easily visible from there, even without his camera lens, but so was the ability to see how high they were - sitting back also helped with not looking down, for that he was glad.
They shared another look, Sarah grinning and Oliver sighing, and then they turned back to the pitch. Quidditch tryouts were going pretty well, considering the mess it had been in the beginning. He was sure half of Gryffindor, excluding first years and - of course - Hugo, had come for tryouts and from the look on James' face, he'd been a little overwhelmed. It was his third year as captain and his third year freaking out due to the numbers; the year before last James had gotten them to the final and last year they'd won the cup, so each year the numbers grew. But as time passed and everyone settled into their roles, it became clear that James was a good leader.
Sarah had made a joke about watching James shirtless, but as soon as they got there, Oliver knew that they had come to watch her little brother. David Walsh had been practicing for years and this time, they were sure he would make the team. He would make a great Chaser, would join Hugo's friend Jennifer. She was wicked fast for a fourth year, was the first person to join the team in first year since Harry Potter had started Hogwarts. Sarah was so proud of them, having known them both since they started school due to being in the same year.
"Wasn't that awesome?" she asked excitedly when James finally brought tryouts to a close and promised to have the team sheet posted in the common room by Friday. It seemed there was a lot of competition for places if the boy didn't have at least an inkling as to who would play with him. And he only had Jennifer to talk to about it as she, like him, was the only recurring player.
"Yeah, awesome," Oliver agreed, mostly because he had to. Being the best friend, the one who was there for everything with the promise to give his full attention, only went so far when James Potter was flying without a shirt on. "Is it time to go yet?"
"In a minute, I want to congratulate Davie first," Sarah answered him, grabbing his hands up pulling him up. "Come on, wait on the pitch for me."
The climb down the stairs was a lot shorter than usual; Sarah holding onto his hand while running was probably helping. She let him go once they reached the edge of the Quidditch pitch and went off to find her brother, leaving Oliver all alone on unfamiliar territory. The pitch was emptying, a few stragglers who wanted to talk about how they did walking past and ignoring him completely. Even James was gone.
Oliver looked up, his eyes locking with the guy he'd been ogling all day. He had left, showered quickly and changed; instead of shorts, he was in loose-fitting jeans and shirt that was rolled up to his elbow and buttoned up, which told Oliver that he hadn't done it himself but was how the shirt was supposed to look. James looked good. He felt his cheeks burn and looked away again. "Hey."
"Enjoy the show?" James asked him with a smile, obviously referring to the tryouts rather than him.
"It was good. But I mostly came for Sarah," he said. "Since her brother tried out."
"Yeah, David is great this year," James told him honestly. "It's a really tough call. Jen and I are going to have so much fun creating our team."
"Is that sarcasm I detect, Mr. Captain?"
James laughed along with Oliver, shrugging his shoulders almost sheepishly, and let his broom lean against a stall. He didn't leave his broom in the shed like a lot of the others; it stayed by his bed.
"Was it that obvious?" he asked. Oliver nodded with a smirk. "Ah, it'll be fine. It's actually good practice. I'm more than sure that Jake and Dion will be back on the team and I have a good feeling about David, but that's still two more positions I need to fill; Jake and Jen can see what this job is like since one of them will be captain next year."
"They'll have big shoes to fill," Oliver said sincerely.
"A compliment from Mr. Ford. I'm honored," James murmured, a look in his eyes that Oliver didn't quite understand. It made his stomach flutter like a twelve year old girl's, which unnerved him. "Are you busy?"
"I'm waiting for Sarah," he answered, trying not to look disappointed.
James only looked disappointed for a second or two before smiling and nodding behind him. Sarah was stood a few yards away; she grinned knowingly and pointed at the changing rooms where her brother was just getting out. Never one to miss an opportunity to get them together, Oliver knew she was leaving without him no matter what.
"Are you busy?" James asked again, figuring out what Sarah was doing, even if he didn't know her reasons for it.
Oliver shook his head. "Apparently not."
"Good. I want to show you something."
He grabbed his broom and mounted it, watching Oliver knowingly. Suddenly, the air around him had disappeared, leaving his chest restricted and his body aching to take a breath.
"I'm suddenly very busy."
"Are you okay?"
"I- I can't fly," he whispered.
James smiled softly, knowingly. "I'm flying, you're holding on. I know you're afraid of heights, after four years I've noticed, but it's not far and it's not too high. You just need to hold on tight and not look down."
"I -" Oliver muttered, his throat closing when Melanie came into view.
"Where are you going, baby?" she cooed, squeezing James' arm gently. Her glare was aimed at Oliver for a moment before beaming at James.
"Get off," he growled at her, pulling his arm back and standing his broom up in case she decided to get on and go with him instead. "Why are you here?"
"You were amazing with the tryouts. The way you fly," she mock-whispered into his ear, her flirting painfully obvious.
"I should go," Oliver said softly, ignoring James' 'no' as well as Melanie's 'good'.
"Oliver, please," James called, placing a hand on his shoulder to stop him from leaving. "Melanie is just leaving."
"No, I'm not," she protested.
"Yes, you are! We broke up, it's final, leave me alone," he barked at her. "I don't want you here." He waited for a breath and then with a shrill cry, Melanie took off; they were both fully aware that she was just pissed off and would be back, but ignored it. With a smaller and slightly fake smile, James turned back to Oliver. "So, that thing I want to show you."
"Okay," he said with a sigh, his concern a two-way split between flying and Melanie. "But only if you really mean it when you say it's close by and not too high."
"Of course I mean it," he promised. James mounted his broom again and waited patiently for Oliver to join him.
With hesitant hands, Oliver wrapped his arms around James' waist and propped his chin on the boy's shoulder. "If people see this, I will kill you," he whispered into James' ear before hiding his face in the curve of the boy's neck in an effort to not look down.
"Just hold on tight," James replied and kicked off the ground. Oliver did.
The ride was short, just as James had promised, and if Oliver stretched his leg he could feel water splash against his sneaker and the edge of his jeans leg. Daring to look down, Oliver could see the black lake, so he knew he really wasn't that high off the ground either. It allowed him to prop his chin up again and watch the sun.
"Where are we going?"
"Somewhere nice," was his reply.
"We're crossing the lake and leaving school grounds, that's not allowed unless it's to Hogsmeade," he pointed out.
"Like they'll ever know."
A few minutes later, the broom came to a halt and they stepped off. Oliver moved away and turned to survey his surroundings; they were on the bank of the black lake, to the right of Hogwarts, the sun was dipping into the horizon and coloring the sky with bright reds and oranges, the water was clear and the world as he knew it was silent. Peaceful.
It was beautiful.
I love it here," James admitted gently. "I come here when I need to be alone, when I need to think, or just because it's calm. It's my favorite place in the world."
"Why did you bring me here?" Oliver asked curiously. If he had his own private spot, he wasn't sure he'd let anyone see it.
"Because you've been very stressed lately, jumpy, and I'm at least partly to blame; I thought this would be a worthy enough apology," he answered with a smile that Oliver almost considered shy. Except James was never shy. He let his broom fall to the floor, and then joined it, stretching his legs and lying down, his arms entwined behind his head. "So, sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet. We have an hour until dinner or we could go to the kitchen."
Smiling, and he knew his was definitely shy, Oliver sat with him on the grass and stared out across the lake. The castle looked like something out of a gothic fairy tale with the way the sun cast its shadow, but it was still there and he knew he was safe with James.
James winked at him, but said nothing.
A/N: Finally, got a new chapter. I promise I will never pause FF writing for uni or things like NaNo again... okay, I can't. BUT I promise not to let the pauses get too long.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. The next chapter is Halloween... and things will get... heated. ;)