James was sitting the in the common room a little later when Albus and Hugo came through. He felt guilt erupt in his chest because of his actions that afternoon. True, he logically knew he hadn’t done anything wrong, but Al was his brother. And his brother fancied Kate. He had no doubt in his mind about that.
“Heya, James. Whatcha writing?” Hugo asked.
The eldest Potter boy looked down to the letter he was writing to his Uncle Charlie. “Erm, nothing really. Just a letter to Uncle Charlie.”
“What for?” Albus asked as he plopped down on the floor in front of the fire.
“Well, I was thinking about asking Mum and Dad if I could go visit him over the holiday. He never comes home and I want to learn some more about dragons. Fascinating, they are.”
Hugo snorted. “Kate Spencer’s into dragons too.” James was the only one who noticed his brother perk up a bit before turning a light shade of pink. “She’s been reading anything she could get her hands on.”
“Maybe we can get her to talk to Dad,” Al said, looking to James. “He fought that dragon in his Fourth Year. Reckon she might like talking to Famous Harry Potter about it.”
“She knows Dad, Al, and she’s never acted like a star-struck chit before,” the Seventh Year replied. “I don’t know what it is with you lately. You’re acting like a giant git to her.”
“I am not!” Al exclaimed. “I’ve always been this way.”
“No. You haven’t. You were much better when you were watching out for Rosie. Now that you don’t have to you’re acting as if you’re about five years old. It’s ridiculous.”
“Oi! I am not! I’m just having a bit of fun is all. Trying to dislodge the stick that's shoved firmly up her –“
“Don’t even think about finishing that sentence Albus,” James said dangerously.
“Oi. What’s up with you two? You never fight like this,” Hugo put in.
“I think Kat’s right,” James said. “My little brother is an immature prat.” He gathered his letter to Charlie and headed upstairs to his room.
“What in the name of Merlin’s baggy Y fronts was that all about?” Hugo asked.
Al narrowed his eyes to the stairs before responding, “No idea. But you can bet I’m going to find out.”
Three days later, classes were back in session. Despite being a Ravenclaw and quite the – ahem
– nerd, Rose didn’t want the weekend to be over, though yesterday was Monday and she had a couple of classes. She frowned slightly when she noticed her cousin Albus sulking at the Gryffindor breakfast table.
“What’s up with you?” she asked him as she placed her books down on the back facing bench at the Ravenclaw table and sat beside them.
“James is being really weird,” Al responded as he watched her load her plate. “It’s like he’s keeping a secret or something.”
“James is seventeen, Al,” she smiled. “He’s bound to have a few secrets. Most of them probably about girls.”
“But that’s the thing, Rosie. James and I always
talk about girls. It’s like a code for brothers.” He paused as he watched Scorpius kiss his girlfriend and sit beside her. For all he had to witness, he had to admit he’d never seen Rosie so happy.
Once Scorpius was settled Al continued, “There are rules, you know. Hugo knows them even though it’s his cousins he has to share with.”
“Oh, wise Albus,” Lily said mockingly as she sat beside her brother. “Please do inform us of the ways of men.”
“Sod this stupid seating rule,” Rose muttered as she twisted and moved her seat to the Gryffindor table; Scorpius did the same. “Yes, dear cousin, do tell.”
Albus rolled his eyes and sighed. “For Merlin’s sake. Fine. Rule One: Share all important events such as anniversaries, snogs and shags with your brothers. For anniversaries, just so if you foul up someone else can help you out. The other two … well, you can guess. Rule Two: Protect the brother’s girl. She’s like family while they’re together.” He ignored the girls rolling their eyes. “And Rule Three: Never steal your brother’s girl. It’s ground for a beating by every man in the Brotherhood.”
James had walked into the Great Hall late and was just sitting down as Albus pontificated upon Rule Three. He swallowed thickly and looked down at his plate. He had planned on filling it with loads of food as he had a quidditch practice to run at 2pm. Now, however, he wasn’t hungry in the least.
He was about to get up and simply leave when he heard a sweet voice from over his shoulder. “Good morning, James. Mind if we join you?”
James spun and looked up at Katie and Hugo. His red-haired cousin seemed to have a problem keeping a straight face.
“Erm …” He didn’t know exactly why he was panicking. He was seventeen and she was fourteen – oh shite
! – and he should absolutely not
be feeling nervous because she wanted to eat with him.
“Oi, forget him, Kate,” Hugo said with a slight frown. “He’s all quidditch today. Big game against Ravenclaw this Saturday,” he added with a look towards Scorpius and Rose.
“Right,” Katie said softly. “Good luck with that then.”
James was about to speak up, to tell her (and his prat cousin) to stay, when Albus piped up, “Hey, Katie. C’mon and sit over here. There’s lots of room.” At he pointed look towards the absolutely no space around him, he nudged Rose. “Get back to your own table then, yeah?” When she moved (with a roll of her eyes) he smiled back to Kate and indicated the space next to him.
She sighed and filled Rose’s vacant seat on the bench. “You know I’m still angry with you, right?”
Albus nodded and looked as contrite as possible for a Potter. “I know. I just … you know all the right buttons to push, Spencer. You do it so well,” he nodded and nudged her with his shoulder.
She took a deep breath through her nose and then smiled sweetly at him. “Right.” She then arched brow at him, silently urging continue
“And I’m sorry,” he added. “I was bang out of order.”
“Too right you were,” he heard Rose say from behind him.
“Shut. Up,” he said through a clenched teeth smile. “Come to quidditch practice this afternoon?”
Kate furrowed her brow at him. “Why?”
He certainly hadn’t expected that
answer. Usually the girls would smile, giggle, bat their lashes and proclaim that of course
they would go. It would be spectacular.
“Quidditch is fun.”
“It’s dangerous,” she responded. “I’d just as well not watch you nearly fall of your broomstick trying to catch a little golden egg with wings.”
“It’s a golden ball
with wings and James
is the Seeker. I’m a Beater.”
Kate threw a confused look his way.
“Oi. James. Come explain to Kate the finer points of quidditch, yeah? I know you have a free period, Hugo’s half nothing on quidditch, and I have to get to class. Thanks, brother,” Al said without giving James a chance to respond. He gathered his things and ran out of the Great Hall.
“Oh, James, please don’t bother trying. I’m useless at remembering anything about the sport. I’ve tried before but it’s the only thing I can’t get the hang of. I mean, why are they throwing around waffles? And chasing that little egg, erm, ball. Sounds silly to me.”
“Have you ever been?” James asked with a slight smile.
“Once in First Year. Hugo made me go with him.” She shrugged and looked at her best friend. “Not like he understands it any more than I do.”
“Al can explain it to you,” he said reassuringly. “He’d quite fancy being the bloke that got you interested in quidditch.”
“That’s not all he fancies,” Hugo called out with a snicker.
“Leave it, toadstool,” Rose said as she and Scorpius got up from their table. “Leave Kate and Al alone. Maybe he hasn’t told her he fancies her yet.”
Kate blushed a pretty pink color. “He does not,” she said softly. “Albus Potter only fancies himself.”
“No denying that,” Scorpius muttered. He was rewarded with a jab to his ribs and a muttered admonishment from Rose.
“Hey, James, I think you should have a talk with Al and then tell Katie-bug here what he says. Find out if he really fancies her.”
And that’s when James knew, without a doubt, that Hugo was on to him.
“Al,” James said when he entered the changing rooms after practice. “A word?”
“Sure, mate,” Al said with a smile as he changed back into his uniform trousers and white shirt. “Something on your mind?”
James watched as the last of the team left the changing room before sitting down and motioning for Al to do the same. “Yeah, actually. There kind of is something on my mind.”
“What’s up?” his younger brother asked as he finished toweling off his hair. “Something important? Maybe about why you’ve been a prat?”
“I don’t want to fight with you, Al. Yes, I’ve been off a bit lately but so have you.”
“It’s because of Kate,” Al said softly. “I can’t get a good read on her. I mean, I know she wants a bloke who isn’t all about pranks but, Merlin, I’m Uncle Ron’s nephew. And Uncle George’s. It’s in my blood,” he laughed.
“It is because of Kate, Al. The both of us …”
“What, did Spencer get hacked off at you too? What’d you say to her?”
“She’s not hacked off at me,” James said slowly. “She’s … we’re sort of … friends.”
“Right,” snorted Al. “You’re a Seventh Year. She’s a Fourth Year.”
“You’re a Sixth Year …”
“And I fancy her!” Al said. “There. You happy? I admitted exactly what you wanted me to admit. I fancy Kate Spencer.”
“And therein lies the problem, little brother,” James said quietly.
“There’s nothing wrong with her,” Al defended unnecessarily. “She’s great.”
“I know that.”
“Then what’s the problem with me fancying Kate?”
“The problem is that you’re not the only one in the room who does.”
James honestly didn’t foresee Albus punching him in the face.
But he did. Hard. And then he walked out.
James exhaled loudly and shook some sense back into himself. That punch was pretty good. And it was his club arm that he used too.
When James opened the flap to head back towards the castle he came face to face with Lily.
“Rotten luck, James,” she said softly before applying a healing charm to his eye. “What’re you going to do about it?”
“Tell Al that I would never ask her out anyway. He’s right. A brother doesn’t steal his brother’s girl. I wouldn’t do that. I would never
do that to him. Not that I know for absolute certain
that he fancies her.”
Lily took hold of her brother’s hand and directed him to the castle. “He knows that. He’s just mad. He never would have suspected …”
“I wouldn’t have either, Lils. Never in a million years would I ever have thought I would take a fancy to her. But I have.”
“Rest easy, little sister. And tell Al the same since I know he won’t talk to me for a good long while. I’m not going to do anything about it,” he promised.
Lily nodded her head, silently wondering if Albus shouldn’t be the one to not go after Kate. After all, they weren’t much alike.
Though she could say the same for Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione and they were married and had children.