Chapter 2 : Woman Problems
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Here's chapter two! Enjoy!
Albus looked just like my dad. Untidy black hair, crazy bright green eyes, and a pair of glasses. He was scrawny too and read a lot, something I was convinced Dad never did at Hogwarts. Al was a sixth year Gryffindor Prefect and made sure I remembered it when I got into mischief with the Chasers. Not that we got into mischief. It was just misguided acts of charity.
Lily, on the other hand, was a spitting image of Mum. She had her brown eyes and layers of red, Weasley hair and there were freckles everywhere. Lily was only thirteen and therefore was not allowed around boys or anything with a package at all. Even her pets had to be female as far as I was concerned. I made sure of it. I was fairly certain Al helped out too, though he let her little suitors off the hook more than I did. I learned a few new hexes in their honor, frustrated that boys wanted her attention so young.
Was I that horny when I was thirteen?
I wasn’t exactly like either of my parents, which is what I found interesting and amazing considering most people didn’t stop and gawk at me like they did Al. I got Dad’s black unruly hair (thanks a lot) and thin frame, but I got Mum’s brown eyes and complexion. That meant freckles. Loads and loads of freckles on a black-haired git. Weird, but the ladies loved it and since I played Quidditch and got some muscles on my body, they seemed to like me even more.
Nia Baker was one of them, hanging on my every word since the first day back. Of course she’d always fancied me a bit I figured but once I was made Captain everything was clear. She wanted me. So did the rest of the girls with the good grades. That was what I called them. Of course only a handful actually had good grades, but between the guys and me that was code for the ones with strapping physical attributes.
Avery knew about it. She was disgusted by it.
She was just mad since Bink said she had really, really good grades. I hit him for that, but she never forgave the term.
Al gave me a look when I walked into the common room, folding his book closed. His Prefect pin looked extra shiny and I would have bet my black hair he had been polishing it a bit ago. Rose was beside him working on some insignificant sixth year essay.
“How did try-outs go?” Rose asked, dipping her quill into the ink again. “Did you find some undiscovered talent?”
“I always do,” I said quickly, kicking off my shoes and flopping down beside my brother on the couch. “I picked up Wes Jordan and Paloma Dove.”
Al blushed. “So Paloma’s good then?”
“If she wasn’t good she wouldn’t be on the team.” I raised a brow at him, smirking slightly. “Got a crush on her then?”
“No, of course not,” he muttered quickly, opening his book to a different page.
Rose snorted. “Every bloke has a crush on her,” she said. “I’m surprised she can play Quidditch. I thought all she did was check her makeup and giggle. My mistake.”
“Are you bitter, Rosey?” I asked her. I leaned back and pulled my hands behind my head.
“I have nothing to be bitter about,” she said, irritated. “I already know I can’t play Quidditch and I have more brains than her anyway.”
I nodded. “Of course you do, Rosey. Al, where are you doing your walks tonight?”
“Rose and I are patrolling the dungeons and the basement tonight,” he said stiffly.
“Good.” I stood up and grabbed a piece of parchment from Rose’s unused pile. I pulled out a quill and scribbled a message about a Quidditch Team meeting in the kitchens that night around eleven.
No one ever said my tactics had to be normal. If I wanted my team to show up at three in the morning in the Honeydukes cellar I could do that. Partly because I had power, and partly because seven years ago I stole the Marauders Map from my dad. I couldn’t believe the git left it in his desk drawer, just sitting there waiting for me to wrap my fingers around it.
I didn’t know how to work it for a while, most of my first year actually, but during Christmas break I mentioned it in passing to Fred and his dad, Uncle George, happened to be around and conveniently let slip how to work it. Uncle George was my favorite uncle, but I’d never tell Uncle Ron that.
“Eleven?” Bink made a face when he noticed what I posted on the board.
I raised a brow. “What? You have a hot date?”
He narrowed his eyes. “Fred’s going to be all right. I’ve just been to see him and Bones is all in a hissy about players getting hurt. She told me to tell you not to let it happen again.”
“With Paloma out there I’m not sure it won’t,” I said with a chuckle. “She’s got an arm on her. I wonder if I can get Wes to play like that.”
“Bones will have your head.” Bink brushed his blond hair out of his face.
“She’ll have my head and I’ll have the Cup. Fair trade I think.” Smiling, I walked up the spiral staircase to the seventh years’ dormitory and pulled open the door.
My bed was on the far left, messy from that morning when I was trying to find my lucky Quidditch socks to Captain in. I shoved everything off and onto the floor and plopped down on it, wondering if this was the team that would take me to the Final and win me that Cup again.
It was a good possibility. Of course they would have to be trained up first to work together now that we had two new Beaters and Dara Wood wasn’t shouting obscenities to get me to pass underhand, but we had merit and that was good. Plus, I had a whole sodding year to get them into shape. And I had Meta. Even though she was obnoxious and pompous, she was a hell of a Seeker and if anything went wrong I could just order her to search for the Snitch harder and catch it faster.
“Going to give them the code tonight then?” Avery poked her head in the door and smiled. Her brown hair was down since the try-outs were over and it barely brushed her elbows. It had settled on that length for the last couple years and a few of the blokes thought she looked good but since she was my best mate they didn’t pursue much.
“I think it’s only right,” I said, leaning back against my pillows. “You didn’t have plans, did you?”
“I had a date with my Potions essay but it can wait.” She plopped down at the foot of my bed and stretched out. “I’m glad the meeting is in the kitchens though. I was sick of Dara making us sit on the floor of the locker rooms. My back had all these knots and then I had to ask Bink for a massage and he’d get all red…stupid boy.”
I smiled. “He just gets excited when he gets to touch a girl.” I snorted and she shoved my leg.
“Speaking of which, I saw Nia eyeing you this morning.” Avery raised a suspicious brow and I allowed myself a laugh. “What? Are you trying to tell me there’s nothing there?”
“Nia’s a nitwit.”
“You’re a nitwit, James.”
“I take serious offense to that.”
Avery rolled her eyes and rested her head against my shin.
I jumped as the door opened and Emerson Edwards meandered in. Instead of his black robes, he was wearing a collared shirt and blue tie which I was happy to notice looked stupid on him. He closed the door behind him and nodded heavily to Avery. “Good evening,” he said loudly.
“Hi, Emerson.” Avery was fighting to keep a straight face as she always did when he interrupted our bestie time.
Emerson Edwards was the Hogwarts Head Boy and everyone within a ten thousand mile radius knew it. He kept that Head Boy badge pinned tight to whatever outfit he was wearing and he was a smarmy git. So smarmy, in fact, that his nose was in the air more often than my broom.
“It’s a lovely evening out. I was overjoyed to find it was going to be clear so I could spend some time out by the lake.” Emerson walked to the far end of the room where his bed was and sifted through his trunk for a moment.
I watched him with a raised brow.
“Yeah,” said Avery, “quite, erm, lovely.” She smiled and I kicked her.
“Aha!” He pulled out some binoculars and a book. “I’ve been wanting to go bird watching for a while and this is the perfect opportunity.”
I wrinkled my nose. “You’re going bird watching, mate? Is it a date or something?”
Emerson narrowed his gray eyes in my direction. “No, Potter, I happen to have hobbies outside of the Quidditch arena.”
“Pitch! Damn it, it’s a pitch!”
He closed his trunk, sniggering lightly, and moved toward the door. “Have a good night, Avery. You look wonderful today.” With that he left and I threw my Charms book at the door.
“You let him get you so worked up,” she said, pushing my Potions book aside so I didn’t launch that as well.
“He’s a git.” I folded my arms.
“He must be staying in the right room then.” She stood up and beamed.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I lifted my head and made a face. “It means that he’s the git and the Chasers aren’t gits so we have to keep him in line so he doesn’t go spreading his gittness like a bleeding disease, right?”
“I’ll see you at eleven, Captain.”
I liked the thought of having meetings in the kitchens since a handful of elves were always there and they all knew who I was. I had a legendary kitchen-sneaker as an Uncle after all and I had a famous father that did other stuff.
I got there early with Bink and the Marauders Map and moved a few chairs so they lined up around a large table. I knew right from getting my Captain letter that this would be where I had my meetings even though there was a chance we’d get caught out of bed after hours. I was James Potter. Who cared about that? It was important. I could just tell Professor Longbottom that. He never seemed to understand those things. Quidditch wasn’t usually his forte.
“I saw Lily with Reen Duncan earlier,” Bink ventured, pushing a few chairs around and then going for the glasses. “He was telling her a joke. I think I heard Fred’s dad tell it once before…something about a baby seal and a club…”
Bink was the most logical of the Chasers, I was sure. He had his head on tight and always knew when to cut us off from our pranks. That was why he fit in so nicely with Fred and me (he still wasn’t out of the hospital wing)—he just saw things coming which got us out of plenty of detentions scrubbing bed pans or clipping toenails. Unfortunately, he also enjoyed gossiping about my relatives since he was an only child and had no one to keep tabs on.
“Al told me she’s taken a fancy to him,” I muttered, grabbing a pitcher of water from a nearby elf and putting it in the center of the table. “She can fancy all she likes…after I shave his head and force him to speak Goblin for the rest of his life.”
I shrugged. “It’s the way life has to be sometimes.”
The door flew open and Fred stood there, dark hair stuck to his forehead with a scowl on his face. “I snuck out,” he said.
“You what?” Bink put down the napkins and looked over.
“I snuck out of the hospital wing.” He closed the portrait behind him and leaned against the wall, clearly out of breath. “Bones said she wouldn’t let me go. She said my brains were addled or something and I kept smoking at the ears, but I told her to see here—I’ve got a Quidditch meeting at eleven that I can’t miss.” He paused and threw up his hands for dramatic effect. “And she said that my brains were more important than Quidditch. Then she made a mistake.”
“Not turning you into a vegetable right there?” I asked soberly.
“She walked right into her office! She left me there.” Fred grinned widely. “And then I ran here—hence why I’m all sweaty and smell like Slytherin.”
I made a face. Leave it to Fred to escape the hospital wing for a meeting. He was quite the trooper. I would have told Dara to sod off and that my brains were addled, but Fred…never.
He probably wanted to go for a record of most-attended Quidditch meetings.
I checked the map and noticed Avery on her way with the two new hires, but Meta was still in Gryffindor Tower. She was pacing back and forth in her dormitory, which caused me to fume a bit since eleven was only minutes away. I turned to Bink.
“Did you talk to Meta after try-outs? She’s still upstairs being a dolt.”
Bink looked away and shrugged. “I haven’t seen her. What’s new, though? Isn’t she always being a bit of a dolt?” He sat down on the other side of the table and busied himself with a glass of water.
I turned to Fred. “She didn’t visit you in the hospital wing?”
He shook his head. “Thank Merlin she didn’t or I might still be there, her yappin’ my ear off about you getting the Captain position and not her.” Fred rolled his eyes and took a seat across from Bink. “She’s probably just trying to figure out where she put the corncob she sticks up her arse when she’s around.”
“Good enough for me,” I said and wiped the map, taking a seat at the head of the table.
I had wanted this seat since my second year and I saw my Captain, a seventh year named Maxwell Douche-bag Delaney, abuse the privilege by kicking his feet up onto the table and letting the team take over the meeting. I was too quiet then—to reserved in my mastery of the art of Quidditch—to say anything, but now I was seventeen and both Maxwell and Dara were far away from Hogwarts, hopefully getting kicking in the arse by reality.
And I had the head-of-the-table seat.
I adjusted myself in its comfortable glory. I could see everyone equally. Okay, that only meant Fred and Bink but Bink was fidgeting and I could see it and Fred was staring up at the ceiling.
I wondered for a moment if his brains really were raddled.
It was a good possibility.
“Enjoying the seat, Captain?” Avery opened the door wider to Wesley and Paloma could step in behind her. She looked calm with a smile playing at her lips, but the other two looked positively terrified as if I was going to give them some secret password to the Quidditch bathroom or something.
We didn’t even have a Quidditch bathroom.
I should petition Sinatra for that. She hated sports. She’d never let me have it.
I’d bet she’d let the Charms club have their own sodding bathroom.
I would too, though. I felt bad for the gits, being in the Charms club and all that.
Wesley took a seat beside Fred and Paloma by Bink and I studied their faces. Wes looked as though he might potentially throw up—something I desperately didn’t want to happen while I was eating dinner. He shifted around in his seat for a minute and then tried to smile weakly. It ended up looking more like a grimace. I wondered if he wasn’t nervous and he just had to pee.
Paloma, however, was quite the opposite. She seemed calm and collected with her dark hair spilling onto her shoulders. Her fingernails were still painted and she filed them carefully while waiting.
It was silent for a minute and I strummed my fingers against the table. Eventually the food arrived and still there was silence.
Where the bleeding hell was Meta?
I checked the map again. Luckily for her, she was on her way down, but it was fifteen past eleven and I couldn’t have my Seeker being a negative role model for my easily susceptible new hires. She had to show respect. Service. Loyalty.
Right now she was just a twit.
I was her Captain for Merlin’s sake! Not that Merlin would really care about me.
He was probably right with Professor Sinatra, sports-hating dung head.
Eventually Meta strolled through the door. She met eyes with everyone but me and even though there was a seat between Bink and Avery, she sat at the other end of the table past Wesley. I raised a brow and stood up.
“All right, team,” I said loudly and Wesley jumped a bit. “Everything is settled. We have a whole team and even though I think it’ll take a lot of work to get you sods to work together, I think we can do it. Especially since it’s the last chance for most of us since we’re graduating this year. So basically we have to win, just to stick it to the Slytherins if nothing else.”
“Here here!” cried Fred.
“So tonight’s meeting isn’t about talking over strategy because there are going to be many more times for that,” I continued and saw Meta staring off toward the door. “It’s about welcoming our two new members, Wesley and Paloma.”
Most of them clapped and Fred said, “I’d cheer but she put me in the hospital wing.”
“Good to see you’re all right,” said Paloma, blushing.
“Freddie’s far from all right,” muttered Bink.
“So tonight we’re going to talk about team stuff. First of all, the reason Gryffindor is so good is because we have what’s called a Quidditch Code. It was installed several years ago, years and years before I came to Hogwarts, and at my first team meeting in my second year I learned it. We don’t have inter-team problems because of it and if you break the Code I’ll cut off your ears or something equally as terrible.” I paused so Wesley could fidget a bit before I continued. “The Quidditch Code is like our set of rules to make sure nothing goes wrong and shows that we focus on Quidditch when we practice, not other things.”
I let the elf beside me put a pork chop on my plate and I waited for Avery to start eating. “The first rule of the Quidditch Code, which I’ve told you lot already, is you don’t date people on the team. If you were to break up things would get ridiculously messy and that would affect the entire team, not just yourself. If you want to date a teammate, quit the team. I can replace you.” I folded my arms. Avery rolled her eyes. She knew I couldn’t replace her. There wasn’t a student in Gryffindor that could Keep like her.
“The next rule is you attend every practice unless you have a circumstance in which you simply can’t. That doesn’t include stupid things like homework. You can miss practice if you’re sick, in the hospital wing, dead, or something like that. That’s it. If I find out you were tired and slept in or you were snogging some girl in the Charms corridor I’ll give you laps until your legs fall off.” I smiled. “There’s a forty-eight hour rule. That means if you have an issue with someone, confront them in two days or get over it. I don’t want rumors spreading and things starting from talking behind people’s backs. That also gets messy. Consumed the whole Ravenclaw team last year because Davies can’t control her team’s hormones.”
I left my pork chop on my plate and looked around. Avery’s was almost finished by then and Meta wasn’t listening at all. Wesley looked as if he could have been taking notes and Paloma was twirling her hair around her finger. My stomach lurched painfully.
“Everyone must treat everyone else with respect. Even though it might seem like I’m giving you shit for messing up, I’m still respecting that you’re trying. Do not disrespect your teammates and do not disrespect me. I am your captain. Remember that.”
I took a deep breath.
“Never make Gryffindor look bad in any way.” Pausing, I stole a glance at Fred, remembering his karaoke last year after a vivacious win. “Use your judgment with that. At parties, don’t drink too much. Don’t use women and get a bad name for yourself—yes, even you, Avery. I know how much you use women.” I winked and she threw a broccoli spear at me. “Don’t land yourself in detention all the time. We are role models for all of the lesser beings that can’t play Quidditch in this place and even though we know how to have fun and we know how to play sports that doesn’t mean we can be arrogant and classless.”
“You know a lot about class, James?” Meta asked somberly.
“I know more than you do, showing up late to a meeting,” I shot back, wondering why she was disrespecting me in front of the new hires.
“I had woman problems.”
I flushed immediately. How dare she use that card? It was an evil, tragic card for which I had no defense. Of course I was smarter than that and knew she was pacing back and forth in her room, but I couldn’t say that. Only Avery, Bink, and Fred knew about the Marauders Map.
“Fine then,” I said, my voice a little higher than I was completely comfortable with. Bink chuckled. “I’m just going to…well, let’s just eat then.”
“Are we finished?” Meta leaned her chin against the palm of her hand.
Why was she good anyway? Couldn’t I replace her?
I could tell by the look in Avery’s eye that she wanted to scream out, “I sodding told you so!” But no. I wouldn’t let her. This was my meeting.
“Nope,” I said halfheartedly. “We actually have some business to take care of.”
So with that, I launched into broom types and the breakdown of practice schedules for the year. It really didn’t have to last as long as it did, especially since it was already past midnight, but part of me enjoyed watching Meta fume at the end of the table. Wesley seemed to enjoy himself while I talked and asked Fred a couple questions about timing and meetings.
“So after we figure out a way to raise money for new robes we’ll organize that and I’ll order the new ones,” I said, watching Meta roll her eyes again. “It’s a shame our robes are starting to look more pink than red anymore. If any of you have an idea catch me this week and we’ll talk it over.”
My head jerked up and I groaned.
“Why are you still in here?” Albus was at the door, eyes narrowed at our shin-dig since he disapproved of anything I did. “It’s almost one in the morning and if someone catches you you’re squid food!”
I shrugged. “This is serious business.”
“Money for robes?” asked Meta. “Oh, come on, Potter.”
“Can you just wrap it up?” asked Albus, pushing his glasses higher onto his face. “I don’t want to have to get you in trouble.”
“You aren’t going to get me in trouble,” I said, standing up and stretching. “I’m your brother. If you were going to do it you would have done it last year when I put red coloring into the lake to look like the Giant Squid died.”
He sighed dramatically. “Get going, James. I’ll be back through here in twenty minutes and you better be gone.” He left and closed the portrait behind him.
“Done then?” asked Avery, pushing her plate further in front of her and yawning.
“I suppose I don’t have much of a choice. Ickle Al is going to give me detention if I don’t move on soon.”
“Good idea, though,” said Bink. “I’m getting tired and we have things to do tomorrow.”
“It’s Sunday,” I said. “The only thing we have to do is homework.”
“Which qualifies as things,” he said.
I helped Avery and Wesley clean up and shot Paloma a grin as everyone began to stretch and get ready to leave.
We weren’t as close knit as we needed to be, but at least I didn’t have Dara Wood poking me in the chest and demanding to know my schedule so she could force Quidditch practices right before I had big Potions essays due. Wench.
It hadn’t been that bad, though. Wesley seemed to pick up on the rules quick and Paloma just needed to keep hitting hard and twirling her hair and she would fit in just fine.
Avery was going to kill me for thinking those thoughts.
It wasn’t my fault Paloma was wearing a skirt.
I always liked Professor Longbottom. Though he was obsessed with Herbology and sometimes showed up at Christmas dinner, he was a good guy. Unfortunately, the one thing he didn’t understand was Quidditch. Dad said it was the same when they were in school and I thought nothing of it until I realized that the Captain of each team had to meet with their head of house and Longbottom was the head of Gryffindor.
I asked Mum a while ago why Professor Longbottom was a Gryffindor because he looked a bit skittish to me and I never saw him do anything relatively brave except stick his hand into some weird-looking plants. She told me to shut up and that Neville (she calls him by his first name but I grimaced at the thought) proved himself more of a Gryffindor than most people would ever be.
She wouldn’t tell me why. I figured it was in a book somewhere since they all had a part in that whole battle of Hogwarts nonsense, but I never bothered to figure it out. Instead, I met Longbottom on Sunday afternoon in his office on the fourth floor.
He was sitting on his cushy chair with a small fire going behind him as I entered.
“Ah, James,” he said happily, “have a seat.”
I lowered myself into the large suede chair across from him, my eyes wandering back and forth between various unfriendly-looking plants and pictures from when he was younger. Mum and Dad were in several of them, Dad grinning behind those wonky glasses I’d seen in so many pictures. Even for when he grew up they were outdated. I was surprised he was so popular. I would have torn the mickey out of him for wearing them.
“So you had your try-outs yesterday,” Longbottom started, folding his hands on top of his desk. I wished he wouldn’t. It was strange. “How did they go? Did you pick up some fresh talent?”
I nodded formally. “Yeah, I got Paloma Dove and Wesley Jordan.”
“Two fifth years, huh? It will be hard to choose between them for captain next year.”
“Yeah. Hopefully one is less cool than the other so as to make that decision easier.” I rested my hands on my thighs.
“Is it weird having most of your team be seventh years? Do you think that shows favoritism?”
“I didn’t pick them,” I said quickly. “Maxwell picked some and Dara picked the others. I had nothing to do with it.”
Longbottom pursed his lips and took a sip of tea. I didn’t understand him. “It’ll be a shame after this year when you lot leave and you’ll just have two members…and they’ll have to build an entire team.” He looked thoughtful. “What do you think about that?”
I didn’t know what to say. What I wanted to say was I didn’t care one bit about next year because this year was all that mattered and my team was all that mattered. I picked Paloma and Wes for specific reasons and they were perfect assets to my team. However, I wasn’t sure Professor Longbottom wanted to hear about my careless existence.
“I think both Paloma and Wes can handle it because they’re smart.” I forced a smile.
“Your class participation is down a little bit this year, James.”
I blushed. I thought I was there to talk about Quidditch, not my participation. “Erm, yeah, I guess my mind has been elsewhere. But my grades have been wicked, right?”
“Your grades are fine. Just try and do a little more to keep it that way. I would hate to have to tone down your Captaining because you aren’t taking your studies seriously.” Longbottom peered at me down his nose and I wondered how he could possibly be that cool Gryffindor bloke my parents talked about, wielding a sword and getting beat up for a cause. At least I thought that was how the story went.
Longbottom wasn’t looking too brilliant now. He looked more like a washed up teacher. Or maybe that was my bitterness.
“How did your meeting go?” Avery asked when I sulked back into the tower. She was sprawled out on a couch, her slender legs stretched onto several throw pillows as she propped a Transfiguration book against her knees.
“Remember when Dara said those meetings were hell?” I asked, sliding down beside her on the couch. “Well, it was worse.”
“But your family is such good friends with Professor Longbottom!” She snapped the book closed and made a face.
“He wanted to know about everything except for Quidditch,” I muttered. “I’m telling Mum. She’ll have a word with him about talking to me about classes and things that don’t relate to sports.”
“I’m sure he was just concerned because you’re a twit.” She smiled warmly and opened her book again. “By the way, have you fed your pygmy puff today?”
I groaned, thinking of the very masculine pet I had upstairs. “No. It’ll be all right. I’ll feed it when I get up there.”
“No need.” Avery stretched again and pushed her brown hair away from her face. “Emerson’s already told me it ate two pairs of your socks.”
A/N: Sorry for the filler, but all that stuff had to happen before I can get to the juicy parts! I tried to throw in some humor for all of you to showcase some of James's finer points. But anyway, thank you all for the reviews on the first chaper! I can't wait to hear what you all think about this one!
So...favorite quotes? Parts? Do you think Fred's brains really are addled...or is that just because he's a Weasley?
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