Chapter 16 : Scare Tactics (and ants)
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Had to throw this chapter up as quick as possible!
Training has been a NIGHTMARE! and I haven't gotten to write ANYTHING
in the past week. So enjoy!
I hope everything is all right with you. I got your letter after my last but I haven’t heard anything since which worries me. Darling, I’m so sorry we couldn’t make it to your Quidditch match but you know your father was working overtime and I was just completely bogged down. We will certainly either be to the next or the final for sure. I promise. But you won! I’m hoping you had a wonderful celebration afterward. I’m so proud of you. You’re an amazing captain.
Al sent me a letter saying things were all right between you. I’m glad because I can’t do much for fighting siblings. Just cut your brother some slack, okay? He’s not used to your method of team-first family-later. But I understand, dear. Please just spend time with your siblings because they love you just as much as your teammates do even if they don’t play as much Quidditch.
Is there anything else going on lately? Any dates? Any women at all? I’ve heard you were practically surrounded by ladies during the Quidditch match. Anyone special? I always know your first love is the game though, darling.
Please keep in touch because I’m feeling a bit out of the loop with you, James. That might just be because I receive letters frequently from Lily and Albus. No matter, just write to me more often even if it’s just about Quidditch and training your players to be as good as you.
I’ll be writing again very soon anyway to tell you about the holidays!
I smiled warmly and finished off my toast. Breakfast was always lovely because of the possibility of mail and being in contact with someone from the outside world. It was a nice feeling, being wanted by someone outside of Hogwarts (even if it was my own mother). I turned to see Avery giving me a fond glance. “What?”
She laughed. “Write her back and tell her you’re the same pompous arse you’ve always been.”
“Of course I will,” I said, chuckling. “What else could I possibly be?”
“Who knows?” she said, stealing a piece of sausage off my plate. “You could have gone romantic on me and I wouldn’t have noticed.”
I smiled. “Too true. You’d better watch out. I might just run off and get you a bouquet of flowers or something.”
“Well, you did call me beautiful,” she whispered, careful that Fred and Bink didn’t hear so they wouldn’t tear the mickey out of me for even saying the world “beautiful”.
“I was drunk don’t judge me.” I laughing, poking her in the side and I noticed then Avery was toned and then I mentally slapped myself for noticing. It didn’t matter what my friends looked like because I liked them for their personalities. Freddie had the tiniest bit of extra pudge on his stomach but I didn’t think any less of him especially since he was getting a lot more grades than I was. And that had nothing to do with academics.
“Going to see Nia again, then?”
I shrugged. “Probably will, I had a good time.”
“Oh.” She dug at her breakfast and I shot her a quizzical look.
“And then she told me she’d tell all Gryffindor’s secrets to Darian Bay,” Fred continued. “Honestly, that’s fine. I just asked out her Beater Abigail Williams. She’s quite the woman—those grades, I swear to Merlin!”
“Isn’t she a fifth year?” Bink asked.
“Have you seen her?” said Fred. “She’s tall and gorgeous and I don’t care how old she is. I just know we’re going to Hogsmeade soon and I am well on my way to deflowering the entire Ravenclaw Quidditch team. I think that has to be a record.”
“You need to either get that bloke kicked off or start to swerve both ways, mate,” I said.
Fred shrugged. “You never know—nah, only joking. That’s funny, though, isn’t it? Who knew years ago I would have a fancy for Ravenclaw girls? I do love the smart ones.”
“Who knew they weren’t smart enough to see through you?” Bink said.
“Harsh,” I snapped. I almost covered my mouth after saying it—not because it was mean, but because of the way I said it. I practically yelled at him even though he was standing up for the Ravenclaws. Part of me was furious with Bink, but the other part of me had no fucking idea why.
I felt torn, watching him. He looked like he hadn’t had much sleep and his hair even looked a little less blond. Perhaps I should hire Avery to tutor him.
“So where are you having lunch today?” Fred asked Avery and her eyes snapped to me. “Yeah, big mouth told me. So where’s Dim-Wit Boy taking you? I hear Puddifoots is exquisite.” He snorted.
Bink regained a smile. “Can’t believe you said yes to that sod, though. What’s he got I don’t, huh, Aves?”
“He isn’t best mates with my best mate,” she replied. “And it’s not some big escapade. It’s just lunch in Hogsmeade and I’m not sure where we’re going. But I’m excited.” She said the last part a little quick.
“Well, good.” Bink look a bit put out, but laughed. He shifted over so Paloma and Wes could find spots at the table. “Any plans for the today, Beaters?”
“I think I’m headed out to the pitch to practice,” Wes said, shoving eggs in his face.
“Good, you’ll see McLaggen out there.” I grinned. “I gave her laps for two hours. I have Harvey out there watching her at the moment. Tell her I send my love.”
“I actually don’t have plans.” Paloma shrugged and brushed a piece of hair off her shoulder. “That’s sort of sad for a Hogsmeade weekend, don’t you think?”
Immediately, my head flew over to Al and I made gestures with my fork until he looked up from a conversation with Rose. I obviously nodded my head toward Paloma and my baby brother went redder than my baby sister’s hair. Then I widened my eyes and made faces. One was a fish face, which I had gotten quite good at.
Albus rolled his eyes, but I saw him perk his ears toward the conversation.
“Why don’t you have plans?” I asked, perhaps even baited.
She shrugged once more. “Not sure. Maybe I’ll go have a sandwich in the village or something. I could always catch up on my Charms. It hasn’t really been up to par since I’ve been distracted by Quidditch.”
Oh, what Longbottom would say!
I could see Al shooing Rosey away from the table as she tried not to erupt in giggles. She ruffled the back of my hair and shuffled out.
“I’m not going into the village,” I said loudly, trying to buy Albus enough time to get over the nerves that were forcing his ears to color. “I’m catching up on all the essays I’ve been procrastinating and I swear I won’t even use Accio to get my books. More than once.”
Avery smiled. “I’m glad. You need to catch up on things.”
“That I do. I just need to check everything out. Plans, Freddie?” I watched Albus taking deep breaths.
“Going to the village with Abigail. What a woman, she is!”
“A fifth year is hardly a woman,” Bink said. “No offense, Paloma.”
“None taken, Abigail is hardly anything but a whore.” She smiled sweetly at Fred’s jaw, which had landed delicately on the table.
“Burned by the Beater,” I muttered. “Nice one, Paloma.”
“Thank you. I guess I should be going then. I don’t want to miss eating at the bar alone.” She laughed and dabbed at the corners of her lips with a purple cloth napkin.
My head wheeled around. I shot a dagger expression at Al. “Come on!” I mouthed.
Al stood up so fast a good deal of people stared. He was sweaty, which was obviously common with us Potter boys after my perspiration incident at Puddifoots. He walked stiffly to where the team sat (Avery hiding her smile in a napkin and Bink biting his hand) and tried to smile. It looked more like he was bonkers, but I didn’t blame him.
“Paloma,” he stammered. He was a Potter, he should definitely have more game than that! “Would you like to get ice cream with me in Hogsmeade? I figured it was a beautiful day and why waste it?”
She beamed. “Ice cream? But it’s December.”
“I like to do things different.” Albus returned the smile. There was the charm! There it was! I taught him everything he knew. I had to take credit for that remark. Copyright.
“I’m glad. Let me just get my cloak from upstairs.”
“I’ll walk with you.” Al put a hand delicately on her back and they left the hall.
“Do you think when they start dating he’ll be wearing her Quidditch robes then?” Bink asked, snorting with laughter. “Paloma might be the more masculine one in the pair, regardless of the nail polish.”
“Should I have let Kay wear my Quidditch robes as a sign of affection?” Fred asked.
I gaped at him. “Yeah, let the Ravenclaw Captain wear your Gryffindor robes. That would have went over so well.”
“Try it on Abigail,” said Bink.
I leaned over and raised a brow at Avery. “Something is seriously wrong with him. I’m not related.”
“Your brains are addled too.” She stood with a laugh. “I’m going to get ready for my lunch date. You boys have fun today.”
I watched her leave the hall. Oh, I’d have fun all right. I’d have fun making sure Emerson kept his dirty, filthy Head-Boy wanking hands off her. All I needed was a wand, a disguise, and Victoria.
The dormitory was softly lit by a few sparse candles when I arrived after breakfast and I assumed Emerson was still down the Charms corridor telling someone off for sticking their gum on the underside of a bench. I quietly opened Victoria’s cage and she hummed.
“There, there, you’re hungry, aren’t you?”
She hummed and snuggled into my palm. It may not have been manly, but I scratched her on the back of her body thing (they didn’t have heads or visible ears, that was the best I could do). I led her over to Emerson’s hideous ancient trunk and pulled it open. “How about we start with a nice sweater vest?”
I grabbed it and stuffed it into her cage. “All right,” I whispered, kneeling down beside it. “Here’s your supper. It’s one hundred percent cotton—so says the tag—so you should be fine. I know he soaked those ties in fabric softener. I have the pills just in case. I’m going to make sure your Auntie Avery isn’t going to be molested during lunch.”
Victoria stared up at me with a happy glint in her pygmy puffy eyes.
“Who’s daddy’s little girl? You are. That’s right.” I chuckled and closed the cage door. After stuffing it under the bed so No-Head boy wouldn’t see her chowing down on his threads, I grabbed my cloak and transfigured a comb into a mustache for a perfect disguise. I also added a blond tint to my hair and got rid of the freckles.
Other than the blond (and the mustache), I sort of looked like Dad.
I stared for a minute and the door opened. Enter: Bink Legace. I waved and he jumped.
“James? What in ketchup’s name are you doing in that cloak? Didn’t your mum give you that one? I think it has frills.”
I laughed. “Do you think the mustache is too much?”
“Avery’s going to know it’s you.”
“She will not. I’m going to sit further away this time.”
Bink stared for a moment and opened his mouth to say something, only to pause. “What’s that noise?”
“Doing a jig? That’s loud.”
“The Eiffel Tower?” Bink leaned his head under the bed and snorted. “You’re ruthless.”
“He wants to get my best mate to be his prized number bleeding seven in bed and I won’t stand for it. He’ll have to court her naked because I won’t have it.”
“That mental image made me want to vomit.” He swung around and adjusted the collar of his robes. “Do you need company to rescue fair maiden Avery from the warty dragon Edwards?”
I cracked a smile and checked out my bum in the mirror. It was still fantastic. “I think I’ll go at this mission alone. It’s my bleeding fault she’s there in the first place. Why did I go and say we should date?”
“Because you should.”
“I thought maybe she’d realize she shouldn’t date until she’s married and I’d get to date whomever I wanted. But no, she had to go blow that one right up.” I tightened the cloak around my neck and scrunched up my face. The mustache was tickly.
“All right. Have fun, mate.”
“Will do.” I pulled open the door. “If Victoria starts puking just give her the pills in the bedside drawer.” I smiled and paused again. “Oh, and if Fred comes back up here set him straight on the Quidditch robes thing. I really don’t think he got it.”
I got a thumbs-up before continuing on my way.
I figured I would take credit for the ice cream in December thing as well considering I told Albus the ice cream place was open year around in Hogsmeade and I wanted to grab a pint of cookie dough before break. I stared through the window and could just barely see the tub of cookie dough staring back at me in all of its ice cream goodness. My nose was nearly pressed against the frosted glass.
I wheeled around. How Darian Bay possibly knew it was me under my convincing disguise was beyond me, but there he stood with his perfect crop of sandy brown hair and bright smile. Even his tie was an annoyingly intense Hufflepuff yellow. I never understood why they always had to wear yellow, anyway. I didn’t always wear scarlet or gold. There were some days I was perfectly content with a nice somber blue.
Today I was feeling more of a snowy gray but the black would have to do.
He surveyed my outfit and his eyes landed on my mustache. “Trying out a new style? I hear it’s a hit for the previous generation.”
“Sure.” I spun around for another look at the ice cream. It was calling—why the hell were Al and Paloma still in there giggling over one sundae? Was that a banana in there or was Al just happy to see her? Bad internal joke. I chuckled.
“I heard you took Nia Baker out on the town.”
“It’s a village,” I said, still watching the clerk make some Ravenclaw bloke a cone. “Hogsmeade is a village.”
I heard Darian heave a large sigh behind me. “Did you take her out or not, Potter?”
“What did you hear?”
“I heard you took her out.”
“So did you or not?” He nearly yelled it. I nearly lost it laughing.
“Yeah, I took her out. She’s looking a lot hotter this year than last, don’t you think? I do, particularly in the chest area.” I pressed my cheek to the glass. “Yes, those are very nice. I showed her a good time. If you know what I mean.” In reality, I meant we ran back in the cold and snogged in the Entrance Hall before Meta stole my happiness.
“Just couldn’t keep your hands off my sloppy seconds, could you?”
“You know, for a loyal friendly softy Hufflepuff, you can sure be a dick.” I finally tore my eyes away from the sweets inside and fixed him with my best Gryffindor stare. I even twitched the mustache for effect. “I can resist whatever I want. And that includes little babies like Roxanne Weasley. Really, Bay? You’re the Quidditch Captain.” I paused. “But you’re the Hufflepuff one so that doesn’t really count, does it?”
Honestly, I couldn’t believe he sat through my entire rant making fun of him and his house, but he stood there, body stiff, glaring down at me (because he was taller than me).
“Badger got your tongue?” I almost snickered at my own cleverness.
“Well, I hope you’re happy together.”
“Who said anything about together? I took her out once, Bay, we’re not married. Look, mate, can I call you mate? Look, I have no idea why you’re over here talking to me. We don’t talk in classes and we don’t talk any place other than our less than witty remarks on the pitch. If you’re jealous of me with Nia, then yea, we’re very happy. If not, piss off, I’ve got business with this ice cream joint.” With that, I turned and left Darian Puffer Bay out in the few inches of snow while I pursued the cookie dough with open pockets.
I faced the counter in case Paloma or Albus were to look up, but they seemed a bit distracted so I took the time to drop some eaves.
“I’m sure practices will go back to full force after the holidays,” Paloma said. “I bet I could secure a little down time though.”
“I bet I could secure some plans to go with that down time,” Albus said in his best Potter voice.
I gruffly ordered a cone of cookie dough and chanced a glance. Paloma was smiling. Al’s ears were pink.
“Are you and James all right now?”
I heard Albus chuckled into a spoon. “Yeah, we’re fine. We’re just different, is all. Which is refreshing sometimes when you have such a huge extended family.”
“Does that mean you love your brother?” She giggled.
“Potter boys don’t talk about love.”
I loved my baby brother for that. Chuckling, I paid, grabbed my cone, and ventured back out into the gloriously cold December air. Darian was nowhere to be seen and I knew he must have made the trek back to Hogwarts because I didn’t see his disgusting yellow tie anywhere. I trudged toward The Three Broomsticks, feeling a little alone since, well, no one was with me. It was Hogsmeade, though, I should have had a companion.
I thought about Bink. Realistically, I didn’t have a reason for not inviting him. That shit about me wanting to do it alone was exactly that—shit. I didn’t want to go with Bink. Why the bleeding hell not? The guy was my best mate. We did everything together, yet he was forcing indigestion pills down Tory’s throat and I was traipsing around Hogsmeade with facial hair.
Bink would have been nice to talk to. What was my deal? I snapped at him during breakfast and denied his blond company in Hogsmeade.
Thank goodness a distraction delivered itself in the form of Avery Flynn. She looked amazing, fuzzy cloak wrapped tight around her and I saw pinpricks of heels sticking out of the bottom. Her hair knotted up into a dark hat, but a few strands were in her eyes. I watched her attempt to blow them away with no results. Avery was laughing and it wasn’t until then I realized she was laughing at something No-Head boy said.
I wanted to Emerson-punch him right there.
He looked so smug, that walking bag of sex-wanting-dirt-baggery. Oh, I was so angry I couldn’t formulate proper insults. I knew it was bad. I watched him smooth out his hair and open the door to the pub for her.
I sauntered after them, finding a seat far enough away and taking out Uncle George’s Extendable Ears. I could barely see them but Avery’s smile was forced and she laughed a little too hard at whatever joke he was telling (probably about his Swiss Alp pompous git cottage). That made me feel a little better.
But not much because I hated the sod.
I watched a waitress walk over there and I adjusted my very manly mustache. “I’ll have a firewhiskey and pork chops,” Emerson said in a dignified manner. “The lady will have a water and a salad.”
My head jerked up and the mustache threatened to fall right into my lap. Did he just—? No, he wasn’t that stupid. Well, maybe he was. Maybe he would ruin the date all on his own and I wouldn’t have to step in. Ordering for Avery was step one. Ordering Avery a salad was step two. Did she look like a rabbit? That girl ate red meat more than I did.
“This place makes the best salad,” Emerson continued once the waitress left. “Trust me, it’s wonderful.”
“I bet it is. How are the pork chops here?” There was a bite in Avery’s voice I loved.
“They’re good too.” Emerson stared down at his hands. “You look lovely.” I wondered if he had that written on one of his palms. “Erm, the Finches are doing well this year.”
“Emerson, you don’t like Quidditch. You don’t have to pretend to like it just because you’re out with me.” She smiled softly.
Damn it, pity vote. Start being a wanker again, Emmy.
“This water looks—well, it looks just superb.” Avery laughed and dipped a straw into her drink.
“What can I get you?”
I jumped, securing the mustache with my fingers, and caught sight of the waitress at my left. “Oh! Uh, can I just have a butterbeer and chicken fingers?” After she left (and I slowed my heart rate—what was with all these people scaring the sarcasm right out of me?) I went back to Emerson and Avery who, to my dismay, seemed to be having a stupidly delightful time. Avery was laughing and her face was flushed and Emerson looked more pompous than ever, the smarmy bastard.
They talked about classes and grades (not the kind I fancied unfortunately) and Hogwarts and I was in a right state by the time I finished dipping my chicken fingers in barbeque sauce. I was all sweaty and irritated while Emerson’s laugh got so loud at points people stared. I stared. Because I hated him.
What could I discretely do to Emerson that Avery wouldn’t notice? Well, wouldn’t notice it was me? I made a face. She’d notice pretty much everything, including the wedgies hex I learned. What good was a wedgie hex if I couldn’t use it on Emerson Edwards? I could turn him into something and then just book it out the door.
A salmon, perhaps.
Or a tree frog.
Llama of some sort.
“James, what are you doing?”
That time I fell out of my chair. Lily took it. She stared down at me in a disapproving Mum sort of way.
“I’m eating lunch! Blimey, what are you doing?”
“Trying out a new style?” She ripped the mustache off my upper lip and it burned like carpet burn while being dragged around drunk after a Quidditch match. “Where is she—oop, there she is. This is a really poor disguise, you know.”
I swatted her arm. “It’s working, I’ll have you know. Give it back.”
“You put highlights in your hair too. Good thinking. Definitely doesn’t give anything away.” Lily laughed and rolled her eyes. “Did you hex him yet? He just put his hand on hers. I would have hexed him by now.”
“Aves doesn’t want me to,” I muttered, climbing into another chair. “I just wanted to—well, he’s a scum bag. I wanted to make sure that factory of douchebaggery doesn’t drug her and club her over the head and drag her back to his cave.”
“Also known as your dormitory?” Lily cocked a brow. “So what are we going to do?”
She chuckled. “Would you stop being jealous and do something about it?”
“Jealous?” I nearly choked.
“She has a date and you don’t.”
“I went on a date with Nia yesterday.”
“What about right now?”
“You’re my date. Don’t you know I’m into incest?” I batted my eyelashes as sarcastically as I could at her. I turned back to Avery. “Why him, though?”
“Because he’s the only bloke around here.”
“Couldn’t she just go after Wesley?”
I stared. “How do you know about the Code?”
“James, I’m your sister. How would I not know about the Code?”
I pressed my lips firmly together and chanced a look to Avery. She was laughing again. Emerson was doing some sort of impression. “You’re right. The Code. Don’t tell anyone you know about that, sneaky baby sister, you. You’re a right pain in my arse, you know that?”
“Learned it all from you.”
I put an arm around her. “So what do you think we should do?”
“I think you should do something and then get the heck out of here because you’re going to dwell on your pitiful dateless existence if you don’t.”
“So what am I going to do before I don’t dwell anymore?”
Lily adjusted her hair and shot me a perfect malicious Weasley smirk she inherited from Mum’s side of the family. It was my favorite facial expression of hers.
All I could hear as I left the pub was Emerson yelling about ant bites and Lily apologizing left and right about them escaping from her kit. At least I could hear Avery laughing.
Maybe Lily was right. I was definitely envious of her having a lunch date and me having to joke with my little sister about incest instead of checking out someone’s grades. I could have checked out Bink’s grades but I figured that would have been a large disappointment. I hoped Emerson had too many ant bites to even think about sex.
Maybe Avery would make him think about ants from now on and he wouldn’t fancy her anymore. Who knew if he even really fancied her or if he wanted to one-up James Potter once again? I wanted to one-up him with a swift kick somewhere unpleasant.
I twitched just thinking about it.
The next time someone scared the knickers out of me I was going to fall down dead. Honest. I nearly tripped over an untouched mound of snow and fell to my death that time. Just one step closer.
“Elizabeth,” I breathed, “love, how are you?”
She smiled from behind a violet knitted scarf, her bright blond hair spilling out everywhere from under her hat. “I’m great. Despite the cold the weather is amazing. I just came down here for a bit of a walk.”
“Come have lunch with me,” I said quickly.
Elizabeth paused, her face flushing. “You want me to go on a date with you?”
“Sure. Are you in?”
For a bit I was starting to think something was wrong with me. I sat with Elizabeth for a full half hour in a little café next to the abandoned Zonkos building and she didn’t throw herself at me once. She didn’t ask to help with my wanking and she didn’t tell me how positively delicious I would look without clothes. I felt weird and naked.
Instead, Elizabeth laughed at my jokes. She asked about how the team was doing in practice. She complimented my Chaser qualities and even asked what I thought about having freckles. I told her I liked them, something I was still unsure of.
“I haven’t heard you talk much about your family in a while,” she said, accepting another cup of tea from the waitress.
“What do you mean? I talk about Freddie and Al and Lils all the time. They’re right pains.” Chuckling, I fiddled with my thumbs.
“I mean your parents. Have you seen them lately? Or written? My mum wrote the other day just to tell me about a stray cat eating out of our garbage bins. What a loon, right?”
I tried not to bite my lip and look fragile. “Mum wrote me the other day.”
“Oh, how is she?”
“She’s wonderful. Like always.” I laughed nervously. Why was I suddenly nervous? It wasn’t nerves, it was social awkwardness. That was something James Sirius Potter did not possess and never wanted to possess.
“And your dad?” She paused while I failed to answer. “James, you never told me what happened between the two of you. You avoid the subject.”
“I wasn’t aware I was supposed to,” I mumbled.
“We used to be all right friends, you know.”
“Your dad was always at the Quidditch matches and you used to talk about him in the Great Hall all the time. Because, well, he’s the Boy Who Lived and all that. So what happened? Don’t think we haven’t noticed you’ve been acting different.”
I shoved my tea away. “Look, it’s not a big thing. I’m just not like him. Al’s the one who wants to be Dad. He wants to arrest Malfoy and put him in jail and grow up strong from his spinach and be an Auror. That’s not me. Dad and I…we just don’t see eye to eye and we had a row about it over the summer. It’s not like he thinks I should follow in his footsteps, because he knows Mum played Quidditch, but he thinks my love for the game is an addiction.”
“Do you think it is?”
“Of course it’s not an addiction. I just love it. Dad loved fighting the dark arts or whatever when he was in school and I love flying around on a broomstick bossing tarts around. He just doesn’t get it. He says I need to cool it down a bit and study or do something else. He doesn’t get my Quidditch mates are my family. I would even do anything for Meta and she’s a bitch.”
Elizabeth smiled. “I know you would. I think your dad does too. I’m sure it’s just hard for him because we don’t have any baddies like that in the world today. Well, except Darian Bay’s wardrobe and Emerson’s idiocy.”
I nodded slowly. “Yeah. I’m sure it is. It’s just weird he hasn’t written to me or anything. Mum says Dad’s always been like that—freezing things out at times. I’ll talk to him about it soon though since Christmas is coming up. We’ll talk it out.”
“I’m glad. You need to. I know you’re a Mamma’s Boy and all that, but I’ve seen you and your dad click.”
“You sure know an awful lot about me,” I said.
“You don’t really hide things too well,” she replied. “You are the Quidditch Captain after all. People talk. That, and Dara Wood tried to find dirt on you to kick you off the team for being a smarmy git.”
“It all makes sense.” I chanced a glance to my right out to the snow-covered Hogsmeade street. Flurries were covering the prints and a few students were braving it and making their way back to the castle. I spotted Avery and Emerson. He was looking a bit itchy. She was laughing.
Why was she laughing, anyway? Lily assured her date didn’t go as planned and she was over there laughing.
“James?” Elizabeth waved a hand in front of my face.
“Oh. Hi there. Did I miss something?” I tried to regain composure but found I was leaning over the table to see out the window.
“Can I ask you another question?”
“Why do you spend so much time with Avery Flynn?”
“You should know we’ve been best mates since first year.” I mentally sighed. Avery and Emerson walked out of sight. I hoped he had scabs.
“You know that makes you really unapproachable, right?”
“What are you on about?”
“To girls. When you have a girl best mate.”
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I think I’ve made it painfully obvious I’m the Quidditch Captain and I like a great variety of women. I also think it’s obvious I think Avery’s my sister so that clears that up right away.” This conversation was stupid.
“I just think maybe you should pay attention to the date you have instead of looking at other women.” She looked a bit put out and irritated.
“She’s my best mate!”
“She has boobs, I don’t care who she is!”
I sighed heavily, putting some gold on the table. “I’ve gotta get back before Emerson tries for lucky number seven.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Elizabeth shot me a disgruntled look.
“It means I’m going after Avery. Sorry, Liz. I had a good time, though, let’s do this again.” She looked at me with an expression that clearly explained we would not be doing this any time soon and I left quickly, pulling my cloak tight around my arms as I made my way in the direction Avery and Emerson had walked.
I didn’t mean to be a poor date. It was awkward, though, her bringing up my family in the middle of our perfectly sensible Quidditch conversation. Then she goes and brings up my best mate. Dates should know they can’t come between best mates. That’s a code or something. Not the Quidditch Code because that is an entire different can of worms I had to deal with on a daily basis.
What was I going to do about that pesky Code? At least it seemed like the breaking had gone down (besides Meta being an outright bitch and pantsing me, I hated that woman).
I made my way down the cobbled street and toward The Three Broomsticks since I could see Avery ahead. I didn’t want to make the trek back to the castle alone, but if need be I would put back on the mustache to frighten away first years. Part of me wondered if Nia was sharing drinks with someone in the pub or if Al managed to coax Paloma for a drink, so I glanced over through the window and nearly tripped over absolutely nothing at all.
Meta, good old Meta. What a team player she was. So much of a team player when she was supposed to be finishing up laps. So much indeed that she was sitting beside the window with a beefy man wearing a fleece shirt bearing a Tornadoes logo. Bugger! Meta was eating lunch with a scout with no neck and I was standing outside in the snow letting her do it.
What was I supposed to do? First I ducked beside the building so she wouldn’t look out over her soup to find my guffawed face against the glass. I needed a plan. I was the Captain. I had to take control of this situation. It was my duty! Seriously, though, why was my Seeker putting me through this? I loved she was getting scouted for the big leagues, but to be scouted in December meant she was pondering leaving. And I couldn’t have her do that.
“Why do I keep finding you in weird places?” Lily turned the corner and folded her arms. “Haven’t you gone back to the castle yet? Avery just passed me walking back.”
“Meta’s in there with a Tornadoes bloke.”
“So what? It means she’s thinking about leaving.”
“Blimey, I hope she does.” Lily peered around the corner. “James, she’s not going to leave. She knows you’re in Hogsmeade and she knows you’ll see her. She’s just pulling your strings. I heard her talking about it to Mary in the common room.”
I breathed out. “Thank Merlin. I didn’t know Meta talked to Mary Mary Quite Good Gradesie.”
She cocked a brow. “Anyway, can we head back? I’m freezing and Al is still wooing Paloma. I have more ants if you’re interested.”
“I’ve never been more interested in ants,” I said, putting a warm arm around my baby sister and steering her first toward the ice cream because I was in desperate need of more cookie dough and maybe a chocolate cone for the sister.
A/N: Hope everyone enjoyed that. Sorry again about the delay. I didn't realize how insane training would be. I've only been back to my room to change clothes and sleep. Not often! It goes for another week.
Thoughts on James/Darian/Avery/Emerson/Elizabeth/Lily?
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