Chapter 25 : Underground Tension (and Squiggles)
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This chapter is for Mafalda Hopkirk, for getting the 1000th review!
Thanks to all of you for all of your amazing reviews! I am seriously stunned!!
Also thanks to everyone who has favorited this story! We just reached 600! OMG!!
Enjoy. This is one of my favorite chapters.
Bink was never good at coming clean. In our second year he couldn’t figure out how to do a few Charms and refused to get help. Then, when we were prepping for the final exam, it took him something like a thousand hours to tell us the truth. At least it wasn’t Transfig. I was rubbish with it so I’d be no help.
He kept kicking his shoe into the frosty grass, biting his lip so hard I was sure it’d bleed.
We always had a close relationship. Er, friendship. Boys didn’t hate relationships. I liked his crazy blond family and he put up with my millions of ginger cousins. He even joined us for summer barbeques in the backyard after our second year. We made Mum cook because Dad kept lighting the chicken on fire. Strangely, Bink always ate the burnt rubbish.
He spent the night a lot too. I had to keep Lily and Al away (losers didn’t have their own friends), but once we got some privacy we started to talk and thus became best mates.
“I won’t go for captain if you want it,” Bink’s eyes were wide. He was a tiny third year, spending the weekend at my place over winter holidays. We were in my room, darkness creeping in against the candlelight. Both of us were sprawled out on the floor in Gryffindor sleeping bags with stolen munchies from the kitchen. “I know you do.”
“That’s years away,” I said. “Dara’s not going to leave till we’re seventh years.” I glanced at the floor. “Or she’ll fail to spite us.”
Bink liked control in his life. He loved spontaneity, don’t get me wrong (the random break out of Charms animals said so), but he liked to do things his own way. The Bink way. The plans were better if the ideas were his and he could make a girl swoon with a couple words about his family’s plot of land in Spain.
So many times the bloke had thrown me for a loop. At one point he went a term without telling me (or Wood) he sprained his wrist. And yeah, he had it the whole time because Quidditch kept retwisting it. The idiot wouldn’t see Bones because he knew the team would find out and he wouldn’t be able to play for a while so it could fully heal. Bleeding moron. Passionate moron, but moron all the same.
During our sixth year he vanished for a night after we drank a little too much (thank you, Quidditch win). Lily ended up finding him wandering around by the kitchens.
Bink was a crazy kid—no one tells Bink Legace what to do. But for him to be with Meta McLaggen—the girl who told everyone (including the Snitch) what to do, that was mind-boggling. He went through the last six years loathing her; he even helped me glue her broom to her locker. Stopped talking to me when I talked about dating her all those years ago.
And, most importantly, I wanted to know how he could stand that non-stop gum popping?
So here we were, in a situation not entirely uncommon to me, and Bink had to come clean once again. He wrinkled his nose. I wished I’d brought a cloak.
“I liked her,” he said quietly. “I mean, not at first. And not now obviously. I don’t even know how it happened.” He groaned and started to pace back and forth, a few steps at a time. “I ran into her this summer in Diagon Alley. I went for the day since Quality was having a massive sale on this Tornadoes robes and I thought you’d like one for your birthday.”
Hello there, guilt, how are you?
“The only ones they had were in large though. No offense, but you’re not bulky enough to fill those out.” Bink brought his hands closer to his face. “She was going through Finches rubbish. Had to make fun of her, you know? Who here likes the Finches, honestly? Then she started quizzing me on Quidditch. Trivia. Facts. Just to see how much I actually knew. Pfft, like I don’t know Quidditch.”
Fred sniffed. “So you’re standing in Quality, talking about the Finches…?”
“Sounds stupid, huh?” Bink chuckled, his cheeks and ears now a rosy pink. A little darker than Victoria, lighter than my war paint. “At that point we’re heading toward Fortescues and I’m answering these questions and firing some back. It got pretty heated on Snitch catch dates at one point. I remember some yelling about an Irish team too. But she knew her stuff. Suddenly, we’re talking about school and people and classes and I’m going with her to Flourish and Blotts.” He made a noise that hinted his embarrassment. “We had tea and talked and I don’t know, mate, there’s a whole other side there. A non-bitch side. Well, there was.”
“Okay,” I said, frowning and patting him awkwardly on the shoulder. “So you hung out over the summer. Go on.”
“Then we started to hang out more. That day I couldn’t come to your picnic—I was at Woman’s house because she got tickets to England’s exhibition game against the Czech Republic. She invited me. We went with her mum—who, by the way, is a total opposite of that woman. She even has this sweet, high voice. It was weird, but we had some fun. We ended up at three games this summer.” He paused, fingers fumbling with his cloak buttons. “We even bought our books together.”
“You shit!” Fred said, kicking frost at him. “I invited you a week ahead of time for that!”
“Sorry, I just…I don’t know. I had to go with her, you know? There was something totally new and dangerous about her. A glint in her eye—I have no idea—maybe it was a bad thing, but I was sick of all the other girls around here being dull and predictable (no offense, Freddie). She was different and held her own and was, obviously, trouble.”
Fred grunted and laughed.
“I asked her out a week or two in. I can’t remember when. It was so much infatuation—I don’t care how much you hate her, she’s fucking hot as hell. Damn bitch. Obviously we had to hide it, but I was so overcome with idiot emotions I didn’t care. I just wanted more time with her. That was the hardest part—I hated it. Always sneaking to see each other and pretending we hated each other.”
“Bloody why?” I said, trying not to lose my temper. “We’re best mates. Did you think it wouldn’t get out? Don’t you think it’s worse now?”
“Yeah, of course, but I wasn’t thinking! Do you blame me? I had a hot girlfriend and I didn’t want to muck up the Code. I just couldn’t get enough of the danger of sneaking around and, between us, the sex was out of this bleeding world. Why give that up for someone who color-codes their notes like Mary or is in love with you, like Nia?”
“I can think of a few reasons why you would give it up,” said Fred in irritation. “And that’s why I date Ravenclaws. James has the whole Gryffindor house wrapped up.”
“All right, all right,” I said. “Tell me what the hell happened next before I thump you in the face.”
“We spent a lot of alone time together. Hanging out, avoiding homework. I was hooked, but she changed once we got back. Got snippy with me for Quidditch stuff and things weren’t as good. I think it went on too long—probably was meant to be a fling of danger and then an epic breakup. Well, at least that happened.” Bink took a breath. “I don’t think either of us really wanted it to end. We had serious physical chemistry and she didn’t have anyone else. And, like I said before, the sex was good.”
“Oh, fuck you,” I said.
“So things were going downhill and we were fighting more about stupid shit, and then that stupid snowball fight…we had a row before it. She was sick of everyone not knowing and she hated me being mates with you two—especially you, James, since you got captain and she didn’t. She started being a bleeding pain in the arse during the snowball fight and she said something about meeting with an agent or whatever. I told her she couldn’t abandon the team—didn’t like that, flipped a shit on me.” He paused, face getting darker and darker. “Oh, uh, and that thing she said, you know, isn’t true. She just doesn’t want me to be with another girl. She was horrid jealous when Rose won me in the auction.”
“Well, no girl is going to want you after you slept with McLaggen,” Fred mumbled. “Bink. Mate. What the hell is wrong with you? Yeah, she’s hot, but she’s crazy. Even I wouldn’t touch that. Not even if she was on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.”
Bink let out a loud, disgruntled noise. “I know. Gah, I know. It was so messed up. It was liked we talked and got along over the summer, but once we got back it was only passion and physical stuff. It was just so dangerous, so forbidden, and it had been so long since I had done anything like that. And alone—and not talking about Quidditch—she isn’t as bad as I thought she was. Not good, mind you, but not as bad.”
“And now?” Fred asked.
“I’d like to throw her off something tall.”
“That’s my boy.” I gave Bink a few pats on the shoulder. I wondered what shoulders felt like since mine had gone numb during the story. “So why were you so upset when she called it off during the snowball extravaganza?”
“I think because she humiliated me so much and left me in a horrible spot. And that feeling of loneliness I hated so much.” He made a face.
“That makes sense,” I huffed. “I still have an urge to punch you in the mouth though.”
“I think the head-shaving and humiliation were enough, don’t you?”
“Well played,” I said dully. “So, this grotto! I can get on board with that. What do you think—tomorrow? Day after?”
“Let’s go tomorrow. People will be too busy recovering from the Alumni shin-dig to see where we’re going.” Bink smirked. “Ready to head back inside? I think your skin is during a little blue.”
I nodded. “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea.” I started inside, but Bink put a hand on my shoulder.
“Oh, and James?”
“I’m sorry, you know. I didn’t mean to be such a shit.” He coughed in a manly way. “You guys mean everything to me and what I did was stupid.”
I smiled warmly. “Remember my forgiveness when I do something stupid. Then again, I don’t think I’d ever do something that stupid.”
And with Chaser laughter, we retreated back to the castle in our formal attire and wind-blown hair.
It was early when we decided to leave since, like Bink predicted, everyone was hung over from the alcohol Freddie found. The team met (without the happy, smiling face of Meta McLaggen) in the common room and I took the liberty of inviting along Rosey and Albus and Lily just so they wouldn’t whine about not being able to go to the grotto. I knew they would. Prefects and baby sisters were so needy sometimes.
“So what the heck are we doing?” asked Paloma, rubbing her eyes. I could see her bathing suit straps under a tank top.
“We’re taking a team vacation,” I said proudly. “We’re all going through some rough times and it’s time to let loose and celebrate us getting through this.”
“Aren’t we missing someone?” Wesley cocked a brow.
“Laps,” I said with a smile.
“Everyone ready?” Bink said, obviously wanting to change the subject away from his Seeker ex-girlfriend. Crazy, Seeker ex-girlfriend. His face was flushed and he had a yellow towel slung over his shoulder.
We filed out, careful no annoying second year was up doing homework on a Sunday. Bink led the way down to the dungeons, chatting with Rosey and Albus. I wondered why Al wasn’t trying to woo Paloma, but hey, he might have had his reasons. Either that or stupidity.
The castle was cold and quiet, something I was not incredibly fond of, but it was winter so I shouldn’t have expected anything else. Bink mentioned the grotto being heated since it was so far underground, and for that I was thankful. If it wasn’t, something would have been frozen. And that would not have been attractive.
Avery was toward the back of the group, laughing at a joke Wesley told. She hadn’t said anything to me since I saw her at the Alumni party. The tension was almost painful. Like cut it with a butter knife painful. Or a stick. Or a really dull pair of those scissors with the funny looking edges so you can cut in squiggles.
I tried not to think about it as Bink led us through a door and into a dark classroom. There were only a couple tables inside and each was covered with a dusty white cloth. All except one, which was bunched up and the dust was scattered all over the floor.
“Had sex on that one?” asked Fred, noticing the same thing I did.
“Shut up,” said Bink, beckoning us toward the front of the room. There was an old desk there and a few jars of strange-looking substances. He passed it and motioned to a low-hanging painting forgotten in the corner. It was in a thick, gold frame and contained the portrait of a wrinkly man in a night cap. There was a glass of wine behind him and suddenly I was beyond creeped out.
“This is Hector,” Bink said.
“Oh, good. Now let’s have a party,” said Freddie. Wes chuckled.
“Good morning, Hector,” said Lily charmingly.
The wrinkly bloke smiled warmly. “New faces. I always love new faces.” His voice was hoarse, but kind. There was white hair poking out of his cap.
“Grotto, please, Hector,” Bink said with a flash of a smile.
“And where is Meta this morning, Master Legace?”
Hector was about to get drawn on if he kept going. I could see the fire in Bink’s eyes and it did not complement his hair. I had a quill in my pocket. Granted, it was a sugar quill (who carried around the regular ones? I even borrowed them in class), but it would do the job.
“That woman is probably off trying to ruin someone else’s life. Just a hunch.” He dug his fingers into the right side of the frame and pulled.
“You’re a terrible gossip, Master Legace.” Hector let out a disgruntled noise as the portrait opened to reveal an unfinished hole. It wasn’t very big and we would have to crawl, but it was a tunnel. The edges were rocky and it was dark. Probably the wrong time to admit I didn’t like tight spaces (hence the Quidditch) and I wasn’t fond of dark places I didn’t have experience with.
Man up, Potter.
“It’s just through here,” said Bink, clearly ignoring the gossip comment. Bink never gossiped about his own life, but if it was something that happened to me or Freddie, it was halfway around the school and Lily was asking me why I stepped on a kitten (which was fine, by the way).
“Okay, I’m not going through after you,” Fred said, stepping back. “Rose, you go or something.”
“Fine, chicken,” she said, huffing past him and getting down on her hands and knees to follow Bink through the tunnel.
After that we went guy-girl-guy-girl because no one wanted to stare at the rear of someone like them. Let’s be honest. Bink, Rosey, Al, Paloma, Wesley, Lily, Freddie, Aves, and then me. I waved to Hector from around the frame and crawled in last (because I was the Captain and big brother/cousin).
The hard floor scraped at my knees and was not at all pleasant. I couldn’t see much in front of me, but I did see the outline of Avery’s legs and shoes and I heard her breathing softly. She wasn’t scared of tight places. One time in our third year we hid from Longbottom in a broom cupboard on the ninth floor because he thought we were the ones who set of WWW smoke bombs in the Charms corridor. We were, but that wasn’t the point. The point was it was cramped and I was terrified and she told me a story about her dog growing up to calm me down.
Bink had already lit a few torches by the time I was through and my jaw almost literally hit the floor when I saw what this grotto actually looked like. To be honest, I didn’t really know what the hell grotto meant. I knew it meant there was water. This one was underground. But I thought it would be kind of slimy and green (because Slytherins lingered underground) and gross. On the contrary, it obviously had a lot done, whether by Meta or Bink or someone else.
There was a large sandy area from the tunnel for several meters up to the water, which stretched to be the size of two Transfig classrooms. The water was dark, but not dangerous looking and that’s what I wanted. The walls had torches all around, keeping the room bright and airy. Best of all, it wasn’t stuffy and it was very warm. There was even a large waterfall in the back giving the room water from some underground creek and walls that were rough and oddly pretty.
“This is brilliant,” Fred said, shedding his shirt immediately and tossing his stuff to the side. “How could you not take us here before? Waiting until we were peeved at you to release the great stuff?”
“Something like that.” Bink smirked.
“Either that,” said Rose with a devilish smirk, “or he wanted to keep it to himself so him and Meta could get it on down here without being interrupted.”
Bink flushed so dark I thought, for one fleeting moment, he might be tan. “Great. Now Rose Weasley knows my girl drama.”
“I don’t even have to know it,” she said, shimmying out of her pants. “You’re a friend of James. You’re all too similar. But it’s a good thing.” Rose pulled off her shirt and dipped her toes in the water. “It’s warm. You ladies coming in?”
“Who even invited her?” said Bink, throwing his towel to the side and then shoving her in the water. There was a bit of a drop where the sand hit the water, since it was underground and it wasn’t an actual beach.
That’s when it started. Rose grabbed Bink’s ankle and he went in, shirt and all. Fred literally threw my baby sister in (tried to throw Wesley in too but Wes threw himself in to save the humiliation. Didn’t really work). Paloma got Al when he was trying to keep his clothes and shoes in a neat pile and, in turn, Freddie got her too.
I watched Avery. She was still dressed, but eying Fred maliciously. It took her all of a split second to see an opening and take it. Fred surfaced sputtering water and yelling swear words.
Hello, squiggle-cutting scissor tension.
Avery and I were standing on the beach. I had gotten my shirt off by that point and was kicking off my shoes. Avery was laughing at Fred. She smiled warmly at me, but it wasn’t completely genuine. I hated that and wished she would just tell me a story about a dog or something.
“Looks like we’re kings of the sand?” I said in a voice higher than my own. My nose even wrinkled a little, which was highly unlike me.
“Guess so.” Avery looked out at everyone splashing and it was like they forgot about us. Bink was trying to dunk both Wesley and Albus at the same time. Quite the feat, really.
Avery took off her shoes. Then her pants and slid off her shirt.
I’d seen her in the bathing suit in Italy. I knew what it looked like. And I wasn’t breathing. One should probably breathe when in a room that has complete access to air. It was necessary and I was thinking about air. I was looking at Avery, slightly aware my jaw wasn’t totally shut, and thinking about air. I couldn’t help it, though. Even though she was my best mate and stuff she was still stunningly gorgeous. Who wouldn’t think that?
She had an amazing figure. Her skin was that dark creamy color from Italy and it was shiny. No matter what I did or how much lotion I stole, my skin never looked like that. And her bathing suit tied around the top and it was a summery red color. I liked that. Made me think of…cherries. I watched her take an elastic band that had been around her wrist and tie her hair in an untidy pony tail. It made her look even prettier.
Even best mates can think their best mates are pretty.
I was finally in my swim gear and ready to take on Wesley for something he probably hadn’t done yet. I walked closer to the edge, but the swimmers were all in their own little world.
“Oh, this is bleeding stupid,” Avery said suddenly, not loud, but I heard her clearly.
I turned. “What?”
“James, this is dumb.”
“Eh?” I cocked a brow.
“You’re going in. I don’t care how awkward you are.”
The next thing I felt was water going up my nose and my feet brushing the bottom for a fleeting second. I surfaced to laughter and Lily complaining I splashed her in the eye. Once I got my sight back, I grabbed the edge and looked up.
Avery was standing there in a bikini, hands on her hips, looking absolutely triumphant.
The damn bitch.
I couldn’t help but smile. And laugh. And then grab her leg so she fell in behind me.
Yeah, take that.
I will take back my regular sharp scissors, please.
“James Sirius!” she screamed and suddenly she wasn’t Avery I had run from in Italy. Not Avery that had cried on the beach (yeah, mental epiphany about the glittery things) and she wasn’t the Avery that I didn’t know the past couple weeks. She was different.
She was confident and radiant and back to who I knew. But still different.
My eyes were all over her face, the lines of her eyes and wet hair sticking to her forehead.
“I did nothing,” I said with a charismatic smirk.
The grotto was probably the best thing all of us could have done to rekindle anything that might have been broken. Team-wise, Bink and Freddie were completely back to normal and, after his hair insanity, all was forgiven. We spent a lot of time cooking up a plan to dunk Al but he heard us so we all ganged up on Wesley. It worked, the little shit.
In terms of siblings, Al was making a lot of progress with Paloma. I thought I saw his hand brush hers at one point. Points for Potters! Lily kept staring at me, but she was annoying so whatever.
In terms of me and Aves, we were back to normal. Back to being the best mates in the entire world and back to trying to one-up the other. I completely won the dunking contest, by the way. Well, until she caught me by surprise and grabbed my legs under the water. But that was cheating.
It was exhausting too. We were all in and out of the water, resting, passing out on the sand, and chatting. Al fell asleep for twenty minutes and had his shoes taken to a rock on the other side of the grotto. Watching him try and get them while falling in a zillion times was a hoot. Eventually Lily hit me over the head and I lifted Fred up to get them.
When the afternoon was wearing on and most of us were getting hungry, it was time to abandon ship. The sibs and Rose left first since the Prefects had a meeting they had to go to in the evening and Paloma and Wes followed out. Avery was still passed out on her towel in the sand, hair spilling over. Fred and Bink were drying themselves off and putting clothes on to keep themselves warm until they got back to Gryffindor Tower.
“I don’t want to wake her up,” said Fred. “She looks peaceful.” He chuckled. “You up for it, James?”
“Yeah, I’ll do it.” I had just climbed out of the grotto after a few more laps (had to keep my Quidditch bod toned) and was reaching for my towel. “I’ll catch you guys up there.”
“See you at dinner,” said Bink. “I heard they have roast beef.”
“I’m there,” Fred said, waiting a few moments before he followed Bink out.
Avery hadn’t moved. She was on her back, hand limply off the towel covered in sand (probably from running her fingers through it). Her feet fell off as well and her toenails were painted a deep red. There were goosebumps lining her arms and stomach.
My heart was hammering so loud I could hear it.
What had even happened in Italy? She kissed me on a balcony. Well, to see what it was like.
What was it like?
My eyes followed her body up to her face. Eyes closed delicately. One eyelash lingering on her cheek. A few drops of water on her cheekbone. Hair going slightly curly because of the water.
Then there were her lips. I didn’t see any chapstick, but I was fairly certain they would taste the same. Not that I cared. Well, I was a little curious, but it wasn’t like I could just go around snogging girls. Just seeing her push me in, though. The confidence. The comfort in knowing she would always be there for me.
Then I did it.
I just went right ahead and did it. Right next to the grotto.
I bent down, one hand on the towel next to Avery’s shoulder, the other on her neck, and I kissed her.
I felt Avery’s hand on my back and then we were snogging. It was soft and warm and the amount of adrenaline running through my body wouldn’t let me think about anything except for her. It was like a rush of heart-explosion more extreme than a Quidditch pitch or portkey or anything. The spot on my back where she touched was on fire and tingled.
Just as soon, it was over and I opened my eyes and she was there. Practically in my arms.
Fuck shit damn holy Merlin with a garden watering can.
I just snogged Avery. And she snogged me back. Avery Flynn. Gorgeous, amazing Avery Flynn.
I couldn’t hold in the smile. I did it. And surprisingly, she smiled back. In the silence that, for some reason, wasn’t awkward at all.
“Sorry,” I said gruffly, sitting up on her towel and ruffling my hair.
“Why?” she asked.
“Dunno. You were sleeping and stuff.” I didn’t know what to do so I ruffled my hair again.
“James, why did you kiss me?” Avery was far too good at knowing exactly what was going through my head and knowing exactly which questions would be the worst for me to try and answer.
“I wanted to.”
“And this means?”
My face suddenly drained of all feeling. “The Code. Shit.” I looked over. “What about the Code?”
She put a hand on my trembling shoulder. “It was a kiss, James. We didn’t get hitched.”
My whole body was trembling. That kiss was all I could think about. Well, other than the Code. But who cared about that? I did. I was the Captain. Shit.
She was right, though. A kiss wasn’t against the rules and wouldn’t ever be. I was fine.
“That was amazing,” I said, finally able to exhale.
“Yeah, it really was.” She planted a tiny kiss on my bare arm. “I wasn’t expecting it to be like that.”
Silence again so I could hear my heart beat.
“I wouldn’t be opposed,” I started, and then stopped. No, I was an idiot. I couldn’t snog her again. She was my best mate and I talked to her about Nia and my V card and shit.
“To doing it again?”
I glanced over and holy shit we were snogging again and suddenly my fingers were in her hair and it was softer than I remembered, even wet. Her hand found my neck and I couldn’t think. My legs were numb.
I could barely breathe when she broke the kiss the next time and all I could do was stare at her green eyes. Just stare. They were darting back and forth across my face.
“Holy hell,” I whispered.
“That might have been better than Quidditch.” She smirked.
“Might? Yeah right. It was.”
She raised a brow. “The crazy Captain thinks the snogging was better than Quidditch? Can I get that in writing?”
I couldn’t even put it in words. My mind was racing and I was still just staring at her. I had to silently remind myself that I was supposed to reply.
“I don’t think this changes our friendship, do you?”
Avery laughed, throwing her head back a little. “I think it might alter it a bit. But not too much. After all, we’re only snogging. It’s like being friends with that insane feeling every so often when we snog, right?”
“Yeah.” I dug my fingers into the sand. “And since we’re not dating or anything we’re not breaking the Code. So that works out too.”
She nodded. “Yeah, it does. So we could just make out every once in a while in between gossip or something and that would just be an added bonus.”
“Not that I need the snog practice or anything, but it’s nice,” I said.
She chuckled. “So we’re snog buddies?” I could see her cheeks were still red.
“Well, it’s not like we can go on being friends and not do this again.” I kissed her again and we sank back into the sand for longer than I’m entirely comfortable saying.
A/N: Finally, some Javery action!! When I told many of you that I was doing something "different" with this story, this is what I meant. I know some of you are probably beyond furious with me right now, but I really think it is going to work out fabulously. So stick with me and enjoy :)
Thanks again to everyone who helped me reach 1000!
So what are your throughts? Favorite parts? What do you think about Bink and Meta? And seriously, am I the only one who wants to go to a grotto?
Up Next: snogging, Abigail, kittens, and a Puffer/Claw bet.
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