Chapter 31 : Caught
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Hope everyone had a happy holiday! Enjoy
We spent the night in the classroom and had to bail when we heard people walking around in the hallway the next morning. They were going to class and I realized, after checking the pocket-watch Dad had given me for my birthday, that we were missing Transfiguration. Avery shot me a dark look, which made me laugh.
I grabbed the map. “Hallway just cleared since those little third years made it to Divination.”
“Shall we?” she said, waving her wand so the pillows and blankets disappeared. Her hair looked great in the morning, despite her need to flatten it. I loved it.
The common room was empty considering most of them probably made it to class, hung over or not. We made our way quietly up the spiral staircase to the boy’s (men’s) dormitories to find mine deserted. It wouldn’t be like Emerson to miss class anyway. He had a Head Boy rep to uphold, especially being that he was a big fat stick in the mud.
Falcon Cat was curled up on the bed, but once she saw the door opened she stretched her back out and meowed.
I dumped some food into her dish. She ate it. Then she started running around the room. I heard the distinct sound of Emerson’s curtains being shredded and Victoria making disgruntled jealous noises.
“She likes you,” Avery said, laughing. She peeled back the sheets under the bed. “Victoria, however, doesn’t seem as fond.”
“She’s been peeved at me since Falcon Cat came home,” I mumbled, taking out the pygmy puff. Were her eyes narrowed?
“I’ve never seen her like this.”
“Me either. Jealous woman.”
Avery laughed. “Well, if I saw you with another woman as good-looking as Falcon Cat I don’t think I’d be very understanding.”
“Well I love them both.”
“Falcon Cat wasn’t nearly this hyper over with the girls,” Avery said, grabbing a sock from the kitten.
“Maybe there are cat drugs in here,” I offered.
“What if,” she said, placing a delicate finger on her lips, “what if I kept Falcon Cat over there? Then you and Victoria could have your alone time here and Falcon Cat could have somewhere there are no cat drugs. Maybe it’s the smell of Freddie’s socks or something.”
“Do you mean you’ll adopt Falcon Cat?” I looked at the little feline climbing up a bed post.
“I don’t have to,” she said quickly. “I know you love her a lot, but she seems to be stressing you out. And I don’t have a pet…”
“You like her too, don’t you?”
Avery smiled. “I like her a lot.”
“You like me, don’t you?”
“I like you a lot.”
I laughed. “I think Falcon Cat will be happy over there. And you can get me up there so I can visit her and pet her all the time. That might be a good idea. That way Tory doesn’t go all kamikaze pygmy puff.”
Avery walked over to Falcon Cat and held out her arms. “C’mon, cutie, let’s go get you settled.” To my surprise, Falcon Cat jumped right down and curled up in Avery’s arms. “I’ll see you later.” She winked at me and was gone.
I fell down onto the bed, sick of hiding my wonderful hangover, and buried my head in the blankets. Victoria was making noises, so I set her down on the bed and looked her square in the adorable eyes.
“Falcon Cat is gone,” I mumbled.
“I’d ask you why you were so jealous,” I said, “but I think I understand.”
Fucking hell. That was loud.
“Hi, Nia,” I said without turning around. “How are you?”
“I’m all right. Broke a few of my own rules last night, but doing all right.” She was hovering in the doorway.
“I didn’t see you at the party.” That didn’t mean she wasn’t there. For the last five hours or so I didn’t see much of anything at the party other than the way my fingers moved back and forth.
“Yeah…well, you know, I was out and about.”
“After a Quidditch win?”
“I told you I broke some of my own rules.” The end of the bed sank as she sat down. “We need to talk, James.”
Was Nia Baker being serious? I couldn’t tell, so I sat up, room spinning more than I wanted it to. “About what? I know I missed Transfig but I didn’t think anyone would notice.”
“I missed it too. It’s happening right now, James.”
“Right.” I rubbed my temples.
“I need to know what is between us,” she said, leaning closer. “I know we have a bond. We have serious chemistry James, way more than you have with that tot Elizabeth. I know you said you were busy with Quidditch and all that rubbish, but James, I need to know what you think of me…romantically.”
I almost threw up. Seriously? This. Now? Really?
“Nia, look,” I said gruffly, handing Victoria a treat. “This just isn’t going to work out between us. We do have chemistry, of course, but it’s not enough. We don’t have enough in common. Who knows? Maybe over time we’ll get to know each other more and we’ll bond over other things, but a relationship can’t survive on snogging and physical attraction alone.”
“So you’re—you’re going to date Elizabeth?”
I resisted the urge to shake her. “No, I’m not. I told you, I’m not dating anyone right now. I have too much on my plate.”
Nia was choking back sobs. Clearly, that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. “I see,” she managed to say after a while. “I understand. Okay. There’s Quidditch and stuff you should be taking care of. Yes.” Another mild cough. “Yes, Darian Bay asked me on a date anyway. I’ll go to dinner with him.”
“He’s a tosser!”
Nia shot me a look. “He appreciates me!”
“His team just cheap-shotted your team the whole game and did it on purpose,” I said, my jaw hanging lopsided. “If that isn’t treason, I don’t know what is.”
“Oh, Merlin, James, maybe by me seeing Darian you’ll understand how much you mean to me.” She stood up, tears running down her cheeks, and then she rushed out the door.
Yes, because her dating a Puffer made her far more desirable.
I rolled my eyes and fell backward onto the pillows. “Tory, women are ridiculous.”
She gave me a look that suggested I asked for it.
Maybe by being so devilishly good-looking.
Albus told me he’d keep an eye out so I could have my team meeting in the kitchens Monday night. I figured it was because I encouraged him to finally ask Paloma to dance. He said Rosey and him were down there that night and they’d keep people away. I was a little confused, but accepted his services all the same.
My team was around me (Freddie still looked hung over) and the room was filled with the warmth of pumpkin pies and éclairs. Avery was at my right again, back to usual, and Meta was at the end of the table, flanked by Paloma and Wesley. Bink’s eyes were drooping.
“We won,” I said simply. “We won, through frustration, cheating, and a lot of blood, we did it.”
“Thanks to you,” Paloma said cheerfully.
I expected Meta to scoff, but she didn’t.
“I want to tell you lot how proud I am of you. I know I’ve already told you, but not many teams could come out of what we did on top. Even if they got close, few could have done what we did. We kept at it—even as we watched our peers be carted off the field. Even as they kept scoring and scoring, making me feel like I was in a nightmare.” I groaned a bit, remembering that smirk Bay wore on his face. “But we did it. After Meta brilliantly caught the Snitch, Avery came through by saving every single Quaffle. They thought they had it in the bag—three Chasers shooting against a Seeker, Beater, and a Chaser. Bay’s face—eugh, that slick gob of his—was so pompous. But Avery really came through and gave us the edge.”
“You scoring helped to, mate,” Fred said with a laugh.
“You should have seen it!” Paloma cried. “Fake! Fake! Score! It was amazing.”
My face colored. “I mean, it was just standard Keeper-reading…”
“Clearly the Hufflepuffs don’t know any of that,” Avery said under her breath.
“Anyway,” I said, trying to get the attention off my goal. Well, that was weird. I wanted the attention off me. Maybe I thought it made me transparent. And with my new girlfriend looking radiant beside me, I couldn’t afford any transparencies. “I called you here for a couple reasons. One was to tell you how amazing you are. The second is to say that practice is cancelled all week. Rest up after that insane game. Get better and get a little more sober—Fred.”
The faces around the room looked relieved and happy. Some of them might even have been planning what they would do with the extra hours that week. I knew what I was going to do. It involved my lips and Avery’s together. A great deal. Just saying.
“So thanks, everyone.” I paused, looking out at the team I had formed. I couldn’t help but feel a prickle of guilt about not telling them about Avery and me. About breaking the Code right in front of them. It was just a test run, though. At the end of the week we’d come clean. “At this time I’d like the seventh years to stay and Wes and Paloma, you’re dismissed.”
They both raised a brow.
“It’s nothing bad, just a seventh year treat.” I smiled.
Paloma smiled back and she and Wesley left, closing the door with a soft snap. She had a skip in her step. Weird Beaters of mine.
“All right, seventh years,” I said in my best happy tone, “I have a surprise for all of you. I am announcing the Seventh Year Skip Day. Teddy told me they used to do it when he was in school and I’m reinstalling it. We’re going to take one day and skip all of our classes and go do something fun!”
I was met with silence.
“Like what?” said Bink, clearly thinking about the idea of spending a day with Meta was vomit-worthy.
“Like going to a professional Quidditch game or something, sod.”
“Oh. That sounds fun.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” Avery said. “We all need to get the heck out of here for a while. You get cabin fever after being holed up in the castle all winter.”
“Speak for yourself,” said Fred. “You went to Italy!”
Avery laughed. “We should go to a game. Especially since so many of us want to play professionally.”
“So this will only be for seventh years?”
“I was thinking, since it was called the Seventh Year Skip Day,” I said. “We can bend the rules if we want. Have anything in mind?”
“Not at the moment. I’ll let you know.”
“Sound good, then?” I glanced at Meta, who once again looked like a sour grape. She didn’t say anything, but I could tell she wasn’t going to be joining us unless she had a random change of heart for Bink Legace. Fat chance.
“Sounds great,” Fred said.
“Team dismissed,” I said cheerfully, gathering up my notes as they filed out. Meta was first, followed by Fred (with an arm-full of sweets) and Bink complaining about Charms. I glanced over to Avery. She looked beautiful.
I told her.
“Thanks,” she said lightly. “I think that went over nicely. You went the whole meeting without Meta insulting you.”
“That has to be a record,” I said. “I think a game sounds great though. I have to find a way to get tickets. Sinatra won’t be pleased if she finds out what we’re up to.”
“Neither will Professor Longbottom.”
“Bugger. Forgot about him. I have a meeting with him next week.” I pushed open the door for her and wrapped her fingers in mine.
“Was it weird?” she whispered. “Not telling them?”
“Yeah, can’t say I didn’t think about it. Test run, though, am I right?”
Both of us knew it was a load of shit, but if that was what it took to avoid the firestorm that would be Bink and Fred finding out, we’d convince ourselves of it. And we did.
I pulled back the tapestry on the fourth floor, eager for a short cut because Hogwarts stairs were absurd, but instead of moving forward I yanked my hand from Avery’s. She let out a disgruntled scream, before she realized why I’d done it.
Not that they noticed.
Albus and Paloma were in a tight embrace, making out in the stairwell. Her hair was all over the place and his glasses were askew.
As the light hit them, they leapt apart, both breathing absurdly hard.
I nearly chuckled. “Blimey, finally,” I said, closing the tapestry and opting for a longer, more picturesque route.
The days in our week were flying by, mostly because we had stupid things like classes to keep us busy, but Avery and I’s stolen time was priceless. It was Thursday and we were on our way back from studying in the library (she was helping me memorize terms) when we heard loud voices from an empty classroom nearby.
I was going to start counting the empty classrooms.
I pressed my ear to the door just as Avery gave me one of those looks that suggested I was eavesdropping on something that was none of my business. After hearing a few words, I ensured her it certainly was.
Considering Fred and Abigail were inside.
“Fred, this is getting ridiculous,” she cried. “It’s all jokes to you! It’s all jokes and snogging!”
“Are you joking?” he said, pun probably not intended. “I do everything you ask me to. I help you with classes and go with you to the kitchens and I don’t talk shit about Ravenclaws.”
I could almost feel the glare through the door. Fred wasn’t exactly tactful in arguments.
“Do you think it’s easy for me? Do you think it’s easy hearing the rest of my team talking about you like they do—saying things about you that I don’t know are true or false?”
Fred was quiet.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I walk in the door and pretend I was walking into the wrong place trying to find a shoelace or something? Or just keep walking and let Fred deal with it? From what it sounded like he just wasn’t dealing with it at all.
“That’s Fred and Abigail, isn’t it?” Avery whispered. I nodded. “Something is seriously wrong with them. Why doesn’t he just call it off?”
“I couldn’t tell you,” I mumbled, listening to Abigail call him weak. “I hate her doing this to him.”
“I can’t believe he lets her.”
“I think he’s in shock. The sex can’t be that good.”
Avery frowned. “Come on. Let’s go.”
“Shouldn’t we do something?” I practically breathed it.
“No. It’s Fred’s battle. We can only help.” She tried for a smile, took my hand, and squeezed it. “Let’s get back upstairs and tell Bink about it.”
I was reluctant to leave the door, mostly because I wanted to go in there and give Abigail a piece of my mind, but I went, listening to distant roars of a clash between Lions and Ravens. Maybe they just weren’t meant to be.
My detention was later that night and Twitwards was right when he told me I’d hate it. It was categorizing. Putting things in order. Loads of files, dates, folders. I was stuck at a desk in a musty classroom with the practice tests of 1983 and some O.W.L. scores in Transfiguration from 1994.
I could handle physical labor. Carrying boxes, stacking broomsticks, and even pushing around first years. But this was my downfall. Sitting in one place, my eyes hurting from scribble to scribble, trying to figure out if it was a P or a D. My eyes were falling.
Someone had a detention for something. Another person was puking uncontrollably in class. Probably a Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes product. Michael Carson. Cindy Williams. Samuel Heiro. David Flynn.
I glanced around me to make sure I was alone to file in peace and opened the folder. David Flynn. Hufflepuff Beater.
And notorious bad boy apparently.
My eyes scanned the list of detentions he had received because of the illegal gambling on Quidditch matches. Team suspension for meeting with scouts and telling them the weaknesses of soon to be drafted players. Cheating on a potions exam.
Avery’s dad was kind of a jerk. And he knew the Quidditch world according to the list of scouts he was communicating with about his Hufflepuff team. Looked like he sold them all out. Listed offenses included weaknesses like night eyesight and flu viruses.
My jaw was lopsided. No matter how much I hated Meta, I wouldn’t tell the scouts she was locker room cancer.
Mr. Flynn did. To make himself look better. To make the scouts pick him up.
But with a team-suspension after the captain found out and detentions for gambling, no one wanted him.
Would my detentions for hexing Twitwards effect my signing?
I tucked the parchment back into the folder and sighed. I thought about telling Avery, but her dad had already done enough to lose her support. She didn’t need to know the other reasons he was a douchebag.
Pretending the rest of the folders were alphabetized, I left the room, heading back upstairs to make Avery feel like she was the best woman on earth. Why in Merlin’s name would anyone want to walk out on that? I sure as hell wasn’t going anywhere.
I thought about the week we had as the test run. It would be up in a few days.
“A date?” Avery looked skeptical. We were in her dormitory visiting Falcon Cat while the other girls were off being girls. Nia was on her date with Darian Bay (“In an absurdly short skirt,” Avery added) and Elizabeth was studying with Mary and some Ravenclaws in the library. Meta was off being Meta (a bitch) on the Quidditch pitch, practicing a feint.
“Why not?” I said. “We’re dating now. I want to take you out. As my girlfriend.”
“Won’t that be a little dangerous in terms of people seeing us?”
“So we’ll go somewhere else.” I shrugged. “We can Apparate. Let’s just get out of here.”
She slipped her fingers in with mine. “Okay. What do you think, tomorrow night? Friday night dinner or something.”
“Let me do the planning. It’s going to be amazing.”
“Then we can talk over what we’re going to tell the boys on Saturday and confront them about it.” Avery sounded nervous. “I hate it, but we have to do it.”
“Yeah, yeah, don’t think about it. Think about going on a date with the dashingly good-looking James Potter.” I winked and kissed her. Then I scratched Falcon Cat behind the ears. For some reason the feline was very calm and collected. Perhaps the move was for the best.
“Okay, I’ll think about that.” Avery’s smile was enough to brighten up winter. Especially with the freezing rain pounding the windows.
I was thinking about dinner, dancing, and showing Avery that I could be way more than a best mate. I could be a boyfriend.
A ridiculous brilliant and super wicked boyfriend.
I stood at the bottom of the girls’ staircase, checking the watch my father had given me when I turned of age. Avery was ten minutes late, not that I minded. The only time I was a stickler for lateness was with Quidditch. I surveyed the common room out of boredom, forcing second years to look away and stare at their Potions books. Not that Potions was important. It wasn’t. No one needed it to become a professional Quidditch player.
Avery cleared her throat.
I was caught off guard, staring up the stairs to her. She looked amazing. But not too amazing or they would have been suspicious. The rest of Gryffindor house that was. No, she looked relatively normal in black pants and a warm wool sweater, but I was speechless. I couldn’t feel my toes or the tips of my fingers, which was an odd sensation. “Ready to check out the new brooms?” I said once my throat didn’t feel clogged.
That was the Code. We were going to check out the new brooms the Quidditch shop had in. It was actually a date but I couldn’t have nosey Lily catching on. So it was broom shopping. For new brooms. Or for brooms in general. I really should have hashed out the story before we presented it. Made up false identities and all that.
“Yeah, I’m excited to see the new Firebolt models,” she said delicately, a smile playing shyly at her lips.
Bink and Fred were both in a heated wizard chess match and neither looked up as we passed, something I was happy about, and no one approached us as we walked out of the common room. It was a little disappointing to be honest. I was ready to be heckled and questioned, but it seemed they didn’t much care. Cared more about pawns beating the shit out of knights or whatever.
We were careful in the corridors not to make too much noise or to look suspicious. I felt we were looking suspicious just by trying not to, but I didn’t say anything. She looked beautiful. I kept stealing glances at her, but I stopped when a few fourth years were passing. One of them said hi to me in a loud, enthusiastic voice. I nodded back. What a git.
I had something planned for our walk into Hogsmeade, though. It was all sorted out so no one would ever think it was a date.
“Are you seriously wearing a mustache?” Avery asked. Her hands were twisting in front of her as we made our way down. She looked cold. It was windy, but no longer raining.
“It hides my identity,” I argued, brushing my fingers against the fake addition to my face.
“Yes, because your mop of hair doesn’t give it away.” She rolled her eyes, slipping her gloved hand into my mittens.
They were manly mittens, though. Scarlet and gold with little knit lions.
Grandma Weasley made them.
“Killjoy,” I mumbled. The wind was cutting into my face and I was lucky to have something to protect my upper lip from the cold. I hated this time of the year, but at least it gave me an excuse to put an arm around Avery without a passer-by (which so far remained zero) staring.
“Where are we going?”
We’d made it past the gates. Well, through a small passage in the wall behind clumps of ivy. Teddy told me about it. While Rosey swooned over him. Bleeding git.
The path to Hogsmeade was covered in snow since it wasn’t a weekend the school was allowed into the village. Another thing I disliked about that time of year. One day it was freezing rain and the next the grounds were all white. But the privacy I did like on non-Hogsmeade weekends. It was quiet.
“Well,” I began, glancing over at her flushed face, “I was going to just Apparate into London or something and find a nice place to eat, but I did a little research and found a place that just opened here in the village. It’s just up here.” I tugged on her arm as we made our way past Zonkos and The Three Broomsticks. We passed Madam Puddifoots and I groaned.
“Don’t you think we’ll be seen if we stay here?” she whispered.
“Between this mustache and us seeing absolutely no one on the way here, I think we’re safe.” I smiled as we kept walking down the winding street, up past The Hog’s Head and a few other local shops. We reached a small place on the corner next to a Potion shop and a tiny thin house. It was quite a distance from the road to Hogwarts and all the shops the other kids’ frequented. The sign on the front door read, Quaffle Springs. Eat. Drink. Watch Quidditch.
But not, I noticed happily as we entered, on those horrible Muggle televisions. Instead we were to watch Quidditch magically on the table where it was a miniature pitch and there were realistic three-dimensional figures flying back and forth.
Avery let out a tiny gasp.
“I know!” I cried, scanning a few of the empty tables. “The Tornadoes play tonight—look, they’re against those cheating fucking Finches!”
She smiled, peeling off her scarf and other layers. Avery set them delicately on the back of her chair. “Looks like an elbow from number seven…I don’t think the Finches are the cheaters in this match, James.”
“Shut it, woman,” I said, grabbing a menu. “Order what you want. It’s on me. Since it’s a date…you know. Bloke pays.” Usually in our friendship we always split everything. Avery was independent and liked paying for her share and contributing to things like charities and conversations. She was strange, but I liked it.
She just smiled, leafing through her menu.
“I’m going to order you a salad,” I said with a chuckle.
Her eyes flicked up.
I snorted with laughter just as the waiter shocked up to my left. The Finches scored. “Lemonade,” I said, trying to make my voice sound hoarse.
“Pink or regular?” he asked, shifting his weight from his right leg to his left.
I blushed and Avery snickered. “The kind for men.”
“I’ll have an iced tea,” she said sweetly and glanced down, making a disgruntled face at the Tornadoes’ Keeper. “All out of position.”
“I wonder if back-broom Quidditch fans say that about you during the games.” I was trying to decide between a sandwich or a rack of big fucking man ribs.
“They’d better not.”
The waiter returned with our drinks and I noticed he put a little umbrella in mine. I groaned and ordered the ribs. Avery got a sandwich with chips.
“So, Captain,” she said with a smile, “I really like this place. Nice choice.”
I grinned like an idiot. “Thanks. I thought it fit our personalities quite nicely.”
“No Madam Puddifoots?”
“For the rest of my life,” I replied under my breath. One of the Tornadoes’ Beaters took out a Chaser from the Finches. I reached over the table and took her hand in mine and then took a sip of my umbrella’ed lemonade.
She squeezed my hand tightly. “I’m glad you talked me into this, James.”
“It isn’t weird for me,” I said suddenly, staring at her. “Is it weird for you? I thought it would be weird since we’ve basically seen each other grow up.”
Avery shrugged a little. “Sometimes I think it is when we’re at school but then we start snogging and I really don’t care anymore.” She giggled.
“I’m quite the impressive snogger.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well now you can only snog one woman. What will the school do without their most eligible bachelor?”
I thought for a moment before I replied. “Become so depressed they line up to be Twitward’s lucky number seven?”
She roared with laughter as the Tornadoes scored again. “It would never have been me. You know that, don’t you? Even if I never fancied you or if we’d never kissed. I still wouldn’t have slept with Emerson. He’s not my type.”
“Mine either,” I said with a brief smile. “I wish I could just vote him out of the dormitory.”
“You could always take a petition to Sinatra,” she said lightly. “Although I’m fairly certain that won’t go over well.”
I groaned and placed my chin on the table. It was quiet except for the Quidditch games happening on tables around the restaurant. There was only one other couple in there at the time since we left fairly early in the evening and they were snogging in the back booth. I squeezed Avery’s hand.
She was my best friend. And my girlfriend. And I cared about her more than I even understood.
But what the hell was Bink going to say? After I had isolated him as a friend—as a teammate.
I couldn’t think about that now. I had to keep focused on the wonderful woman I had in front of me who was currently trying to tuck a stray piece of hair behind her ear. It kept falling out.
“Avery,” I said quickly, glancing over to make sure the waiter wasn’t going to interrupt me. “You think this is the right thing to do, right? Us being together?”
“Why would you say something like that?”
“I’m just terrified is all.”
I made a face. Caught in my own trap. “Of everything,” I managed to say slowly. “Of this whole thing. Of our relationship. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really do the whole relationship thing. I’m scared of hurting you and of Bink punching my face in and of not getting signed to play on a Quidditch team.”
She looked slightly taken aback and I didn’t blame her. It wasn’t every day that James Potter blurted out his fears.
“James,” she said quietly. “That’s completely normal. And the best part about it, is you have someone else to talk to. I’m here for you. And I’m scared too. And weirded out. And wondering if I’m going to get taken out in the hallway by Nia and Elizabeth.”
I chuckled and leaned over the table, my chest going into the game, and kissed her on the lips. “Thanks, love. I needed that. And you.”
She smirked just as our food arrived and I dug into my ribs, not daring to use a napkin to make up for the silly umbrella sticking out of my drink.
It was raining again when we left and most of the snow on the ground was gone. I never understood weather in Scotland. I was nearly frozen when we got back, mostly because I gave my cloak to Avery and the rain was soaking into my skin. I was such a fucking gentleman. A cold one, but a gentleman nonetheless.
The common room was packed with Friday night fun and I instantly spotted Freddie and Bink by the fireplace. The chess set was abandoned by the window.
“Oy,” Fred said, looking up from an Exploding Snap game, “Where’d you go? Didn’t see you at dinner.”
“Went to look at brooms,” I said, remembering the plan.
“And you were gone hours?” he asked. “How many new models are out? I thought only two.”
“I got Falcon Cat some meds and treats too,” Avery said with a smile, saving my sorry arse. “Have you seen the rain out there? Practice is going to be hell Sunday.”
I made a noise, peeling off my wet sweater and sitting in front of the fire. “Hey!” I cried, looking at first year. “Get me a robe. I’m freezing here.”
Bink shot a jinx at my hair, drying it. “I’m not looking forward to it,” he said to Avery. “This time of year is miserable. Had a dream I got knocked off my broom again.”
I grabbed the robe from the first year and, too lazy to put it on correctly, but it on backwards so it was similar to a blanket. “By Bay?” I asked.
“By Meta,” he said thoughtfully. “I think she’s evil.”
“You’re probably right,” I noted.
There was sauce from the sandwich on the corner of Avery’s lips.
“How’s Falcon Cat doing?” Bink asked, playing another card on Fred.
“Better,” I said with a hint of bitterness. “So is Tory though.”
“Falcon Cat just needed a woman’s touch,” Avery said with a sly smile I wanted to kiss.
I glanced up as Emerson the tosser extraordinaire walked in the door. Bleeding git.
“Good evening,” he said to Avery, giving her a tiny nod.
“Would be if it were less rainy,” she replied politely.
“Heavens, were you out in it?” Did he just say ‘heavens?’ What a tosser.
She nodded. “Unfortunately. Getting warm now, which is lovely.”
“Go away,” Fred snapped. “I think you’re giving me bad luck. We should switch back to chess.”
Emerson stared at him, face an angry red.
“Yes, and I think you’re giving me a lack of game with the ladies.” Bink laughed. “Seriously. Why do you talk to her? Go date a Puffer.”
“Puffers wouldn’t have him,” I added, watching him clench his fists. “He wears dresses, the poor sod.” I nudged Fred and laughed again.
Emerson stormed off and the portrait hold slammed shut. I figured he went to see if it was true and search, yet again, for lucky number seven. Since Avery called off their date he seemed to have a lot less to say.
“One of these days,” she said quietly.
“Let him give us detentions,” Fred said, placing a finger on his chin to think. “Nothing I haven’t had before. Not too many, though, or Captain will have me running laps for busting up the Code.”
“We need a plan.” Avery was staring at me with large eyes. We were in my dormitory alone lounging on the bed and feeding Tory fattening treats. “Tomorrow is the day.”
I made a noise suggesting I wanted nothing to do with coming clean.
“First we tell Bink and Freddie,” she continued. “They’re your mates and deserve to know first.”
At the moment the pair were still downstairs, now playing pairs chess against Al and Paloma.
“So we lug them up here and say oy, we’re snogging and breaking the Code?” I asked, cocking a brow.
She shook her head. “We’ll just explain what happened. I’m sweeter. I’ll talk—I’ll tell them about how I started to fancy you and then I kissed you in Italy and all that—so on and so forth.”
“Do you think they’ll plan a punishment?” I whispered, a little scared. True, I was the captain, but nothing stopped them from revolting.
“Hope not.” Avery placed a hand on my thigh. “I just wish one of them was in a non-screwed-up relationship.” Her eyes twinkled. “Then they would understand.”
“But Bunk was—well, then Fred’s with crazy Claw.” I groaned. “Deal, though. Explain everything and hope they don’t hex me into next Thursday. Hopefully not. I haven’t done my History of Magic and that shit is due.”
Avery slid her fingers over my pants. “You and me both,” she said lightly, squeezing her hand.
I jumped, watching her closely. I loved the way she sat there, so calm, but I recognized her expression. “Look, Tory. A toy.” I threw a piece of parchment in her cage and locked her in.
The hair on the back of my neck was standing and my fingers tingled. Without thinking, I leapt across the bed, on top of Avery, and our lips met. It was rough, but I felt her fingernails clutch my arm. I kissed her again, harder, and her hands grabbed my neck, pulling me closer.
“Oh. This is just too good.”
We flew apart, my hair falling into my eyes and my heart hammering its way out of my chest. Avery rolled over to spot the annoyed figure of Emerson Edwards in the doorway. She gasped.
“Could have at least closed the curtains,” he said with a sly smirk on his face, turning and closing the door behind him.
My wand was across the room. I grabbed for the handle of the door. “Twit—I mean—aw, fuck.”
I spun around. Avery’s shocked expression said it all.
We had been caught.
A/N: Uh oh. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday and new year! Happy 2011! So what do you think about this chapter? Favorite quotes? Thoughts on how the team will react?
I'm working hard on 32 right now.
UP NEXT: Well, I'm sure you know what's next.
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