James opened the front door cautiously and stepped inside, looking left and right to see if anyone was home. “Mum? Dad?”
No answer. He kept the front door close to him as he moved further in. “Albus? Lily?”
Again, no answer. James nodded and pushed the door open the rest of the way. “No one’s home, it’s just us. Come on in.” James moved out of the way to let another boy in. He pushed his light brown hair out of his eyes as he walked into the house, taking in the cream colored wallpaper in the average sized hallway. It wasn't what he was expecting, James could tell and he found it hard to swallow a chuckle. He managed to make it sound like a cough when their eyes met again.
“Nice place,” the boy commented. He took off his jacket and James hung it up on the rack by the fron door.
“Thanks,” James answered. He turned around to see a huge orange stain on the other boy’s previously white t-shirt. “My room’s this way, Oliver. Follow me.” James led Oliver up to his bedroom and pulled open his wardrobe.
Again he watched as Oliver circled the room. It wasn't much better than the hall in terms of extravagance. The walls were his favorite shade of dark blue, but it could hardly be seen due to the many posters he kept, his love of sports and music shown clearly for Oliver to see. It was a good size, big enough to fit in his double bed and maybe even a single at the end, but only if the room was spotless and not cluttered with his things. Organised chaos, James liked to call it when his mother told him to tidy up. Right now he kind of wished he had, but Oliver didn't seem to mind. He didn;t comment on the mess, instead he motioned to the open wardrobe with a small smile, his right cheek curved slightly to reveal a dimple.
“Thanks for doing this, James,” Oliver said. “I don’t think I could have been able to walk all the way to my house looking like this. Talk about embarrassing.”
The boys laughed lightly. “I guess walking into me was your lucky day, even if it did involve getting bright orange pop all over you. Take whichever top you want,” James replied, pointing to his wardrobe. “I’m just going to the bathroom.”
Oliver nodded, “Okay. Oh, James,” he called him back, suddenly looking confused. “Why were you being weird before, as if you were sneaking us into the house?”
James chuckled before clearing his throat, “Erm, my parents don’t like strangers in the house, mainly because of reporters and people selling stories. My dad’s still famous and reporters are still around, looking for information. They’ve grown a little untrusting of anyone who isn’t family or close friends being in the house.”
Oliver just smiled and nodded his head, allowing James to leave. As soon as he heard the click of the lock on the bathroom door, Oliver turned to the wardrobe. He went through each shirt he could find, keeping his back to the door, until he found one reasonable enough to take with him. There were numerous outfits for all occasions all just thrown in and Oliver tried to find one that looked presentable enough to walk around it, but one James wouldn't miss so much until he got it back at school. Hearing the door open he spoke. "Hey, James, will this do?” He pulled out a plain white dress shirt and started to turn around to hold it up. “I know it’s a little dressy, but –“
Oliver stopped, mid-sentence, seeing a red-headed girl staring wide-eyed at him instead of the person he had thought. “You’re not James. You’re Lily, right?”
Lily snapped out of it at the mention of her name and grinned. But instead of answering him, she asked him a question: “Who are you and what are you doing in my brother’s bedroom?” Before Oliver had a chance to answer, James came in, having heard her voice. Lily turned to him. “I knew it! I always knew!” She ran out of the room.
“Lily! Get back here!”
“What did she know, James?” Oliver asked.
James shook his head, “Nothing. The shirt’s fine. Wait here.” He ran after his sister.
“I always told you he was, but you never believed me! Now you can!” he heard Lily say.
James followed her into the kitchen to find the rest of his family circling the breakfast bar, his mum's hand still in a shopping bag. “It is not true!” he told everyone adamantly.
Harry turned to his son and raised an eyebrow. “So there isn’t a topless boy in your room?”
James conceded. “Maybe that bit's true. But it’s not what it looks like, so don't listen to her and her stupid theory.”
“Exactly,” Albus jumped in. “I mean, Scorpius is in my room all the time and you don’t think anything of it. Maybe this topless boy is just a friend.”
“He’s not topless!” James shouted. “Anymore… I think.”
Lily started laughing again. “I always knew it. Where’s the floo powder? I have to tell Hugo!”
“No!” James tried to stop her, but he was too late. He narrowed his eyes at Harry, “I’m going to kill her.”
“Relax, she’s only going to talk to Hugo,” Harry tried to reassure.
“Relax?” James screeched. “She’ll tell Hugo, who will tell Rose, who will her friends, who will tell the school. You know? That place I go back to in two days. I can’t go back there for my seventh year with my own sister's rumors that I’m gay.”
“Why not?” Albus asked. “You’re gone with worse rumors before.”
James ignored him. “It’s just a misunderstanding. I know Oliver from school. We hang out in groups with other people, but we’re not exactly friends; we’ve never actually hung out together. I bumped into him today – literally. I got soda all over his t-shirt and brought him here to get him a clean one because my house was closer than his house. That is it.”
They heard Rose shout from the fire place and James knew nothing could stop the rumor. “Too late now.”
The four Potters all turned to the new voice. “You must be Oliver,” Ginny was the first to answer, smiling. She made her way over and took his hand, welcoming Oliver as though he were a friend of James' she'd met before. It was the first thing James noticed, his mum's reaction. Once she knew a person wasn't after a story, they were pretty much welcome anytime in her eyes and the rest of the family agreed without question because "she was always right." Intuiation she called it.
“Yes, Mrs Potter,” Oliver smiled back, then dropped his hand. “I couldn’t help but overhear," he cleared his thoat and glanced at James, "from all the shouting I heard fromupstairs… I figured I should just come down.”
“So, Oliver,” Harry spoke, obviously trying to relieve the awkward tension. “Are you a Quidditch fan?”
Everyone looked to Harry, confused by his random question. “Sorry?” Oliver asked.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the counter, more awkward than before. “It’s just if you hang out with James, you automatically think Quidditch fan.”
James rolled his eyes while Oliver laughed. “No. In fact I think I’m the only one in the group who isn’t. I don’t mind watching with friends, but I’m not much of a fan and I don’t play, not even for fun. Though, that’s partly because I’m afraid of heights.”
Albus grinned and pointed to him, “I like you. I'm not a very big Quidditch fan and it's pretty much all he talks about.”
“Then you be on the receiving end of Lily’s rumor,” James snapped.
Albus smirked. “No, thank you. I’d rather watch you squirm.”
“Albus!” Ginny snapped. “Get your sister and go upstairs before James pushes you both into the fireplace.”
“Aww, Mum, I wouldn’t do that,” he sighed, then glared. “She’s floo calling; it’s the wrong kind of fire.”
Oliver’s eyes widened a bit and he coughed trying to cover up a laugh, so not to sound rude. “Wow, you’re a little scary when you’re angry. No wonder girls are so afraid to ask you out. And I always thought it was because of your last name.”
Albus ran out of the kitchen as he laughed, so James couldn’t reach him to hit him. He turned around to Oliver. “You’re not helping.”
He narrowed his eyes, confused. “Was I meant to be?” Then he smirked and James knew he was joking.
“Oliver, how long have you been in England for?” Ginny asked, distracting James. “I can tell by your accent you’re not from around here.”
“I moved from Florida when I was thirteen. I transferred from Salem to Hogwarts in January, third year,” Oliver explained. He glanced at his watch. “I should be going. James, I’ll give you back your shirt at Hogwarts. It won’t be too hard; we do share a dorm.” James groaned, thinking about the rumor Rose was going spread thanks to Lily. “It was nice meeting you,” He nodded to Harry and Ginny. “I promise there won’t be any gossip about you in the papers.” He winked to James. “Bye.”
James followed him out the door. “Thank you again for the shirt, James. And I’m sorry this accident caused your sister to think you were gay.”
James shrugged. “Not your fault. She's been saying I am for the last two years. I always knew she'd use something eventually, I just hoped it would be after Hogwarts. People can talk about me all they want, I just don't like hearing it. It's hard not to when you're all in one place."
Oliver nodded; he understood what rumors could do. Even James had said something about him when he'd first started Hogwarts, but he'd grown up, was no longer saying thing about anyone. Others hadn't.
“One thing confuses me,” Oliver spoke after a moment.
Oliver looked him in the eye. “When your brother said ‘Maybe this topless boy is just a friend’, you only denied I was topless. You didn’t stop the insinuation of me being more than a friend. I didn’t even know I was your friend, let alone more.” He noticed James’ cheeks were a little pink. “Just a thought, Potter. Just a thought.”
A/N: New banner, new motivation, hopefully a new chapter soon. But, for now, yay for edits, I think. :)
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