“Fred, Fred are you listening to me?” Toni asked again, annoyed.
“Of course I am Toni,” Fred replied absent-mindedly. The pair were lying in Toni’s bed, relaxing after an evening of passionate love-making. Not that Fred would call it passion or love. Just fun. Toni however, had just made the point that it was more than fun to her.
“I’m saying I want to go public!” Toni cried, irritated by his lack of interest.
“Public?” Fred chuckled. “Most of the school knows we’re sleeping together.”
“See? You always call it ‘sleeping together’. Is that all this means to you?”
“It means more to you?” Fred raised an eyebrow.
“Fred!” Toni yelled.
“I’m sorry babe,” Fred smiled, pulling her into a hug. “But what’s the point in going public, it’s not the way we operate.”
“Well maybe it should be. I mean making it official Fred. Being a proper couple, in plain sight, not just sneaking around, grabbing a shag wherever we can!”
“You make it sound so sleazy!” Fred chuckled.
“It is sleazy Fred, and I’m getting tired of it,” Toni growled. “I’m not a slut, I want a real relationship Freddy.”
“I’ll think about it,” Fred smiled, before rolling over and going to sleep. Toni swore at him loudly and stormed out the room.
“That boy is indescribably arrogant and such a sexist pig!” Toni huffed as she stormed into the common room, where Hayley and Darren were alone, making out. They broke apart and Hayley shot him an apologetic look.
“Another time Darren,” she murmured, running her lips along his jawline before turning to her friend. Toni scowled angrily as Darren headed upstairs, leaving her to slump alongside Hayley. “What’s he done now?”
“He’s just so obnoxious!” Toni yelped. “He refuses to acknowledge that we might be anything other than just casual fuck buddies and he treats me like I’m some sort of commodity, like he can have me whenever he wants.”
“Well,” Hayley began diplomatically. “You have been very easy with him. Maybe if he had to work for it…”
“You’ve got to be kidding me Hayls!” Toni yelped. “You’re saying this is my fault?”
“No,” Hayley groaned. “I just mean that if you want Fred to think there is more to your relationship than sex, you need to show him that, you can’t just demand it. He’s not used to that kind of commitment, you need to ease him into it.”
“Yeah well if for once he made any effort, I might be inclined to agree with you,” Toni muttered darkly.
“This is it team,” James stood, whilst his team sat around him, clad in red and gold Quidditch robes. “Tomorrow morning, we fly out in front of the whole school, and we beat Slytherin. We beat them down. To the ground. No mercy. We have the best team in the league, no doubting it.”
“But it’s irrelevant unless you beat Malfoy to that snitch,” Darren pointed out.
“You leave the snitch to me, just bludger the prick off his broom,” James snarled. “No mercy.”
The team disbanded, heading off in their various directions. Christopher trundled off, finding Dom a few steps behind him, smiling cheerily. Darren went straight to Hayley, who reluctantly at first returned his kiss, then settled into it. James shook his head and found Fred placing his hand on his shoulder.
“Girls mate,” he sighed. “They’re a nightmare.”
“Tell me about it,” James muttered, aware of the girl in his life who currently held the secret to his suffering. He noticed Toni glare at Fred then waltz off in the other direction. “What did you do?”
“What?” Fred looked indignant.
“You’ve pissed her off Fred, what did you do?” James asked, irritation starting to set in.
“She wants us to be all lovey-dovey crap, as if we’ve not just been casual for the last few months, as if I’m the sort of guy who is into that shit!” Fred groaned.
“You know what Fred?” James was losing patience. “We all have girl problems. At least your girl cares about and doesn’t want to ensnare you in some sort of trap, or hurt you. There’s no barriers for you two, you’ve got nothing holding you back. And you somehow still manage to sabotage it.”
“Jesus James,” Fred raised an eyebrow. “You alright mate?”
“I will be if we win tomorrow,” James replied, regaining his composure. “Just get a decent night’s sleep Fred.”
“Yes captain,” Fred replied, eyeing James suspiciously as he left the pitch.
James hang back, watching his team head up and then wandering around the grounds briefly, before heading back. He needed air. He needed a way out. So far Kassie had backed off, let him have his space. But she was approaching three months. Soon, she would start to show, start to need help. And then what? He was running out of time and how long would it be before they would have to tell people?
James spun on his heels, seeing Kassie stand behind him, near the Forbidden Forest and he closed his eyes, exhausted.
“What is it Kassie?” James asked, the tiredness clear in his voice.
“I heard you were out here on your own,” she said. “Is everything okay?”
“You know what Kassie, it’s not,” James sighed. “I’m going to lose everything when you give birth and until then, I’ve got it hanging it over my head.”
“James,” Kassie said seductively, moving in to kiss him but he pulled away. “We can be happy together. This child isn’t the end, it’s the beginning. Of a beautiful relationship.”
“I could never love you,” James hissed. “You tricked me into this and the only reason I’m sticking with it is for my child. Don’t get this wrong Kassie, this is not about you. You mean nothing to me.”
“James!” Kassie cried as he pushed past her, storming back towards the castle. “I only wanted to wish you luck for tomorrow!”
“I don’t need luck!” he called back. “I’m the best.”
“And we’re here for the first match of the season between the mighty Gryffindor and the pretty pathetic Slytherin!” Josh yelled from his position in the commentary box. “With James Potter’s team the best I’ve ever seen in a Gryffindor side, this should be a thoroughly one-sided match!”
“Phillips!” McGonagall warned.
“Trust me,” Josh replied. “You’ll see.”
And to begin with, Josh was proved right, as Dom, Toni and Hayley flew rings around the Slytherin chasers. Gryffindor was 40-10 up before James had even had a chance to assess the situation. Scorpius flew alongside him and James could see the whites in the seeker’s eyes briefly before he went into a dive. James’ eyes narrowed. What was he doing? He couldn’t see the snitch, and he was willing to bet Malfoy hadn’t seen it. Malfoy’s reasoning soon became clear as Scorpius pulled up, colliding with Hayley as she was about to shoot, sending her flying, clinging to her broom for dear life. James’ blood boiled. Scorpius was trying to rile him, he wasn’t going to play games with him. James also dived, following Scorpius’ path and Scorpius swore, swooping off to his left as James missed him by inches.
“You two pack it in!” Madam Hooch yelled.
Hayley steadied herself and charged, stealing the Quaffle and hurling it through the left hoop, avoiding the keeper’s flailing dive. She winked at James, who was sticking close to Scorpius’ tail, scouting around for the snitch. Dom and Toni skidded past, flying around each other in an extravagant circle, with Hayley flying between them, her hands still encompassing the Quaffle. At the last second, she feigned left to Toni then released it to Dom, who fired home to make it 60-10.
Gryffindor continued to dominate, with neither Scorpius nor James seeing the snitch and the match grew increasingly tense, with the two seekers grappling for dear life. It was no secret that Scorpius and James couldn’t stand each other and the crowd became so absorbed with the two’s battle across the pitch, that they almost didn’t care that Gryffindor were 120-30 up. James barged Scorpius and he barged back, as James skidded left, attempting to knock Scorpius into one of the giant stands.
“Oh and Potter is hoping to outmuscle the little sh-“ Josh roared, but he was cut off as McGonagall silenced him with a spell.
“This is the best you can do Potter?” Scorpius snarled, pushing back, forcing James towards the centre of the pitch.
“I’m barely warming up Malfoy!” James growled, diving down and looping under Scorpius, reappearing on his other side and hoping to catch him off guard. James ducked as a bludger came flying their way and Scorpius rolled to avoid it.
Below, Hayley was running the show, hoping to make James’ battle with Scorpius irrelevant. She scored again, making it 130-30 and a further two goals from Toni stretched the lead further. But the Slytherins were starting to fight dirty and they found it harder to score, as a bludger or muscled player got in their way every time. As James flew through the middle hoop, hoping to knock Scorpius off-balance and failing, Hayley threw for the left hoop and the Quaffle cannoned off the rim. She swore loudly and ducked as a bludger came her way.
“This isn’t working!” Dom pointed out, flying back into formation. “We need to try something else!”
“Like what?” Toni cried.
“It doesn’t matter now, look!” Hayley pointed but she was a step behind. The whole crowd was on its feet. James and Scorpius were diving, they’d both finally spotted the snitch and were pelting towards it. However, it became clear that the whole game had been a pointless battle of physical strength, not a measure of their skills as a seeker. James had been barging Scorpius to try and hurt him, to knock him off his broom, not to better him. Now that the snitch was finally involved, James outstripped Scorpius with ease, out-flying him and pulling off a huge lead. Hayley whooped in victory as James closed on the snitch. It was within his grasp. And then, out of nowhere, a bludger zoomed into the picture, sending James flying off his broom. Hayley screamed and she wasn’t the only one. Dom was closest and zoomed off, catching James in mid-air as Scorpius’ hand closed around the snitch. Hayley looked round to see where the bludger had come from. Everyone was looking at Darren. He looked as shocked as anyone, but, and Hayley was sure of it, for a split-second, he was smiling triumphantly.
“What the hell happened out there?”
The question had been asked by Fred, but they had all been thinking it. James was fine, with a mere broken arm but Madam Pomfrey had insisted on keeping him for a couple of hours until it had healed properly. The fact that he had knocked off his broom by his own beater, however was a point everyone was talking about. James had had Scorpius beaten all ends up, only to be taken out by his own player.
“It was an accident!” Darren protested. “I was aiming for Scorpius, you know how unpredictable bludgers are!”
“Look, there’s no point arguing about it now,” Dom reasoned. “We only lost by 30 points, that still leaves us in a good position if we trounce the other two. As long as Darren sorts his aim out, we’ll still win the tournament.”
“Assuming the Slythers don’t also trounce the Puffles and the Claws,” Christopher mused.
“Look, we can argue about this all night, but it won’t change anything!” Toni groaned. “Let’s just go check James is alright, then head to the after-party.”
“Not that any of us is up for partying!” Fred muttered darkly.
“Drown our sorrows then,” Dom suggested.
Hayley had stayed quiet and nodded when Dom said this, following her team out the room, heading to check on James, desperately trying avoid Darren’s eye. James was fuming when they found him, and after he gave Darren a huge tongue-lashing and all but threatened to kick him off the team, it was fair to say he was back to his usual self.
Once Madam Pomfrey had forced his team to leave, James found he had one last visitor. Scorpius stood, staring at him for a few moments, then threw him the snitch.
“You deserve this,” he said bluntly.
“You caught it,” James replied. “I know it may seem like I won it, but I was knocked off my broom. You weren’t.”
“James,” Scorpius sighed. “I don’t like you, that much at the least I’ve made clear. But today you were better than me. So I’d like you to know, I don’t class this as a victory. Although it was brilliant to watch that arsehole knock you off your broom.”
“Thanks Scorpius,” James replied begrudgingly. “I’ll get you next time.”
“I look forward to it,” Scorpius almost smiled before turning and strolling out, the snitch gliding after him.
“Alright then dear,” Madam Pomfrey returned to his side. “You can go and join your team, I expect you guys will want to drown your sorrows in butterbeer. Not that I would ever recommend such a thing,” she added quickly.
“Thanks,” James smiled, before slipping into his own clothes left by Fred and leaving the room.
Hayley stood alone, out on the pitch in the dark, glaring at the spot where James had fallen, as if she could change what had happened. Her boyfriend had knocked him off his broom deliberately, no doubt about it. The look on his face shortly afterwards had told her that, even if she’d ever believed his story about missing Scorpius in the first place. There was no need to bludger Scorp, James had already won. And even if he had been aiming for Scorpius, how had he missed so badly? He had aimed for James, that much was clear to her. Hayley heard footsteps behind her and raised her wand, worried and hoping it was James. It wasn’t.
“I missed you at the party babe!” Darren said gently, sliding in behind her and putting his arms around her. She pushed him off gently, annoyed.
“You aimed for James on purpose!” Hayley snapped. “Don’t even try to deny it. If you’d wanted to hit Scorpius, you’d have hit Scorpius. Besides, I saw that hint of a smile afterwards. You were proud to get one-up on James.”
“He deserved it.” The edge on Darren’s voice made her shiver. “He doesn’t deserve you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hayley growled, stepping back. “He’s my best friend, I’ve told you before.”
“He acts like you’re his,” Darren snarled, stepping into her and gripping her wrist. Hayley struggled slightly but he grabbed her wand and pocketed it with his spare hand. “But you’re not his, you’re mine. I love you.”
“Darren stop it, you’re scaring me now,” Hayley stammered, wrenching back her wrist. “Give me my wand back.”
“Why do you need it?” he asked coolly. “There’s only us out here. You and I. I’m not going to hurt you.”
He moved closer and her lips was tugged into his, the kiss dark and fierce, making Hayley squirm. She squealed as he bit her and his hands were around her waist, pulling her in towards him.
“Stop it Darren, I don’t like this!” she yelled, shoving him back once more. He came towards her again, twirling his wand around his fingers.
“I want you Hayley Black-Hunt, here and now,” he almost snarled, flicking his wand and slashing off her shirt.
“Stop it!” Hayley screamed, tears starting to form as she scrambled for the remnants of her shirt. “Just stop it!”
Darren grabbed her arms, clutching them tightly. He wrapped his legs around hers and pulled her in, kissing her again as she screamed. His left hand went for her belt and she sobbed, pushing him again. Darren’s hand went for his own belt. It was raining now and Hayley’s tears mixed with the rain as Darren caressed her gently. He moved his hands around her waist and then they plunged, but before he could make a move, there was a roar over the wind and Darren found himself being blasted backwards. His legs caught Hayley’s and she went flying, crashing into the mud. A figure came out of nowhere, barrelling into Darren and shoving him to the ground, fists and spells flying as Hayley stumbled to her feet, soaked and filthy. She was half-naked and still crying, completely distraught as her boyfriend and her mysterious hero wrestled in the dirt. She stumbled forwards but her legs gave way and she fell back into the mud, sinking to her knees. As she watched through the dark, one of the people was lying down on the floor, unconscious. The other figure was stepping towards her, looming over her in the night. He lit his wand for the first time, she caught sight of his face.
“James?” she whispered disbelievingly.
“Were you expecting someone else darlin’?” James grinned, his nose bleeding furiously. He, like her, was soaked to the skin and filthy but she had never been gladder to see him in her life. She was still weak and as he helped her to her feet, she clung to him, harder than she’d ever hugged anyone in her life, as she wept onto his shoulder.
“It’s okay Hayley,” he whispered. “I’m here. You’re going to be alright.”
Poppy Pomfrey had seen many a display in her life. So you would have thought that she wouldn’t be surprised by anything. Yet, when two soaked teenagers, one of them almost naked, the other bleeding, both of them covered in mud, trudged in out of the storm, she found her hand flying to her mouth. She settled them down on a bed, and then went to fetch the Headmistress. James, meanwhile, refused to leave Hayley’s side. She didn’t even seem to care that she wasn’t clothed, she needed him and he would be there. McGonagall arrived, but still Hayley sat, still as a statue, refusing to shower or change or even speak, simply resting herself on James’ shoulder.
“Drink this dear,” Madam Pomfrey whispered, handing her a small potion.
“Drink it Hayley,” James whispered gently, and she nodded meekly, draining it. After a few seconds, she slumped back on the bed, asleep and James sighed with relief.
“You should probably go and find the boy who did this to her,” he said quietly. “Darren Jenkins. Her presumably now ex-boyfriend. I found him forcing himself on her. He seemed drunk, practically out of it. I lost it a bit I’m afraid. Can’t say I regret it, but I beat the shit out of him.”
“Are you okay Potter?” McGonagall asked slowly after a moment of shock.
“Fine,” James replied blankly. “Just go find him before the storm kills him. Use my Map if you want.”
He handed McGonagall the Marauder’s Map and she took it gingerly, before leaving the pair in the hands of Madam Pomfrey.
A/N: Hi again, thanks for everyone who's sticking with this story and I hope I've rewarded you with this chapter which is a personal favourite of mine. James really steps up in my view and it's nice to see his and Hayley's relationship developing. Elsewhere, Fred's being well...Fred. Leave a review and let me know what you want to happen next. HP
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