For an_ink_blotch and the anon person online who convinced me to update this before something else. I really hope you all enjoy it! xoxo
My Saturday night was spent avoiding Avery again. I locked myself inside of an empty classroom with the Marauder’s Map and a blanket. Gulping water to sober up. The floor was cold so I shifted and moved the blanket under me. My arms were cold. Bugger on this whole thing.
She’d find me if I went upstairs and then what? Either I’d tell her about her father—everything—or I didn’t and watched her elated face over finally having the father figure she always wanted. Either way it was painful. And I knew I should do the right thing. But the right thing also involved both of our Quidditch careers destroyed.
My dream. Her dream.
Crushed like an ant on the sidewalk.
Lily was out and about around the castle, which I found suspicious considering she wasn’t a Prefect and didn’t have any business creeping along hallways. Especially near my classroom hideaway. I didn’t say anything, though, didn’t give away my location. Avery wasn’t on the map. She was still in Hogsmeade. And Albus and Paloma weren’t there either, so I safely assumed they were trying to find Paloma a pretty necklace or something to go with her fierce Beater skills.
Fred and Abigail were in the Ravenclaw dormitories. In her bed.
I groaned loudly just as Lily popped open the door with a simple charm. She stood there, hands on her hips with an annoyed look about her. I wondered what I could possibly have done now that she was hunting me down. “Hey, Lils,” I said, a little too innocently.
“Why are you in here?” she asked, taking a few steps and closing the door behind her. She locked it.
“Uhhh…” I paused, glancing down at the map and then the blanket. “Preliminary tent-building tactics meeting? I’m waiting for the others to show up.”
“I followed you,” Lily said, as if guessing my next question. “I saw you tear upstairs, grab the blanket, and rush out. Whenever you rush, something’s wrong. What’s wrong?”
I frowned. I could tell her everything. About Avery, her father, my frustrations, my own selfishness to preserve my career. But somehow I couldn’t find the words. I just stared at her.
“That bad?” Lily said, crossing the room and sinking down beside me. “Is it Quidditch? Your team? What’s happened?”
I leaned my head against her shoulder. “How do you hurt someone you care about so much?”
“If you’re breaking up with Avery I am going to punch you right in the mouth, James.”
I almost laughed. “I’m not breaking up with Aves,” I replied, my lips forming the tiniest of smiles. “But I have to tell her something that is going to break her heart.”
“Did you cheat on her?”
“Why am I suddenly in the wrong here?” I asked, nudging her thigh. “I haven’t done a damn thing. Other than not telling her…yet.”
“Well, if it’s that bad then you should tell her,” Lily said quietly. “Wouldn’t you want to know if you were her?”
I thought about it, but only for a moment. Of course I would want to know before my face was plastered all over shop windows that it was fake. That someone was using me. For lamp money.
“Yeah,” I said, my voice returning to a bitter grumble. “But then every time she looks at me she’ll be like, he told me that. Wah wah I hate his guts.” I shrugged.
She patted me on the head. “Avery has been your best friend since first year. You’ve told her a lot of bad things. She’ll deal with it. And you’ll be fine.”
I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I just pressed my cheek to Lily’s shoulder and sat there. My mind was littered with the facial expressions of Avery Flynn once I told her about her father. And then when she doesn’t get a letter by the time graduation rolls around.
And then the aching feeling in the pit of my stomach when I don’t get a letter.
It was late when Freddie and Bink finally came back to the dormitory. Edwards wasn’t around because he had some Head Boy bullshittery that I didn’t care about. Thank Godric, though. They walked in together, arms linked, and Bink fell forward onto the floor. He giggled.
“Are you dead?” I asked, sitting up in bed. I was all snuggled in with an open magazine on my lap.
“I think so,” Bink replied, his lips obscured by the stone floor.
“No redheads tonight?”
He shrugged and groaned because his nose hit the stone. “None in the bar. Slippery things, they are.”
Fred laughed. It was only then that I noticed his nose had dried blood on it and his forearm had the sickly impression of a bruise. He kicked off his shoes, flipping one of them onto Bink, and sank down into bed.
“She beat you up?” I asked him.
He followed my eyes to his arm. “Nah,” Fred replied. “We just get a little wild.” He laughed. “She knows her way around a pair of handcuffs.”
“You’re so fucked up,” Bink mumbled, pushing himself to his feet and staggering over to his bed. He fell onto it the same way he fell to the floor. “You need a different woman.”
“Raise your hand if you’re getting some,” Fred said loudly. He raised his hand. “Yeah. Didn’t think so.”
Bink raised his. “I got some last night! Fuck you, Fred Weasley!”
I leaned back into the pillows. “Fucking assholes,” I said quietly, ripping the magazine into two semi-equal pieces and throwing a side at either of them.
“Let us know when you’re going to make a move on Avery,” Bink said, catching his half even though he was drunk. “Ooh! Trades all over the places. Betching for Eilert? Pfft. That’s not fair at all. You’d have to at least throw in a minor leaguer.”
“We’ll even coach you,” Fred said, finishing off Bink’s thought. “Let you know what moves will never work.”
I blinked a few times in annoyance. “Thanks,” I said, “But I’ll figure it out for myself.”
“Avery still have her V-Card too?” Freddie asked because Bink was too engrossed in trades to care.
I was about to say a resounding yes, of course she does, but then I realized Avery had never told me. I didn’t think she’d ever told anyone. I assumed she was a virgin. Because she’d never dated anyone long-term and never made a point to say anything. But then again, she never had it shoved in her face like I did. But what if she wasn’t?
I couldn’t care, of course, but part of me was curious. And a little scared that if we ever got to that point she would shove me away and say, that’s not how Vernando did it. I had no idea why his name was Vernando. Exotic maybe. Doucher-like.
Bink started snoring in the middle of the trading article. Fred shortly after, half his limbs draped over the bed. I wondered if he ever slept in Abigail’s room with her like Nia did with Darian Bay. Abigail never slept in here. Which I am highly thankful for because she was a bitch. And would probably tell me to keep my curtains closed until Fred was done and showered and had left for breakfast.
I made a mental note to ask him about being able to hang out.
I had only just drifted off when Avery crawled into my bed. Her eyes were red and puffy and she slid under the covers. She didn’t make a sound, only pushed my arm up and settled between it and my body.
“Aves?” I whispered, opening my eyes all the way and looking down at her mangled hair. I was careful not to wake the rest of the dormitory, though Bink’s snores and occasional sleep-talking were enough to drown out any conversation I was having. Especially since he was muttering about the size of a swim raft’s chipmunk uptake.
She looked up, matching my gaze. Blinking away tears, she sniffled.
“Avery, fuck, what’s wrong?” I kept my voice low, but seeing her like that created a hell of a lot of tension in my stomach. She was hurt. Something had hurt her. Someone. And I’d kick the shit out of them (unless they were a woman and then I would rethink my plan of action).
“I was out with your brother and Paloma,” she said in a weak, defeated voice. It was something very uncommon for Avery and reminded me of the voice she used after reading that first letter from her father all those months ago. “And we went into a shop for ice cream.”
“What kind did you get?” I said soothingly, using my fingers to rake through her soft hair. I unknotted it.
“Strawberry,” Avery whimpered. “And then Dennis Wilcroft came in.”
“The Harpies scout?” I said, my head jerking up so fast it hurt my neck.
“Yeah,” she said with a nod. “He invited me to dinner since he knows my father.” Uh oh. “He wanted to talk over how I’d been doing at Hogwarts since he’s been to all the games so far. So I left Al and Paloma and went with him to that Quidditch bar.” She swallowed hard and her tone was starting to break up. “For a while it was really great, right? We talked all about the Hufflepuff match and how amazing I was even down two Chasers with all that was coming at me. How we wouldn’t have won without me.”
“That’s completely true,” I said breathlessly. “I can’t believe you had dinner with a scout and he said shit like that to you. Lucky bitch.” I ruffled her hair. “So what’s the problem?”
“James, my father is using me to make back his debt money,” she said.
There was silence in the room for a while. I couldn’t figure out how to reply. She sounded broken, now that she knew. Her voice trembling. Her hands just as shaky. I leaned down and kissed the tip of her nose. “Then tell the lamp people you’d like to deal with all of the money.”
“They’re only in if it’s through him!” Avery said. “I’ve already tried. He seems to think I’m going to be this huge star and they’ll be sponsoring me and paying him until I die.” She sighed, tears now sliding down her cheeks. She moved against my chest, burying herself in the fabric of my white t-shirt. I was glad I wore it or there would probably be snot or salty tears on my chest.
“That seems extreme,” I mused. “I knew he wanted those windows, but what a prick he is.”
“I said I know he can be a window, but you should make him a door!” I said fast, happy it was dark because my face was scarlet. “You know. Like…shut him out? I made a metaphor.”
Avery’s eyes were trained on mine. They were wide, her lips parted slightly. But it wasn’t in awe. It was in disgust. The realization was in her pupils.
“You knew,” she whispered with venom in her tone. “You knew and you didn’t tell me.”
Ah. Well, shit.
Right. I knew.
“I was going to!” I cried, mostly to save myself. “What did Wilcroft even say?”
“He told me he knew all about my father’s deal and how much it was worth for ten years and then he just up and told me. How he’d heard my father had a plan of paying back his debts.”
“I didn’t know your father had debts.” Forget I knew. Forget I knew. Forget I knew.
“Apparently,” Avery said impatiently. “He used to bet a lot and sabotage people to win. But then they started getting further out of his grasp so he lost a lot more…bigger amounts. And he owes people a lot. Had to move into a shotty little flat.” She shook her head. “James, how did you know?”
So much for that.
“I overheard him talking at the Tornadoes game,” I admitted.
“That long!?” she cried. Freddie stirred in his sleep, but snored on.
“I didn’t know if it was for sure!” I said. “Well, I thought I did. But then tonight he was in Hogsmeade and he cornered me…”
“James,” Avery said angrily, sitting up and shoving my hand away. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to hurt you!” I left out the part about Mr. Flynn destroying our Quidditch careers. That would be a disaster. “I didn’t want to see—” I stared up at her from my position on the bed. “That look on your face. Directed at me.” I swallowed hard. “But I was going to tell you. Tomorrow.”
“You’re full of shit!” Avery cried, her eyes full of tears again. “James, this is my life! This is my father—you let me run around like an idiot while you knew he was trying to use me? You let me actually feel like I could have a father again! Do you even understand what this feels like?”
“No,” I said quietly, averting my gaze.
“I know you don’t,” she spat. “Because you don’t know what it’s like to grow up without a father. To watch your mother go through hell just to buy you a broom to compete with. And now I’m hurt worse because you lied to me! James, when the hell have we lied to each other in our friendship? Like this.”
“Avery, come on—”
“NO!” she yelled, standing up and turning to face me. “I can’t even look at you right now.” She was crying out-right now. Fred had stopped snoring. Bink was no longer talking about chipmunks. “The next time you want to keep something like that from me just because you’re selfish and don’t want me to be cross at YOU, think about someone else for a change, James Potter!”
That was when Avery Flynn slapped me across the face.
So hard there were pinpricks of white dancing in her path as she walked out, slamming the door behind her.
“What the fuck did you do?” Bink said, lighting a candle on his bedside table.
My hand went to my burning cheek. “I fucked up,” I said quietly. “I fucked up and she hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you,” he said. He shifted his blankets. “What happened?”
Fred sat on the edge of his bed in his boxers, waiting as well. I peered over and made sure Emerson’s bed was empty. I was, like always, happy to see that it was. Grabbing Victoria and petting her, I began the story. I told them everything. All about Avery’s father at the Tornadoes game. About Avery and how I couldn’t hurt her, about Mr. Flynn in Hogsmeade. And then about tonight.
“Should have just acted surprised,” Bink mumbled, leaning back into his pillows.
“You know I can’t lie to her like that,” I said. “But apparently I can lie to her about her father and get her to slap me.”
“Blows that you were going to tell her,” Fred cut in. “I guess things never really work out the way they should.” He ruffled his own hair and tucked his legs under him. “What’re you going to do now?”
“First tell you to break up with Abigail,” I said. My sense of humor in horrible situations was almost annoying. “And second, I have to go find her. I have to talk to her.”
“Tonight?” Fred asked. “When she’s so pissed she slapped you?”
My eyes snapped over. “So I shouldn’t?”
“James,” Bink said, “She looked really mad. Like, screaming mad. And Avery is usually one to keep a level head. I would let it go for a bit.” He cleared his throat. “And so we can concentrate on breaking up Fred and Abigail before she pulls all of his pretty hair out.”
Mornings where my girlfriend were mad at me were worse than regular mornings. Even if I got to sleep in because it was Sunday. Fred had left early to go down to the pitch and practice a little on his own and Bink was off searching for that redhead because he said she had a great tongue. He thought she was a Ravenclaw. Fred said he had dibs.
I stared at my ceiling for two hours.
Victoria hummed. I could have sworn it was a tune.
“Shuddup,” I grumbled, but patted her on the head regardless. I tried to formulate a plan of action. I could go and find her and possibly get slapped again. I could go out and not try and find her, only to find her and possibly get slapped again. Or I could stay in here staring at the ceiling and she would come find me and I would definitely get slapped again.
Victoria nuzzled into my pant leg. It tickled.
By trying not to hurt Avery Flynn, I had hurt her worse.
What sort of boyfriend was I? One that had been just thinking about her V-card the day before? One that cares more about his career than Avery’s happiness? Or maybe I just thought ignorance was bliss. But Avery was never ignorant of anything.
I lifted myself from the bed, body weak from a serious lack of sleep, and tucked Victoria safely back in her cage. At least since I had humiliated Emerson with the printed pants he had blushed every time he walked in the room and hadn’t said another word about Avery and me.
I dressed quickly and walked downstairs. It was unchanged from the night before, which led me to believe no one knew about the Avery issue except my Chasers. But she wasn’t around. I didn’t exactly expect her to be. At least I’d see her at tonight’s late practice if I couldn’t find her.
And get slapped.
The girls confirmed she wasn’t upstairs and it wasn’t until I was wandering aimlessly through corridors that I realized the Map could have been of some use.
So I kept walking, brushing past that Amy girl from Ravenclaw that seemed to dislike Abigail as much as I did and the Hufflepuff that always got answers right in Potions. He was so annoying. And nameless, apparently. Empty classrooms, the library—I even checked the lounge chairs in the back—empty, The Great Hall, the kitchens. Everywhere. Avery Flynn was playing a very good game of hide and seek. Only she was trying not to be sought.
Eventually as I shoved the heavy pitch doors open I saw her. Sitting in the center hoop, so high I had to shield my eyes from the sun to even make out her dark hair. Her feet were dangling off the side and her broom was next to her, balanced perfectly.
A team should want to sign her for that alone.
There was no one else in the stadium. All vacant seats. No one having a camp-out on the grass.
“Aves!” I cried loudly, squinting to see her. She didn’t flinch. Didn’t even look down.
“I don’t want to talk to you right now, James Potter,” she snapped. I saw her fold her arms.
“Avery, come on down,” I said, a pleading in my voice. “You have to talk to me. Hear me out.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” she said. Her voice was like ice. I’d never heard it like that before. It sent chills down my spine. “Go away.”
“I haven’t gone away in seven years!” I called back. “I’m not going away now.” Then I went to the bottom of the hoop, plopped down, and leaned against it. “I’m going to wait here all night. Just like this. All adorable and such.”
Well, at least I could watch the grass sway.
She was humming something. Like Victoria. Mocking me.
“I didn’t want to hurt you!” I cried after about ten minutes. My temper was flaring again. It was impossible after having my girlfriend stuck up a fucking hoop.
“Brilliant,” she said back.
“Look, Aves, I’ve seen you go through so much shit your whole life and I thought maybe if there was even a chance I was wrong—I didn’t want to hurt you.”
“Shut up, James!” she yelled.
“And then he threatened me!” I said, ignoring her. “And I was going to tell you tomorrow after holing up in a classroom and Lily finding me. I hate seeing you like this!”
“I hope it’s comfortable up there!” I shot back. “Because I’m going to be perched down here all night. I am. And it’s only the afternoon. And after an hour or so, I’m going to start singing. And BELIEVE ME, woman, you do NOT want to hear that.”
“You have Quidditch practice tonight,” Avery said sharply. “You aren’t going to stay there.”
“I’ll do it.” I looked up at her, my eyes burning instantly because of the sun. “If you won’t talk to me, I’ll cancel practice.”
“I’m talking to you right now, idiot.”
I wrinkled my nose. “Avery, I’m sorry! Please come down!”
I slammed my head back against the hoop in frustration and blacked out.
Fred shook me awake later that night. “Oy!” he cried in my ear. “Wish you would have told me we were having a camp out. I would have brought more blankets.”
I rubbed the back of my head where dried blood was caked in my hair. “What?”
Fred lifted the thick quilt off of my body. “Camp out,” he said.
“What the fuck…” I was still sitting against the hoop and my head was pounding. But there was a blanket draped over me. Instantly, my eyes went to the hoop. It was vacant. “Fucking hell.” I tried to get up, but staggered and used the pole for support. Everything in my body felt like it was pounding. Like a giant was walking around the pitch.
Bink grabbed my arm to support me. Where the fuck did he come from?
“Cancel practice, Captain?” he asked.
I shook my head. “We’re going to practice.” I dug my nails into his skin when I almost fell and he made a very disgruntled noise, but said nothing. “We can’t let Lawson catch us off guard. We have to be prepared.”
“James,” Fred whispered. “I don’t think anyone wants to practice.” He wiggled his eyebrows, which suggested Avery was not up to it.
“I don’t care,” I barked back. “We’re all going to practice.”
“I think Meta’s hungover,” Bink whispered.
“Good,” I said. “Then she’ll be getting the most laps.” I gritted my teeth and shoved open the locker room door with my foot. My expression was filled with bitter anger. Maybe it was because I knocked myself out. Or because Avery left me out there and put a fucking blanket over me. Or, then again, it probably just stemmed from the fact that my own girlfriend wouldn’t let me explain myself.
All I did was shove Bink and Freddie off, retreat to my locker, and change, all while throwing clothes and equipment around the room. The loud clangs echoed off the walls. I didn’t even look at everyone else.
“Where’d McLaggen go?” Fred whispered, presumably at Paloma.
“Showers,” she replied just as softly.
I threw my broom against the locker and it bounced off, crashing to the floor. Suddenly I was furious. Wanting to yell and scream and plead my case. But no one would hear me out. No one would even listen to a fucking word I said. I spun around and met five curious stares. Even Avery had her brow raised. Probably wondering what I could possibly be furious about.
Well, Avery Flynn, I’ll tell you what I’m mad about. I’ll tell you right now.
“Well, that’s that, Potter,” Meta said, casually strolling through the shower doors with a duffel bag over her shoulder.
My gaze snapped over. “What?” I said.
“I’m out of here.” She shot me a smirkish smile. Arrogant. Winning. I hated that smile. When she was certain Dara was going to make her captain, she had it. I had almost forgotten what it looked like.
“You can’t bail on practice,” I said. “We have to train. I canceled practice all weekend for Hogsmeade and I don’t care how fucking hungover you are, McLaggen, you’re flying and doing snitch drills today.”
Meta rolled her eyes. She moved toward the locker room door. “Potter, you’re such a fucking idiot.”
“Laps,” I spat.
“You can’t tell me to run laps,” she said. “Only my captain can.”
“I am your captain, McLaggen!” I cried, my blood boiling at her idiocy. My fists balled at my sides.
“I got signed by the Arrow’s reserve team,” Meta said simply. “They’ve been calling up players left and right to the Arrows since they’re all injured. Have a nice life, Potter. I hope you get fucking killed by Slytherin. I’ll be telling Lawson all of your weaknesses.”
The door slammed behind her.
I slammed my fist into the locker. Blood marked the hit.
Bink and Fred slammed their bodies into mine to stop me from hexing her.
Avery slammed her broom to the ground.
I shoved them off, grabbing my broom and marching out of the locker room. Meta was already gone. The pitch door was already closed behind my Seeker.
The Quidditch Final was coming up and I was short a Seeker and had a girlfriend who wasn’t speaking to me. This could get tricky.
A/N: Oh my. Welcome to shit hitting the fan. Finally Meta just had enough.
I want to say a quick thank you to everyone. My life has been absolutel insane lately (50+ hour work weeks, etc) and you have all been amazingly supportive. Thank you for your kind words and your continuous following of my stories. They're so much fun to write. To hear how much you all appreciate them is a serious gift. And I want to say another quick thanks to the people who have been in contact with me about their own stories.
ANYWAY. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! It's pretty much a prelim chapter before everything explodes. Again. This story has a lot of exploding, don't you think?
Please feel free to share thoughts and favorite quotes or just comment how James is a tosser.