It had been nearly a month since Josh had told Fred and Toni about Nicky’s problem. Whilst they had been in the building at the time, but had no recollection of the curse, they were not breaking the Vow by telling them, but all the same, Nicky was fuming and hadn’t spoken to Josh at all, except for short, sharp responses when forced to. Although he had been angry for a while, Josh was desperate to patch things up with her and despite the others all pushing her, Nicky was silent and when she did open her mouth about or to him the words were cruel.
Toni and Fred were both sympathetic towards Nicky and both offered her support, Fred especially feeling immensely guilty for the way he had treated her. Whilst they were both also eager to patch things up, there were bitter feelings, which left a harsh taste in people’s mouths during conversation. As a result of this, James and Hayley were spending more and more time together, taking their company away from the feuding pair. Whilst Hayley continued to be there for Nicky, Toni was picking up a lot of the slack, which meant she had more and more time to spend with James. James, meanwhile, was focusing his attempts on apologising to Albus and Dominique, amongst others. James and Dom had spent a fair bit of time together, both on and off the Quidditch pitch, although he advised her just to leave off Josh for the time being. She was definitely a lot more positive towards him, forgiving him for his outburst, after his promise it wouldn’t happen again. Albus, meanwhile, reacted a lot more suspiciously, making it clear he didn’t want James around, spending all his meals over at the Slytherin table with Scorpius and no doubt spending his free time with the blonde as well.
On this particular evening, James had played a hard fought game of two-on-two, with Dom, Hayley and Fred, with Josh, Rose and Albus watching on (Rose had insisted that Al came). It had been boys against girls and Hayley been in the middle of celebrating a 8-3 victory, whilst Fred was protesting that neither him nor James were chasers, until James had landed alongside her and rugby-tackled her to the ground, demanding she conceded that he was a better flier.
“Hayley,” Dom said amused. “I don’t think he’s planning on going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Get off her James, it’s going to rain and I want food,” Fred whinged, earning him a look of disgust from James and a burst of laughter from Rose.
“You guys go, we’ll catch up!” James replied, grinning as he proceeded to sit on Hayley, who shoved him roughly but failed to manoeuvre him.
“Oh for fuck’s sake James!” Hayley yelled, torn between laughing and crying. “Just let me up!”
James shook his head smugly and Hayley managed to slip her hand into her pocket and get a hold of her wand. She pressed it into the small of his back and James flinched. Hayley grinned wickedly and gestured for James to stand. He jumped off her and Hayley smiled with an evil glint in her eye. James held up his hands apologetically.
“Well Trouble-Maker, what do you have to say?” Hayley asked in a sickly sweet voice.
“I’m sorry?” James tried.
Hayley winked and then used a full body bind jinx on James, who hit the floor and struggled against the hold of the spell, to no avail. Hayley pressed her foot onto James’ chest gently, still smiling that same devilish smile. The rain was just starting to fall and James squirmed as much as he could. Hayley started to walk off and James flailed as much as he could, as a spell shot back at him. James found himself able to speak, but still unable to move.
“Try again,” Hayley called backwards, still walking away from him.
“You’re a vastly superior flier and I wish I was even half as good as you are!” James shouted.
“Can you pretty please let me up, so I can worship the ground at your feet?” James groaned through gritted teeth.
“Why Jamesie, since you asked so nicely,” Hayley teased, relinquishing her spell as James clambered to his feet and strode over, shoving her playfully as he did so. Hayley giggled and raced him to the castle, James sprinting past her triumphantly, only to be pulled down by a lightning fast “Locomotor Mortis”. James swore loudly at Hayley as she laughed victoriously.
“I hate you!” James yelled as she jogged up the stairs, with James furiously muttering the counter-curse and hurtling himself pell-mell after her, shooting daggers into her backside as she ploughed on ahead of him. She was in the corridor heading to Gryffindor Tower when James reached the top of the stairs and saw her.
“Incarcerous!” James cried, a series of relatively thick ropes whipping out of his wand and surrounding Hayley, collapsing around her legs and pulling her to the ground. She swore loudly as James ran past, bending down to snatch her wand, wink and then hurry into the Common Room.
“And that Hayley, is my victory,” James bowed as the portrait hole shut in her face.
Two hours later, and James was sat, flirting with a cute brunette. Her name was Alice and she giggled whenever he spoke. He had just finished telling her one of his many stories about his heroic Quidditch victories and was moving in to kiss her, when the portrait hole burst open and a girl with green hair, boils and a crooked nose walked in. James’ eyes bulged and he burst out laughing as she stormed over to him, a furious look on her face.
“Hi there,” she said to the bemused Alice. “He sleeps with a pink puffskein called Terence when he lives at home and cries about leaving him when he comes to Hogwarts. Think carefully before you sleep with him.”
Alice looked at James, shook her head then walked off, snorting with laughter. James shot the green-haired interrupter an amused look.
“Was that really necessary Undies?” he asked.
“Two hours Potter!” Hayley growled. “Two fucking hours. About an hour a couple of second years turned up and instead of letting me go, they figured they’d test all their newly learned spells on me! And then they forgot the counter-spells! My hair! My face! My fricking nose Potter!”
“Don’t forget your chunky hips,” James pointed out.
“They didn’t put a spell on my hips!” Hayley cried exasperatedly.
“I know,” James replied smiling. Hayley fumed and lunged at him, which James dodged, still laughing as she chased him around the common room, screaming a list of insults that only made him laugh more. He eventually let her catch up and when she reached him, he pulled her into a soothing hug, which she resisted for about a second then sank into.
“Sorry Hayls,” James said gently. “You know I’m only messing around.”
“Of course I do you arse,” Hayley replied. “But I still owe you one for the ropes. And believe me, you’re going to pay for it. You won’t know when it’ll hit you, or how but I’ll get you back. You’ll see James Potter. You ungrateful, miserable, nasty little toad.”
“You missed off handsome,” James pointed out. “And I know you’ll get me back, you’re always particularly vicious when it comes to that sort of thing.”
James let Hayley go and she kneed him, hard. James hit the floor, groaning in pain as Hayley headed up to her dorm, grinning.
“Trouble-Maker, you ent seen me vicious.”
Hayley had just settled down when she was shaken from her sleep by a visibly shocked Toni. Hayley sat up, blinking the sleep out of her eyes as she did so. Toni’s golden hair was up in a ponytail, she was wearing a tank top and jeans under her robes and she looked slightly panicked, her green eyes wide as Hayley shook herself to stay awake.
“What is it Toni?” Hayley breathed, running a hand through her own dark locks.
“Fredtoldmehelovedme!” Toni said much too quickly. Hayley’s eyes narrowed, so she tried again but slower this time. “Fred. Said. To. Me. That. He. Loves. Me.”
“Awesome,” Hayley attempted a weary smile. “Why is that a problem?”
“Because!” Toni protested. “The best thing about me and Fred is that it’s always been no strings attached, that’s been the way we’ve dealt with it! I mean I don’t know if I feel like that about him!”
“You’re the one who pushed him to go public with you,” Hayley pointed out, relaxing back on her bed. “You just need to relax and not react so mental to it. You and Fred have been together a while, it’s natural that you’re going to start having feelings for each other, even if you don’t really want to fall for him, you can’t help it.”
“Hayley,” Toni said, quietly. “I think I like him. I mean really like him. When he said it, my first thought was pure elation, joy before I sort of caught myself and realised what he was saying and then I realised I’d felt like agreeing and I was sort of shocked by myself.”
“Aww,” Hayley laughed. “Our little Toni is growing up faster than she can handle. Just tell Fred you love him to. The worst possible thing you can do is make him regret saying it. He’ll hate himself for it unless you react to him.”
“I do love him. I really do,” Toni was finding her own inner confidence. “I’m going to go tell him!”
“Good for you Toni,” Hayley smiled encouragingly. “Now I’m going back to sleep.”
The next morning, Fred left his dorm looking very pale, like he’d had something very disgusting to eat. James kept asking him what was wrong, but Fred protested his innocence, insisting he’d never felt better. It would have been easier to just pretend he had a stomach-ache. Toni took him aside after breakfast, and though nobody was quite sure what was said, Fred looked over the moon in Charms.
“What was all that about?” James asked.
“I’ll explain later,” Hayley muttered.
The rest of the day, Fred was grinning like an idiot, playing the lovesick puppy role better than anyone Hayley had seen. She filled in James, who found the whole situation ridiculously funny and spent as much time as possible teasing Fred about it. Fred just blanked him. Near the end of the day, just when James had given up hope of getting a reaction from him, Fred swung his fist carelessly, colliding with the side of James’ face. James just laughed harder as Toni scolded Fred and Hayley started choking with laughter.
“That was brilliant!” she breathed through her choked tears of laughter.
“Excuse me, are you James Potter?”
Everyone turned to see a quivering first year girl standing in front of them, shaking.
“Yeah he is,” Hayley replied gently. “Are you alright?”
“Professor McGonagall would like to see you in her office.”
“Brilliant!” James groaned, getting up and practically swatting the first year aside, he sulked as he headed for the portrait hole. “I wonder what she’s got on me this time. Maybe they found out I bewitched that third year so his head wouldn’t fit through any doors. He called Lily hot stuff,” James explained when they shot him confused looks. He continued to grumble as he headed down the stairs, looked for the statue that signalled the entrance to McGonagall’s Office. He didn’t meet a password, as the statue nodded when it saw him coming and opened up for him. Presumably McGonagall had told it he was coming. James made his way up the staircase, wondering exactly what he’d been called in for. Knowing Minnie it could be something very trivial, or something very serious indeed. James knocked on the door to her office and entered after hearing her invite him in.
“Ah hello James,” McGonagall greeted him. She looked strained. His parents were also stood there, which the first thing he noticed. He smiled grimly at them but they weren’t really that angry.
“What did I do that was so bad they were called in?” James muttered.
“Nothing,” his dad replied. “In fact we’ve been a little bit hard on you James. Well your mother…”
“Okay Harry, we get the point!” Ginny growled. “Our point is James, although you’ve been far from the perfect son, we know that you always mean well, which, apparently, is more than can be said for your brother.”
“What?” James couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’re kidding me right?”
“No James,” McGonagall intervened, at which point James realised Albus and Scorpius were sat behind, looking pale and nervous. The fire glowed green and Astoria Malfoy stepped out, a furious look on her face.
“I came as soon as I got your owl Minerva,” she explained. “Believe me, he’s in big trouble when I get him home.”
“You can take him home now,” McGonagall replied. “They’ve both been expelled.”
“What?!” James yelled.
“They were caught performing an Unforgivable Curse on a house elf,” McGonagall explained. “They’re lucky they’re underage or they’d be earning themselves a one-way ticket to Azkaban!”
There was a moment’s silence, followed by:
“Harry!” Ginny snapped.
“They were caught using the Imperius Curse,” McGonagall explained. “They were attempting to force the elf to hide a device in James’ bedroom, the device is some sort of portal, we’re not exactly sure where it ends up. Neither were they apparently, which was why they chose it.”
“Albus!” James had never seen his father look so disappointed. He shook his head and grabbed Albus’ arm, practically hurling him into the fireplace. His mother followed, fury inside of her. James stood there helplessly as Scorpius was dragged off by his own mother, leaving James and McGonagall alone in the office.
“I’m really sorry Professor,” James said quietly, feeling as guilty as if he’d been the one expelled, not Albus. “I should never have been so unfair on him from the start, he deserved better.”
“James,” McGonagall said softly. “This is not your fault. You may be a bit of a loose cannon at times but you have a good heart and you always do what you think is right. I don’t know what possessed Albus to be so stupid but you are not to blame. Lots of kids get stick from their older brothers, they don’t go and perform illegal spells on house elves. My advice, go back to Gryffindor Tower, find your friends. What happened was not your fault.”
“Thanks Professor,” James muttered, both of them knowing that McGonagall’s words had gone in one ear and out the other.
A/N: So, when I last updated (3 days before this), I said I was writing chapter 23. Well I've been a good little bunny and reached the best bit of the story, so I just wrote and wrote and here I am now with 26 completed chapters. I feel happy, after all I've written arguably four of the best chapters of the story and there's still a fair bit to go, but there are a few surprises yet. So keep reading, it's going to get good soon ;) That's assuming you didn't think this chapter was good of course. Did you? If so why, if not how could i improve? let me know with a review :) HP
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