If anyone had told me that tonight, I’d be on the back of James Potter’s broom, flying towards the Quidditch pitch, I’d think they were crazy. As it happens though, I am on the back of James Potter’s broom, and we are flying towards the Quidditch pitch, so I guess I’m the crazy one. But when James had told me to get on his broom, I panicked. And, naturally, in my panicked state I ended up somehow… possibly… agreeing.
I gripped my hands tighter on either side of the broom to keep myself as steady as possible since I was sitting sideways. The ends of my dress fluttered in the wind as James flew faster in the air. And even though I felt like I was going to pass out and very uncomfortable riding the broom in a dress, I also felt… exhilarated. Slightly. Maybe. Definitely.
However, all too soon we had reached the Quidditch pitch, and James was lowering us down so that we could get off. I gingerly jumped off the broom about a foot from the ground and steadied myself.
James stayed on the broom and instead continued to stare at me, his expression unreadable.
“You don’t know how to fly,” he stated, leaving no room for argument.
“No. I don’t,” I responded.
He cocked his head to the side. “You want to learn. That’s why you watch me fly every night, isn’t it?”
I suddenly felt myself become extremely embarrassed. I had thought all these nights when I had gone to watch James fly that he hadn’t noticed. Apparently he had.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I responded looking down at my feet. “It’s pretty easy to learn how to fly, and I would if I wanted to.”
“Mhmm,” James said a little disbelievingly, “so if it’s so easy, then why don’t you show me?”
As he said this, he hoisted himself off his broom and gestured to it. It hovered in front of me, taunting me.
“I don’t fly by choice,” I stated, trying to get out of making a fool of myself. “It’s you know… dangerous… and improper.”
James mouth seemed to curve into a barely there smile as I said this; it was like he was laughing at me. I felt myself grow even more uncomfortable.
“I see,” he began. “Miss Teen Witch can’t be caught riding a broom?”
“It’s frowned upon,” I answered honestly. “Ruins the girly-girl image.”
James nodded his head. “So then why do you always watch me fly?”
“Um…” I trailed off trying to think of a response. I mean, it was embarrassing enough for him to know I basically stalked him, but actually having to explain it? “I guess you just seem… in control.”
James laughed at this, causing his eyes to crinkle around the corners as his mouth split into a small smile. He had a really nice smile in all honesty. It’s too bad he almost never did.
“I’m not in control,” James said, shaking his head. “Not even close.”
I shrugged my shoulders and looked back down at my feet, letting some loose curls fall in front of my face. I really had no idea what to say. Or any idea about how this conversation was even happening. This entire day was becoming one big blur of me—somehow— ending up here.
“I guess that makes two of us then,” I said after a long moment, finally looking up.
“Nah,” James responded, turning back to his broom and getting on. “It makes all of us.”
He then kicked off and began to fly around the pitch, leaving me standing there, bewildered. He seemed to realize this and turn back.
“You can watch me from here if you’d like,” James shouted to me, his hair whipping against his forehead as he flew. “It’s a lot easier and it doesn’t smell like owl shit.”
And so, I did what any normal girl would do. I sat down on the bleachers and watched.
“Now when it comes to the Agrippan method, things get a bit more tricky—”
“He’s just so annoying,” Dom complained, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “He keeps making us get up at basically the crack of dawn just to run laps. What kind of person does that?”
“Mmmm,” I said, keeping my eyes fixed on Professor Vector as she continued teaching.
“—you have to only calculate the consonants for the social number. And make sure that you use both vowels and consonants for the character number—“
“Not to mention that he treats our new seeker like crap. I mean, sure, our new seeker may kind of suck at flying, and sure he doesn’t pay attention to where the snitch is during practices, but he’s the only one who tried out! If Scorpius keeps being so mean to him, he’s going to drop out and then we’ll have no seeker.”
“Mhmm,” I responded, nodding my head as I scribbled down more notes, not really paying attention to Dom. While I happened to like Arithmancy as a subject, Dom thought of it as a period to gossip. She’d been complaining all period about Scorpius’s captain tendencies, and I’d been stuck having to listen to it.
“—but the trickiest thing about the Agrippan method,” Professor Vector started, “is deriving the character number. Each number has a suitable predictive meaning.”
“And you know what else?” Dom asked, not waiting for a response. “He always criticizes how I fly, despite the fact that I’m the best player on the team. You’d think considering I carry the chasers, I’d get a break.”
“Mmm,” I said, still not listening to her. I was beginning to regret not choosing to sit next to Rose, who was at the front of the room, frantically scribbling down notes. At least she was quiet.
“Alright that’s it!” Dom said, slamming her hands down on the desk we were sitting at, causing Professor Vector to stop her lesson and glare at Dom. Dom put on her best innocent face until Professor Vector turned away, and then she rounded on me.
“You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve been saying,” Dom complained.
“I totally have,” I insisted, putting down my quill and looking at Dom.
“Then repeat back to me one thing I just said,” Dom responded, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow.
I paused for a couple of seconds, trying to think back in my memory to what Dom had been ranting about, but came up with a blank. “It was about uh….Scorpius…and Quidditch,” I guessed, since Dom was always complaining about one or the other.
Dom stared at me for a long moment, her expression never faltering. “You just made a lucky guess.”
“Maybe. But at least I guessed right, eh?”
Dom rolled her eyes. “I don’t even know how I bother calling you my best friend if you don’t even listen to me. The number one rule of being a good friend is listening.”
I sighed. “I’m sorry Dom,” I said sincerely. “I’m just really tired.”
Dom’s annoyance quickly faded. “Tired, eh?” Dom asked the ghost of a smirk on her face. “Does this have anything to do with the fact that you haven’t made it back to the common room before 3 am for the past few days? What have you been doing, pray tell?”
I found myself growing more and more uncomfortable with Dom’s questions. I wasn’t really even sure how to answer them. What have I been doing? Well, the short answer is I’ve been watching James fly. But the long answer, is something that I myself wasn’t quite sure of. The closest I had gotten to figuring it out was the conversation James and I had had Monday morning at breakfast.
Our midnight fly had happened two nights ago, and I had entered the Great Hall at my usual early time, debating over where to sit for breakfast. Sure, I normally sat a couple of seats away from James, but since we had had that conversation/fly, I had been trying to decide whether I was now expected to sit by him.
After standing awkwardly a couple more seconds I had finally decided to sit in my usual spot, figuring I’d act as if Saturday night hadn’t happened unless James felt otherwise. So I casually walked over to my normal seat a couple of seats down from James, swinging my Transfiguration textbook in my hand as I went.
I took my seat and opened my book to the page I’d been last studying, debating in my head if I should at least make an acknowledgement to James. However, just when I had decided I should maybe give him a casual nod, he made the decision for me. He looked up from the letter he always seemed to be writing, tucked it into his pocket, and scooted over until he was sitting in front of me.
“You didn’t come,” he stated simply.
I looked up at him, confused. “Didn’t come where?”
“To the Quidditch Pitch. Yesterday night,” James explained, drumming his fingers onto the table. “I figured you would.”
“Oh,” I said, still a bit confused at the fact that he had maybe even wanted me to be there. “I didn’t know…”
“It’s fine,” James responded, brushing my words off. “You must’ve just finished your quest for control, right?”
“Quest?” I asked, tilting my head to one side.
“Yeah, you know,” James said as if I did, “your journey to become in control. That’s why you watch me fly, right?”
“I’m not sure…” I began. “What makes you think I want to be in control?”
“Everyone does, at some point,” James pointed out. “It would make things a lot easier.”
I watched out of the corner of my eye, two first year Ravenclaw girls enter the Great hall. They were both giggling with each other, then caught sight of James and me, and started to whisper.
“So, do you want to be in control?” I asked him curiously, focusing my gaze back onto him.
“Nope,” James replied, popping the ‘p’. “I learned long ago that trying to be is useless.”
I studied his face as he said this. His mouth was in a straight line and his eyes were darker, the brown around the irises taking over all the other colors. I wondered for what felt like the millionth time, what he was thinking about.
“Well,” I said, straightening up. “I don’t want to be in control.”
“That’s a lie,” James said immediately. “There must be something in your life you want more control over.”
As soon as he said this, my thoughts flashed to Georgiana’s catlike smile, and my mum’s pushy presence. James seemed to notice the change in my expression and he crossed his arms smugly.
“Maybe one thing,” I said, looking down at my hands and fiddling with the pages of the Transfiguration textbook.
James kept looking at me, as if waiting for something else.
“What?” I asked, after his gaze began to make me uncomfortable.
“Well, what is it?” James asked, as if he had been obvious the whole time.
“Um... nothing,” I said, brushing him off. “Just some stuff with my mum.”
“Stuff,” James repeated slowly. “Okay.”
“It’s just…” I started, suddenly feeling the need to explain myself, “my mum’s, like, obsessed with the pageanting world. She’s been pushing me into competition’s ever since I was little and…. I hate them.”
As I said these words, I felt unsettled. I had never expressed my hatred for pageants out loud before, let alone to someone like James. I mean, I barely knew him. Why had I felt the need to tell him such a personal detail?
“Wow,” James said, letting out a breath slowly. “Miss Teen Witch hates pageants. Who would’ve thought?”
“Yeah, well,” I said, shrugging it off. “It’s just I would like more control over what I get to do with my life. But that’s normal.”
“Not really,” James said, confusing me.
“But—” I began, shocked at James’ response. “You just said that trying to be in control is useless.”
“I meant it in the aspect of trying to control things out of your control. Like the weather, or things other people do,” James explained. “You can decide not listen to your mum and quit pageanting if you want.”
It had been weird, because James had made it all sound like a choice. As though everything my mother had asked of me, I did willingly. And maybe, I had.
“Tash?” Dom asked, suddenly bringing me back to the Arithmancy room. “Explain what you’ve been doing on your nightly escapades, un por favor?”
I opened my mouth, trying to come up with an explanation that made a shred of sense, but my mind drew a blank.
“Okay class, I’m going to be giving you back your last tests. And I have to say, I am a bit underwhelmed with how all of you performed on it,” Professor Vector stated, rescuing me from an answer.
Dom and I both snapped our head to the teacher, who was now fiddling around her desk and pulling out a stack of graded papers.
Once she held them in her hand, she started walking around the room, passing the papers to the students they belonged to. I watched as many students looked at their grade and either seemed very sad or folded the test into paper airplanes; I felt myself become nervous.
I mean, I may sound crazy, but I really wanted to do well at school.
“Now some of you, of course, preformed outstandingly,” Professor Vector said, as she walked down the aisle and slapped a test on my desk. I looked down at the grade to see a bright red O, written thick and deliberately on the paper. I held back a smile.
“Nerd,” Dom teased. However, Professor Vector overheard.
“Most, however,” Professor Vector began again, “obviously haven’t been paying attention to the subject matter. And it shows.”
Professor Vector took the moment to slap Dom’s test in front of her, face up. A large ‘T’ was written on it. As Professor Vector kept walking across the classroom, Dom rolled her eyes.
“She makes it sound like I care about this class,” Dom stated to me, tucking the test into her rucksack.
“Shouldn’t you?” I asked tentatively.
“No,” Dom answered, as though my question was preposterous. “I’m going to be an international Quidditch star. They hardly care if you’re good at Arithmancy.”
“I guess...” I said trailing off. It was at this moment that the bell rang, signaling the end of class. Dom and I got up and packed up our books, before walking out of the classroom.
“So, how’d you do on the test?!” Rose asked. She was waiting outside the classroom door, having left the room before us, wide-eyed. She looked from me to Dom expectantly. Molly, who had just come from Astronomy, was leaning against the wall outside the Arithmancy door, inspecting her nails and wearing a bored expression.
“Oh you know, the usual,” Dom shrugged, as if it were no big deal.
“You got a ‘T’ then?” Molly asked, ever the blunt one.
“Molly!” Rose chastised. “You’re being rude.”
“But she’s also being right,” Dom said, not at all affected by Molly’s words. “I did get a ‘T’.”
“Oh,” Rose said, making a sympathetic face at Dom. “I’m so sorry! Don’t worry though, we can still bring your grade up. Let’s have a study night tonight, okay?”
“Rose,” Dom said, sighing. “I honestly don’t care about my grades. Arithmancy is useless to me.”
“Grades are not useless!” Rose argued, causing Molly to sigh in annoyance.
“Here we go again,” Molly drawls.
“I understand you want to be an international Quidditch player, but what if that doesn’t work out? You need to have a back-up plan—”
“Oi! Rose, shut your gob. Dom doesn’t need a back up plan. She’s a brilliant flier,” Gryffin said, sliding in from whatever class had just ended for him and slinging one arm around Rose and the other around Molly. Molly made a disgusted face, and shoved him off of her, but he seemed unfazed.
“Thank you, Gryffin,” Dom said, shooting him a toothy grin, he saluted back to her.
“Besides,” Dom started, looking at Rose, “You haven’t told us what you got on your test.”
“I got an E,” Rose said simply, looking a little upset by the grade. “Professor Vector’s such a picky grader.”
“Not picky enough for Tash though,” Dom said, gesturing to me. “This little loser got an O.”
Rose, Molly, and Gryffin all snapped their heads towards me. I fidgeted. Thanks a lot, Dom.
“You beat Rose?” Gryffin asked, looking at me incredulously.
“Um…. I guess,” I said unsurely, not knowing how I was supposed to respond.
“Wow,” Molly said, looking at me as though I had just escaped the loony bin.
I bit my lip again, starting to feel extremely uncomfortable and looked at Rose. She was staring at me with a very calculating expression, and then she squealed.
“Oh my gosh! This is amazing! I have someone that can tutor me in Arithmancy!” Rose said excitedly, grabbing my hand and beginning to jump up and down. “You need to teach me your studying methods, pronto.”
“Er… okay,” I said, feeling very overwhelmed at Rose’s response.
“Beauty and brains…” Gryffin said, waggling his eyes at me and then winking. “I like it.”
Dom and Molly exchanged a look, and then they both brought up a hand and slapped Gryffin on the back of the head.
“You know,” I said, looking up from the textbook I was reading as Scorpius entered the library and walked over to me, “Dom’s very angry with you.”
This was true. While I had thought Dom’s ranting about Scorpius would end in Arithmancy, she had been going on and on in every class about how much she hated Scorpius. He was either an unreasonable captain, an undermining pig, or jealous that she was a better flyer. Either way, I was getting a bit tired of Dom’s complaining, and I figured that maybe talking to Scorpius would get things solved.
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Scorpius responded, rolling his eyes as he pulled out the chair across from me. He dropped his textbooks loudly onto the table, causing Madame Pince to glare at us, before sitting down.
“She also says the new seeker is this close to quitting,” I stated, putting my thumb and index finger very closely together to show my point.
“So be it.” Scorpius shrugged. “There will always be more shitty seekers.”
“You’re terrible,” I said, shaking my head and then looking back down at my book.
“Not as terrible as our seeker,” Scorpius joked back, seeming proud of his witty response.
I sighed. “Why can’t you just be a nicer captain?”
“I am nice!” Scorpius defended, looking slightly outraged at my words. “Did Dom tell you I was a bad captain?”
“No,” I said, trying to think of a proper way to explain. “She just thinks you pick on her a bit.”
“Typical,” Scorpius said, his nostrils flaring. “I always have to be the bad guy in Dom’s eyes. It’s never that I lecture her because she’s always late to practice and acts like they’re are a big waste of time. Or the fact that she’s always pulling these risky moves that won’t at all benefit the team. Or—”
“Scorp,” I said, holding my hand up to interrupt him. “Forget I said anything, okay? I wasn’t trying to attack you.”
Scorpius leaned back in his chair and let out a long breath, running his hands through his hair. “Sorry, Natasha. I know you didn’t mean anything. Dom can just be so…”
“Dom?” I suggested after Scorpius had drawn a blank.
“Yeah,” he agreed, nodding his head. He then looked down at his textbook, as if remembering that he actually needed to study, and started to read it.
After a few minutes, we had both grown into the comfortable silence we normally did whenever we studied together. I was just starting to memorize Arithmancy equations when there was a tap on the windowsill in the library, and I looked over to see a school owl holding a letter for me. I walked over to the window, Scorpius still concentrating on his work, and let the owl in. It held it’s leg out for me and I took the letter, before it flew back out the still cracked window.
I looked down at the letter in my hand, and saw my mother’s loopy signature right across the front of it. I sighed and braced myself, before opening the letter.
Great News! Remember when I mentioned how we might get the chance to do another billboard for Hogsmeade? Well, we got it! Next week there will be another shoot for the billboard and it will hang right in the middle of the town! How amazing is that? You’ll have to miss one school day next week, but that hardly matters compared to this amazing opportunity. I’ll write you back with all of the details soon. You should be so proud of yourself honey! This is an amazing achievement.
Love always, Mum
“Who’s it from?” Scorpius asked, looking up from his textbook.
“Oh,” I said surprised, putting the letter in my pocket and turning around to look at him. “It’s just my mum. She’s really happy about how my classes are going.”
Scorpius nodded and then looked back at my book and I suddenly felt confused. Why had I lied? They would all find out soon enough that I was doing another billboard shoot. I mean it was going to be in the middle of Hogsmeade, which is where we have monthly visits. Where everyone at school would see it. Where who I actually was would be inescapable.
A/N: Hello my lovely amazing readers! I'm very sorry about how long it took for me to get this chapter out, I just had so much to do when it came to college apps. And then once I finished college apps I had to update my other, even more neglected story which made this story neglected even further and it was just this vicious cycle.
Good news is I finished college apps and have done almost all of my college interviews now, so everything's become much much better. Not to mention the second half of the year is going to be a breeze compared to the first half, since on wednesdays and fridays I have three free periods in a row, and then one free period all of my other days.
So that means updates will be MUCH quicker than they have been. I've already gotten back into the swing of writing and I managed to pop out three chapters in less than a month. SO YAY ME!
Okay my explanation was definitely way to long but anyway, review below and please tell me what you think of the chapter! There was a lot of James in it, so I hope you all were happy :) I just want to say you guys are some of the best readers/reviewers in the world and idunno what I'd do without you guys!
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