I’m eating breakfast at the kitchen table the next morning when James comes flying down the steps (not literally as he doesn’t have a broomstick) and plops down in the seat next to me, the biggest smile on his face.
“What is it?” I ask, turning to look at him. He beams and hands me four envelopes, two of them opened, two not.
The Quidditch teams.
I flip over the envelope of the first letter and see that it’s from the Chuddley Cannons. I glance up at James and he says, “Go ahead, read it. I only got through the Cannons and Puddlemere, but it’s enough.” He sighs happily.
Rolling my eyes slightly at his behavior I smirk as I unfold the letter and set it out on the table.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We would like to thank you for trying out for the Chuddley Cannons. We were impressed by you speed and agility during the tryouts, and if you’re up for the job we would be pleased to hear if you could take the position of Reserve Seeker on our team…
I scan the rest of the letter, and then, smiling, at his fortune, I unfold the note from Puddlemere.
Dear Mr. Potter,
Your tryout for the Puddlemere United team was most impressive, and if you’re up for the position, we would like you to take a spot as Reserve Seeker on our team. We would like to thank you for your time in our tryouts and your consideration of this team. Please contact us to say whether or not you will take the position…
Sneaking James a look, I open the envelope for the Falcons and read the next letter.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We understand that you have tried out for the place of seeker on the Falmouth Flacons Quidditch team. We would like to thank you for your time and inform you that if you wish, you may take up the position as Reserve Seeker on the team…
I quickly finish the letter, looking mainly at the pay again. Ten galleons and twenty sickles per game. Not bad.
I open the last one, the letter from the Arrows, and read:
Dear Mr. Potter,
Your tryouts for the position of Seeker for our team was outstanding, and while we understand you have tried out for other teams we would be thrilled if you would accept the position of Seeker on our team. We understand it isn’t common for a new team member to skip a few years playing as a Reserve on the team, but we are in desperate need of a Seeker, and you seem perfect for the job. The pay would be twenty galleons per game most likely…
“James, which team are you going to choose?” I ask, looking up at him.
He pauses for a second, considering, and then says dreamily, “Probably Puddlemere or the Falcons. They have the best chance of winning…”
I shove the letter from the Arrows in his hands. He gives me and odd look, but he glances down at it, reading as I tell him, “They want to take you on as Seeker, not Reserve. The pay’s twenty galleons per game! Twenty galleons, James!”
James’s eyes go wide and he looks up at me, the biggest smile on his face. He looks exuberant, jubilated, and I feel happy to know that he’s slowly moving on, slowly trying to ease his way out of his grief for dad.
He hugs me slightly, and I hug him back, surprised, before he gasps, “Arrows it is.”
He dashes upstairs, most likely to write his response to the Arrows as Lily comes down the stairs. She glances at James, and then, as she gets a glass of milk she looks at me and asks, “What’s with him?”
I chuckle. “You’ll find out tonight at the family dinner, probably. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Lily glances up the steps, up at me and then grins slightly. “Alright. He just seems so excited. I haven’t seen him like that since he found out he was captain of the Quidditch team at the beginning of sixth year.”
I smile slightly as we both look up the steps again. James comes down, jacket in hand and tells us, “I’ll be back in a bit.”
He runs out of the house, and Lily stares after him, her jaw dropped. “What the hell has gotten into him?” she asks me as she turns to look at me. I smirk.
“Nothing, nothing,” I say, shaking my head.
Well, dinner’s sure to start off with a bang tonight, I think as James winks at me nervously from across the table.
I grin back at him, silently reassuring him that everything will be okay. He has to know that. No matter what happens, we’re all family and everything will turn out fine in the end. Even if dad isn’t here. No matter what, it’ll be okay.
As everyone sits down at the table, James stands up with a cough. Every eye turns to him— even Uncle Ron stops eating, which is a miracle if I ever saw one.
“I, er, I have something to say,” James says nervously, glancing around the table.
Someone calls out, “Obviously!” and there are a few snickers. James glares in the general direction of the person who spoke and pouts slightly.
Then, shaking his head he continues, “I have a job. Thought you might want to know.”
“What?” Lily demands, and James looks down at smirks at her.
“I’m playing as the seeker for the Appleby Arrows starting this season. The job pays twenty galleons per game.”
There is a long silence, and then loud congratulations and laughter flood the room. I smile and lean back in my chair, watching as everyone leans over to the hug James, to ask questions about his new position.
The only thing I can think of is dad.
I think about how happy he would be if he was here, how happy all of us would be. I try to imagine the big smile he would give at James’s news.
Sighing, I turn my head to the side to find Rose looking at me. She leans closer to me and asks, “No Scorpius tonight, huh?”
I chuckle. “You upset?”
She turns a bright red at my smirk. “No,” she grumbles. “It just seems that you two are attached at the hip lately. I rarely ever see one of you without the other.”
I smirk again and she asks, “So where is he?”
Biting my lip, I admit, “I thought it would be better to not ask him to come after what happened last time.”
She blinks, glances at Fred, who’s about halfway down the table from where we are, and then at Uncle Ron, who’s sitting by Aunt Hermione and my mum, and she nods slowly.
“Probably a good idea,” she admits softly, frowning slightly.
I offer a weak smile. It’s kind of odd that a few months ago I didn’t even know Scorpius. Now I can’t imagine living without him. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had.
I truthfully don’t think I’ll ever have to watch him go, though. He’ll most likely marry Rose… I smile at that thought.
They should just stop being blind already. It’s so ridiculous.
Rose glances at me. “What’s with you?” she asks, her nose wrinkling at the mischievous smile on my face.
“Nothing,” I tell her. “Just contemplating the future.”
She raises an eyebrow, probably thinking that I’m a strange person. I can’t ever imagine why…
“You like what you see?” she asks, chuckling softly.
“Most definitely.” I smirk at her. “You’re the most predictable one of all.”
She sighs. “I’m going to marry Scorpius. Yeah, I know. Got it.”
I snicker. “Stop being blind then. Just go on a date with him already.”
She shakes her head quickly. “He doesn’t like me back, Al.” Seeing that I’m about to protest, she continues, “Even if he does, my dad would kill us both.”
“Oh, stop it,” I order. “Don’t let your dad get in your way. Aren’t you the one who always says that you hate being shadowed by your parents? You hate how we have to live up to them?” She makes a face as I add, “Make your own history, Rosie. Who cares whether they like it or not?”
She smiles slightly and shakes her head, turning away. “You don’t understand,” she says softly.
I roll my eyes at her back. Blind. Blind, blind, blind.
“He says the same thing,” I grumble under my breath and she glances back at me.
“What?” She asks, blinking at me.
“Er, nothing,” I say, making a face at her, knowing she’s going to see right through this. She knows me too well.
“Liar,” she accuses, smirking at me. I scoff, causing her to laugh.
“I’m not,” I protest. “When have I ever lied to you?”
“Oh, how about the time when you lied to get me to de-gnome gram’s garden, or the time when you lied to make me—”
“Okay,” I interrupt, putting my hands over my ears. “I get it, I get it. Slytherins are liars. I know. I got it.”
She smirks slightly, her blue eyes twinkling.
“So, did you know?” she asks after a moment.
“Know what?” I question, turning to look at her. She smiles slightly.
“Did you know about James?”
“Yeah,” I respond with a slight smile. “He told me first.”
“Oh, don’t you feel so special.”
“I know. It’s incredible.”
We laugh together for a moment and she looks at me, raising an eyebrow. “Do you think we could get free tickets to his first game?”
I let out a bark of laughter. “I wish… No. Probably not.”
Rose fake pouts. “Now I’m sad, Al.”
“Sorry,” I say, snorting. “I know that it’s a big letdown…”
“Seriously,” she agrees. “It’s awful. I’m going to be all depressed for weeks.” I open my mouth to say something but she interrupts me with, “Don’t say anything. I think I might start crying.”
“Oh, no,” I say, faking a sad tone. “Rosie, it’ll be okay…”
She fakes a sniffle and looks down at her hands. “But, Al, it’s so saddening. I was really looking forward to it…”
I can barely contain my laughter. “Yeah, I know.”
“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” she complains, trying to hide a smile.
Suddenly, I stop. Dad flashes into my mind. The worst thing that’s ever happened to me… I’m living a nightmare it seems sometimes. Half the time I want to run, and I can’t. I just want dad back.
I miss him so much.
Oh, Merlin, I’m the biggest wimp…
I shake my head slowly, biting a trembling bottom lip. I am not going to cry. I am not going to cry. I’m not.
Rose sees my reaction and instantly stops laughing. Her shoulders droop slightly, and she frowns at me. She tugs a hand through her red hair and says, “Al, I’m sorry. I wasn’t…”
“No,” I say after a moment, fighting tears that I don’t want to shed. “It’s… It’s okay…. I just…” I look up at her and finally say pitifully, “I… I miss him so much…” My bottom lip trembles.
Rose sighs sadly and wraps an arm around my shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Al, you know it will. And if it makes you happy I’ll marry Scorpius someday.”
I let out a watery chuckle. “Well, I wouldn’t be the only one who’d be happy about that,” I quip after a moment, and she blushes.
I let out a trembling sigh, and Rose squeezes me a little tighter, whispering in my ear, “Al, I don’t know what you’re up to, and I know you won’t tell me, but you’re up to something. I don’t care if you don’t tell me. But if you think you can find Uncle Harry then I know you will. He’s out there somewhere, Al, just waiting for you to find him. You can do it. I know you can. You just have to look at things a different way and you’ll find the answer.”
I suddenly have a strong urge to blurt the whole thing out to her, to tell her about Blaise Zabini, the Azkaban breakout, the secret room in dad’s ministry office, the secret passageways in our house, and Gage.
I don’t know who he is, but I know he has to know where my dad is. I have to find him. I have too.
But it doesn’t make sense. Almost all the death eaters on the list are dead or in Azkaban. And the ones who aren’t either have been watched by aurors the whole time. It doesn’t make any sense.
Then something occurs to me.
What if… What if Gage is someone on the list? Someone who’s supposedly dead… But isn’t really. Someone who’s been hiding out… And has suddenly come back to take revenge.
I jerk upright, eyes wide, staring. You just have to look at things a different way and you’ll find the answer…
“Of course,” I breathe, still staring off.
“Al?” Rose asks, her brow furrowing. She leans to look at me, red hair spilling over her shoulders, across the table.
“You’re a genius,” I gasp to her. She blinks at me.
“Wh—What did I say?” She asks after a moment, surprise coloring her voice.
I grin at her, realizing that I’ve been missing this the whole time. It’s been right there all along. Of course. “Thank you,” I say quickly, a huge smile lighting my face as I turn to look at her.
Scorpius… I need to talk to Scorpius. I need to look at the list again, make sure that I’m not missing anything…
And fast. I need to do it fast.
I need to find dad.
“Al?” Rose questions, raising an eyebrow at me. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m…” I take in a deep, satisfied breath and smile. “I’m perfect. And you’re absolutely brilliant.”
Her eyes narrow slightly at me. “Are you sure… Albus… What is… What are you thinking?”
I look at her, meeting her shimmering blue eyes, unable to keep a smile from lighting my face. “I’m thinking that I know just what I’m going to do now. Thanks to you.”
Her brow furrows, and I can see confusion flash through her eyes. “What are you rambling about?”
This is perfect. I should’ve realized it all along. It should lead me straight to dad… If only I can find who Gage truly is…
I glance at her. “I’m not rambling,” I inform her. “I’m looking at things a different way and figuring out how to get the answers I’m looking for.”
She shakes her head at me and I just smirk back. I turn to look at Louis, who’s sitting next to me as Rose begins to mutter to herself under her breath.
“What are you grinning about?” Louis asks, raising an eyebrow at me.
“Nothing much,” I say, biting my lip to keep from bursting. This is it. I know how to find dad now. “Just… I never imagined James with a job.”
Louis snickers. I grin back at him, turning my head to look at my family. James and Lily are talking to Aunt Hermione and mum, all of them laughing. Hugo is further down the table with Dom, Teddy, and Victoire. They’re all talking about this and that. Everyone else is chatting, laughing, just enjoying life. I lean my head back against my chair, closing my eyes and take in the warm feeling in the air, the laughter that fills the house, the happiness that seems to radiate from everywhere. I let out a sigh.
I wish I could join in, but the only thing I can think about is dad. What he would be doing if he was here, who he would be talking to…
My shoulders droop slightly. For a moment I wonder where he is right now.
He can’t be dead. I’ll hold onto that hope until he’s back with us again, but still I wonder what’s happening to him, where he is, if he’s thinking about us…
Dad, I think to myself. I know you can’t hear me. And that’s okay. It’s just… You have to come back, okay? You can’t leave me. Please.
Shaking my head, I turn to look at Roxanne, who’s calling my name, forcing a smile and start up another conversation.
It all feels so fake. None of this is right without dad. Nothing is. Why does everything seem so empty with him missing? Is it just me?
No. I shake my head.
I’m going to find dad.
Even if it kills me.
A/N: Chapter thirteen. I swear, Scorpius will be in the next chapter. I practically died when I realized I couldn’t fit him into this chapter. I missed him so much. :(
Anyways, fourteen… Hmm… Al will get a little mystic on us; there’ll be some divination, and Astoria.
A preview, anyone?:
I smile at Lily and ask, “You want your future told?”
Rolling her eyes, she moves so she’s sitting across from me and sighs. “Alright. Just don’t go all Trelawney on me.” I snicker slightly at this, trying to imagine myself acting like Professor Trelawney. Lily makes her voice a bit higher pitched and wobbly and says, “Oh, my, oh, no… I see a grim… You’re going to die, dear.” We both laugh for a short moment. Even though I like Professor Trelawney I know she can be a bit eccentric sometimes, and her death predictions getting annoying fast. Lily grins and asks, “What do I do?”
I hand her a tea cup, smirking. “Try this one first.”
Alright. The chapter will be up in a few days, thank you all for reading. If you feel like filling up that empty box down there, a review would be most welcome. XD