Chapter 47 : The Good-Luck Ducks
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For imacullenpottergirl for calling me a god, haha :) Enjoy!
Your father and I are worried about you. Landing in the hospital twice in one week. Neither of the injuries Quidditch-induced. That’s just not like you. Please take it easy. Lily told me you have another practice today. I’d like it if you didn’t fly. You don’t have a coach to tell you these things, so I’ll be your makeshift coach. Besides, if Lily tells me you flew today, I won’t send you anymore tickets to Quidditch games for you and your friends. Look at Mummy bribe.
I know things are hard with you and Avery right now, but please don’t forget you’re friends. Or you were. For seven years. You had a bond few others can even compare to. I don’t want you to throw that all away because you didn’t work. You should just take a deep breath and move on with your life. You’ll become friends again and everything will work itself out.
Neville told us you’re falling a little behind on your Herbology homework. Make sure you’re keeping up with your studies, James. They’re important, even if studying plants seems stupid. It’s not. They are quite useful. Yes, even the pus-filled ones. Even though they’re gross. Don’t bring them home.
I’m happy to see you and your father getting along again. He wouldn’t tell me what happened, but he told me that both of you saw reason, which I’m thrilled to hear. I didn’t like being stuck in the middle, and you two were so close growing up. He just wants the best for you. He even brought up you playing for the Tornadoes yesterday! He thinks you definitely have a shot. Apparently, one of their Chasers keeps getting injured every other game. Maybe you can try for a reserve slot?
I love you, James! Write back more often than once a month, please.
All my love,
Stupid Professor Longbottom ruining my life. Telling Mum I wasn’t getting my homework in. It wasn’t my fault all those plants looked the same. And that I was mastering my sketch of a Snitch during the lectures. It was looking really good. Even Freddie told me so.
It was a few days after I had entered the hospital wing and I was finally released. My skin was saggy. Okay, not really, but I wasn’t thrilled. Madam Bones said my head injury was worse than “previously anticipated” which meant she didn’t fucking know what she was talking about. So I stayed in the hospital wing a grand total of four days before nearly clawing my way up the curtains in an escape attempt. She was sort of right, though. It was only this morning that I stopped being so dizzy when I sat up.
I got through classes all right, but I didn’t talk much. A comment here or there to Bink and Freddie, but other than that very little. I actually took notes. Longbottom’s jaw dropped each time he looked over. The Snitch sketch could wait.
For another ten minutes.
I grabbed a bag from upstairs and shuffled down to the pitch for afternoon practice. It was getting warmer now, though the wind was still chilly. It had stopped raining earlier and the grass was still soggy.
“How was it then?” I asked Freddie when he walked in with Bink. I stared at my broom. Mum would kill me.
“How was what?” Fred tossed his bag into his locker and pulled off his shirt.
“Amy,” I replied, raising a brow. “How was shagging her?”
Fred’s face colored instantly. Bink burst into laughter.
“He didn’t do it!” Bink cried and got shoved into his locker. “What? You didn’t!”
“I could have!” Fred said with a pout, shrugging on his practice jersey, complete with mud stains and two holes in the arms. “Shut up, Legace. I could have.”
“So what happened?”
“Can I tell it?” Bink grinned like a kid in a candy store. Or an adult in a lingerie shop. “I want to tell the story. Can I tell the story?” He hoisted himself out of the locker and clapped his hands together like a monkey with cymbals.
“Fucking go ahead.” Fred fell onto the bench with a disgruntled expression and started changing his shoes. “No need for me to have self esteem anyway...”
Bink grinned and started to undress. “Okay, so here’s what happened,” he said. “Fred gets back to the dorm later that first afternoon you were in the hospital. Goes through this long list of moves he’s going to make. He’s going to take her out to a nice dinner and there’s going to be candlelight and all this cheesy shit.” He was bouncing on the balls of his feet. “He put on his good boxers.”
“The good-luck ducks?” I said, gasping.
“Yes!” Bink cried and Fred threw a sock across the room. “Those exactly. So the time is getting closer and closer and he’s going through all this shit he’s going to do. We even made a plan to get Edwards out of the dormitory. I brought blankets down to sleep on the couch in the common room. So then he goes to meet her outside of the common room because she said she’d meet him right outside of the portrait hole. He gets this manly look about him and does this weird roar thing – which I will never let him live down, by the way – and walks down the staircase.” He looked positively giddy. “And of course, I’m following him. So I trail him down there and his hand hesitates over the portrait and then he takes out his wand, thinking no one is watching, and conjours a bouquet of red roses and walks out.”
I snorted, shoe dropping from my grip as I laughed. “Freddie!” I wailed. “You got her roses when you wanted to shag her?”
“SHUT UP RIGHT NOW.”
Bink laughed harder. “So then he comes back later his clothes are still in tact, but he’s got some grass stains, so I start to congratulate him and he tells me to stuff it.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“Because after the wonderful pasta dinner, they sat by the lake and snuggled.” Bink lost it laughing again.
“So much for getting laid,” I murmured and got a shoe to the head. “OY! Injury!”
Fred flipped me off. “Shut up. It was a nice sodding date and she’s a nice girl.”
“You love her,” Bink teased. Fred was running out of things to throw. “Oh, come on, Fred. You dated Abigail.”
“Yeah, look how that turned out.” He rolled his eyes. “Can we just talk about Quidditch?”
“How good is Amy?” I asked.
“I cannot stand either of you.” Fred narrowed his eyes just as the door opened and Lily walked in with Paloma and Wesley. Wesley was keeping his distance. From both of them.
“James, you’re not practicing today,” Lily said matter-of-factly. She shoved me back down onto the bench. “Or I will tell Mum.”
“I hate you,” I grumbled, crossing my arms. “You’re doing like a thousand laps.”
“Fat chance,” she said. “I’m running the practice. And if you get smart with me I’ll run the practice Sunday too.” She smiled and kissed my forehead.
Paloma and Wesley both walked in silence to their lockers. I watched them carefully. I liked the way Paloma’s hips moved, but that was not the point. The point was, it was obvious Albus had been an idiot and hadn’t talked to her. It was also obvious that Wesley did not want to get into that situation. At all.
I didn’t blame him after my brother discovered his ability to throw a hit.
Avery showed up ten minutes into practice. I was lounging on the bench outside, watching the team’s movements. Every thirty seconds I’d shout something at one of them. This was an entirely different angle to analyze Wesley’s poor diving skills and Fred’s need to hold the Quaffle under his left arm only. The duties of a captain were never done.
She changed quickly, avoiding my eyes, and kicked off, taking her position in front of the hoops. Though she looked frazzled, Avery Flynn saved everything that came at her. This frustrated Bink and Fred to no end. Eventually, Bink flew right next to her and held her arms behind her back while Fred flew through the hoop with with the Quaffle in his (left) hand.
I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation in the hospital. I wasn’t completely sure if it was real or not. The drugs and lack of sleep did that to me. But it felt real. What she said. Everything felt real.
Both of our careers were over. There was no denying it. Harry Potter had a lot of pull at the Ministry, but he had zero in the Quidditch world. Mum got pregnant too early to really establish herself as a great. But luckily, late enough to get me awesome box tickets. Could they say something? Of course. But I had no proof other than my soiled name.
I could fall back on stupid internships at the Ministry, but what would she do? I could get her any job she wanted. Well, Dad could. She probably wouldn’t take it. She could be a Healer, like she said, but she had to go to school for that. You couldn’t just walk into St. Mungos and say, oy! I want to Heal!
I wish. I’d be good at that.
But she confronted him. Her father. Blew a village block to bits. Avery Flynn, what a woman.
But she didn’t apologize. Didn’t say sorry for what she did. Said she did it because of what I said. But what I said was because of what she said.
Only difference? I didn’t hex her.
I didn’t know what to think. I just knew I forgot about the rest of the players on the team, and watched her for the entire rest of the practice.
Mum was right. Avery and I used to be great mates before this stupid relationship business got in our way. If we were just mates, I would have told her in a second about her father. We would have fixed it and taken him out and everything would have been fine. We could be friends again. We definitely could.
Maybe it wouldn’t be the same. Or maybe it would.
I had to try. I couldn’t abandon her, not when her father did what he did and she didn’t have a dream career anymore.
I just wished she didn’t look so miserable playing the game she loved.
Friday was my favorite day. Because it was Transfiguration.
I sat at my table, drumming my fingers along the countertop and staring into Falcon Cat’s cage. She was purring and nudging her nose against a small ball of yarn I put in before we left. Bink and Fred flanked me, both pissed I’d swatted their hands away when they tried to pet Falcon Cat. She was not to be petted. Not yet. Before this glorious transformation.
I was completely ready. I’d been practicing. Not with Falcon Cat, but with other cats in the store cupboard. I couldn’t risk getting Falcon Cat out of Avery’s dormitory.
In a moment of panic before class, I sent Nia up there.
The scratches on her arms refused to be healed by magic.
Avery was tapping her foot impatiently.
When it was my turn, I raised my wand and pointed it at Falcon Cat. Teacup!
Still a cat.
I took her out of the cage and plopped her in front of me. Her bright, green eyes widened.
Nope. Still a cat.
I wrinkled my nose. Everyone was looking at me. Shit. I patted Falcon Cat on the head.
“Turn into a teacup, yeah?” I whispered. Fred was drinking tea out of his. Git.
Falcon Cat meowed and several girls in the room let out tiny squeals. Bloody fuck. This wasn’t okay. In annoyance, I uttered the charm again. Falcon Cat stretched and rubbed against my arm.
Avery stood up, her chair sliding against the stone floor. She sniffled, so I assumed it was to get tissues. She brushed past Bink and coughed behind me. A cough that sounded oddly like “flick your wand.” I blinked. She was gone and blowing her nose in the corner of the room.
I flicked my wand.
Falcon Cat was Falcon Teacup.
I let out a yelp, showed the professor, and undid the charm quickly, pulling Falcon Cat into my arms for a snuggle.
It was a man night in the dormitory. Okay, not really a man night, but it was overloaded for the most part. I was lounging on my bed. Albus was on the end looking sulky. Fred was on his own bed flipping through a magazine of swim-suit clad women. Bink was near the mirror, adjusting his tie for his date with my cousin.
The room smelled a little like sizzled hair because I’d already hexed him four times. I had to hand it to him, though. He was adamant about taking her out. I was happy to see Albus did not care for this either.
“Isn’t he a bit of a womanizer?” he whispered to me.
I nodded. “Twenty minutes is his usual time,” I noted.
“Might as well start buying baby clothes,” Albus mumbled and Bink slapped him on the back of the head. “I’m sorry. Gender-specific baby clothes.”
I laughed. “Rosey hates that color,” I noted.
“What color?” Bink asked, flattening his hair.
“Whatever color you’re wearing.” I shrugged.
“You’re not going to get me to back out,” Bink said with a shrug. “I’m going on this date. And we’re not going to shag.”
“Rose wouldn’t put out on the first date anyway,” Albus said matter-of-factly. “She’s a classy girl.”
“Did Haley Star put out before you got hexed?” Bink asked, glancing over his shoulder.
“Haley is a classy girl too!” Albus said loudly.
I laughed. “We snogged,” I said. “She’s great.”
“We should do a triple date,” Bink said, kicking Fred’s bed. “What d’you think? Me, Rose, you, Amy, James, and Haley.”
Fred nodded. “Let’s play laser tag.”
“What say you, Potter?” Bink asked. He used a lint brush to wipe off his blazer.
I shrugged. “Don’t care,” I noted. “I’m sure Haley would be up for it. She’s fun.”
“You don’t seem very interested,” said Bink. “Do you not like laser tag? They have it uptown in Hogsmeade. At that warehouse building where we had Halloween.”
I shrugged again. “Just let me know when,” I said.
Bink shot me a look. “All right, mate,” he said. “Okay, how do I look then?”
“Like a git taking out my cousin,” Albus mumbled and I smirked.
“Agreed,” I said with a heavy nod.
Bink flipped us off and walked out.
“Want to follow him out?” Fred asked.
The three of us shot out of bed and onto the landing. We hid behind the railing. My wand was in my hand. Just in case. I didn’t see Hugo around, so it was my responsibility. To my surprise, Albus had his wand out too.
Bink walked down the spiral stairs. We could see the confusion on his face when he spotted Rose, who was at the table by the window, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, flipping through her Charms book. Her feet were up on another chair.
“Hey,” Bink said, a brow raising. “You...erm...ready to go?”
“Go where?” Rose glanced up, her eyes widening at his very put-together look.
Bink ran his fingers through his hair. “I definitely asked you out tonight.”
She gaped at him. “You were serious?”
I had to put my hand over Al’s mouth to stop him from blowing our cover by laughing so hard. Fred had silent tears of joy streaming down his cheeks. I was biting down on my lip. Hard.
“Yeah,” Bink said, glancing over his shoulder. Luckily, he had no idea people were watching him. “I’m sorry, why did you think I wasn’t?” He raked his hands through his blond hair.
“It’s you,” Rose said simply. She brought her feet down off the chair. “All we do is argue. And tease each other. And get angry with each other. We even fought over how you were carrying James back to the hospital. We were arguing before while Lily was running up ahead of us.”
Bink shrugged. “So?” he said. “I asked you out because I wanted to take you out.” He moved his fingers through his hair again. “Look, this was a stupid idea.” He took a step back.
“I thought you were joking!” Rose said, jumping to her feet.
Albus snorted into my hand. I slapped him on the back of the head.
“Well, I wasn’t.” Bink shook his head. I could tell he was about to walk back upstairs, but hesitated. He knew we’d be up there and we’d tear him apart if he told us what actually happened.
“You look nice,” Rose noted, moving her fingers to twirl around a piece of her hair.
He turned. “Yeah, well, this is what happens when I want to take a girl out.” He shrugged. “I’ll see you around, Weasley.” He nodded to her and moved swiftly toward the portrait hole.
“Wait!” Rose scrunched up her pale nose. “Shit, Bink. Just wait.”
He turned, annoyed expression written all over his face.
“Give me ten minutes, okay?” She slammed her book shut. He shrugged. She disappeared up the other staircase.
I moved my hand from Al’s face and looked between him and Freddie. “She’s going,” I said. “I cannot believe she’s going.”
“He’s disgusting,” Albus grumbled.
“Speaking of disgusting,” I said, moving to sit all the way on the ground. “How’s the Paloma debacle coming along?”
“It’s not.” Albus shrugged. “She’s still not speaking to me for invading her privacy and punching Wesley in the face.”
I beamed. That was never going to get old.
“So you can’t even get her to talk to you?” I said. I frowned. “Why don’t you do something dramatic? Like trap her in a shower or something?”
Albus flushed scarlet. “How--” He paused. “I am not taking your advice anymore, James.”
“If you would have just asked her to be your girlfriend in the first place, none of this would have happened,” I insisted.
Fred laughed. “You’re an idiot, mini-Potter.”
“Shut up, Fred,” Albus snapped. “You’re practically dating Amy Viveca. I saw you two together at lunch the other day. She fed you something.”
“She pushed it in my face and smeared it in my hair!” Fred argued.
“Same thing.” Al shrugged. “Well, what if I don’t want a girlfriend?”
“Then you’re an idiot.” I let out a sigh and leaned back on my palms. “Paloma Dove is a catch. You’re a bit nerdy and you wear weird clothes. You really telling me you don’t want her?”
“Of course I do,” Al said stubbornly.
“Then bloody fucking fight for her!” I said, shoving him. “Quit being such a pansy. I’m going to start calling you Uncle Percy.”
I shrugged and glanced up, spotting Rose walk down the spiral staircase. She was in a yellow sundress with her hair loosely put up. A little bit of black around her eyes. She was wearing flats, too. She smiled. “Sorry,” she said to Bink.
He turned and let out a small choke. This wasn’t normal of Bink Legace. Bloke who could pick up four girls at the pub and decide between them. “Hi,” he said stupidly.
“I really did think you were joking,” Rose said, biting down on her lip.
Bink stared. “Why?”
“Because I never thought you thought of me like that,” she noted. “I mean, I thought maybe after that one night...”
“What night?” Bink raised a brow.
Rose’s complexion went from pale to scarlet. “Godric, nevermind,” she said. “Let’s just go before I stick my entire foot in my mouth. C’mon.” She grabbed his arm.
“No, seriously, what night?” Bink asked, confusion on his face.
“Hogsmeade,” Rose said, looking away from him. “When you and James and Fred went.” She shrugged.
My eyes widened. Fred’s eyes widened. Al just looked on with interest.
“Our party night?” Bink said with a sharp intake of air. “When everyone was dancing and I got drunk and--” He choked again. Loudly. “Fucking no.”
Rose couldn’t look into his eyes. “How about that date?”
“We’ve already hooked up,” Bink breathed, blinking at her. “Oh, god, your cousins are going to murder me. We’ve already shagged.” He was sweating. “And that’s why James told me you were being weird the whole week after. Oh, god. I am so dead.”
“Oh, shut up,” Rose snapped, slapping him on the arm. “I just didn’t think you liked me more than a one night stand and I got over it.” She shrugged. “It’s not like you won’t see me naked again anyway.”
“What? When?” He blinked.
“Play your cards right and we can go back to my room tonight.” Rose smirked.
Then Bink dropped like a sack of Quaffles.
“Sorry!” I called down from the landing, wand in hand. Al and Fred had equally guilty smirks.
I liked the dormitory when I was alone. It was borderline peaceful. After Bink eventually came to and actually went on his date with Rose, we walked back into the room. Albus retreated to come up with plan about Paloma. Fred stuck around for a bit and finished his magazine, but then left when an owl tapped at the window. It was from Amy and she wanted to go raid the kitchens. Unlike when Abigail wanted to raid the kitchens, Amy wanted to have a food-fight with chocolate cake mix. Fred grabbed his jacket and bolted.
It was nice to have the place all to myself. I fluffed up my pillows, kicked off my shoes, and prepared for a night in. I had a stack of Quidditch Weekly magazines on the bedside table, a glass of chocolate milk (I was a growing boy), and a book in case I got really, really bored. Which wasn’t going to happen.
Everything went well for about an hour. I went through some magazines, marking up the articles on professional players I wanted to go against one day. Their weaknesses. Their strengths. A few times my jaw tightened after realizing that dream would never come true. But I convinced myself the information would one day be valuable if my sister played or if I became a scout or something.
Or maybe it was just fun to know.
I spend my entire childhood memorizing facts on Quidditch. Knowing everything there was to know. It was my life. My bookshelf was packed with biographies on famous stars. Posters of smiling Quidditch players lined my walls. I got in trouble for reading too late into the night, reciting the Quidditch teams of Britain and Ireland as I attempted to memorize the colors, mascots, and coaches. From there, I started becoming obsessed with drills and practice moves. I tried most of them out in the backyard when I wasn’t allowed. Al usually attempted to help, only to get an apple (aka Bludger) to the side of the head. He cried a lot.
I drilled my stuffed animals. I ordered Lily around the pitch (aka the back garden) and made her run laps.
When Dara Wood took me aside to tell me I had made Captain, her face was tense. She didn’t want me to have it. She never liked me. Rightfully so, as I never liked her either. But one thing she said will stay with me forever.
“You were born to be a captain, Potter.”
Those words constantly play over in my head nowadays. Now that I know that Captain of the Gryffindor team will be as far as I get.
I thought about the piles of papers and books at home that I will shove under my bed as soon as summer hits. As soon as I have to admit to my father that I won’t do what I’ve tried my entire life to do. All because of some git with a power trip and a beautiful daughter. A daughter who can’t have any of that either.
What an asshole.
I jumped when someone knocked on my door, jolted from my self-pitying thoughts and back to reality. “C’mon in,” I said, setting my magazine on the beside table.
To my shock, Avery Flynn walked in and closed the door behind her. “Hey,” she said weakly.
There were purple lines under her eyes and her hair was messier than usual. She looked like a wreck. But she still looked stunning. I had no idea how she did that. I bet even when she was ill she looked like a beauty queen.
Need to stop thinking about Avery like that.
Friends. Enemies? She hexed me.
I nodded to her and pulled my legs back toward my body. “Hey,” I replied. I didn’t know what to say. “How’s it going?” That was safe. Definitely safe.
“I need to talk to you.”
“Did you use the auction money?”
She nodded. “Mhm. Thanks, by the way. I know that was for the team. I feel guilty using it.”
“I need you to be a quality Keeper,” I said, using my Captain voice. “You can’t play your position correctly if you’re working all hours of the night and doing homework and such. It’s fine. That money is for the team and I used it for the team.”
It had nothing to do with my abuse of power as Captain to help my best friend.
Absolutely nothing to do with that.
Avery nodded. She stuffed her hands in her pockets. “I’m sorry,” she blurted.
“I shouldn’t have hexed you,” she said, pressing her lips hard together. “I’ve never done anything like that before. I lost control.”
“Right.” I swallowed hard. I hoped she wasn’t armed. “Sorry I...said what I did.”
“I’m sorry I got jealous,” Avery admitted softly.
I looked at her. “Of what?”
“Please don’t make me say it.” Her cheeks were red.
“I don’t get it,” I said. I didn’t get it. She was standing at the end of my bed, her eyes downcast, cheeks flushed. “What were you jealous of?”
“Of you and Haley,” Avery said in irritation. “I’m sorry, was it not obvious?”
I raised a brow. “I don’t really want to do this right now,” I said with a sigh. “This week has been terrible. I spent most of it in the hospital. Because of a head wound. I missed the Ravenclaw – Hufflepuff game. I got threatened by Clint Lawson. I got told off by my brother.” I ruffled my hair. “You visited me once.”
Avery slid down on the end of the bed. “I visited you six times,” she said, still not looking at me.
“I only woke you once.” She shrugged.
My heart was beating too fast. “What the fuck are you doing?” I asked suddenly. “Don’t you get what happened? This whole thing blew up in our faces. Let’s just take a step back and try to go back to the way things were, okay?”
“How were they?”
“As friends.” I shrugged. “As mates. Where we could tell each other everything. We could go to Quidditch practice and actually laugh about shit instead of being awkward.” I could look anywhere in the room except for at her. Chest was aching.
“I don’t want to.” Avery crossed her arms stubbornly.
“What? What’s that mean?”
“I want you, James.”
Air hitched in my throat. “What?” I breathed.
She turned, looking at me at last. “We were both idiots,” she said quietly, her green eyes on my face. “But that’s what bloody happens when people don’t talk about things or when they hide things or when some stupid girl’s stupid father gets in the way.” She leaned her body toward me. I didn’t move. “I’m not giving up on you. Every day I think about you. I think about what you did to me. How I broke your heart. James, I can’t handle it anymore. I want us again.”
Never before had I heard Avery be so vulnerable. She didn’t put down her walls on a regular basis. Not like this.
I blinked. I was completely stunned. One day we were enemies, wands drawn in the corridor. The next I was giving her money from the Quidditch fund.
And then a few days later she was on my bed, telling me she wanted us again.
“I can’t,” I said slowly, finally looking at her.
The hurt in her face was swift. “Why not?”
“I can’t,” I repeated, shaking my head. I leaned back against the headboard. “Aves, it was too much. We weren’t right together.”
She blinked back tears. I hated when she cried. I wanted to reach out and hold her, but I knew it would be wrong of me to do so. It might have just been air in her eye. Or a twig or something.
My mother was right. Avery and I were better as friends.
“Why mess up something that lasted seven years?” I asked, keeping my voice quiet. “These last few months have been a disaster.”
Avery stood, shoving her hair away from her face. “I’m not giving up,” she said sternly. She wiped at her eyes. “I still care about you and I still want you, James. I’m not giving up.”
“No, Avery,” I said, swallowing everything that wanted to scream out that I was saying the wrong thing. I had to stick to this. I’d had my time to be an idiot. I had to think about the future now. And how could I think about it when I didn’t have a career and Avery might have gotten mad about something else and broken up with me, leaving me alone and heartbroken again. Bink would probably get strippers for sure.
“I don’t want to be just friends. I’m going to fight for you.”
My fingers gripped the sheets tight. That sounded vaguely familiar. “Aves, I can’t,” I said, my body feeling weak. “Please accept that.” I stared at the blanket under me. I couldn’t look at her. Not again. I couldn’t see her cry again, but her sniffs made it obvious.
Avery choked back a small sob. “All right,” she said. “I’ll see you at practice tomorrow.” The door closed and she was gone.
I leapt to my feet, racing across the room, and stopped right as my hand hovered over the doorknob. I could hear her sniffles in the hallway.
I pulled my hand away, backed up, and sank down on the bed.
A/N: Sorry! Ah! Please keep the rotten tomatoes to a minimum!
This chapter would have been up a bit sooner, but I went on a trip to Chicago, followed by a terrible stint of the flu, which I am currently in bed with right now. It's unfortunate. I hope all of you are feeling better than I am :)
UP NEXT: Racing, punishment, and Albus is a bamf.
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