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Chapter 49 : Sweet Sixteen
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Thank you to everyone who has given Hormones a chance. I appreciate the positive love!
This chapter is for Amy, who never got her sweet sixteenth. Happy belated, girl.
Eugh, Fred. No, no, no.
Inappropriate display of fancying your woman.
Of course Amy said yes of course Fred made that lovesick face and of course I tried not to throw up in the middle of the Quidditch pitch.
And of course, I actually felt happy for the son of a bitch (sorry, Aunt Ang) because his face was absent of the pained expression he had while dating Abigail and the confused one while he dated Kay Davies. He was happy as he pulled Amy off her feet, spinning her around (her shoes almost knocked Bink in the face).
I had to hand it to him, he sure knew how to be happy.
I, on the other hand, was becoming quite stupid at it.
Bink and Rose weren’t together, but they might have well been for as far as I was from having a girlfriend. Even though Avery wanted to be mine.
Should I have said yes?
Of course not. No. We were going to slowly climb the pitch stairs to being friends again. We could do it. There was nothing we couldn’t do.
Except be in a relationship.
“She’s amazing,” gushed Fred, rolling over on his bed and shooting me a shit-eating grin. Love-struck. Constipated? Jury was out on that one. “I took her down to the village.”
“We know where you took her,” I grumbled, grabbing for Victoria and pulling her into my lap. “We were there when you invited her to the village.”
Fred wasn’t listening. His addled brains had tuned us out. Well, me. “So we go down to the village, right? And she says, let’s race, Freddie! So we race and I was going to let her win, but she turned around and tripped me so she won anyway.” He laughed. “We went to the pub and got a couple pints. I told Gaia she was my girlfriend and we didn’t have to pay for the pints. Gaia says she’s proud.”
“For not shagging every Ravenclaw you see? Bloody I am too,” Bink said. He was on his own bed, feet curled up under him as he scrunched up his nose. He was trying to work on his Transfiguration. I could see Avery’s handwriting correcting his notes.
“She’s amazing,” Fred continued. “She’s beautiful and talented and hilarious.” Still grinning. I wanted to slap it off his face. “I love that she’s nothing like the rest of the Ravenclaws. Kind of acts like a Slytherin sometimes, to be honest. Ambitious and such. And a Gryffindor. She told me about these flowers we passed on the way back .She’s so smart.”
“Ravenclaw,” I noted.
“You know what she told me was her favorite thing about me?” Fred said. “My smile. That’s her favorite thing.”
“Think it’d be something else?” Bink asked. “It wouldn’t be your tan lines since you haven’t shagged her yet.”
“I wish she wasn’t a sixth year,” Fred said, his face finally falling. “What am I going to do without her next year?”
“Whoa, whoa,” Bink said, raising a brow as he looked up. “What’s that mean?”
Fred paused. “I’m pretty sure it means what I said…was it unclear?”
I continued to brush Victoria’s hair…fur. Furry hair. Mental note to ask Dad why anyone thought “Harry” was a good name, since it sounded like “hairy.” Terrible idea.
“Are you going to marry her?” Bink countered. “You only just started dating today. Let’s not think about next year, okay? She very well could turn out to be another Abigail. Or they could take her out when she goes back to the common room. Sorry, Freddie. I’m sure she’s in the hospital wing nursing a severed limb and punctured eyeball.”
“Jealousy?” I asked.
“Them or me?” Bink said.
I paused. “Both.”
“Both,” Bink said with a smirk. Why was he so smirky?
“Dye your hair dark,” I replied. “Then maybe you’ll get the smart girls instead of my bloody cousin.”
“I am NOT your cousin’s boyfriend!” he shot back.
“Did you propose yet? Am I in the wedding?”
Fred rolled off his bed and crawled onto mine, stealing Victoria away and putting her on his chest after he flopped down. “She’s amazing,” he said softly. “And she fancies me. And she doesn’t want to rush things. She just wants us to get to know each other and spend time together.”
“Sounds thrilling,” I said, nose wrinkling because it didn’t sound thrilling at all. Not for manly people like myself. It sounded boring. Like girl stuff.
“And I don’t mind,” Fred said with a weak laugh. “I love talking to her. She has so much to say. And she listens when I talk.”
“What the hell do you have to talk about?” Bink asked, going back to his parchment but writing nothing.
“I talk about a lot, thank you,” Fred insisted.
“Quidditch. And dogs. I talk about the weather and what I want to do after Hogwarts and my ideas for the shop and how I might look if I was a ginger.” He put on a pompous expression that didn’t fit him. Which made me burst out laughing. Because it was Fred. Being an arrogant twat. About dogs.
“You’re ridiculous,” Bink mumbled.
“Speaking of assholes,” I said as the door opened and Emerson Edwards swaggered in looking like a bird-watching twat berry. He was wearing a button down, a blazer, and a gray tie. Same color as the dress we borrowed from him. I wondered if he made it into a tie so we couldn’t steal it anymore.
Did we still have it? Couldn’t remember.
Did we still need it? Now that was the question.
“How’s it going, Twitty?” Bink asked, happy for a distraction from his studies. Not like we hadn’t been a big enough distraction regardless. “Go for a swim today? It was mighty warm.”
“Please do not speak to me,” Edwards said, sauntering over to his bed and slipping off his shoes.
“You know what I like about you?” Bink continued. “You haven’t used a contraction your entire life.”
“Mum probably didn’t even have them,” Fred added. Way to go, brains.
“I think for one to be respected, one must speak properly,” Edwards noted, placing his shoes delicately under his bed. He took off his socks and tossed them into the hamper. His hamper. Yes, Twitwards had his own hamper. His pristine clothes couldn’t be mixed with our Quidditch-player clothes. Not even the dresses. His with Fred’s.
Seriously, where did that dress go?
“Properly,” I noted with a laugh. “You mean you don’t want me to ask you where you at?” I chuckled when he cringed. Obviously. “Where you at, bro?”
“I’m pretty sure you’ve used contractions before,” I said. “Is this something recent? Are you trying this out? Did the birds fly north for the summer?”
“Can we just agree not to speak to each other?”
“When it’s this fun?” I said. “I’m still not quite done with you for being the reason Aves and I broke up. You get that kiss yet?”
“She’s going on a date with me.”
I choked. “SAY WHAT EMERSON?” Why was I on my feet? “I WILL FUCKING END YOU.”
To my shock, he laughed.
“Bluff,” Fred whispered, reaching over to pat my leg. “Good one, though. Point: Edwards.”
I wished Avery wouldn’t wear things other than bulky sweaters and skirts that hit the ground. Anything else was too distracting. Especially now that it was starting to get warmer outside. During a free period she was in tight jeans. Nothing was going in her pockets. Not even a key. At Quidditch practice she had too-short workout shorts and a small tank top over her sports bra. It was a pretty blue color. The tank was purple.
And I was staring.
She wore her uniform to class, skirt the appropriate length. But Avery never wore those ugly socks. She refused. Therefore when she crossed her legs, my eyes moved. Immediately. She rolled up her sleeves to prop her head on her palm and take notes. Her fingernails were pink. Those were the hands that used to grip my hair tight in broom cupboards while she kissed me.
STOP THIS JAMES POTTER.
I had to do that too often over the next week. We spent plenty of time together in groups. No alone time. I didn’t trust myself. I had to work my way to trusting myself. Instead, I kept a grin on my face and told endless jokes about Rose and Bink getting married (one of which ended in an arm bruise and Bink having two hundred thirty-seven laps. I later changed it to four).
I liked making her laugh.
She grinned at me across the table at dinner and told me about how her mother had written her. She was confiding in me again, which was good. In a group setting. Always in a group setting. Nothing about her father, but I figured he wasn’t opting to be best friends with her after she blew up half a village block. Just a thought.
She loved the idea of Fred and Amy and asked about them every chance she got. Apparently Amy was full of life and spunk. I decided I would have to hang out alone with Amy at some point to confirm this. Maybe not alone or I’d end up snogging her like I did Haley Star.
I really needed to keep my lips in check.
Haley didn’t seem to mind, though. Either way, actually. She shot me a few grins in between classes, but in the big groups she teased me as much as Bink or Freddie. Maybe she wanted them too. Or none of us. She was a good reserve. I kind of still wanted to snog her, but I also found her less distracting.
That’s a good thing, James. Good thing.
“Amy’s going to be sixteen,” Fred said on an uneventful Thursday. We had just gotten back to the dormitory from Transfiguration. It was boring because Falcon Cat was not there. I hadn’t been to visit her since the lesson and I missed her. But I wasn’t going to tell Victoria that since she was a jealous tot.
Or Avery because then she might have invited me upstairs to see her and my heart raced thinking about it. Friends. FRIENDS.
THIS WAS MY DECISION.
“Well researched,” Bink said. “Rose is already sixteen. I’m so glad we’ve established this.”
“Just marry her,” I snapped.
“I don’t even fancy her!” Bink shouted.
“You do so! You said so in the hospital!”
His face colored. “Yeah, well, she pisses me off.”
“Welcome to the family,” I muttered, throwing myself onto my bed. I was grumpy.
“Trouble in paradise?” Fred asked.
“We’re talking about you,” Bink said in irritation, ruffling his blond hair. “Amy’s turning sixteen. Yes, truly a revelation. Go on.”
Fred was quiet for a moment, looking back and forth between us. Then he let out a sigh. “Okay, look here,” he said. He had what sounded like a Captain voice. Only for a Chaser who wasn’t a Captain. “I’m finally bloody happy. I’ve got a girlfriend who makes me happy and I fancy her. She makes me laugh. And this is our last term of Hogwarts so the two of you are going to have to stop moping about so we can do something fun.”
“Did we not just race house elves not too long ago?” Bink said.
“We’re throwing Amy a party,” Freddie continued, ignoring Bink’s comment and my unruly huff. “I want to throw her a surprise party. She deserves it. She doesn’t have siblings to throw it for her.”
“Okay,” I grumbled.
“And we’re doing it properly,” Fred added. “Big party in the common room. We’ll invite some Ravenclaws. The ones we can stand that cross over with the ones Amy’s friends with.”
“Are you fucking in love with her or something?” Bink said. “I can’t believe we have to go through all this party shit when I could be picking up girls at the pub.”
“Watch it,” I warned.
Fred grabbed his pillows and threw one at each of us. “Fucking get your shit together!” he cried. “We’re doing this! Bink, you’re going to give it a fucking rest and have a good fucking time. James, you’re going to stop moping around because everyone else has a girl and drink yourself stupid. Got it?”
I nodded, a little taken aback by Freddie’s sudden rashness. “Okay,” I said. “What do you want us to do?”
“Make it unforgettable.”
“So where are we going?”
“Did you not listen the first time?” I looked over. Amy was beside me with her hair a little messy around her oval face. “We’re going on an adventure.”
“Why again?” She smirked. I could understand why Fred liked her so much. It was almost contagious, but in a different way than Bink’s. She was still in her school uniform, but she had the sleeves rolled up on her blouse and sneakers slid against the floor as we descended yet another staircase.
“Because you’re dating my cousin and one of my best mates and this is important bonding time,” I shot back.
“So you don’t want to know all the Ravenclaw Quidditch secrets?” Another smirk.
“Why would I give a fuck about Ravenclaw?” I said before I could stop myself. “We’re playing Slytherin in the Final. I’m graduating. I already beat Ravenclaw to the ground on multiple occasions. I think your House’s secrets aren’t that secret.”
“You’re a jerk,” Amy said, shoving me into the wall.
“I’m repeating everything you’ve said to Freddie,” I explained calmly, rubbing my arm because that bloody hurt. “You’ve questioned me, accused me of trying to infiltrate Ravenclaw, and called me a filthy name. Are you sure you want to keep this up?”
“Twat,” Amy said, laughing. “Come on, James. No offense, but you haven’t exactly shown interest in me before. What’s this about?”
“I just want to get to know you,” I said. I opened the front door, sending a rush of cool air onto our faces. “Freddie’s got it bad. I don’t want him to get hurt again.”
“Him?” Amy said, laughing again. “Look at it from my perspective. Fred is from a famous family. He’s attractive. He’s been with everyone else on my Quidditch team and didn’t stay with them. He’s friends with guys like you and Bink Legace. He’s sought after in group settings.” She smiled a little, teeth trailing along her bottom lip. “Aren’t I more likely to get hurt in this situation?”
“By Fred Weasley?” I asked. “Are you sure we’re talking about the same guy? Bloke stayed with Abigail because it was easier since they were shagging.”
Her face fell. “Fred and I aren’t sleeping together.”
“Yeah, I know,” I blurted.
“You know?” Her face hit a shade of red I was unfamiliar with.
I shrugged, taking the castle steps two at a time. At least it was sunny. “We’re best mates. We just sort of talk about stuff.”
“Is he going to break up with me because I’m not ready to sleep with him?”
I shot her a look. “If he was going to break up with you, do you think I’d be out here with you right now?”
“Bonding,” I corrected. “He doesn’t want to break up with you for something like that. You really fancy him?”
She nodded, shoving strands of hair away from her mouth. They kept sticking to her lips. “I really fancy him.”
I draped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “It’s too cold. Let’s go back upstairs.”
The common room was a tribute to our wonderous party-throwing abilities. Point for James Potter Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team. Not really. The credit mostly went to Freddie for dreaming it up.
The scarlet and gold room was on display with lengths of blue silk traveling from the vaulted ceiling down to the floor. Balloons floated above our heads, ribbon just low enough to jump and catch one. On them, each had a dare.
Kiss a girl.
Trap yourself in a closet with someone.
Confess a secret.
Snuggle Amy and tell her happy birthday.
There was glitter everywhere. On the floor, the windowsill, the tables, maybe some in the punch? A table was set up between the spiral staircases filled with snacks and drinks and punch. There was unconfirmed spiking of the drinks. And by unconfirmed I mean Bink did it while I was away.
Everyone was there dressed in something presentable with spiky birthday hats screwing up their hair. Bink tossed one to me when I walked through the door.
Amy screamed, her eyes welling up as she covered her mouth. She took a moment to let her gaze just dart around the room, shocked. It was clear no one had ever done something like that for her in the past. Not a close friend. Especially not a boy she’d only been dating for a couple weeks.
I clapped her on the back. “Happy birthday, love,” I said. “Thanks for the bonding.” I shot her a wink and walked away so Fred could smother her in overwhelming kisses.
“Nice showing,” Bink said, glancing over his shoulder before he looked at me. He was right too. Most of the Gryffindors were there and quite a few Ravenclaws were stinking up the place. No sign of the Quidditch team, though. Fred insisted girls he previously shagged were not to be invited.
“Aces,” I said. I helped myself to a drink (I needed it).
“Hey listen.” Bink lowered his voice. “I’m glad you and Avery are mates again.”
I shot him a look. “Yeah, me too,” I said, trying to keep the murderous tone out of my voice, but then I remembered he didn’t know about what I said to Avery. About her wanting to be with me again and me saying no.
“It must be hard seeing her,” Bink said, frowning. “But I’m happy because you two were good as friends. Not as good as me and you though.”
“Of course not,” I lied.
“She isn’t here yet though.” Bink looked around, frowning. He paused, eyes moving over Rose, who was deep in conversation with Haley Star, and then focused on the stairs. “Maybe she thought it would be a bad idea to get piss drunk in front of you.”
“Or maybe not,” I said, my eyes catching on the flash of a stiletto on the top step.
I knew those legs anywhere. That body.
“She’s…” Bink coughed a little to mask the break in his voice. “She’s wearing a dress.”
Avery Flynn walked down the stairs in a navy cocktail dress with sequins along the bottom edge. It clung to her and flared a little to her knees. No sleeves. No cleavage, but I was staring regardless. Her hair was down. She was looking elsewhere, but I could tell by the way her teeth pulled at her lip that she knew where my gaze was.
“Girls do that,” I said, fighting to keep my voice steady. Just as quickly as I’d looked over, I looked away.
And then downed the rest of my drink.
“You asked me to save you a dance.” Avery was right there. Godric, she was practically at my shoulder. But she wasn’t looking at me.
“And so I did.” Bink smirked and offered his hand. He set his glass on the table and steered her away. “You look beautiful,” he added and so she did.
Crafty, crafty woman.
No, she couldn’t possibly be doing this on purpose.
I looked at the pair of them on the dance floor, Bink’s hand on her hip and hers on his shoulder. She was already laughing at something he said, no longer paying attention to me.
“Don’t make me punch your Keeper,” Rose said, walking up beside me. She looked pretty as well in a black skirt and a top made out of some weird nylon material. Girls fashion perplexed me.
“What’s going on with the two of you? I thought everything was ace?”
“Everything was,” she said bitterly. “Until your brother went and bagged Paloma Dove and Fred went and practically proposed to Amy. Then Bink freaks out, gets cold feet, and tells me he’s got too much homework to go on dates and be committed to a whole night.” She rolled her eyes. “So thanks to Al and Freddie. My least favorite cousins.”
I sighed, leaning against the table. Albus and Paloma were on the dance floor too, laughing as he spun her around. She was in flats and kept leaning forward to kiss him on the cheek. Damn, she was pretty. At one point, Paloma decided to cut in on Freddie and Amy and forced Fred to dance with Albus.
Most awkward and memorable twenty seconds of my life.
“So what’re you going to do?” I asked Rose, keeping my eyes away from Bink and Avery. They were still dancing. How long were they going to dance? Save some dance floor for the rest of us.
“I’m probably just going to seduce him,” she said in a bored way.
My head snapped over. “What?”
“What?” she repeated. “What’s wrong with that?”
“You’re like four.”
She cocked a brow. “Lost your V-Card yet, James?”
“I hate everything about you,” I mumbled. “How do you know about that?”
“Everyone knows.” Rose shrugged. “Bink works differently than you. You’re looking at me like I want to marry the kid.”
“Don’t you? What’s wrong with Bink?”
She cocked a brow. “I haven’t even turned seventeen yet, James. Can we wait on that thought please?”
“Are you really going to seduce him?” My nose crinkled.
She shrugged. “If I’m bored enough.”
“What about Daniel Higs?”
Rose looked over. “Do you have a fever?”
She helped herself to a fruity drink with a lot of liquor and nudged me with her hip. “Don’t look so glum, cuz. Why don’t you ask someone to dance? Haley said you were easy on the eyes.”
“That’s obvious,” I said. I nudged her back. “Bink tells us a lot of things, you know.”
“Do you fancy him?” I asked.
Rose shrugged. “I like him,” she said. “Can I tell you a secret?”
I nodded, stirring my drink and fighting to keep my eyes off of the dance floor.
Why did I get a drink that had to be stirred? Manly point deduction.
“Bink and I never slept together after our date,” Rose said. “I assume you know about the pub night?” Another nod. “That’s the only time we’ve actually slept together.”
“Why?” I blurted.
“He wanted to wait.”
I looked over at Bink. Suave, albino Bink with his albino hair and fair complexion (bit of a burn line on his face from practice) spinning Avery around the dance floor.
It didn’t connect.
“So he fancies you,” I said after a minute.
“That’s what I thought.” Rose shrugged. “But then suddenly he starts avoiding me and wants nothing to do with me. Those tasteful marriage jokes didn’t help.”
I swallowed hard. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “Do you need me to stay out of the dormitory tonight?” The thought put a very bad taste in my mouth.
“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it.” Rose shot me a grin and tousled my hair. “I’m not actually going to seduce him. I just wanted to watch you squirm a little. He can sod off if he thinks he can string me along.” She shot me a wicked grin walked off toward Lily and Wesley, who were sitting on a sofa by the fire. She wedged herself right in between them, much to my satisfaction.
I took a sip of my woman drink and leaned against the back of the sofa, looking away because Bink and Avery were still on the dance floor together. Still dancing. Still laughing. Still grinning.
My mind was on fire. This was fine since it was a group setting, but how much longer could I handle it? I was trying to be there for her, but our conversation exchanges were dry and forced and consisted of me watching her talk more than listening. Considering a lot of it was about class stuff. I listened to the important things. About her mum. About how she felt. But she hadn’t told me much about feelings since the last time she was in my dormitory.
“You gunna dance at all?” Bink asked, clapping me on the back. His sleeves were rolled up and his face was flushed. “I need a bloody refill.”
“Doubt it,” I said.
“You don’t mind if I take Avery for drinks, do you?” he asked, pouring some punch into a glass. “Since the two of you are mates again.”
My eyes went to him immediately. “Are you serious?” I asked. “What about Rose?”
“Rose and I are done, James,” Bink explained. “Just…didn’t work out.”
I stared. “Why?” I pressed.
“Didn’t mesh well,” he said.
“So you’re dumping my cousin and asking out my…” Pause. “Avery?”
“You’re okay, right?” Bink swirled his drink around and took a sip.
Then he hit the ground because I hexed his fucking blond sorry excuse for a best friend.
“Yup,” I replied, fixing my hair. “Completely fine.” Then, since I had my wand out, I hexed Wesley for dancing with Lily by the fireplace. That felt better. Lily was yelling something. It wasn’t a gathering unless Lily was scolding me.
“What the FUCK, Potter?” cried Bink, scrambling back to his feet. His shirt was covered in punch. Whoops. “What’s your fucking deal?”
“Pink’s a good color for you,” I said, nodding to his shirt. Then I turned, ignoring the people staring and dancing and drinking. “I need some fucking air.”
The scene was turning into a blur because my heart was beating so hard. I shoved my way through the couples dancing – Fred spinning Amy, Albus and Paloma snogging and infuriating other people, and Lily scolding me. Again. I hopped over the back of a couch and rushed for the portrait hole, chest hurting.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
I shoved the portrait hole open, slamming it against the wall outside as the Fat Lady let out an unattractive shriek. I shut it again, gasping for air. I leaned against the wall.
I took in a sharp breath. Then another. Then another, mind fuzzy.
I thought I was alone.
Then my vision was blurred by a curtain of blood running over my brows and my back hit the stone wall hard. My knees crumbled under me.
A/N: SORRY about the cliffie. Sick addiction.
Once again, I want to say thank you to everyone who has started reading my newest story, Hormones. I really appreciate the support.
Thoughts? Thoughts on what the heck happened to James?
UP NEXT: My favorite chapter so far of BTQC.
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