Chapter 1 : James Fails At Relationships
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It seemed like everyone else in his year was on the verge of a nervous breakdown because they were rapidly running out of time to figure it out.
He, on the other hand, was more relaxed than he’d ever been.
Well, all right, he was on the outs with his girlfriend again, and that was certainly a little stressful, but all in all, he was feeling good about their upcoming N.E.W.T.s and life after Hogwarts. If Marion Thomas was a part of it, that would be nice, but if she wasn’t, he didn’t plan to mope about it.
He was sure that they’d stay friends, at any rate, even if they broke it off for good. Who ended a seven-year long friendship over what basically just amounted to some philosophical differences?
When he entered the Great Hall, it was still fairly quiet. Apparently, the boys he shared his dormitory with were not the only ones taking advantage of the weekend and sleeping in.
Most of the Gryffindors had not yet ventured down to breakfast. However, he saw his brother sitting with their cousin Rose about halfway down the table.
“Hi, James,” Albus said when he joined them.
Rose jerked her head toward Marion and their cousin Roxanne, who were chatting with each other further down the table. “Avoiding your problems?” she asked dryly. “Or did you not notice her glaring at you all through practice yesterday?”
James shrugged and served himself some food. “Not particularly.”
His brother exchanged a look with Rose. “What was it this time?”
“She overreacted.” James said nonchalantly. “All I was doing was talking about the last letter I got from V about how there have been a few sightings of what might have been quintapeds on the Scottish coast.”
Albus’s eyes widened. “You’re joking,” he said incredulously. “But they’ve never—” He stopped himself from being distracted away from discussing the subject at hand. “I think I can see where this is going, but tell me anyway.”
James wrinkled his nose. “Well, she was saying that they were going to have to investigate it, and I expressed some slight envy to Marion, and she completely overreacted. I mean, of course I know how dangerous they are.” He grinned. “That’s part of the fun.”
“I hear that,” Rose agreed heartily. She raised her goblet. He clinked it with his and turned to his brother.
“Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider the whole Auror thing?”
Albus shook his head. “No. And anyway, I wouldn’t go into Dangerous Creatures—I might have to deal with you two every day for the rest of my life.”
James reached over and ruffled his brother’s hair. “You seem to do okay.”
“My sanity is hanging on by a thread,” Albus said dryly. “So you voiced a desire to face off against some very dangerous creatures, and your girlfriend got a little tense?”
“You’re no fun,” James muttered. His brother could be like a dog with a bone when he wanted to be. “I really don’t understand why, it’s not like it should be news to her. She knows what I want to do.”
“Yes,” his brother said patiently, “but James, there’s a difference between ‘I want to join the D.C.B.’ and ‘I heard there were some highly dangerous monsters running around and my cousin Victoire is probably going to go fight them. What? Oh, no, I’m not worried about her, I’m just jealous because nothing would please me better than almost getting my throat ripped out!’”
“What’s wrong with that?” James demanded. “Come on, Al, don’t tell me you’re taking her side.”
Albus groaned. “I’m not taking her side. I just think that sooner or later, you’re actually going to have to deal with the fact that she’s uncomfortable rather than charming her out of being angry.”
“She’ll come around,” James said dismissively. “Charlotte did for Dominique.”
“Why am I the one without a girlfriend, again?” Albus asked.
“They’ve forgotten that you are the sane one,” Rose commented distractedly. When James and Albus had started talking about his difficulties with Marion, she’d buried herself in her copy of the Daily Prophet. James could see just enough of the page to know that she was looking up Quidditch results.
“Clearly.” Albus leaned over to examine the page.
“Also, you keep turning girls down because they’re not good enough for you,” James pointed out, running a hand through his hair.
Rather than acknowledge what James had said, Albus changed the subject. “Oh, good, the Harpies did beat Portree! I was worried – our recent form has been awful.”
Rose threw the paper down, looking disgusted. “Less good news for us,” she told James. “Hammered by the Falcons.”
He groaned. “Roxanne is going to rub our noses in that.” He glanced up the table, and then lowered his voice to ask, “How did Puddlemere United do?”
Albus rolled his eyes as Rose looked back down at the paper. “They beat the Tornados. Why?”
“No reason,” James said airily, glancing out a window. “Good flying conditions today.”
“Do you have a practice scheduled?” Albus had taken the paper from Rose and was scanning the current league table.
He shook his head. “No, tomorrow. Practice yesterday afternoon was hard, especially with the rain, so I’m giving them today off.”
“Thanks ever so, fearless leader,” Rose murmured. He rolled his eyes at her, and she stuck out her tongue.
After they had finished eating, Albus said, “James, you should talk to Marion.”
James looked up from his empty plate, forcing an expression of innocence onto his face. “What do you mean?”
“You keep sneaking glances at her.” His brother laughed. “Come on. I’m not stupid, and I know you. Go patch things up with Marion. I need your help with Goldstein’s assignment later and you’re just going to be distracted if you don’t.”
James jerked back, feeling offended. “Will not!”
Albus gave him a sceptical look. “Just go.”
“Later.” He pushed his plate away. It hadn’t even been a day yet, and he was damned if he was going to go running to her to patch things up that quickly. If she wanted to, she could come to him.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care about her or about patching things up. He did. He just wasn’t the type to go crawling around begging anyone to forgive him, especially when he hadn’t done anything wrong.
And that was really the crux of it. He didn’t feel like he had done anything wrong. He probably could have been a little more tactful, but at the same time, Mari was one of his best friends, and they’d been going out for over a year. James didn’t see why he should have to be tactful about what he wanted to do with his life. The end of their seventh year was fast approaching. If she couldn’t deal with him talking about fighting dangerous creatures, how on earth did she expect to deal with him doing it? She had to know that he wasn’t about to change his mind.
James sighed and ran a hand through his hair.
“Knut for your thoughts?” He looked up and saw both Rose and Albus looking at him quizzically.
“They’re worth at least a sickle,” he told them. “Since there are two of you, maybe even a galleon.”
“One sickle plus one sickle equals a galleon, now?” asked his brother.
“I said at least a sickle. The price went up.”
“Sickle for your thoughts, then?” Rose amended. “And I’m not going to pay you.”
He grinned. “If I could get my family to pay me every time I shared a thought with them—”
“We’d be poor, and you’d talk too much,” Albus said, cutting him off. “Spill.”
James glanced down the table, where Marion and Roxanne were still sitting, and lowered his voice. “It’s just that I don’t know if it’s worth patching up.”
His brother’s eyebrows shot up. “What?”
Rose’s reaction, however, was much more measured. “I was wondering whether you were starting to think about that.”
Albus looked from James to her to James again. “Are you joking?”
James shrugged. “Not particularly.”
“But you adore Marion,” Albus said.
“And you’re just going to throw that away because she doesn’t like your career choice?” Al asked incredulously.
“Albus, that’s not a minor concern,” Rose said impatiently. “If she can’t deal with what he wants to do, how is she going to deal with it when he’s doing it? It doesn’t matter how much he likes her, if she can’t cope then they won’t be happy.” James raised his eyebrows at her, and she gave a sheepish grin. “You’re not the only one who’s been thinking about that.”
Albus gave a disgusted snort. “Do I have to make myself available to my best friend because you have imminent plans to break his heart?” he asked.
“No,” Rose said calmly. “It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. And it’s something we’ve talked about,” she said pointedly, and Albus sighed.
“You’re both insane,” he said. “All of you. If you’re with someone you care about, you find a way to make it work.”
“It’s not that easy,” James and Rose said at the same time.
Albus sighed. “You’re all insane,” he repeated. “It’s no wonder I can’t find anyone.”
“Right, it has nothing to do with the fact that you keep turning down girls who ask you out because they aren’t good enough for you,” James said again.
His brother didn’t acknowledge the statement this time, either. “James, just talk to her.”
When they left the Great Hall a few minutes later, Albus and Rose decided to go down to the lake to meet a few of their friends, so James returned to the common room alone. He knew that after hours on a broom tomorrow, the very last thing he would want to do was schoolwork, and he had a Herbology essay for Longbottom that he suspected would take hours to write.
He was right. Writing about the proper ways to care for, pick, and store fluxweed – and everything that could go wrong – was thoroughly tedious.
People trickled downstairs throughout the morning. Most went outside to enjoy the good day, but many of his fellow seventh-years were also settled at tables or chairs around the room either completing their schoolwork or studying for N.E.W.T.s. When a group of fourth-years tried to start a game of exploding snap, they were shushed so vehemently that they immediately left the common room altogether.
James found this atmosphere to be deeply depressing. He was tempted to set off a few firecrackers just to liven up the mood a little—his yearmates were taking N.E.W.T.s far too seriously, in his opinion.
Just as he was seriously contemplating going upstairs to get them, however, Roxanne slid into the seat across from him. “I wouldn’t, if I were you.”
He widened his eyes innocently. “What are you talking about?”
“I’m tempted, too,” she admitted quietly, tapping her fingers on the table. “It’s too quiet in here. But they won’t be any fun about it.”
“You’re probably right.” James threw down his quill in frustration.
“What were you thinking of doing, firecrackers?” she asked. He nodded, and she grinned. “I was, too. I made a joke about it to Caroline and Bethany, and they looked at me as though I’d suggested killing their very favorite pets.”
“Well, they need to loosen up.” He looked back at his essay in disgust. “I’m not even half-done. I can’t work in these conditions.”
Roxanne peered at his paper. “Have you been working on Longbottom’s essay since breakfast?” He nodded, and she sighed. “I thought it might take hours to write. I’d better start it.”
James shrugged. “Probably,” he said half-heartedly.
She leaned down and pulled parchment, a quill, and ink out of her bag. “Cheer up. Hey, maybe we should turn Malfoy’s hair red again, that should be amusing. We haven’t done that in weeks.”
James considered that. Jinxing Scorpius Malfoy always did make his day a little more entertaining. “I think he’s getting tired of it,” he said after a moment. “Next time, he might turn my hair green or something.”
“Not likely.” Roxanne reached out and tapped the coin James always wore on a thick cord around his wrist.
He grinned. “I don’t see why he doesn’t get one, too. He’d never have to walk around with strangely-colored hair again.”
“He probably thinks that Fred would sell him a dud that wouldn’t shield him at all,” she said wisely. “Or worse.”
“Would he?” James asked curiously.
“No, Dad would kill him for selling faulty merchandise to a customer. Come on, we can turn it blue.”
He felt slightly cheered. “All right. Let’s finish Longbottom’s essay first. We still have Goldstein’s to do, too, and you know that we’re not going to want to do it tomorrow after we’ve been practicing all day.”
“You make too much sense,” she told him as she put her quill to the parchment.
“You’d be saying it if I wasn’t,” he pointed out.
“I make too much sense, too.”
An hour later, James was nearly finished, and Roxanne had made what she called “significant progress” despite looking out the window longingly every few minutes. “Let’s take a break and get some lunch,” she suggested.
“Yeah, okay,” he said, putting his quill down and stretching. “Have I mentioned that I hate N.E.W.T.s?”
“No you don’t,” she said. “I do, though, I haven’t had time to go after anyone lately, and so many people have deserved it.”
“So Abigail Madley’s books kept disappearing last week for no reason?” he asked.
“Yes. Just like Sullivan Pickering just happened to wind up locked in a broom closet when he was patrolling the other night.”
“Oh, he deserved it, you know how he’s always going on and acting like a prefect badge makes him so much better than the rest of us,” James said dismissively.
“He does,” Roxanne agreed. “Just like Abigail Madley takes being Head Girl way too seriously. I liked Evy Greengrass much better.”
James grinned as they exited the portrait hole. The last Head Girl had been a bit tense sometimes, but she’d also pointedly ignored some of their more flagrant rulebreaking. He wasn’t sure if it was her friendship with their cousins Louis and Lucy or just a decent sense of humour on her part, but either way, it had been preferable to Abigail’s lectures. “I’m starving,” he said as his stomach gave a loud rumble.
“So am I,” she said. “Hey, did you see that the Falcons hammered the Arrows?”
He groaned. “I really hate you.”
“Nah, you don’t. So, what color should we turn Malfoy’s hair?”
“I’m thinking red. It looks so terrible.”
“We could take pity on him and turn it green,” she said, considering.
James spotted his sister on the next flight of stairs. “Hey, Lily!” She looked up, and he asked, “Red or green?”
She grinned. “Sooner or later Al’s going to write home complaining and you’ll get another howler.”
He hadn’t considered that. “Excellent, I haven’t had one in over a month. People must think that I’m losing my touch. Red or green?”
“Red.” She continued on down the stairs, and James laughed. He probably was going to get a howler over this, but he didn’t especially care.
James did not actually dislike Scorpius Malfoy, at least now that Scorpius had stopped whining about how obnoxious James was.
He had, of course; Scorpius had rubbed him the wrong way for years. Albus had been friends with him since starting at Hogwarts, but Al was friends with a lot of strange people James would never in a million years consider actually talking to. Or even acknowledging, really.
But things change.
Scorpius was far from James’s favorite person in the world, but he was all right, now that he wasn’t walking around accusing Gryffindors who weren’t Albus and a few of their yearmates of being arrogant and self-satisfied.
That didn’t stop James from turning his hair amusing colors, of course.
Ten minutes later, Scorpius Malfoy was examining his distorted reflection in a suit of armor that stood outside the Great Hall. After a moment, he turned back to James and rolled his eyes. “You’re hilarious,” he said dryly. “Don’t you get tired of this?”
James smirked. “Not particularly. It’s been weeks, you should really be thanking me.”
Scorpius leaned against the wall next to the suit of armour and crossed his arms. “Why don’t you try it this summer? That should be amusing.”
“Nah. Dad would kill me.”
Roxanne appeared at his shoulder. “Oh, good, you found him.”
“Yes, he did.” Scorpius looked back at the suit of armor. “Why did you have to do red? It looks terrible. I hate it when you do red.”
“Why haven’t you gotten a shield charm in Hogsmeade, then?” Roxanne asked curiously.
“Your brother would probably just sell me a dud,” Scorpius said. “I don’t feel inclined to waste the money.”
Roxanne elbowed James. “Told you so.”
“Don’t you have anything better to do, with your N.E.W.T.s coming up?” Scorpius asked. “I heard Pickering and Madley had some trouble this week, and I know Flint did, he stumbled into the common room the other night with boils all over his face.”
James and Roxanne looked at each other. “Did you do Flint?” he asked.
She shook her head, looking perplexed.
James considered it for a moment longer before shrugging it off. “Bet it was your girlfriend.” The corners of Scorpius’s mouth twitched, and James added, “They all deserved it, anyway.”
Scorpius acknowledged that with a nod. “Well, yeah,” he said. “Remember the time last year he tried to curse my nose off?”
“We helped you there,” James pointed out.
“Out of the goodness of our hearts,” Roxanne agreed, touching her hand to her chest.
“This really does look terrible,” Scorpius said, examining his hair again with a look of disgust. “Your heart’s on the other side,” he added distractedly to Roxanne.
“Not on me, it isn’t,” she told him, and he gave her a bemused look. After a moment, however, he seemed to decide not to comment; he and Roxanne had never quite gotten over their enmity in the same way that he and James had.
“At any rate, isn’t a nose worth the occasional week of strangely-colored hair?” James asked.
Scorpius shrugged. “Sure, if I thought I had to choose one or the other. As it happens, I don’t. How do you find the time?”
James shrugged, too. “I’m not worried about N.E.W.T.s,” he said casually. “I’ll do fine. Why should I bother studying too much? It would ruin all the fun in life.”
“Right.” Scorpius smoothed back his hair and glanced in the armour again. “This has been a great little chat. Thanks for the hair. I’m sure my girlfriend will really appreciate it.”
“She’ll just be amused,” James called after him. “She always is.”
Scorpius turned around and called back sarcastically, “Sure, right, she loves it, because she’d prefer me to look more amusing than attractive. Just don’t be shocked if your brother isn’t the only one irritated at you.”
James turned to Roxanne, who was staring after Scorpius with a sour expression on face. “Git.”
“Yeah, well.” He wasn’t especially concerned with whether or not Scorpius Malfoy was a git. “Do you really think she’ll be annoyed at us?”
“Nah. Come on, let’s go eat, I’m starving.” Roxanne skipped into the Great Hall. After a moment, James followed her.
As he neared the Gryffindor table, he saw Marion sitting with Rose and their friend Tyler. Rose caught sight of him, and raised her eyebrows as she gestured toward her hair. He smirked and joined Roxanne, who was already serving herself lunch.
“You really should make up with her, you know,” she said.
James ran a hand through his hair and resisted looking down the table. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Liar.” She was apparently content to let the subject drop, however, because after she’d had several bites of her pie, she said, “The Falcons killed the Arrows.”
“You’ve mentioned, and I saw,” he said shortly.
“We could always talk about your disintegrating relationship with Marion,” she offered.
“There are other things to talk about.”
“Have it your way, then.” They ate in silence for a few minutes, and then Roxanne burst out, “I just don’t understand. You two are perfect together.”
“Sure we are. Other than the fact that she can’t handle what I want to do with my life,” he said sarcastically. “And you lot should stop meddling.”
“Who else has been meddling?” she asked.
“Albus.” James threw his fork down. “You know, just because neither of you seem able to find someone good enough for you doesn’t mean it’s your job to fix this.”
Roxanne was clearly not deterred by what he'd really meant to be a bit of a low blow. “Oh, I know it’s not my job,” she said cheerfully. “It’s just something I’m willing to do. Out of the goodness of my heart.”
“I’m going to turn your hair green next,” he threatened, picking his fork back up. “Go fix Rosie’s relationship.”
“Good luck,” she said, still cheerful. “And I don’t care about fixing Rose’s relationship. I like Marion. I still don’t like him.” She perked up. “Why, is their relationship in trouble?”
“Leave me alone.” James looked back at his plate. He’d suddenly lost his appetite. “I’ll make you pay tomorrow at practice if you don’t.”
“You’re no fun,” she muttered.
He suspected that was not the end of it, and had his suspicions confirmed when they began to ascend the stairs that would lead them back to the common room and the pile of schoolwork awaiting them.
James saw his girlfriend a flight above them and groaned. “What did I just tell you?” he muttered to his cousin.
“I forgot,” she said innocently. “Too many bludgers to the head.” She called up to Marion, “How are you doing on Longbottom’s essay?”
Marion waited for them to reach her. “I’m almost done,” she said when they’d reached her. “Hi, James.”
He felt his stomach turn over, and was a little disgusted with himself for it.
“Ugh, I still have another hour at least,” Roxanne moaned. She bounded up the stairs after Tyler in what James felt was a very transparent attempt to get him to talk to Marion.
Marion clearly felt the same way. “Roxanne has the subtlety of a bludger,” she murmured.
“She does,” he agreed, and started back up the stairs. He heard her give an exasperated sigh and turned around. “What?” he asked.
She was standing a few steps below him with her arms crossed. “James, we should talk.”
He felt his stomach give another unpleasant twinge. Whatever he had said to Albus, he really didn’t want his relationship with Marion to be over, and he had the feeling that whatever she wanted to say would involve that.
And if she did that, the team dynamic would be thrown off. They’d lose the Cup. He didn’t want to lose the Cup. He’d never failed to win the Cup as captain. He wanted to keep his perfect record. It was a very good record.
“About what?” he asked dismissively.
Marion shook her head. “Fine,” she said disgustedly, and brushed past him on her way up the stairs.
James sighed. “Wait,” he said. To her credit, she stopped and turned around. He wasn’t sure he would have. Then again, there was a reason he wasn’t dating anyone remotely like him. “We should. I’m sorry.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s a start, anyway. Come on.” He followed her back up the stairs, feeling vaguely irritated with the entire situation and wishing that she would just be okay with his choice of career rather than break up with him over it. After a moment, however, she slowed down to allow him to catch up, and took hold of his hand tentatively. “I’m not planning to break up with you, you know,” she told him.
“I didn’t, actually,” he said, feeling slightly cheered. “I don’t especially want to break up with you, either.”
“That’s always good to hear. Dumbledore’s Army,” she said to the Fat Lady. The portrait swung up, and she made her way through the quiet common room toward the stairs to the boy’s dormitory.
“I thought you said we needed to talk,” he quipped as they climbed the stairs, and she gave him a withering look.
“You’re so funny.”
James ran a hand through his hair. “I know I am.” He opened the door to his dormitory and flopped onto his bed. “What do we have to talk about?” She was starting to look thoroughly irritated, and he held up a hand. “No, really. What is there to say?”
Marion bit her lip, and then said, very slowly, “James… I understand that you love danger and life-threatening situations and all of that.” He opened his mouth, and she quickly said, “Will you please just shut up and let me talk?”
He closed his mouth.
“Thank you.” She rubbed her forehead. “I get that. I do. I get that you want to go off and get bloody and lose limbs and laugh with Victoire and Rose about how you almost died yesterday and gave your Healer friends heart attacks when you turned up in St. Mungo’s.”
“That an exaggeration,” he protested.
“Really? Why can you see thestrals?”
James didn’t even try to hold her gaze. “That was different.”
“It’s always different.” she held up her hand. “No, I don’t want to argue about this right now. Look, I get that, and I’m trying to be okay with it, I really am.” He didn’t say anything, but the scepticism must have showed on his face, because she added hotly, “I’ve been talking to Charlotte about how she deals with Dominique running off and getting roasted alive by dragons.”
“You have?” That was the first he’d heard of it.
“Yes,” she said patiently. “I have. I do actually care about you, and I am actually committed to this relationship.”
“And I’m not?”
“That’s not what I mean. I know you are. But I don’t test you the same way you test me.”
“I’m not trying—” he started to say hotly, and she cut him off.
“James, I know you aren’t. But you still push me in ways I never push you.”
“I don’t get bothered as easily as you, either.”
They stared at each other for a minute, and then Marion took a deep breath and plunged on. “I’m trying to be okay with all of this, and when you start going on about how much fun it would be to risk dying, yeah, it freaks me out a little, because I know that you actually mean it and I’d really prefer not to hear in four years that the man I’m in love with has been killed by, by a lethifold or something!”
“A lethifold couldn’t take me,” he scoffed.
“That’s not the point, and you know it,” she snapped.
James sighed. “I know it’s not. Look, Mari, this is just who I am. I’m not changing it for anyone. Not even you.”
“I don’t expect you to. I’m just asking that you not rub my nose in the fact that you don’t really care about the people who would miss you if you died.”
“I care,” he protested, feeling that this really wasn’t fair. “I just don’t have the energy to get too worked up over it.”
She sighed. “Is it too much to ask you not to rub my nose in it?”
“Not to be difficult or anything, but, well, yeah.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Look, Mari, I get that this makes you uncomfortable, but at the same time, I don’t want to feel like I have to watch what I say because you’re going to get upset at me. I shouldn’t have to censor myself around you.” Marion opened her mouth, and he shook his head. “No, now it’s my turn. If the only way you can deal with who I am as a person is if I walk on eggshells about it, then neither of is ever going to be happy. We both deserve better than that.”
She seemed to deflate a little. “Then where does that leave us?”
He shrugged. “You tell me.”
She stared at him for a minute and then said, “You know, James, sometimes I really hate you.”
“Because I’m not well-suited to you at all but am so charming and good-looking and generally terrific that you find me irresistible anyway?” he asked, running a hand through his hair. “I would hate me, too. I’m sorry I’m so terrific.”
He half-expected her to smack him, but instead, she flopped down next to him. He put his arm around her, and she sighed. “We’re not going to be able to work this out, are we?”
“Who knows?” He thought for a minute, and then added, “Dominique and Charlotte did, and you’re a lot more fun than Charlotte is.”
“You’re also not part-veela,” Marion pointed out.
“I’m still so attractive I’m practically illegal.”
“My hormones are also a lot more under control than Charlotte’s are,” she said dryly.
“Are they?” James asked interestedly. “I wasn’t aware of that. They certainly don’t seem under control.”
“Neither are yours.” She glanced up at him.
“No,” he agreed. “I’m eighteen, and I have a very attractive girlfriend. Of course they aren’t. Look, Mari, I don’t actually want to die. That would take the fun out of life. I just think that doing dangerous things that might kill me can be fun.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s reassuring,” she said sarcastically.
“Oh, come on.” He sat up. “Are you really going to break up with me because of something I haven’t changed about myself? I’ve been like this since you met me. You knew what you were getting into.”
Marion sighed again. James felt that she was doing an awful lot of sighing, and it had never been his experience that sighing led to particularly good things. “It was against my better judgment.”
“Right. Because I’m so amazing and attractive.”
She stared at him for a minute before saying, “James, you are the absolute worst person in the world to go out with.” He must have looked wounded, because after a moment, she said, “No, that isn’t true. Dominique is definitely worse.”
James ran a hand through his hair again. “Yeah, she is. I love her, but she is.”
“Regardless. Top ten.” She looked out the window. “What are you willing to do to work this out?” she asked, still not looking at him.
“I dunno.” He frowned, mulling it over. “Would feeling like I was competent at what I wanted to do help?”
“I already know that you’re the best in the year at Defense Against the Dark Arts,” she said quickly. “That’s not—”
“No, I mean, really.” He grinned.
James could see a spark of alarm in her eyes. “What do you mean?”
“We could go into the Forbidden Forest and find the acrumantulas and make it out alive,” he suggested.
Marion blinked several times, clearly processing what he had said. “So you’re telling me that you want to prove to me that it’s not really that bad by dragging me along with you?”
He laughed. “Oh, it’s not so bad. Roxanne and I stumbled across then in our fourth year.”
“I didn’t know that.” She swallowed hard. “What exactly were you looking for in that part of the forest? It has to be fairly deep in.”
“Acrumantulas,” he said simply.
“That wasn’t quite what I had in mind.” She tugged at his shirt. “Lay back down.”
James fell back onto his pillow. “That was a lot of fun.”
“Of course it was,” she said sarcastically. “I’ll think about it.” He grinned, and she added, “Not the acrumantulas.”
“All right, then.” He made to get up. “We should get our work done before tomorrow. Practice is going to be exhausting.”
“Of course it is,” Marion muttered as she caught his wrist. “Let’s stay up here a little longer. Or is being alone with your girlfriend in the privacy of your dormitory not exciting enough for you?”
“No,” he said, allowing her to pull him back down. “It’s plenty exciting.”
A/N: So I've been unsure about whether to post this or not - partially because it spoils the end of "Curiosity Is Not a Sin," but more because I wasn't sure that people would care enough about James's relationship with Marion to enjoy this. However, some of you have expressed an interest, so here it is. :) I hope it lives up to your expectations!
For those who haven't read my other fics: they all take place in the same 'world,' and James and Marion get together at some point in "Curiosity Is Not a Sin."
Thanks for reading! If you have a moment, I would greatly appreciate a review. :)