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Chapter 50 : Best Friends
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For the person who let me know this story had been plagiarized. Thank you a million times over. It is not okay to take someone else's work and claim you wrote it. So sorry, no more "Sunday Updates" for that person and thank you so much to the person who gave me a heads up!
I reached up, wiping the blood away from my eyes with my sleeves. There was a puddle already forming on the ground around me. I couldn’t see. Where the fuck was my wand? I groped around for it, finding a stick of bubblegum and the stir-stick from my girl drink.
Everything was blurry and fuzzy and not at all ideal for my situation. Everything hurt. My brain hurt. My heart hurt. My legs hurt. My back hurt. Myself hurt.
“Come to be Joan of Arc?”
“You don’t even know your own reference.” Her tone was dry and unforgiving.
“Look, Princess, go back inside.”
“Try me. I fucking dare you.”
“Got a bit of a mouth on you, don’t you, sweetheart?”
Footsteps. More blood. My wand was in my back pocket, but whatever was cut was still bleeding. I was getting dizzy. Getting? I was already dizzy. What was the word dizzy, anyway? Why was it necessary to have that many z’s in one word? Maximum should be one. Or a half. Or if you turn it over it’s a capital n so that would be dinny. Tasty.
“More than a mouth.”
“Doesn’t look like he’ll be fit for the Final.”
“You might not even make it to the final.” Little bit of sass.
“And what are you going to do?”
“Do you want to find out?”
“You’re a quarter of my size. Pretty little thing.”
There was a loud snap. A masculine cry. Then a very feminine, very familiar shriek.
I kept wiping at my brow and finally just stuck one of my hands over where I assumed the gash was. I could feel it. It wasn’t a little cat-scratch. It was big. It had texture, which nearly made me lose my dinner. I wiped my eyes with the other hand, desperately trying to bring the scene into focus.
Clint Lawson was about twenty meters away, sprawled out on the ground. His leg was twisted at an odd angle and he was clutching it with a pained expression. “You fucking whore!” he shouted, voice breaking twice during.
Avery was still on her feet, blood soaking her bare arm. It was sliced open below her shoulder, the gash similar to the way mine felt. She moved swiftly to Lawson’s side, kicking his wand down the corridor as she used her free hand to hold the wound.
Then she turned toward me. There was a bit of blood on the sequins of her dress. Some splattered on the floor. A bit of dirt on her left cheek.
“Shit,” she said, breaking my concentration as she rushed forward, eyes on my forehead. “Fuck, James. I know nothing about healing charms.” She put her wand down and knelt beside me, her fingers tugging at her dress.
“What’re you doing?” I said softly, watching her rip the navy material in a slit. Lawson was groaning from across the hall.
“So are you.”
She shook her head. “Stop moving.”
“I’m not moving.”
She looked at me and then steadied herself against the wall. “Right,” she said. Her expression hardened and she ripped the dress again, creating a thin band from the bottom of the fabric. She turned to me, draping it around my head and tying it in the back. “It’s bleeding through, but it’ll work until we get downstairs.”
“To the hospital wing.”
“I can’t go to the hospital wing,” I said, trying to wipe more blood off my face but my sleeve was soaked. “Madam Bones hates me.”
“C’mon,” Avery said. Her face was swimming in and out of view as she stood, taking my arm and letting out a cry. “Ouch—fuck.” She used her other arm to help me to my feet, pinning me against the wall with her elbow. “Are you okay to walk?”
She was pretty. So pretty. Oh so very pretty.
“I’m alive,” I said.
“That’s not what I asked.”
“Christ, James.” She groaned and hooked her arm through mine. “Just lean on me, okay? We’re going to take it slow. “
“Should we hire an ambulance?” I asked, trying not to lean on her because she was slender and I might break her. My feet shuffled along the floor, outlining each step in a thin trail of scarlet. I kept blinking.
“Hire a what?” Avery asked. “James, you’re making very little sense.”
“Sensory details, my love,” I noted. We passed Lawson, who was now propped against the wall clutching his leg. He was breathing heavily, eyes moving back and forth from his leg to his wand. When we turned the corner, he had just started to crawl toward it. “You break him?”
“Broke his leg,” Avery replied, wincing as we turned on another landing, headed for a staircase.
“I’ll break his leg,” I said absently. All of the hallways looked the same. The paintings were talking. Why did they always have something to say? Rude, really. I was trying to have a conversation with my girlfriend.
Not girlfriend. Girl who was a friend. With my friend girl. My sleeve was heavy from being wet.
“C’mon, not too much further.”
One foot in front of the other. Sliding steps. My shoulder brushed the wall a couple times. Fingers danced along the rails. I didn’t see anyone pass us in the halls, but then again, at one point I mistook a suit of armor for Merlin and asked a very pointed question.
The hospital wing was dark. A few candles were lit, floating around beds. One had a curtain drawn around it. The rest were empty.
“Over here then,” Avery said softly, letting me lean on her as she led me to the nearest bed. She gently sat me down, putting my legs up over the covers. She looked at my bandage, which I could feel had started to leak. She ran her hand down my cheek, concern written all over her face, and then turned quick, rushing toward the back of the hospital wing. There was a knock and a gasp and I closed my eyes.
When I woke I could feel a thicker bandage was over my head and half of my left eye was covered. I blinked a couple times and the room came into focus. It was light – had to be early in the morning since the sun was still streaming in through the windows. I was in a white hospital gown, blankets tugged up to my stomach. I half-expected my parents to be there again, but they weren’t.
Instead, there was a girl in the bed next to mine. She was on her side, facing me, with her dark hair sprawled out all over her shoulders and pillow. Her knees were tugged up to her chest, blanket wrapped tight in one hand, the other draped off the side of the bed.
What the fuck happened?
I walked outside after Bink asked to date Avery. Shit. I can’t believe he asked me that.
He fancies Rose. Who he wanted to wait to sleep with. So many questions.
All of the questions.
Walked into the hallway. Slammed the portrait hole.
Then there was blood. What the fuck hex did Lawson use on me?
My eyes moved back to Avery, breathing softly as she slept. I still felt woozy, but better. There was a potion beside me. She broke Lawson’s leg. There was a bandage on her shoulder from where he got her with the same hex. I guessed she dodged most of it or it would have been a lot worse. What was he doing out there anyway?
I rubbed my lips together, pulling the blankets off my legs, which looked okay. They were throbbing, but no tubes were sticking out of me, so that was positive. I couldn’t believe she practically carried me back. What had I been saying? I could barely remember.
My legs moved over the side of the bed, dangling for a moment before finding the ground. Knees buckled, but I caught myself on the blanket, leaning in until I could steady myself. I must have hit the wall hard. I bit down on my tongue and forced my back straight, pains shooting up my spine.
“Fuck,” I whispered, brows tightening. I took two steps, closing the distance between my bed and hers. She sniffed in her sleep.
Letting out a pained groan, I crawled up the end of the bed, moving behind her, and fell onto my side, gasping a little. Why why why was this hurting so bad? My spine felt like crushed gravel. I let out a long breath, trying to be quiet. She sniffed again, pulling the blanket a little tighter to her chest.
She smelled like Avery. Like a bit of chocolate and caramel and burnt marshmallows in the summertime. I scooted a little closer, my chest to her back, and moved my hand under the blanket, over her hip, and around her, pulling her tight against my body.
She made a small noise, a little startled, but she didn’t move. “James?” she whispered.
Avery moved her hand into mine, lacing our fingers together before we drifted off again.
She was still in my arms when the nurse woke me a few hours later to take my potion. I removed myself from Avery and sat up against the pillow, tilting the horrible-tasting liquid down my throat. Like cabbage and spinach and overcooked carrots.
“All of it,” Madam Bones said with narrowed eyes. She hated me. Probably flavored the potion that way just because she hated me so much.
Avery stirred beside me, rolling onto her back. There was mascara caked under her eyes. “Hey,” she said softly once Bones had waddled back into her quarters.
“Hey yourself,” I said, glancing down. “How’s the arm?”
She shrugged. “I’m alive,” she said, smirking. “As you would say.”
I thought for a moment. Eugh. Clearly I have a way with words after severe blood loss. “You’ll be happy to know I made it through the night.”
“A bit.” I ran a hand through my hair, but had to stop because the bandage was still there. I contemplated asking for an eye patch even though my eyes were fine. “What happened?”
“Lawson was waiting for you,” she explained, arching her back a little as she stretched. She pulled the blanket up a little higher and draped some over my legs. She did things like that a lot. Come to think of it, we used to do things like this often. Laying together. Smiling. I wanted to smile. So I did. “What’s that for?”
“Why’d you come out after I did?”
“To see why you hexed Bink,” she explained, raising a brow at my grin. “You’re freaking me out.”
“You broke his leg.”
“He looked at me weird.”
“So you broke his leg.”
Avery was trying not to smirk, the corners of her lips arching upward. “I should have done more than that,” she said. “He put you in the hospital. What if I wasn’t out there? He would have done a lot worse. You basically won the Hufflepuff match for us.”
“You won it,” I insisted. “You’re the one who didn’t let a Quaffle in.”
“Irrelevant,” Avery said, shaking her head. Her eyes moved to the high ceiling. “I just came out to see what happened.”
“Bink asked me if it was okay if he asked you out,” I replied, cheeks hot. I hated this conversation already. I wanted to leave. Unfortunately, my legs were a bit numb and an escape plan via broom was impossible.
“So you…hexed him.”
“He got cheeky.”
“He’s a good dancer.”
My eyes flew to hers. “He’s with my cousin.”
“He is not,” Avery said simply. “And he’s a sweet boy.”
“I’m going to have to take another potion,” I grumbled, crossing my arms. “I don’t want to talk about it, okay? I hexed Bink and then I hexed Wesley because he had his hands all over my sister. Done. And then I left. And Lawson was apparently waiting outside to see my sweet face because he’s a stalker.”
Avery was quiet for a moment before turning on her side and moving closer. She shoved my arm to the side and draped her leg over my left. Her head was against my chest, hair tickling me. Madam Bones had the radio on in her office.
“Let’s drop it,” she whispered into my chest. “But I was in the right to break his leg. He called me princess.”
“Should have broke all his limbs for that,” I said with a grin. “You’re no princess, Aves.”
“How do you know that?”
“Years and years of experiences.”
Our conversation faded in an out for the next hour. We talked about the Final and how Lawson hadn’t showed up in the hospital wing. About Bink and Rose. Fred and Amy dancing the night away. Albus and his hexing of Scorpius Malfoy weeks ago. About Lily. For minutes on end we laid there in silence, listening to the wind howl outside.
Around four it started to rain, droplets hammering against the windows. Avery moved a little closer, even though the temperature hadn’t changed. I didn’t stop her.
I liked this. It wasn’t full of pressure and tears and broken promises. It was just the two of us in a bed. Chatting. No pressure. Not talking about us or our careers. Not talking about our futures. Keeping the conversation directed away from anything that could make my head pain go directly to my chest.
Which, I had to admit, didn’t sound manly at all.
She drifted off to sleep later in the afternoon, which is when Madam Bones let slip that she didn’t even have to stay in the hospital wing. She decided to. Apparently Albus and Lily came down almost immediately after I passed out and asked that if I got worse to owl Mum and Dad, but I didn’t. Bink and Freddie were there too, but that was when Avery had already fallen asleep. She wouldn’t tell me anything about the conversations, even when I offered her great seats for the final.
“I’m a staff member, Potter,” she said in a snippy way, “I can have any seat I’d like.”
“Not the good ones,” I grumbled.
I drifted off here and there, mostly because the sound of Avery’s steady breathing was calming. Madam Bones changed my bandage a few times and replaced Avery’s once at my request. She didn’t wake.
The afternoon faded into evening, sun setting in front of me and setting the hospital wing in a hazy orange glow. Avery stayed asleep. She looked exhausted, purple circles under her eyes. I’d never seen her that tired before. That distant from herself. Everything seemed to be building up over the last few weeks and this seemed to be exactly what she needed.
A day off. Even if it was spent in a hospital wing in the arms of the man who rejected her.
She stirred around nine, fingers tangled around the material of my white hospital gown. After blinking once or twice, she tilted her head to look up at me, her lips halfway between a smile and a nervous smirk. “Hey,” she said.
“How’s your mum?” I asked. There was one candle lit beside the bed, but the rest of the wing was dark.
“My mum?” Avery asked, her voice laced with confusion. “She’s okay. Working. She said she’d try and make it to the final, but she’s scheduled that day.”
“Does anyone know?”
“About the… no. No one knows.”
“Albus and Lily know,” I replied, voice a little rough. “They promised not to tell.”
I hated the nerves in my stomach. The awkwardness in our conversation. Instinctively, I pulled her closer, fingers running the length of her back and up again.
“Do you have a plan?” she whispered.
“Play the final,” I replied. “Al suggested telling Dad.”
“Do you think he could help? I mean, bend some arms or something?”
I shook my head. “The last time Mum played was before I was born. Something like nineteen years ago. Dad has a lot of pull in the Ministry, but we’re not very involved in the Quidditch industry, as much as we like going to matches. I guess sure, he could pull the name card and make people listen if he donates a chunk of change…don’t you see that coming out eventually? James Potter gets a tryout because Daddy buys him one.” My nose wrinkled. “Sounds like real talent.”
“But it’s because my father’s a git,” Avery insisted. “It’s not because you have no talent. You’re amazing, James.”
“Do you think that matters?” I asked. “I can’t live that way. I can’t live knowing it was my father who did it for me.”
“But it would just be—”
“I don’t want that, Avery,” I said seriously. “And besides, my name’s cancer anyway. Even if Dad donated half a bank account to get me a sodding tryout, changes are I wouldn’t make the team or they’d put me on the team and then put me down as a healthy scratch for the rest of the season. I’ve seen the things your father is capable of, Aves. It’s not pretty.”
She let out a sigh. “You’re right,” she said. “After you told me that I read up on things. He’s done it before. One of the blokes he blacklisted tried to get signed and cleans pools now in Wales.”
Another nose wrinkle. “Doesn’t sound as fulfilling,” I said.
“Not so much.” She mirrored my touch, running her fingers up and down my chest. “I’m sorry this happened to you. To us. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Avery,” I said shortly. “Let’s just let it go, okay? Where we’re sitting there’s nothing that can be done without making things worse. Just…let it go. I’m sure Dad has some Ministry internship I can do or something. File papers in those manila folders and learn how to make coffee.” I shrugged. “I can wear a cool tie. You know how I like ties.”
“I know how you like ties,” Avery repeated with a smile, her fingers grazing my collar bone where it was exposed. I shivered. “But not vests. That’s Albus.”
“How’s Falcon Cat?” I stammered, voice a little shaky since her fingers were still on my bare skin.
“Good,” she replied. “We snuggled the other night. She loathes Nia.”
“As she should,” I agreed.
“Where does Falcon Cat go after graduation?”
I looked down. “Let’s not talk about after graduation,” I said.
“What do you want to talk about then?”
“Here,” I replied. “Right now. Let’s just talk about now.”
Avery arched a brow. “Okay,” she whispered. “Let’s talk about right now.” She scooted up a little, her cheek resting against my collar bone. “We’re in the hospital wing after I broke someone’s leg who seriously injured you. Alone except for whoever is behind that curtain.”
“Good summary,” I choked out, feeling her breath on my neck. “You were, um, good about being my knight in shining armor there.”
“I just flicked a wand. Doesn’t take a lot of skill.” She shrugged.
I let things fall into silence again, her breathing sending the hairs on the back of my neck straight to the ceiling. Fuck. She needed to stop breathing. Well, on me. It was driving me mad.
“Aves?” I said after a while.
“Thanks for following me outside.” I leaned into the pillows, releasing a quick sigh. “I’m a little nervous to think of what could have happened. I couldn’t even see.”
“I told you I was going to fight for you, James,” Avery replied in a voice I could barely hear. “I didn’t exactly mean it literally, but that’s what it came down to.”
“YOU ARE EXPELLED.”
I jerked awake, blinking in the semi-darkness. It had to be just before dawn because the sky was a pinkish purple. Avery was nuzzled against me, but the voice startled her awake too. Her grip tightened on my shirt. Gown. Thing. Man dress. Fuck.
The door burst open, slamming against the wall behind it. To my surprise, it was Longbottom with someone draped over his shoulder. He was strong.
And carrying Clint Lawson.
With my brother in tow.
“Albus, please quiet down,” Longbottom said, strolling up the center of the hospital wing like he didn’t have a giant thug attached to him. “Madam Bones?”
“Nevile?” She came out of her office and gave a squeak. “What happened? Is he conscious?”
Al’s face was red. “I’ll tell you what happened!” he said angrily. “This git went after my girlfriend! He should be EXPELLED.”
“Went after—what?” Madam Bones said.
“Apparently there is a Quidditch rivalry,” Longbottom said dryly. “Mr. Lawson is taking it rather seriously.” He dropped Lawson into a bed. He didn’t appear to have any damage done, but he was out like a light.
Avery nudged me to see if I was awake. I kissed the top of her head. She was silent as we watched.
“This is an outrage!” Albus cried. “Blatant favoritism to Slytherins! He’s the one who put my brother in the hospital wing! There was an EYE WITNESS.”
“I’m sorry, Susan,” Longbottom said, frowning. “I’ll try and have a talk with my house.”
“YOUR house?” Albus cried. “It’s them! They’re taking out my brother’s whole team! He’s over there almost dead—“ He glanced over and met my eyes. I was clearly not almost dead. “And Lawson is hunting down more people! What’s next? My little sister? She’s not even fourteen yet!”
Negative seven, Al. Get it right.
“Albus, please return to your common room and make sure Paloma is all right,” Longbottom said, obviously fighting to keep himself calm.
“Fine,” Al snapped. “But this isn’t over.” He turned in a huff and stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
“What’s even going on?” Madam Bones said in a quiet voice. “I had Potter brought in here yesterday with Miss Flynn. And now he’s gone after Paloma Dove? Is he going to be allowed to stay?”
“It’s a lot of people’s words against each other,” Longbottom said. “Politics. How do we know the Gryffindors aren’t making it all up and framing Mr. Lawson to win? We can look at it from both sides, but the truth is the hard evidence is lacking.”
“The boy blacked out,” Bones said. “This violence shouldn’t be tolerated. Someone should be banned from the sport if it’s this out of control.”
“I’ll do my best,” Longbottom said, nodding to her. “He’s got a few hex wounds and he’ll be out for a few hours. Give him what’s in the drawer. He’ll be fine.” He shrugged and left.
Madam Bones tended to Lawson for a few minutes, pulled the curtains around him, and retreated to her office.
Avery sighed. “I can’t believe he went after Paloma.”
“I can,” I replied, eyes narrowing. “He went after you when you stood up for me.” I glanced over at the closed curtains. “The game is still a week away, but I’m worried about Lily now.”
“We’ll be fine,” Avery said, brushing her thumb across the stubble that had formed on my cheek. “The team is going to be fine. Any idea what you’re going to cover at the meeting?”
“Probably just boring shit,” I said, smirking. “Things have really gone downhill since Meta left.”
She shoved me, laughing. “Don’t even joke about that bint. You see her in Quidditch Weekly?”
“See her? No. When was this?”
“Last week,” Avery said, yawning a little and repositioning her leg. I wished she hadn’t. “She got a Bludger to the skull. St. Mungos for two weeks. Down to the reserves and hasn’t been called up since.” The arrogant smirk on her face was very attractive.
“And I’m sure you just feel so bad for her,” I replied, laughing and leaning in for a moment before I realized what the fuck I was doing and pretended to be stretching my back. Then I flopped back into the pillows. She didn’t seem to have noticed.
What the fuck was that, James?
Dear Godric Gryffindor, what did I just do?
“We were practically best friends,” Avery said, laughing. Nope. Didn’t notice. Oh, thank Merlin. “That’s what she gets for leaving us high and dry. Even though I’m thrilled Lily got it. She’s even better than I thought she would be.”
“I taught her everything she knows,” I said, voice filled with nerves. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Are you okay?” Avery asked, her green eyes finding mine.
I faltered, nothing coming out for a moment as I looked into her eyes. For some reason, all I could think of was the balcony in Italy. The vulnerability I hadn’t noticed. “Yeah,” I choked out eventually. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just fine.”
“Good,” she said, her smile cheerful and unforgettable. Like the past few months hadn’t happened at all. Like we were back to having a snowball fight under a pine tree. “You’d tell me if there was, right?”
“Because we’re best friends,” she said softly.
“Best friends,” I echoed with a nod, kissing the tip of her nose.
A/N: This is actually my favorite chapter of BTQC :) So I hope all of you enjoyed it!
I've actually finished writing the story as a whole. The last four chapters (yes, four) are in need of some edits, but at least it's a start. Since I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in June, I figured it was easy for me to get ahead of myself!
Thank you again to those of you who have tried out Hormones. I'm really getting into my groove with it and I'm very much enjoying writing in Freddie's POV. What a riot. So thanks again :) I'm always petrified of how a new story will do.
So what did you think about this chapter? I'm pretty sure blood-loss James is similar to drunk James. "Sensory details, love." bahaha.
UP NEXT: A team meeting, Bink's secret, some justice, and James' desperation
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