Chapter 1 : They Let Love In
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THEY LET LOVE IN
James Potter can have anything and anyone he wants.
His parents try to tell him otherwise but he knows. Once he gets to Hogwarts he knows.
He's not like Al, who always shies away from the attention. James enjoys the attention.
By third year he sets a new Hogwarts detention record. Professor McGonagall tells him so, although somehow she makes it sound like a bad thing.
James does not care. He considers it an achievement.
After all, detention rhymes with attention.
Lily is lecturing him again.
She's only twelve but she already takes after their mother.
"Why did you break up with her?" she asks him for what seems like the millionth time.
It's the millionth girl so it should be the millionth time.
"She was too clingy," he says, hoping that she'll let it go. She does not.
"She wanted to go to Hogsmeade with me."
His sister looks at him like she's pitying him.
"I really can't see why she would," she shakes her head.
He doesn't have female friends. He doesn't have friends. He has fans, people who wish they were him and look to him for pointers.
Al has female friends. He also has their father's non-existent social skills.
"Leave my friends alone," his little brother tells him in sixth year.
Lily's friends are too young for him but Al's are not.
"You can have any girl you want in school," fifteen-year-old Al reminds him. "Don't mess with my friends."
James knows it's not the time to joke, but he can't help it.
"Just tell me which one you fancy and I'll spare her."
It takes weeks till Al speaks to him again.
He's only eighteeen when he signs with Puddlemere United. He gets money. He gets fame. He gets girls.
Of course he already had that all, but he's young and he's greedy and he thinks more is better.
He feels restless.
His mother is complaining about his dating habits. It's because of some article she read in Witch Weekly again.
He wants to tell her that he doesn't really date but he decides against it. His mother doesn't need to know what he does with girls. Women. Whatever.
It's just a need to him. That's all it is.
He can tell that his father is disappointed.
Harry Potter does not yell. He doesn't say anything really. It's just a certain look that he gives his son, when he thinks James is not watching.
James is, but he still cannot understand.
His life is all about fun and pleasure and he wonders what else one could want.
Puddlemere United gets a new seeker and Oliver Wood takes him aside and asks him not to date her.
James is taken aback. He's dated team mates before. Slept with them. Whatever.
"You never considered this a problem before," he points out.
Wood does not smile.
"That's because I didn't want you to quit the team."
It takes James a few moments to realise what that means. When he does, he gets angry.
There's someone out there that Wood wants on the team more than he wants James.
He resents the girl before he even meets her.
Her name is Lizzie Barton and she does not look like a Quidditch player.
She looks too fragile, he decides.
Her hair is a strange red-blond colour. Her eyes, deep blue, do not meet his when they're introduced. Her hand is too small in his.
She was a Ravenclaw in Hogwarts, he is told.
James does not remember her. He doesn't even remember the girls he snogged at Hogwarts, much less the ones he didn't.
"Mum is writing an article about Lizzie Barton for the Daily Prophet," Lily informs him.
It's been three years since he's moved out but he still sees Lily quite often. Al he only sees at home.
He thinks his brother still hates him for his behaviour as a teenager. Actually, he's pretty sure Al still considers him a teenager.
"Whatever," James mumbles.
The last article someone wrote about him was about some model he'd gone out with twice. It had been over a year since he had been featured in a Quidditch magazine.
She wins them every single game.
Of course he scores, but he can't score enough to compete with her.
She always catches the snitch in less than thirty minutes.
He thinks she does it on purpose, never giving him enough time to show off his skills.
But his skills are nothing new. She's new. She's the new star and everybody's eyes are fixed on her.
She doesn't do team hugs. She doesn't fly around the pitch with the snitch in her hand. She doesn't shout in victory.
She only smiles timidly at her team mates' praises and hurries back to the locker rooms. She doesn't bask in the glory of it all.
That seems to make it worse somehow. That she's taking it all away from him, when she doesn't even seem to be enjoying it.
Why does she do it, if not for the glamour?
One day he can't help it. He asks her.
"Why did you become a Quidditch player if you don't like being in the spotlight?"
She seems confused by his question.
"Because I like the game."
He feels shallow for weeks after that.
He knows he's not allowed to ask her out. He doesn't really want to, anyway. He's only curious.
He starts to invite her to drinks with the rest of the team instead.
She declines politely each time.
That shouldn't bother him, but for some reason it does.
He doesn't see the Bludger coming. It happens in seconds.
One moment he's flying, the next he's on the ground, wishing he couldn't feel his left arm.
Unfortunately he does feel it and it's painful.
Lizzie's face hovers above his, her red-blond hair falling out of her ponytail.
"James, are you okay? Can you lift your arm?"
He can't, and he finds that he can't speak either.
If he could, he'd tell her that this is all her fault.
He wouldn't have been hit, if he hadn't been watching her.
He finds himself visiting his parents more often than he used to.
Once, on a visit like that, he gets to overhear a conversation between his mother and Lily.
He's just flooed home, ashes still on his robes, when he hears their voices from the kitchen.
"I saw James yesterday," his sister is saying. "We met at the Leaky Cauldron for lunch. He acted a little weird."
"What do you mean?" his mother asks.
"We were talking and I asked him if he was dating anyone and, you know, that's usually the point where he starts listing names and you've got to stop him at some point or he could go on forever."
Ginny Potter laughs.
"So?" she asks Lily.
"So, he said 'no-one' and then he got all moody."
"It must be the injury," his mother says.
James waits till they've changed the subject to announce his presence.
His arm is almost back to normal but he's afraid he can't say the same for himself.
He's the last one in the locker room. His hair is still wet from the shower but he's wearing clothes, so he goes out immediately when he hears the shouts.
The voices are coming from the girls' locker but one of them is definitely male.
"Can we please talk about it?" the man is yelling.
"I told you not to come here! Get out!"
James recognises that voice. He recognises it even though he's never heard Lizzie speak so loud or angry.
The man leaves the room, only to bump into James on his way out. He doesn't apologise, he just turns his back and keeps going as if James was not there at all.
The two of them don't look alike at all, yet James is sure he can see a little of himself in the guy.
The sound of crying has him turning back to the girls' locker.
He pushes the door open quietly and steps inside.
Lizzie is sitting on one of the benches, her arms around her knees, her face in her hands. Her whole body is shaking from the sobs.
"Was that... was that your boyfriend?" he asks carefully so as not to startle her.
Lizzie shakes her head.
"Ex-boyfriend," she murmurs into her hands.
James realises he's never been a boyfriend himself.
"I don't need a boyfriend," Lizzie says, finally lifting her eyes from her knees.
James is not sure whether he's spoken aloud or not.
"I need a friend," she tells him.
He walks slowly over to her and sits down.
He's never been a friend either but it's what she needs from him, so he thinks he'll give it a try.
His father is shaking his head.
"James, I can't arrest him for trying to make up with his girlfriend."
His parents' house is quiet. He's come here into the dead of the night, after spending three hours in the girls' locker room, trying to be the friend he has never been.
"They broke up three months ago. He cheated on her. He has no right to ask her to take him back!"
"It's still not a crime," his father repeats patiently.
"James, do you have feelings for this girl?"
His mother has come into the study without him realising it.
Her question startles him into silence at first.
"No, I... I don't know...," he trails off.
He's not looking at them but he knows his parents are sharing one of their meaningful looks.
When he was younger that used to annoy him.
Now he wants what they have.
He sleeps with six different girls that week.
It's relief he's looking for, but all he gets is this feeling that he's dirty and hollow at the same time.
He tells himself he's not doing anything wrong. He and Lizzie are friends. Nobody can say that he's betraying her.
But this guilt he feels is not towards Lizzie, he realises.
For the first time in his life, he knows what it's like to betray oneself.
He wants to be with her.
It's been four months since the start of their friendship and he knows it's what he wants.
He hasn't been with another girl in ages, nor does he want to. He finds he doesn't have that need anymore.
He doesn't even care about Wood and his stupid warning. He's ready to leave the team, if that's what it takes. He can find another team. He can find another job entirely. He doesn't care.
The only thing he cares about is her.
He doesn't know how to approach her about it.
He's never really asked a girl out. He's only ever taken what was already offered.
In the end, he just kisses her.
They're dismounting their brooms after practice, her whole face is glowing with excitement and he knows that she's speaking to him but he can't hear anything except the beating of his own heart.
He leans in before the chance is lost.
Lizzie's goes still in his arms, before she pushes him back.
Her eyes are wide and she looks surprised and scared at the same time.
"I can't do this," she whispers. "I'm sorry, James."
He doesn't know how long he stands there alone, the pieces of his heart scattered around in the middle of the Quidditch pitch.
He doesn't go to practice for a week.
He says he's sick and maybe he's not even lying. This does hurt more than his arm injury after all.
There's a part of him that wishes he could go back to his old self, the one who was so easy to satisfy.
But he's got a new need now, and it's her.
Surprisingly, it's Al who convinces him not to give up.
His little brother comes to his flat every three hours to check on him. Each time he tries to get him to go out. Once he even tries to push him out the door.
"You're annoying," James groans in his effort to stay under the doorframe.
"I'm not even half as annoying as you used to be before Lizzie came along. Now go find her!"
James Potter has never begged for anything in his life.
He does beg this time.
"Please give me a chance," he says before she can even say a word.
He wishes he could have put on some clean clothes before he'd apparated straight to her door. He wishes a lot of things in that moment though, so his clothes don't get to be top priority.
"I promise you won't regret it."
He does not know what she sees in his eyes but she steps aside and lets him in.
James has never trembled at someone's touch before. Never wanted to spend the night in a bed that was not his own. Never feared waking up and finding the pillow next to his empty.
Then again, he's never been in love before either, has he?
A/N: First try at one-shot! This turned out different than I originally intented. Review and let me know what you thought :)