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Chapter 10 : "Slip of the tongue."
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Chapter 10: “Slip of the tongue.”
Heavy tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face, as I screamed myself hoarse. There was so much noise; I could barely hear my own yells. So much was going on in that one moment, it was almost unbearable. I moved my hands so that they covered my face and sobbed uncontrollably into them.
This was too much. I could not believe it. I was in shock. This could not be happening. There was no way.
Finally, after violent attempts at wiping away the moisture from my face, I gave up, because the tears just kept coming right back. They still obscured my view, but I knew in what general direction I should be going. I rocketed towards my mark, and sure enough, despite my lack of vision, I reached my destination.
“JENYSE! WE DID IT! WE WON, JENYSE!”
This only made me sob even harder, as I allowed myself to get pulled into a cluster of six other bodies.
It was true. James wouldn’t lie to me. I took a deep breath and tried to implant the thought into my disbelieving brain.
Gryffindor had won. We had won the Quidditch Cup.
My final Quidditch match in my Hogwarts career, and we had won it all.
“OH MY GOD!” I shrieked, in spite of myself. I couldn’t breathe. All I could do was hold onto the other bodies around me.
Eventually, not letting go of each other, we lowered ourselves down to the field. The moment we hit the ground, disregarding my broom, I threw myself onto James, who caught me just in time. I hung on for dear life, scared that if I let go, I would wake up from this dream.
James picked me up and spun me around, yelling, “WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!” again and again.
I laughed through my blubbering, as, when we both suddenly got too dizzy from going in circles, we fell to the ground on our backs, next to one another. Just when everything stopped spinning above me, but before I could roll over and kiss James repeatedly on the cheek, a heavy body landed on the both of us. “Oof!”
“PRONGS! SYLLY! WE DID IT!”
Sirius, beating me to my own idea, sloppily kissed me and James each, on the cheek. After a few moments more of what he would call hugging – which entailed the strangling of James and me –, Sirius finally got off of us, pulling us up with him.
Once I straightened myself out and wiped Sirius’s slobber mixed with my tears off of my cheek, I couldn’t help but jump back on Sirius.
“I can’t believe it’s over!” Sirius exclaimed, catching me and squeezing me to death.
My arms tightened around his neck as I sniffled against his shoulder. “Me neither! I don’t think I can live without being on a team with you and James, Sirius!” I told him, as he set me down in front of him.
Sirius smiled down at me sadly, brushing away some of my tears with his thumb. Instead of responding, he pressed his lips to my forehead. We stayed like this until we were ambushed by other team members.
“Benjy!” I disentangled myself from Sirius, after giving him another quick squeeze, to hug the boy who ultimately got us the win by capturing the Snitch. “You were amazing, Benj! That catch! You won us the match!”
He beamed, but brushed the compliment off. He held me at arms length. “Rubbish! You, Jenyse, were – are – absolutely brilliant! Twenty-one goals! Unheard of!” he praised, making me turn away, blushing. “You could go pro, you could.”
I rolled my still wet eyes good-naturedly. “Pfft! Not even. I couldn’t imagine calling any other group of people my team.” We grinned at each other before parting ways, searching for our other teammates. I spotted Colleen, my fellow Chaser, with Adam, Sirius’s fellow Beater, and engulfed them in a group hug. Not long after, I left them too, to try to find our Keeper.
Seth found me first, coming up behind me and tapping me on the shoulder. “You were incredible, today, Jenyse!”
I laughed lightly, shaking my head. “Me? If you hadn’t saved all of those goals that Ravenclaw tried to get past you, my goals would have meant nothing!”
Seth turned red at my praise. “It’s been really awesome being on the same team as you. It sucks that we only had one year playing together.”
His words were like a small arrow to my heart. I smiled sadly at the somewhat shy fourth-year, whom I’d always liked. “Hey,” I said to him, “as this is my last year, I’m gonna need you to hold down the fort next year, yeah? Don’t let Benjy or Adam do anything stupid, you hear? I’m putting you in charge of them.”
He gave me a sarcastic look.
“I’m serious! Promise you’ll keep them in line?” I demanded, ruffling up his sweaty hair.
A grin grew on his face as he nodded fervently. “Yeah, alright.”
I beamed back at him as my heart broke at the thought of not being able to play another Quidditch match or have another Quidditch practice with him. “Good. Now, come here, kid.” I pulled him into a hug and ruffled up his hair once more before he went to find our captain.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, I turned in my spot, looking around me. The whole field was crowded with crimson red, everywhere I turned. Everyone was yelling. The ground must have been shaking from all of the excitement. The stands were almost all cleared out, the majority of the school population on the field. The teachers were still at their seats in the stands, Dumbledore standing, with the Quidditch Cup in his hands, smiling patiently.
It was then that I really came to the reality that I had, in fact, just played – not to mention won – my last Quidditch match. Coming into my final year at Hogwarts, I was aware that there would be plenty of moments during which the fact that it was all coming to an end would hit me like the Knight Bus. This was clearly one of them.
Quidditch had been a significant part of my life since I was young, playing in the wizard park near my house, with my siblings. Jarron and I always played on the same team against Jayden and Jace. Quidditch brought me even closer to James and Sirius. Quidditch gave me that feeling that I was capable of doing whatever I worked hard at.
My Quidditch team was my second family. Being a part of a team was one of my favorite things about Hogwarts Quidditch. And now I was leaving it. My team. My family.
I decided then to bring up the proposition of joining a local Quidditch league to James and Sirius once we graduated.
Again, wiping away fresh tears, I maneuvered my way through the crowd, trying to find James. At last, I spotted him, snogging Lily, near our pile of forgotten brooms. Just as I was about to call out to him, I was grabbed and embraced from the back. Laughing, I turned in the arms around me, expecting Remus or Peter, but coming face to face with Ian Hayes. My features breaking into a grin, I flung my arms around his neck.
Pulling back, but still keeping me in his arms, he saw the tear streaks on my face. His eyebrows drew together with concern. “Jenyse, are you alright?” One of his hands came up to dry my cheek.
Slightly embarrassed, I brushed his hand away, which went back to its place behind me. “Sorry. It’s stupid. I’m just sad that it’s over. I mean, what am I to do without Wicked Wanton Wednesdays?”
Ian chortled. “If I had known you could fly like that, Baccari, I wouldn’t have been secretly rooting for my own House, even though I’ve been playing the spy and helping Gryffindor.”
I scowled, hitting him hard on the chest, knowing it wouldn’t faze him. “Liar. I know about the wagers you’ve been making around the school, Hayes. 11 galleons on a Gryffindor win, right?”
He shrugged with no trace of shame in his smirk, not taking his hands off of my back. “Yeah, well, what can I say? I’m kind of taken with one of their Chasers.”
I rolled my eyes, removing his arms from around me. “Well, I’ll be sure to tell James of your feelings about him. I need to pry him off of Lily, anyway, so we can go get the Cup. McGonagall looks about ready to snatch it out of Dumbledore’s hands.” Giving him one last smile, I left him to go get James.
McGonagall burst into tears as James, Sirius, and I raised the Quidditch Cup above our heads, our arms around each other. The mass of red cheered as the three of us started a chant of, “GRYFFINDOR! GRYFFINDOR!” Looking out over the crowd, I caught Ian’s eye. I stuck my tongue out at him playfully, and he reciprocated the gesture, down below. We seventh-years passed the cup to Colleen, Adam, Seth, and Benjy, and then to McGonagall, who hugged it to her, as though it was her child.
After a bit more celebration, back on the field, the team and I excused ourselves to the locker rooms. Inside, James gave us a teary-eyed speech, causing me to weep on Sirius’s shoulder. With a final team group hug, before hitting the showers, we all yelled out our “Gryffindor” chant.
Once everyone was all cleaned up, we all walked, arm in arm, as a team, all the way up to Gryffindor Tower, where we were bombarded with more cheers and hugs right as we entered the full common room. The walls were adorned with Gryffindor flags and oversized team photos. There was the customary Gryffindor-win-buffet-table, covered with more than enough food for the whole of Gryffindor House.
Before I could even think about grabbing a plateful of food to soothe my growling stomach, I was pummeled, almost to the floor (thank you, Sirius and Adam for catching me) by two unidentified bodies.
“JENYSE!” two male voices roared in my ears.
“We couldn’t find you on the pitch!”
“Then we had to come back up here to set up!”
“You know how much everyone counts on us to provide the food!”
“But we were so upset we couldn’t congratulate you right after the match!”
“We saw Sirius–!”
“That was before he and Lily had started sword fighting with their tongues.”
“You were awesome!”
“Moony! Wormtail! Let the girl breathe!” I heard Sirius say, over my booming laughter.
I felt both boys release me, just to engulf me, yet again, between them. Once I was let go, for real this time, I grinned at them both. “Thanks, guys! Ugh, I love you guys!” I couldn’t help gushing, pulling them back in for another hug, with Sirius and James, coming out from nowhere (“Sylly sandwich without the most important Marauder?!”), joining.
Finally, we broke apart, each boy leaving me with a final squeeze or kiss on the cheek, but my lovely Remus. “Two-hundred-and-ten points,” he articulated slowly, as he led us to the food. “Ridiculous.” He shook his head, handing me a plate and picking up two glasses of firewhiskey. Though, I never really drank anything remotely stronger than butterbeer, I didn’t protest – we had just won the Quidditch Cup, after all.
“I just hope James isn’t upset that I scored more than him. I tried passing to him so that he could take a shot, but he just kept passing it back.”
“Well, that’s James. He wouldn’t have it any other way,” Remus assured me with a sort of admiration for our friend’s selflessness.
He was absolutely right. James was a great captain and the perfect friend. I couldn’t help but envy Lily for how lucky she was.
“Hey, is Ian around?” I asked Remus, piling mashed potatoes upon mashed potatoes onto my plate.
“Yep. Last time I saw him, he was talking to Lily, over by that window.” He pointed.
On my tiptoes, I could see the top of his slightly spiked, light brown hair. “Mm. I see him,” I said, around the fork I held between my teeth.
Remus chuckled at me struggling with the fork in my mouth, the plate in my hand, and the pudding I was trying to spoon onto my already full plate. “Here.” He took my plate, handing me the two glasses of firewhiskey, and pulled the fork out from my teeth, placing it on the plate.
We continued down the line of food, Remus putting whatever I told him to put on my plate, as we talked of the more exciting moments of the match. When I decided that Remus had gotten enough food for me, we strolled over to Ian, who scooched back against one side of the window, leaving one leg propped up against the glass, and the other dangling off the sill. His new position gave me some room to sit.
Assuming he had already eaten, I let him hold my drink and traded Remus his firewhiskey for my food. Remus stayed to chat with us for a while, until he spotted Sirius dancing on top of a coffee table, surrounded by sixth-year girls.
“Ugh, Sirius…why?” he muttered, taking a swig of his drink. “Alright, I’ve got to go save him from even more humiliation. Marauder code,” he added to Ian’s and my sniggers. “Just in case I don’t see you again, while still sober…” He made Ian take my plate, so he could pull me off of the window sill, hug me yet again (I wasn’t complaining – I loved all the hugs I was getting today!), and whisper in my ear. “Terrific job, today, Jenyse. It was an amazing season. Congratulations, love.”
I smiled into his chest. “Thanks, Remus.”
With one last kiss to my head and a muttered goodbye to Ian, he left to go take care of Sirius.
I went back to my place in front of Ian’s propped up leg on the sill, and took my plate Ian handed back to me. “So, Assistant Coach Hayes,” I started, nudging his leg behind me, “what’d you think of the match?” Normally, I hated speaking about the match right after having played in it. In fact, I usually sat and ate alone during our victory parties. But I hadn’t forgotten Ian’s fury after our last match in March – really, I was just hoping for his approval.
“Merlin!” he began, suddenly excited, as he dove into detail on every great move made with big, animated hand movements. “That save that Seth made against Maverick, when he almost fell off his broom, but managed to kick the Quaffle away with the tip of his foot? And that double Bludger hit from Sirius and Adam aimed at Winchester! I told James it would work! Oh, James! His passing was superb today! Colleen was flying amazingly, too! But, damn. That catch by Fenwick. Unbelievable. Really. Who knew the kid was that talented? Never have I seen a Seeker feint or dive like that.” He sat back, shaking his head in awe at the memory of Benjy’s finest moment.
Though I was highly pleased at his enthusiasm and approval of the team’s efforts, I had to admit that I was sort of stung.
“What’s with the poop face?”
“And I was an excellent benchwarmer, was I?”
“Oh, were you there?” he quipped flippantly.
I made a face at him, which he simply laughed at, throwing his head back.
Once he had sobered up, his features grew sincere. “Seriously, Jenyse. You were mind-blowing today. I swear, that move you made on your twelfth goal was insane! You’ve got to teach me that some day. And that fake and roll? Bloody hell!”
Positively glowing, I smirked, saying, “Teach you my moves, Hayes? You really think you can handle them?”
Ian scoffed with a raised brow. “Handle them? I could definitely do more than handle them.”
His eyes narrowed. “…Alright. I change my mind. You were horrible. Despicable. You flew positively terribly, Baccari.”
A grin grew on my lips and I straightened up, brightly saying, “Why, thank you! That’s awfully kind of you, Mr. Hayes.”
Laughing, Ian uttered, “You, Jenyse Syl Baccari, are incredibly odd,” making my grin grow wider.
I moved my gaze to peer around the room. I saw Colleen and Adam sitting in the same armchair, Seth sitting and laughing with a group of his friends, and Benjy diving onto a couch, evidently reenacting one of his feints he had executed during the match. “Does it get any easier?” I could feel Ian watching me out of the corner of my watering eye.
“Honestly? Yes and no.”
My eyes searched his hazel-green ones. “What do you mean?”
He heaved a sigh. “Eventually, you come to accept that your Quidditch days are over and there won’t be any other chance of ever returning to Hogwarts Quidditch. But there’s always a part of you that will always miss it all: the team effort, the cheering crowd, the thrill of saving one more goal – or, in your case, making a goal. It’s tough, but it’s just something that you have to let go and move on.”
I nodded, sniffing and clearing my throat, ready to change the subject. “So, did you get that money I won for you from the blokes stupid enough to bet against Gryffindor?”
“Ooh, thanks for reminding me. I’ll have to hunt down Deering and McCoy tomorrow.”
“Deering?” I repeated, suddenly affronted. “Kent Deering bet against Gryffindor? Kent Deering, the Quidditch commentator?”
“That’s the one.”
“The git! He always roots for us when he commentates!”
Ian laughed at the look on my face. “If it makes you feel any better, it took a lot to get him to take the bet, with him going against Gryffindor. So, apparently, he’s a git and an idiot.”
I snorted. “So it seems.”
After a brief silence, Ian turned, leaning toward me, and said, “You really were incredible today, Jenyse.”
I blushed with a growing smile on my lips as I glanced up and pushed his shoulder away. I made a show of rolling my eyes, though his words pleased me to no end.
A low, husky laugh escaped his lips. He leaned back against the wall again. “You want some more?” he asked, gesturing to the now half-empty plate I was eating from.
I shook my head quickly and my hand flew to my almost-full stomach. “Uh-uh. This is more than enough. Remus and Peter really outdid themselves today.”
“Oh, sure. Give me no credit.”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry, sir. I wasn’t aware of your helping hand,” I drawled theatrically.
Ian chuckled, ignoring my glare as he took a sip of my drink.
I snatched the glass from him, taking my own sip, reveling in the burning sensation making its way down my throat, before handing the glass back for him to hold. We sat in a comfortable silence, as I continued to eat. While we watched Sirius wrestling with Remus and Peter laughing nonstop, more than likely due to the alcohol he had consumed, we were simply enjoying one another’s presence.
Over the past four weeks since Easter break, the number of awkward silences shared between Ian and me had decreased, and had been replaced with a number of comfortable ones. We spent more and more time together, more significantly without extra company. I was becoming more and more accustomed to calling him a friend. I found that he really did belong in our group of friends. Really, it was nice to have someone around who wasn’t around for our embarrassing early years at Hogwarts and who was in with, yet slightly on the outskirts of the famous Marauders, who had their own secrets and adventures they shared once every month – not that Ian knew anything about that.
Ian and I were getting closer and closer each day. I didn’t even mind the Friday checkups much, anymore. Our relationship was…comfortable. And, frankly, I liked it that way.
As N.E.W.T.s were drawing closer and closer, much to every seventh-year’s distress, I didn’t have much time to be saddened over the end of Quidditch. Even the teachers seemed to be getting stressed out about the coming exams, trying their best to fit in everything they could into every lesson to better prepare us students. Every moment that I wasn’t in class, I was studying. Nothing seemed to want to stick in my brain, though. I could barely remember an ounce of information, even after having read over a paragraph twenty thousand times. It didn’t matter where or who with I was studying.
Needless to say, stress and Jenyse Baccari didn’t mesh very well. Though I never would have guessed nor believed it at the time, N.E.W.T.s proved to be way more taxing than the O.W.L.s were in fifth year. I remembered quite clearly the time I had spent a whole night in the then fifth-year boys’ loo, hugging the toilet while Sirius held back my hair, James held my hand, Remus used a cold wet towel to dab at my forehead, and Peter patted my back.
While this year was double the amount of pressure, I had assured the boys that there would absolutely not be a repeat of that horrible, horrible night. I was well capable of handling the stress now, after having experienced the whole O.W.L.s fiasco.
Or so that was what I kept telling myself. To save our sanity, James and I had decided on J-Time flying breaks, every now and then between intense study sessions. It was before one of these much needed breaks that I had a rather insightful conversation with the lovely Lily Evans.
“Hey, Lily, have you seen my broomstick?” I asked her, as I cased the room for said broom. “I swear I left it against the wall next to my dresser, the last time I used it.” My hands found my hips as I tried to remember ever having moved it.
“Oh,” she replied, looking up from the novel she read as her own break from studying, “I put it under your bed–”
“You what?!” I dashed to my bed and fell to my hands and knees to salvage my poor broom, now probably all covered in dust bunnies, tigers, and hippogriffs.
“I-I’m sorry! I didn’t think you’d want it lying around,” apologized Lily earnestly, her voice full of worry. I heard the sound of the pages of her book against her bedspread and the creaking of her mattress as she swung her legs off its edge.
Pulling my poor, poor baby out, I looked it over for any damage and dusted it off gently. Once I was convinced it was okay, I looked up at Lily and grew red in embarrassment at seeing the anxiety in her face. “No, no, Lily. It’s fine. Sorry for freaking out like that. Heh.” I was such an idiot. “Just, er, don’t do that to James, yeah? He may have a conniption. Uh, Lily? You alright?” I asked hesitantly at the new expression on her face.
“Huh?” Her eyes snapped to mine as she came out of her trance. “Alright? Yeah, I’m alright. Sorry. Again. About moving your broom.”
“It’s alright, Lily, really. I’ve just got this thing, lately – an obsession, really – with any of my Quidditch equipment. I’m thinking it’s part of my withdrawal,” I admitted. “Anyway, I’m off to the pitch with James.”
The same look returned to Lily’s face as she dazed off.
Oh. Figures. “Lily?”
“James and I are going to the pitch?”
“What? What is it?” she asked a moment later, when she realized I was sniggering to myself.
“Lily. The two of you have been going out for about five months now. Don’t you think it’s well past the swooning-at-the-sound-of-his-name stage?”
Lily grew redder than the sheets on all of the beds in the room. “Oh, Merlin, was I doing it again?” Her hands flew up to cover her face when I nodded with a smirk. “Bloody hell. I’m sorry. It’s so weird. I feel like I’ve gone back to the first week we started dating, lately.”
I snorted, but instantly apologized for it, since it seemed to have frightened Lily even more. I moved to sit on my bed, across from her, setting my broom horizontally on my lap. Heaving a great big sigh, knowing I was going to regret this soon, I demanded, “Spill.”
“My sister’s getting married.”
I had to rewind and playback what she had just said in my head before I came to the conclusion that I had heard correctly. “Surely not to that whale of a man…no offense,” I added quickly, even though Lily herself had branded her sister’s boyfriend – now fiancé – the accurate title.
“None taken,” she grumbled. “I just got a letter today from dear Petunia informing me of the engagement and telling me I’m to be her maid of honor. No doubt my mum forced it upon her.” Lily sighed and fell sideways against her pillows.
“I’m sure deep down she’ll be glad to have you as her maid of honor,” I assured her soothingly. “And don’t worry. I’ve gone through two weddings in the family. Granted, they were both boys, but it went pretty well. And you’ve always got the wedding reception to look forward to.” I chuckled to myself, thinking back to Jarron’s and Jayden’s receptions. Jace plus an open bar at a Baccari wedding party usually resulted in her flirting relentlessly with some guy until Aunt Stella, who served as our own personal family tree tapestry, would introduce them as distant cousins.
Lily laughed half-heartedly. “I suppose.”
“Wait,” I said, realizing something, “er, what does this have to do with James?”
A dazed smile grew across her lips as she brought her legs up to her chest and hugged them. “I dunno,” she replied. “This whole wedding business has just got me thinking about James a lot. Oh, I don’t expect him to propose anytime soon! Certainly not. We’ve still got to graduate and find jobs, not to mention pass our N.E.W.T.s. It’s just exciting to think about the future, isn’t it?” There was a kind of excitement in her voice, and there was a sort of glint in her green eyes.
I chortled at her, getting up. I had kept James waiting long enough.
“I think I love him.”
My eyebrows shot up at her declaration. “Well, that was the least shocking news of the day; even more so than Petunia and the Orca tying the knot.”
I rolled my eyes, sighing. I crossed over to the side of Lily’s bed and looked down at her. “Of course you love James.” I pulled her up into a sitting position in front of me. “The way you look at him; the way you swoon at the sound of his name; the way you smile every time he so much as touches your hand, let alone puts his arm around you. You two have acted like an old married couple since day one. And it’s no wonder why you love him – James is an amazing bloke. He’s incredibly thoughtful, hilarious, and, most of all, loyal as anything to anyone he calls his friend,” I raved. James had been my best friend – and practically brother – for years. There wasn’t a thing about him that I didn’t love or accept. Lily was the luckiest girl alive.
Lily grinned widely and even started to giggle a little. “You’re absolutely right. James is amazing.” She stood up suddenly and hugged me, catching me off guard.
I patted her back awkwardly, laughing slightly. Lily and I had become good friends over our last term at Hogwarts, but we had never done more than high-five one another, let alone hugged. All of a sudden, I realized how much I'd miss her when we all left. That's it. I would set up weekly or biweekly dinners at my house, so that I could see everyone as much as possible, and everything would be fine and dandy.
Thankfully, she released me quickly. “Next time I’m with James alone, I’m going to tell him,” she vowed, nodding her head determinedly.
“You haven’t told him yet?” I exclaimed, shocked. “Five months, and you, Lily Evans, haven’t told James Potter that you love him? You two are the most in-love couple I have ever seen in my life and you haven’t admitted your love for one another. Wow.”
Lily shrugged, assuring me that there just never was a “right time,” to which my eyes rolled skeptically. Unable to take the daftness of Lily and James, I bid her goodbye, to meet the latter of the pair, broom in hand. As I was closing the door, I thought I heard Lily muttering something that sounded suspiciously like, “‘Haven’t told him yet’….Hypocrite.”
I skipped down the stairs, finding James sitting restlessly against the wall between the two staircases. I pulled him up, ignoring his complaints of my taking forever. As we made our way out of the portrait hole, I said to him, much to his confusion, “Hey, just make sure I get the wedding invitation before I snuff it, yeah?”
I looked up from the ripped piece of parchment and checked the front of the room to see if Professor Jenkins was looking this way, before leaning forward and turning to look at Sirius, past James and across the aisle of desks. When he saw me looking, he winked and made a stupid model face with pouted lips and one raised brow. I rolled my eyes, on the verge of laughing; not really at the look itself which I had seen many a time displayed on Sirius’s and James’s faces, but more at the complete randomness of the act. I flattened out the parchment on top of my Defense Against the Dark Arts notes, dipped my quill in ink, scribbled a reply, and silently banished the note back to Sirius’s desk with a discreet flick of my wand.
You’re ridiculous. Was it really necessary to interrupt my learning how to defend myself against the arts of darkness just to try to seduce me with your model face?
Did it work???
I think I’d do better with a defense class against your stupidity. Now, leave me alone and pay attention. You’re not getting my notes.
Aw, don’t be like that, Sylly. I want to talk to you.
“What are you two doing?” James whispered to me, glancing sideways to try and read the note.
“He’s trying to get me to give him my notes,” I told him quietly, advising him to pay us no mind and continue listening to Jenkins explaining the difficult, yet easiest, way of defeating a giant.
A little guilt entered me from lying to him. The truth was, I didn’t want James reading the conversation Sirius and I were having. I knew what Sirius meant by “I want to talk to you.” He had started notes and conversations with that very sentence plenty of times, over the past month.
Ever since I had spilled my heart out to him on my bed in my room on that last night of Easter break, Sirius had been checking up on me every once in a while, making sure nothing else had happened and that I was emotionally okay. He usually caught me off guard, like he had just done, but there really hadn’t been much to report. Since then, I’d told him about Ian and I holding hands as we talked the morning after my cryfest and how well it had been going between the two of us ever since. There was neither any significant progress nor regress. Everything was absolutely fine.
Heaving a sigh, I wrote,
Everything’s fine, Sirius. Really.
I’m not talking about Hayes, Jenyse. I'm always watching you two, even if you don't know it. Any luck with Decker?
Oh yeah. Seeing as we were already knee-deep in painful subjects, I had also told him about Travis. My affection for Sirius grew a considerable amount when I admitted to him that Travis and I had kissed and he didn’t so much as tease or yell at me for sticking my tongue down the throat of the boy he hated most, only after Snape and I assumed his little brother Regulus. His only reaction was to comfort me and apologize on behalf of Travis’s having the audacity of pushing me away and persisting to alienate me even after over two months. It was a true sign of Sirius’s love and friendship that he continued to support my wanting to clear things up with Travis and get him back in my life. I really didn't want to graduate Hogwarts without at least one final hug from my best friend.
Honestly, lately, I hadn’t really bothered putting any effort into making up with Travis. Of course, I really wanted him to forgive me, but I had really tired of the guilt and my lone effort of getting us back to our old level of friendship, once again. Frankly, it was getting quite annoying that it was taking so long. I had long since overcome the guilt – I didn’t even flinch anymore at the sound or sight of him entering a room –, finally convinced that it wasn’t my fault that I had different feelings from Travis (which I accredited to Sirius and his words of advice), and had come to the realization that he was being a ruddy thick git for ignoring me for so long.
But as much as I repeated to myself that Travis was being a prat, I couldn't bring myself to make a move and face him first.
No offense, Jenyse, but he’s a real arse for treating you like this. You sure you don’t want me to hex him? I could do it right now. I’ve got a clear shot of him. He won’t even know what hit him.
I glanced around at Sirius who was making an act of sizing up his would-be target and followed his gaze to the back of Travis’s blond, curly-haired head, a couple rows in front of me.
As much as I would love letting you have your fun, I’m going to have to decline the offer. Thanks anyway, love. I just hope he’ll come around eventually. Preferably before we leave this place.
If he really cares for you, he will. I promise.
I smiled down at the little moving drawing Sirius had made underneath his reassuring oath. The stick-figure Sirius, that had bumps for biceps that flexed, kept switching back and forth between a smile and a frown as it watched the thought bubble containing the word “Friends?” above the rather ugly stick-figure Travis disappear as it hugged the stick-figure Jenyse which had two oddly large circles about where its chest would be.
‘Course, love. Now, how ‘bout those notes?
Remus caught James’s Quaffle that Sirius tossed at him.
“Please tell the class what…” Sirius flipped blindly through the pages of his Defense Against the Dark Arts textbook and then stopped with his forefinger on a random page which he read from, “a…boggart is and how to get rid of one.”
“Hey,” Peter interrupted. “No fair! That one’s easy! How does he get boggarts and I get ‘what was the name of the lead rebel in the Goblin Rebellion of 1612?’”
Ian shrugged guiltily, saying, “Sorry Pete.” He gestured accusingly to the History of Magic book he had gone through to randomly choose a question when it was his turn to quiz Peter.
Sirius rolled his eyes, ignoring Peter’s outburst. “Go on,” he told Remus, who immediately and effortlessly rattled off the definition of a boggart and the way to defeat one.
There was a loud, low groan, and everyone in the group turned to look at James, who was sitting back against the beech tree we were all sitting by, with his head on Lily’s shoulder.
“This is the dullest study session in the entire world,” he moaned.
I had to agree with him wholeheartedly. Today was such a beautiful day that the seven of us just couldn’t bear to ignore. The sun was shining brilliantly as it reflected off of the surface of the lake. But despite the gorgeous weather, we all knew that we couldn’t blow off an entire day of studying, so we decided to pick up all of our books and create our study circle under the beech tree on the edge of the lake, after classes ended. It had seemed like an excellent idea at first, but the beauty of the day proved to make the lot of us even more irritable than the dreary and dismally depressing library.
Even the game we made with passing the Quaffle around to ask randomly picked questions wasn’t cutting it. We were all just fed-up with bloody Mother Nature cruelly rubbing the fact that we couldn’t take advantage of the nice weather in our pathetically miserable faces, the bitch.
“Well, do you have any better ideas?” Lily shot at him, nudging him off of her shoulder. She took the Quaffle out of Remus’s hands and shoved it into James’s stomach.
Glaring at her, he offered, “How about…Pete silently acts out clues and we have to guess what creature, or spell, or potion it is?”
We all agreed to try it out, much to Peter’s disgruntlement.
“Go on, Peter,” I goaded him, turning so I could lean back against Sirius’s side and prop my feet on top of Ian’s lap, for which I received two raised brows.
In response to my look that simply said, “Deal,” Ian shrugged and proceeded to play with my shoe laces.
The corners of my lips twitched upward, as I turned my attention to Peter, who was pretending to slit his throat and walking around with his arms out and his legs stiff.
“Remus! Your mum looks nothing like that– Ow, Lily!”
“Uhh, a boggart of someone who’s afraid of mummies!”
Peter jumped up, breaking out of character, yelling, “Yes!” as he pointed at Lily.
“Inferi: dead bodies that have been bewitched to do a Dark wizard’s bidding,” recited James in a disgruntled and bored voice.
“Aw, come on!” Sirius complained.
“Sirius, you’re never going to guess any of these right,” I told him, still laughing at his guess. Three guesses as to which guess was his.
Sirius suddenly moved his torso backwards, so that the upper part of my back and head fell into his lap. He glowered down at me for a moment before reaching over to tickle my side.
“No! No! I’m sorry! Stop!”
A loud, pained grunt stopped Sirius’s tickling and my squirming. I lifted my head a little to see Ian with his eyebrows drawn together, eyes watering, and hands over his crotch.
Barking laughter filled the air around me, but not from me.
Wide-eyed, I sat up straight with my hand over my mouth. “Ian! I am so sorry!” I tried removing my unintentionally sinful feet from his lap, but he held them still with one hand.
“No, no! It’s fine!” he groaned out. He cleared his throat, shaking his head. “Fine. I’m good.”
Blushing profusely, I leaned back onto Sirius again, careful not to move my feet.
“Nice going, Sylly!”
“Shut it, James,” I muttered, glancing concernedly at Ian.
“It’s alright. Really, Jenyse,” Ian assured me, his brows finally relaxed. “Just don’t tickle her again, Sirius, please.”
Still shaking with laughter, Sirius managed to get out, “Sorry, mate!”
Once everyone had calmed down from the sudden – and admittedly much-needed – outburst, and Peter had gone back to acting out clues from our textbooks and notes, Sirius whispered in my ear, “Hope you weren’t hoping for kids, love.”
I effectively shut him up by elbowing him in the stomach, as the redness in my cheeks grew deeper, and returned to watching Peter.
Peter mimed opening a vial, and immediately the guessing began.
“Draught of Living Death!”
Peter took a sniff at the invisible vial and started batting his eyelashes, while clutching his heart.
“Amortentia,” guessed Ian, who turned out to be right.
“The most powerful love potion in the world,” I said, avoiding Ian’s gaze and secretly not wanting to finish its definition. Thankfully, Lily came to my rescue.
“Pearl colored with steam rising in spirals,” she stated with her study-face on. “It smells differently to everyone, according to what attracts them.”
I was shocked when Lily chose not to announce to everyone what exactly Amortentia smelled like to her, either. I caught her eye and we smiled in understanding at one another. Really, I hadn’t been in close contact with Amortentia since fifth or sixth year, but when I had passed by the Potions classroom just last week, I thought I caught three very distinct scents – two of which were definitely of lemons and coffee.
The charades study game continued on for another several minutes, but eventually, like everything else we tried, it soon grew lackluster. We finally stopped when Peter told us that he didn’t know what to do to act out “hippogriff.”
“Alright,” Sirius said, gently pushing me off of him so that he could stand up and stretch. “That’s it. I can’t take this anymore. I need a break.” He ran his hand over his face.
“Oh, thank Merlin,” Peter and James, who jumped up, uttered simultaneously.
“Well, I suppose we could take a bit of a break,” Lily slowly agreed, closing the open books in the middle of our circle.
“Well, then, what are we going to do now?” Remus asked, looking around for ideas.
“I’ve got it!” exclaimed Sirius, making a few of us jump.
“Uh, Sirius?” I said hesitantly, when he ripped off his shirt. “I don’t think stripping is an approved activity on Hogwarts grounds.”
“Oh, it’s quite frowned upon,” said James, “but you ladies are certainly invited – nay! encouraged – to break the rules. Don’t worry; we won’t tell.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively at Lily and me.
I glared at James, then turned it on Ian, who I knew was giving me his unrelentless onceover.
After laughing at James, Sirius made a face at me. “Very funny, Jenyse. We’re going swimming,” he informed us matter-of-factly.
James, Peter, and Remus suddenly perked up and big grins grew across each of their faces. They then followed suit, taking off their top layers, much to Lily’s and my delight.
Sure enough, this wasn’t the first time I’d seen them shirtless – they’d just been over my house for a whole week, for heaven’s sake – but I couldn’t help myself. Just because I considered the boys my brothers, didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate what was underneath their shirts. I tried not to linger on James’s abs for long, in respect to Lily, but didn’t hold back on checking Sirius and Remus out…in the most platonic way possible when checking out a boy’s form, of course.
“Like what you see, Sylly?”
My eyes traveled up Sirius’s torso and found his own eyes. “Oh, yeah,” I said, smirking. “Remus Lupin has got quite the bod.”
“Hey!” Sirius exclaimed, offended and throwing up his arms, while Remus winked at me.
“She’s right. Remus, if I had known…” Lily hinted, with a smirk of her own.
“Hey!” mimicked James, shoving a laughing Remus into the lake.
With several more cracks, splashes, and shrieks, Remus, Lily, James, Sirius, and Peter were soaked in the nice-temperature water of the Great Lake. Lily clung onto James’s back, who kept suddenly going underwater, Sirius and Peter were wrestling one another, trying to force the other underwater, and Remus peacefully floated on his back, so that I had a nice view of his abs.
“Hey, Jenyse! Ian! You coming in?”
I turned to Ian to ask if he was up for it.
He was eyeing the lake warily, clearly content to be sitting dry on the grass than swimming soaked in the water. “Um, you go on ahead. I’ll just keep studying here.”
My gaze going back and forth between the boys and Lily splashing around, having fun, and Ian nervously picking at the corner of a book, I decided there would be another month’s worth of days left to enjoy a final swim in the lake, before I was to leave Hogwarts. I did have to admit that I was more than slightly disappointed at being denied the chance to gawk relentlessly at Ian’s shirtless body. “We’ll pass,” I called back to James, who shrugged and returned to splashing water onto Remus’s floating face.
“Jenyse, you don’t have to stay. Really. Go and have fun marveling at Remus’s abs.”
I snorted. “Oh, no, I can marvel at them from here. No problem.” I laughed at the look on his face. “Anyway, studying would probably be a better idea. We didn’t go over any Arithmancy notes with the group, since it’s just James, Lily, you, and me who take it.” I reached over and grabbed my Arithmancy notes to look over.
I was sure Ian noticed me keep glancing up towards the lake and its inhabitants, so I tried to stop. Denying his incessant offers for me to leave him and jump in the lake, I finally decided a relocation would be best. So, after informing the rest of the group that we were going to the library, we made our way back up the grounds to the castle. With one more glance back at the lake, I caught Sirius watching us walking before turning back to the giant squid the others were playing with.
“Hey,” Ian started when we had entered the Entrance Hall, “I know you couldn’t wait to get me alone to yourself, but you really didn’t have to skip out on the fun.”
I shot him a look at his dig. “Who says this is for you? This is all for the sake of passing my N.E.W.T.s.”
“Yes, because an Outstanding in Defense Against the Dark Arts is such a necessity for being a successful chef,” he countered, his voice positively dripping with sarcasm. “By the way, Chef Baccari, I think it’s about time you made me dinner again. I still dream about that linguine and tiramisu you made at your house. Mmm.” His hand went to his stomach as he daydreamed about my cooking.
My attempt at holding back a pleased smile failed, but I tried to make up for it, accusing, “I can’t have one conversation without you resorting to talking about my food, can I? Oh, I’m sorry!” I readjusted the books that had almost fallen out of my arms.
The Ravenclaw girl, Desiree Elliott – whom I knew was in my grade, but whom I never really talked to – I had bumped into while turning the corner assured me that it was quite all right and continued on her way past us, after saying a friendly, “Hello, Ian.”
“What, am I not allowed to have acquaintances outside of the guys, Lily, and you?” Ian asked in response to the eyebrow that flew up under my bangs. He smirked at my lack of comeback. “Anyway,” he continued, his voice quieting to a whisper while he held open the door to the library for me, “I read once, in this book, that a guy should compliment a girl whenever he can, and your cooking is the best thing that comes to mind, since you seem to get so heated whenever I comment on your physical appearance.”
I stopped midway through the door to glower at him.
He merely grinned his lopsided grin before applying pressure to the spot at the small of my back, where his hand was, to urge me to keep walking.
Whispering as well, so as to not have Madam Finn breathing down our necks telling us to shut our traps or get our bums out of her library, I snickered, “You reading a self-help book on charming girls?”
“Oh, Merlin, no,” he denied, offended and seemingly disgusted at the thought. “I go for the good stuff.”
“What? Trashy romance novels?” I teased jokingly. I paused when he didn’t retort, my gaze snapping to his face. “No bloody way….Ian Hayes, you cheeky devil!” It was very difficult for me to suppress the rather attractive noises escaping my nose or mouth or both.
“Hey, don’t you mock. You could learn a little something from them, yourself. I think they’re actually quite helpful.”
With a snort, I asked, “Oh, are they? So, these tips you’ve been picking up from trashy romance novels have been working, have they?”
Ian stepped in front of me, suddenly, blocking my path. He leaned close and whispered in my ear. “I dunno. You tell me.”
I swallowed the saliva building up in my mouth, watching his every move. I watched him watching me when he moved his head back slightly to meet my eyes. It was when he blinked that I realized how much he was invading my personal bubble and how much I didn’t mind. My breath hitched when my gaze fell to his lips, only centimeters away.
The one corner of his very close lips moved upward, bringing me back from my trance. “I rest my case.” And then he moved away.
“You arse!” I hissed, hitting him with my books on his back, which was shaking with laughter.
He led us to our usual table towards the back of the library and we dove into our respective books.
“Stop,” I muttered after twenty minutes of silence, not looking up from the paragraph that was telling me exactly what kind of child would come of a man with a Heart Number of two and a woman with a Character Number of nine.
“Stop what? I’m not doing anything.”
“Yes, you are. You keep staring at me. Now, cease and desist, if you please.”
“What are you talking about? I am fully engrossed in my Transfiguration textbook.”
I finally looked up, eyeing him with narrowed eyes. “That says Herbology,” I informed him, pointing at the spine of the book he was standing up on the table, in front of his face.
He peered down, over the top of the book, checking the front of it. “Ah, yes. Right. So it does.” He then laid the book flat onto the table and leaned over it, his bare forearms on top of the pages. “Hey,” he started conspiratorially, “did you know that the bloke who invented handball was actually a Squib, who wanted to create a sport that was a variation of Quidditch which Muggles could play?”
I sighed and pushed my book away. Alright, well, fact was, I was having trouble paying attention to what I was studying, myself. I couldn't get the image of his face so close to mine out of my head. Either way, there was no point trying to study if Ian had decided that he’d given up on focusing. “Tell me, how is it that you retain those kinds of facts and not information that you will be tested on come the end of June?”
His expression grew defensive. “Hey, I know all of the important stuff that I need to know for my career. That’s all that matters, isn’t it?”
“Fine, then, what’s the formula for brewing an antidote for a blended poison?”
Ian’s features turned quickly into contemplative, and his hand went up to scratch the back of his head. His mouth kept opening and closing, giving him the appearance of a goldfish.
“That’s what I thought.” I pulled my book back towards me and tried to find the paragraph I was previously reading. I glanced up at the sound of the snapping of fingers.
“The antidote for a blended poison will be equal to more than the sum of the antidotes for each of the separate components.“ He smirked smugly. “Otherwise known as Golpalott’s Third Law.” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his chair, all pompous.
My jaw jutted to the side, in my humiliation at being proven wrong. “I pity James Potter.”
“For having to put up with tutoring you all term. You're impossible.”
I let out a low, “Pfft.”
“Come on,” he leaned toward me again. “You know you’re jealous. Admit it. Our Friday checkups just aren’t enough for you anymore. You need me. You’re as addicted to me as you are to coffee. I’m just too devilishly handsome and charming to resist.”
“Could you tone down the magnitude of your ego a bit? I think it’s too loud for a library setting.”
He made a childish face, at which I sniggered softly.
After yet another attempt at getting back to reading up on Arithmancy formulas, which lasted for a solid twelve seconds, I slammed my book shut and pushed it so that it hit Ian’s book off of the table and onto his lap. “Okay, should we even bother pretending like we’re still studying?”
Ian put his Herbology book on top of my Arithmancy book. “I wasn’t even pretending, anymore, but I think we should. It makes me feel a bit better about all the preparation I haven’t done.”
I rolled my eyes good naturedly, packing my things up. I got up and grabbed Ian’s hand. “Come on. I’m starving.” I saw him smirking down at our hands. I groaned an exhausted, “Ugh,” throwing his hand away from me and picking up my speed, not even bothering to hold the library door open for him.
He caught up to me and matched my stride easily, still chuckling at my behavior. He dared to sling his arm around my shoulders, but I didn’t shrug it off.
One more month, and my baby sister will be out in the real world. Please hold, while I send out warnings of your release to everyone on the planet. Just kidding, Nees. I can’t believe how fast you’ve grown up. Now, if you’re serious about this whole restaurant business, I believe there’s a rule somewhere that says that the owner’s oldest, most handsome brother gets free meals whenever he wants. So, speaking of your graduation, everyone’s invited, right? You better alert all of Hogwarts for a Baccari invasion. I think it’s Mum, Dad, Jayden, Jace, Alaina, and me coming. Maddy’s staying home with baby Jaylyn and we’ll be leaving Jondi and Jaysen with Alaina’s parents (Jondi’s quite upset about this, but I’ve been assuring her that Sirius will be at your graduation party, so make sure to not make me out as a liar to my daughter). So, how has N.E.W.T.s preparation been? Have you retched yet? How many seventh years have been sent to the hospital wing so far? I hope those boyfriends of yours aren’t keeping you from your studies. Remember: school comes first. Well, family comes first. Then school, then professors, then Quidditch, then female friends, then house elves, then giant squids, then hippogriffs, then trolls, and then boys. Life lessons, Nees; listen to your big brother. Oh, yeah! Quidditch! Congrats, Neesy! Dad said you scored 21 goals? That’s my girl! Give my congratulations to James and Sirius, as well. Sucks, doesn’t it? I remember my last match; had a mental breakdown in the middle of the pitch. But you can always join some league somewhere, like I did. Alright, I must be off (Jaysen just fell off his kiddie broom –– experience, I say!). Remind your friends that I’m always watching them. And give Ian my best and my challenge of a basketball rematch. Write back soon!
Love, your darling oldest (yet, youngest at heart) brother, with newly acquired carpal tunnel,
P.S. Included are some pictures and a special note for Sirius from three guesses who.
“Anyone have a camera? I think this is the best face Jenyse has made after reading a letter from home.”
My grimace turned into a glare directed at James. I turned to my left and was met with hazel-green eyes, dancing with amusement. “My brother,” I grumbled, my face contorting once again, “gives you his best.” My gagging motions caused Ian to laugh even more.
“Shut up, Sirius!” Remus cut him off, anticipating his serious-Sirius pun.
“Read for yourself. Right there.” I handed him the novel-lengthed letter, pointing out where he should read. While he read, I fished out the photos and extra note from the envelope beside my plate full of eggs. The five photos included shots of Baby Jaylyn cooing with spit dripping down her chin, my beautiful baby (aka my car), Jondi blowing a kiss at the camera, everyone at Easter, and the four of us siblings at our family feast the night before Easter. “Here, Sirius.”
Sirius stared, wide-eyed, at the parchment I held out to him. “That’s not a bomb or anything, is it? There’s no curse on it, specifically tailored to my genetic code, right?”
The rest of us laughed loudly at the expense of our dear friend’s fear of my brother. Remus snorted into his pumpkin juice, and Peter got milk – which he was sipping from his cereal bowl – down his front.
I threw the note at him, and he let it fall on top of his buttered toast. “It’s a note from your secret admirer,” I ensured him, taking back Jarron’s letter from Ian.
“That’s not funny, Jenyse. Your brother terrifies me; you know this.”
“Jondi, Sirius! It’s from Jondi!” I blocked his line of sight with the picture of Jondi, for emphasis.
“Oh!” Sirius’s face completely changed to joy, as he finally picked up the parchment and wiped the butter residue off of the back of it.
“Wait,” Ian began, looking confused and somewhat offended, “I thought Jondi liked me too.”
A smirk graced my lips, around my fork. I chewed and swallowed the breakfast potatoes before replying, “Well, seems as though she had her fun with you, but Jonds is just loyal to her main man. Sorry, Ian.”
He sighed dramatically. “I think I’ll be okay. She’s just one girl. Anyway, I've got my own Baccari girl.”
I chuckled and bumped into his arm with my own, and then returned to the rest of my breakfast.
As everyone listened to Remus telling his story about his Astronomy Tower duty he had last night, my eyes wandered around the Hall.
Without meaning to (at least, that’s what I kept telling myself), my eyes landed on the face of Travis Decker. He was laughing and shaking his head at some joke. He looked happy.
Blocking my view, a Hufflepuff first-year dropped a plate full of breakfast potatoes and the two books he had been holding to his side with his elbow. With a sad sense of pride, I watched as Travis got up from the Ravenclaw table – at which he had been spending more and more time sitting, as if to fill the empty space Ian had left by sitting with us at the Gryffindor table every meal – to help him. I could see him whispering to the boy who reminded me so much of Travis himself when we had just become friends back in third year.
The boy smiled a shy, thankful smile, as a dark-haired girl I knew as our fellow seventh-year, Lena Margoulis, joined them, crouched down on the floor, and caused them to laugh at themselves as she used her wand to pick up the last few potatoes. She was really pretty, and I remembered her to have been at the “Travis Meet and Greet” I had conducted at the Three Broomsticks before Christmas break.
“You alright, Jenyse?”
Ian’s voice and his hand at my back startled me back to my immediate surroundings. “Huh? Yeah.” I smiled reassuringly at him. I took a sip of my apple juice, looking over the brim of my glass at Travis awkwardly patting the boy’s back and then sitting back down at the Ravenclaw table with Lena.
The number ‘72’ appeared on the parchment paper below the tip of my wand. I set the two items down to my left, and then turned to my right. But before I could complete my task of retrieving the vials of potions that had receded to just four since our very first checkup, I was grabbed by the hips by two strong hands.
“Hey! What are you–?”
Before I knew it, I was thrown onto the couch, and my previous place on top of the coffee table was replaced by a certain patient of mine.
“We’re not done, you know?” I said, fixing the hem of my shirt as I glared for being manhandled.
Ignoring my fury, Ian picked up my checkup list, saying, “I am sick and tired of these checkups, especially since I am completely fine. No brain damage here.” Apparently not finding anything interesting on the parchment, he tossed it to the side and refocused on me. “I think we should do a role reversal.”
“What are you talking about, Ian?” I asked wearily.
“You know, a role reversal. It only seems right for me to practice being the Healer, as I’m striving to be one, and it looks like you’re the only one currently available to be my patient. Now, take off your clothes.”
A slight blush graced my cheeks as I pushed that thick head of his away. “Nope, there’s definitely still damage in there.” I went to grab the vials of potion in order to force Ian to take them so that we could leave, but he beat me to them and pulled them behind his back.
“Uh-uh, Jenyse. Come on, it’ll be fun!”
All of a sudden, my stomach dropped when I started to see a change in his features. A sly smirk grew on his lips as he rose up a vial in his hand between us. This could not be good.
I sighed heavily as I kicked back and propped my feet on his lap. “Here we go…”
After shooting a quick dirty glance downwards, Ian leaned in conspiratorially, despite what lay in his lap. “Either you comply and be my patient for the night or…you let me do something else I’ve been dying to do.”
My heartbeat sped up slightly as I imagined exactly what that could be. Trying not to get ahead of myself, I countered with crossed arms, “Depends what that is.”
“PFFFFT.” The obnoxious noise came out of my mouth, my amusement overshadowing the ounce of disappointment.
“There’s no way.”
Sliding out from under my feet, he placed them so that they were supported by the coffee table and then climbed over to take the spot next to me. “Come on, Jenyse! Why not?”
“Because you’re not allowed to! Do you understand the fact that you were in a coma and the risk of you getting hurt again? No. I will not be the one to see you unconscious again. No sir.” I sat straight up again, feet back on the floor, and reached for the vials again. “Take these.”
Groaning, Ian snatched them all and downed them in one go. “Jenyse,” he said, taking my hands in his, just as I was about to clean everything up, “I promise you that I won’t get hurt. It’s flying. I’m not going to do anything stupid or risky. Please.”
The amount of drops created by my melting heart caused by the pleading face before me could have filled the deepest of ditches. This was not even close to being fair. “Ugh, fine!”
“But no crazy stunts and no more than 50 feet in the air!”
“Oh come on!”
My pointer in his face stopped him short. “Don’t even, Ian Hayes. I mean it. My father will kill me for this.”
Glaring momentarily as he sized me up and determined how serious I was, Ian finally said a terse, “Fine,” and jumped up, pulling me with him.
We decided to pick up my broom first before heading over to Ravenclaw Tower for his and then to the pitch. I was pulled by the hand the whole way there by the two-year-old with whom I was unfortunately accompanied. We found James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter in the common room before Ian rushed me up the boys’ staircase when I told him that I had been keeping my broom in the boys’ room since the under-the-bed incident with Lily.
I climbed the stairs painstakingly slowly just to spite Ian. I opened the dormitory door to an empty room and went straight for my broom that was leaning alongside James’s against the side of his dresser. Anticipating the bit of a chill I knew I would get while flying up high in the air, I crossed over to Sirius’ trunk and pulled out a sweater.
Just as I was pulling it over my head, I heard someone stop at the door. I swung around, saying, “So I’m stealing Sirius’s sweater. Sue m–”
“I could care less if you were stealing any of his things.”
“Travis!” Twenty one shades of red graced my face while I quickly patted my hair down and straightened the sweater’s hem. “Sorry! I…I thought you were…”
“No, I didn’t realize anyone was in here either.”
I paused and took him in. He looked good. Not that I haven’t seen him every single day, but he didn’t have that betrayed look in his eye as he stared into mine. He looked normal, like the day I met him, but somehow more mature since the last time we had a real conversation. I didn’t know whether he was just being civil or waiting for me to get out of his room. Glancing away, I began to murmur, “I’ll just get out of your–”
“How’ve you been?” he asked, still standing in the doorway.
Not only was he being surprisingly civil, he was being shockingly nice. The situation was only made further awkward by the physical distance between us. I didn’t trust myself to move, so I used all my power to stay put and reply, “Good. I’ve been good. How about you?”
Feeling as though this was going nowhere, I decided to get out of his way. “Alright, well, I’ll just go and let you have your room back.”
He started, saying, “Right,” and moved a little to the side to give me the space to exit.
But right as I was about to pass him, I was stopped in my tracks when he said his next four words.
“I miss you, Jenyse.”
The shock that I was thrown in prevented me from breathing as I waited for him to say something else or make another move.
“I’m so sorry.”
My vocal chords refused to react, so I forced my body to. Dropping my broomstick to the floor, I threw my arms around his neck. I didn’t know how long this would last, so I held on tight. Tears of joy threatened to fall when Travis’s arms engulfed and tightened around me.
“This has gone on for far too long. I can’t stand it. I need my best friend back.”
One tear escaped my invisible barrier when I heard the last sentence and a small sniff from Travis. “I missed you so much, Trav, I can’t even –”
“Shh,” he whispered soothingly as he pulled me closer for a second before pulling back to look at me. “Just let me get this out.” He used his thumb to wipe away the drop of salty water from my cheek. “I’ve been the biggest arse to you, Jenyse. I can’t express to you how sorry I am. As hurt as I was, you definitely did not deserve the way I acted towards you. There wasn’t a moment that I didn’t think about how stupid I was being and how much I wanted to be back by your side. I just felt like the hugest idiot and it looked like you moved on–”
Grabbing his face in my two hands, I cut him off. “Travis Decker. I could never forget or move on from our friendship. You were an arse, I’ll agree with you there,” pausing shortly, I received a quick chuckle, “but you know me; I can’t hold a grudge for the life of me.” I tried convincing him to believe every word with an earnest smile. “But now, I declare this to all be behind us.”
A grin of relief appeared on his face. “Yes, please.”
We held one another once again for a solid minute before stepping back.
“Well, now that that’s over with…”
“Heh. Yeah. Thank Merlin.” Travis looked down and picked off hair from his shirt. “Ahh, yes. Another thing I truly missed about you: the amount that you shed all over me.”
I hit him softly on the hand that held up the hair, laughing at his antics. “I can’t believe you missed Easter, Trav. Mama Baccari nearly broke down in tears.”
“I know! That really bites. I’ll just have to come over so she can see me again when we get out of here.”
I beamed up at him. “You also missed musical chairs. I lost my crown. But, Merlin! My brother challenged Ian to a….” My eyes grew wide when I realized my slip. I dropped my head, not able to look into his eyes. “Sorry.”
“No, Jenyse. It’s okay.” He paused and cleared his throat as his weight shifted from side to side. “Actually, there was something I wanted to tell you…”
Catching his eyes, I felt a crease between my brows from my curiosity.
“You know Lena? Lena Margoulis?”
He cleared his throat once more, clearly nervous. “We’re actually, uh, together.”
“What?! Travis! That’s amazing!” I pulled him in for another huge hug, for which he laughed at me.
“Yeah, she’s great. I’m actually supposed to meet up with her after I grab my Transfiguration notes.” He gestured over to his bed, where a notebook and textbook lay.
Smiling brightly, I took his hand and squeezed it. “I’m so happy for you, Trav.”
“Thanks, Jenyse. You don’t realize how much that means,” he said, returning the gesture. Travis then leaned down to pick up my broom for me. “You heading out to the pitch with Potter again?” At my look, he added, “Just because I live in this room, doesn’t mean they don’t stop talking about you. In fact, they probably talked about you more than they usually do.”
With a nervous laugh, I apologized for my loving, yet idiotic, friends. “Um, actually, I’m going flying with Ian…”
“Oh.” Another slightly awkward pause occurred before my best friend returned, saying, “You know, Jenyse, I’ll never stop loving you. I’m happy, don’t get me wrong, but the only thing I need now is for you to be happy.”
Putting the hand that was holding mine behind me, I stole one last hug and placed a kiss on Travis’s cheek. “I love you, Travis.”
“I love you, too.”
After promising to meet for breakfast tomorrow, I headed back downstairs and was met by an antsy Ian.
“How long does it take to get a damn broomstick?!”
Momentarily ignoring him, I bee-lined for the back of a black-haired boy sitting on a couch and hugged his neck from behind. Kissing him swiftly on the cheek, I whispered, “Thanks for not breaking your promise, Sirius.” I could feel him grin with his cheek against mine.
“I told you he’d come around. Love you, Sylly.” Sirius moved his arms so that he was awkwardly hugging me behind him, making me laugh.
“Hey, secrets aren’t welcome here!” James said, ruining the moment.
I chuckled at this and Remus’s and Peter’s shouts of agreement. “Don’t worry, boys. I’m just whispering sweet nothings into Sirius’s ear. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go betray my father and prevent this kid from pissing his pants,” I said, throwing a thumb back at Ian.
“What was that all about?” Ian questioned as he forced me to speed walk toward Ravenclaw Tower.
“Nothing,” I answered, unable to prevent the corners of my lips from going upwards as I tightened my grip around his hand.
Ian insisted on carrying my broom for me and brought us to a sprint to the other side of the castle. We both laughed the entire way, which added to our difficulty of catching our breaths when we got to a door with only an eagle shaped bronze knocker.
I had heard about how the Ravenclaw Tower permitted entrance, but I’d never seen it in action.
“Is a Knut shaped like a circle?” the bronze eagle-shaped door knocker asked us.
And I thought that Ravenclaws had to be smart.
I wasn’t able to provide my smartarse answer of, “Pfft! Duh?” due to Ian’s giant hand shooting to cover my mouth to shut me up. That git!
“No, because no real circle exists; only the form we perceive in our minds,” said Ian, his other hand cradling the back of my head for reinforcement.
The knocker congratulated Ian on his wit and allowed us to enter the common room.
“Ugh!” Ian exclaimed when I took the chance to lick his hand. I was successful in my mission when he released my head and wiped his hand on his pant leg. “I’m sorry for wanting to get into the common room on the first try!”
Glowering at him, I just responded, “I thought you were supposed to have brain damage. How the hell did you know how to answer that?”
He sighed and led me up a set of stairs. “I’m a Ravenclaw for a reason, Jenyse.”
I barely heard his retort. I froze by the door that Ian opened and walked through with ease. It didn’t hit me until this moment that I was about to see the place where Ian called home. It almost didn’t feel right for me to intrude on something so personal to him.
“Jenyse? What’s up?”
My eyes went straight to Ian, standing next to his bed.
“Come in…they don’t care.”
Of course he had roommates. I, being an idiot, forgot this particular fact and suddenly felt a great amount more comfortable as I stepped in and allowed myself to scan the room.
It looked just like the Gryffindor seventh year boys’ room, but decked in blue and silver and with an extra set of furniture squeezed in. It was also a tad less messy, which wasn’t surprising, considering they didn’t live with Sirius and Peter. Two other boys were in the room, one writing on a piece of parchment, the other feeding an owl that had delivered him a letter. I recognized the latter as the Ravenclaw Keeper, who I had gotten 21 goals past during the final match of the season.
“Damn, Ian. Took you long enough to bring this girl back to your room,” said the kid with the quill in his hand. “You’ve only been around her every single moment of every day since you got here.”
Laughing at Ian’s blush to cover up my own, I moved further into the room and plopped down on his bed with one leg under me.
“Shut up, Ethan,” Ian muttered, rummaging through his clothes to find a sweater.
“Oh, Merlin,” his other roommate groaned, finally turning to look at me. “You just had to choose my biggest nemesis, didn’t you? This feels even more violating than missing the Quaffle 21 times in one match. I’m sorry, Baccari, but you’ve gotta go.”
I returned his playful smirk and leaned back with my hands propping me up behind me. “Oh, don’t be bitter, now, Quinn.”
“That’s right!” exclaimed Ethan. “She’s the one who beat your arse in the final!” He pointed mockingly at his friend, laughing hysterically.
Quinn muttered something about luck as Ian reassured him, “Don’t worry, mate. We’ll set up a rematch someday so you can win back your man card…maybe.”
Making his way over to me, Quinn stretched out his hand and shook mine. “But honestly, I wasn’t able to do this earlier, but you played an incredible game, Baccari.”
“Aww, look at him playing nice,” Ethan quipped.
“Our little boy’s growing up!” Ian added, ruffling up Quinn’s hair.
“Cut it out, boys,” I told them, chuckling. “You’re a great player, too, Quinn. We should definitely play a game of pick-up this summer. I can get the boys in on it, too.”
“Okay,” Ian cut in. “You two can stop making googly eyes at each other. We’ve got some air to dominate.” He guided me out by the waste, making me roll my eyes as I called back a goodbye to my new best friends.
“Iiii like them!” I declared when Ian closed the door and we went down the stairs.
Ian shook his head at my goofiness.
We left the tower, but not before I caught a glance of Lena Margoulis rushing out before us, presumably to meet Travis.
Despite my protests, Ian carried both of our brooms all the way down to the pitch while simultaneously maintaining an arm around my shoulders. Ian grew more and more excited, the closer we got. Finally at our destination, he handed me my broom and I made him stop for another second.
“Hey, please promise me you’ll be careful,” I begged earnestly. The last thing I wanted was to see this boy hurt.
“Jeny-yse!” he whined. “I promise! Can we please get up there now?”
Rolling my eyes, I mounted my broom and kicked off, Ian following close behind, probably pissing his pants. I took my usual lap around the field, above the stands and looked back to see him following me. With a smirk, I sped up, challenging him.
Ian quickly caught up and we flew side by side for a while, giggling like children at each other’s silly antics. We did a few harmless flips and dives and kept trying to cut in front of one another to make the other change directions.
After about an hour and a half, we ended up suspended in the air, in the middle of the pitch, facing each other and talking about nothing.
“You’re such a man.”
“Hell yeah, I am! How about you?”
“I’m a girl.”
Blank stare. “Before you really answer…food, not drink.”
“Fine. Really simply made cheese ravioli.”
“That’s a good one.”
“No problem. Mine’s–”
I looked up from watching his hands play with my bracelets to see him still looking at said jewelry.
“You know that day everyone went into the lake and I opted not to?”
“I didn’t want to go in because I get kind of nervous every time I get near the lake.”
I was so stupid. Of course he was weary of the lake. If I had almost drowned in it on Christmas Day and fell into a coma for two years, I would steer clear of the water, too. I was granted a look into his eyes for a moment and suddenly came to understand that Ian was opening up to me like he probably hadn’t done to anyone in the months since he woke up. Something in those hazel green eyes relayed a message even more than this, and I could only hope I understood what it was.
“Yeah?” I whispered, realizing how clearly I could see each speck of gold in those revealing eyes, reflecting the light of the moon.
There was a crease between his brows. “Earlier in the Room of Requirement…did you say that you wouldn’t be the one to see me unconscious ‘again’?”
Instantly, I felt an enormous lump make its way to my throat and make its home there. I couldn’t believe that I had made that mistake. How could I be so stupid as to mention that I knew him before he could remember….
An engulfing wave of guilt overcame me, and I was forced to avert my watering eyes. I tried to remember the last time I thought of him and felt even worse when I realized that it had to have been the night I had my cryfest in my room at home with Sirius. How could I have forgotten so easily about the love of my life? I should be punished. I should be killed. What could justify my hypocrisy of forgetting the boy I was so hurt by his forgetting me? Just because I decided to move on didn’t mean that I had to forget him. There was no excuse. I was a terrible person.
But that was just it. I had moved on. I chose to see Ian as his own person and not blame him for something he had no clue about. He didn’t know that while he was unconscious, his spirit was running rampant around the castle and just happened to be able to be seen by me. I shouldn’t feel guilty for spending all of my time with Ian and enjoying his company without the thought that he should be replaced by my Alec.
Just like Ian said: "It’s tough, but it’s just something that you have to let go and move on."
Alec was gone. I had accepted that. And Ian was here. Right in front of me. Hand in mine. And close enough to….
Blinking slightly to rid of the excess moisture, I met his eyes again. “Slip of the tongue,” I bluffed with a reassuring smile.
At the movement, Ian’s eyes settled on my lips, and I saw his Adam’s apple bob up and down. “What would you say to me using that statement to make a stretch of a segue?” he said softly, placing a stray curl behind my ear.
With a quick mental goodbye to the part of me holding onto the thought of Alec and a promise to always love him no matter what, I pushed away all feelings of guilt and leaned forward until my lips pressed against Ian’s.
Ian’s lips momentarily turned into a smile before they started moving against mine slowly and earnestly.
There was no feeling better than this, I was convinced. Nothing could top Ian holding my face as we kissed 50 feet in the air with nothing but the moon and stars to watch us.
Unfortunately, the necessity of oxygen conquered us and we rested our foreheads against each other’s, both of us smiling giddily.
“You don’t understand how long and how badly I’ve wanted to do that,” he breathed, tracing my bottom lip with his thumb.
“What can I say? I’m irresistible,” I quipped.
We sat for a moment just looking into one another’s eyes, both of us trying to express to the other exactly what we wanted and how we felt without saying a word.
Hearing a hoot from an owl somewhere in the distance, I looked around and was shocked to see that we had risen another 20 feet. “How the hell did we get up here?”
“Huh. Apparently even magic knows how magical that was.”
My burst of obnoxious laughter caused him to eventually join in. “Oh, Merlin,” I let out, gasping for breath. “You are such a dork.”
Ian scowled, saying, “Shut up so I can kiss you again.”
“Well, if you insi–”
And like that, I was overcome with the pleasure of Ian’s lips on mine.
A/N: That just happened.
Hi guys. I'm sorry. I know. I should be shot. I should be killed. Avada Kedavra. Go on. Almost two years. My b. What can I say? I was in a weird funk and just couldn't write every time I opened the document. I will say that 70-80% of this chapter was written about a year ago. I just was stuck and couldn't for the life of me figure out how to write the rest. And then all of a sudden, sitting alone in my dorm, I was in this strange mood and finally had the urge to write. So I did. And a day later, I finished. I hope that at least one of you are still around to read this. I missed you guys. Also, sorry for the lack of responses to reviews. That'll definitely change now.
So. Yeah. That was the penultimate chapter. Just one more to go. Maybe before I graduate college. Haha.
I'm feeling so giddy right now, now that I've finished this monstrosity of a chapter. Tried to make it worth the wait. =P
Thank you for coming/coming back and reading. Please review!!! Favorite quotes! Favorite parts! Comments! Critiques! Favorite foods! Biggest fears! Anything!!
P.S. 20 bucks to who understands the reference in my first author's note.
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