Chapter 7 : Confrontations (Part I)
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I'd like to thank anyone and everyone patiently sticking to read the next chapter of this fic. I owe you :)
Thanks to all the wonderful reviewers and big thank you to guest reviewer bhaslhp for that last review because it really inspired me finish up the chapter, edit and post. Hope it doesn't dissapoint. Sorry for the incredible delay.
See people? The limitless power of unexpected reviews?!!
This is biggie so it's split into two parts! As always, read and review lovelies :) Ta!
Confrontations - Part I
James vs. Lily: Full Circle
Detention was tiresome. The minutes dragged on for hours and by the end of it I was exhausted and in dire need of sleep… and a shower.
Severus hadn’t arrived when I met the Marauders for detention. Having acquired Black and Lupin I left for the Hospital Wing leaving Potter and Pettigrew behind.
I realised Severus and I had not met nor conversed since our return to school. It was odd and disconcerting and I felt distinctly wrong with the idea of him disappearing from the daily life I’d led at Hogwarts for so many years. Something in my chest began to give off a familiar ache and I was quiet throughout most of the detention hour. Remus even prompted to inquire if I was alright.
While I didn’t associate with the Marauders on principle, Remus and I had unavoidably grown close over the last year when we both became prefects and were made to associate more often. Remus Lupin, I discovered was rather modest and polite when his comrades weren’t attached to his person. He was easy to converse with and though he could be entertaining when he wished, he was more usually quiet which made me wonder if he enjoyed internal conversations as much as I did. I supposed now we were good friends.
By the end of detention Remus had made a joke about bedpans. Sirius had made at least six, with varied contexts. They made me laugh despite my efforts to pretend I wasn’t listening and on the way back to Gryffindor Tower they kept up a stream of humorous anecdotes that I gave into quickly.
Remus was just as tired as I was and wanted to go to bed but Sirius insisted on dragging us to the Potions room where the rest of the posse served detention.
At the thought of seeing Severus again my stomach lurched, but I followed them to the Potions room anyway.
Since we arrived at Hogwarts, Severus and I had never gone a day without speaking to each other until the last day of school before last summer. Only someone who’s had such a close friend and lost him so suddenly and so painfully could attempt to understand how daunting it was to return to school where he’d be everywhere every day.
I wanted to see him… I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to see him but at the same time I dreaded it, hated everything that had happened between us.
“When do we meet the protégés, Moony?” asked Black of his friend. Remus replied that he had no idea.
I let it go. One rarely had any clue what the boys talked of half the time.
“Keep up, Red!” Black called over his shoulder, “Don’t want a delicate Flower like you getting lost in the dark!” he sniggered.
“Don’t call me that!” I censured but quickened my pace.
“Why ever not?” snickering, Black had turned back to face the hallway ahead, “remember you liked it just fine when Harold Bennet called you that.”
“You’re not Harold Bennet!” I pointed out.
“And thank Merlin for that!” He pondered for another moment, “How about Sandra Dee?”
“I doubt my present state qualifies, Black.”
At long last we reached the double doors of the Potions room and I braced myself. However, before Sirius could knock, the doors pulled apart violently leaving Sirius hanging with his fist held up.
“Prongs! What happened?”
“Don’t. Ask.” was Peter Pettigrew’s answer.
Once I’d established that Severus in fact was not in the vicinity I surveyed the boys more closely. Both Potter and Pettigrew looked distressed and on top of it, they were drenched head-to-toe as if they’d been dredged out of the lake. The wet clothes stuck to their bodies and I would have been distracted by the drenched image of James Potter if the pair weren’t giving off such a horrible stench that the three of us immediately backed away several steps.
Don’t ask indeed.
“Boys.” Sirius gaged pinching his nose firmly, “you need to shower or find your own shortcut back to the tower!”
I nodded vigorously, for once agreeing with him.
James looked murderous and Peter disgusted. I supposed Severus had taken advantage of the situation. I didn’t blame him. Look, if the tables were turned Potter would’ve done everything short of skinning Severus alive.
Potter and Pettigrew headed off to the Prefects bathroom and I escorted the former duo back to the tower. We’d barely reached the next floor however when James Potter showed up leading Pettigrew down the opposite hallway.
“Hold on you two!” James called out and we paused turning to him.
“That was fast,” commented Sirius.
James looked significantly better freshly showered. His hair was still wet but instead of the intolerable stench he now had about him a fresh fragrance of shampoo. Other than that however everything else about him was decidedly less pleasant, his mood still foul and his expression hostile.
“Prongs mate, you’re growing old. Clearly you can’t count anymore; there are three of us here.”
“She doesn’t count,” said James and justified his statement by ignoring me and moving to the front of the group. With another impatient eye-roll I swallowed my retorts. Honestly this hot and cold business was getting old.
“Harsh” I heard Remus mutter. James made no inclination he’d heard him.
Remus fell into step beside me as the other three walked ahead of us. I was unfathomably irritated by Potter’s attitude but pretended to be unbothered.
You don’t see anyone else taking out their frustration on the innocent bystander do you, Potter?
Was I the reason you were in detention?
So why don’t you stop being a spoilt little brat about whatever’s bothering you and just cry into a pillow like all normal people.
I only wish I’d had the nerve to say any of it to his face.
Sirius and Peter made jokes about Severus the rest of the walk to Gryffindor tower. Halfway there, a staircase changed and we were forced to take a detour. Soon I grew tiresome of the jeering and sighed loudly.
“Hey Lily,” Remus began in a whisper falling into step beside me.
“Don’t mind it, they’re just joking,” he looked at me earnestly.
I raised my brow, “I don’t mind.”
He mirrored my expression.
“I’m done trying to get you lot to be nice,” I replied and Remus smiled.
“Don’t mind James either…”
I said nothing to that. At long last my tired feet turned the corridor to the Portrait of the Fat Lady.
“It’s Flibbertigibbet!” said a young voice loudly down the corridor as we neared the portrait of the Fat Lady.
“No! It’s Gobbledegook! I asked one of them today during lunch!” challenged a second.
“Don’t be thick! That’s too obvious, it’s Rabbity Babbity!” a third voice piped up.
“That’s not obvious?” asked the first sarcastically.
“Urgh… None of us have it! I’m cold!”
“What’s going on here?” I asked moving to the front of the group to find several first-years arguing outside the portrait-hole.
“None of them have the right password,” said the Fat Lady smoothening out her silk dress.
“What? How is this possible?” I asked, “I specifically told all of you on the first day!”
“But we were told the passwords were changed today morning!” protested a girl in a long blonde ponytail.
I leaned back, my eyes growing in surprise, “What! Who told you that?”
Each of the young first-years pointed to one of the Marauders beside me.
I was tired, I was sure of it. My feet ached and my body felt like lead even after a steaming shower. And yet, I wasn’t falling asleep.
I gave up after tossing about for almost an hour and pushed myself out of the red duvet with an angry snort. Not really knowing what to do, I wondered down the stairs to the common room in my socks, pyjamas and t-shirt. I didn’t expect to run into anyone that late at night, but there he was.
James Potter had his hair sticking up messier than usual as he sat on the couch in front of the fire. Somehow he’d managed to pull up the nearby round-table in front of him and sat with several text books spread out across it. He was actually studying in the dead of the night, in front of the fire... What’s wrong with this picture?
I moved closer, curious to see what he was working on. I saw him tense as my shadow fell across his book and then in a split second he’d turned in his seat, wand pointed straight at me.
“Mother of Merlin!” he cursed stowing away his wand and turning back, “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Evans?”
“It’s two in the morning, I could ask you the same thing.” I dropped into the armchair beside the currently occupied sofa. He still smelled of shampoo, something reminiscent of cinnamon and autumn air.
“Since when do you care,” James replied with some bitterness causing me to scowl. He readjusted his lop-sided glasses and started collecting his things carefully. I couldn’t help but feel he wouldn’t be leaving if it weren’t for my sudden appearance. “Relax,” he said, “nothing illegal. Just some late homework.”
His voice was tight and agitated as if he was trying very hard to control it. Something was off. I thought we’d agreed at the very least to be civil with each other. But Potter’s attitude, expression and clear reservations indicated that we’d taken yet another turn. Honestly, it felt like we were going around in circles and I wanted it to end. So, of course I asked him about it…
“What is your problem?”
…in the least subtle way possible.
James looked up with unsurprised eyes. “Problem?”
“Why are you being so… weird?”
He stopped arranging his notes into a pile to give me a thorough look. I was suddenly very aware of the overlarge ‘Poison Apple’ t-shirt and the ridiculous cup-cake print on my pyjama-bottoms. Of course he looked bloody fantastic in a woollen maroon sweater and deep-blue pyjama trousers (I made a mental note to burn the cupcake pyjamas to purge the evidence of owning them). The eyes behind his glasses gleamed in the amber firelight. They were narrowed and his jaw set tightly.
“You’ve expressed that I’m barking mad at least twice every year since we started Hogwarts. Therefore ‘weird’ should hardly surprise you.” He said calmly dropping his gaze back to the notes in hand.
“Ok, enough.” I said wearily, “It’s two in the morning. I don’t have time to dig the whole ‘who when what where’ out of you… so just tell me.”
James dropped his stack of notes back onto the table with a loud thud making the papers fly everywhere and crossed his arms looking at the fire. I recoiled from him instinctively looking quite alarmed.
“Did you write to him?” he asked viciously.
“Snape. Did you write to him over the holidays?”
“Did you write to him, yes or no?”
“Yes. Once. It’s none of your business but I wanted to clear the air between us. We’d been friends such a long-”
He just said it, clearly looking straight at me. My eyes grew. And that was it. I snapped. Every single tiring, loathsome, horrid thought of the day came running back to me. So much hate and exhaustion filled me that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream or cry. I stood shock-still in the silence where his words hung in the air. Potter packed his things in half a second and was at the foot of the stairs before I found my voice again.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” I spat angrily jumping to my feet, “To just randomly start telling me off for-”
“Oh come on, Lily! Wake up!” he yelled spinning back. His usually jovial face was furious. Anger flushed his sharp features. I was genuinely afraid but didn’t show it.
“He called you the worst possible thing he ever could, and you’re giving him a chance to crawl back into your life… It’s just sad to watch.”
“Shut up!” I shouted, now incensed even more, “you don’t get to judge without having any idea about-”
“Being human and using that word against someone is enough to judge him plenty.”
“You don’t know him beyond-“
“I don’t need to-”
“LET ME FINISH!”
James fell silent, his jaw clenching. I trembled with all the anger I felt.
“You think it’s easy, Potter? All these years you’ve had three perfect friends who never disappoint you, never frustrate you or question you. They’re always there for you… just like the world expects them to. You know what I’ve had? I’ve had one best friend, and five years of battling to keep from losing him. He’s been there for me since the first time I learnt about magic. He’s a Slytherin and he’s expected to resent me, not just because I’m a Gryffindor but because I’m… muggleborn. And all this time he risked the first friends, the first home he ever knew… just to be friends with me. Me, just this random ginger girl who had no idea magic ever existed! Me, who he chose to be friends with because he just knew I was so alone! He wanted so badly to be belonged and when he did he risked it all just for ME! To be my friend.” My voice started to climb in hysterics as I held back tears.
“You picked on him! Poked and prodded him every chance you got and each time I ask him to walk away.” My voice broke, “While you’ve had the time of your life growing up with friends who’ve always been there for you, I’ve had to fight each day to be close to my only best friend.”
Don’t… Don’t cry…
“Just imagine one day, you just lose Sirius or Peter or Remus… how would you feel? Bet you never thought about all that, did you? Instead you just kept pushing him, hurting him and using him whenever you needed a laugh… you punched him hard enough, he broke… and who lost Potter? I lost him… he lost me. You? What did you lose? Did you even lose a wink of sleep over it?”
I sighed deeply noticing that Potter looked guilty and pained and angry and confused all at the same time. It wasn’t nearly enough to match the hurt I felt.
“I’m not pathetic, Potter. I’m hurt and tired… and I can’t stop feeling so alone… and for Merlin’s sake, I don’t need you judging my choices!”
Potter tried to speak but I’d had enough. It was immature and emotional and gutless… and it was everything I was trying to avoid. I was trying so much to be civil and put the past behind us but, why? If he wasn’t going to make the slightest effort, if he was only intent on wounding me again and again, then why should I…
The tears I couldn’t control slipped down my cheek.
“I hate you.”
Potter’s eyes widened suddenly looking up at me. Whatever he wished to say died in his throat. I turned swiftly and stormed back to the dorm cursing myself for ever stepping out of it.
Three hours later I fell asleep.
Gryffindor vs. Slytherin (Old friends)
The red hangings on my neighbouring bed ripped back and a messy head of black hair appeared.
“Dear Merlin!” cried Sirius looking over at me while I was in the middle of squashing my pillow to a more comfortable shape. “Something on your mind, Potter?” he asked in a faux polite tone.
“What are you on about?”
“You’ve been up since daybreak in Nepal! Tossing and turning and bloody well waking me up every half hour!”
I rolled my eyes at his theatricality.
“Well,” Lupin’s groggy voice came from the other side of my bed, “I was sleeping just fine till you started yelling, Sirius.”
I gave Sirius a triumphant grin.
Sirius coughed, which sounded remarkably like “Kiss-arse”. Groaning heavily he pulled himself out of bed a trotted off to the bathroom throwing his pillow savagely at my face.
I caught the pillow and pushed myself up on the bed too. My neck was completely sore from tossing around so much last night. Yet despite getting next to no sleep at all I was wide awake.
What a horrible state to be in.
“Sleep well?” questioned Remus observantly.
“Like a baby.”
The icy wind was a blessing on my hands, red and inflamed with fragmented splinters from the previous night’s detention still sticking under the nail-beds. I’d tried to get as much of it out as possible but last night I hadn’t been in the best of moods. And despite the effort some thin splinters were still stuck under my fingernails shooting electrical pain up my hands every so often.
Needless to say, with the odds stacked up against it, Quidditch did very little to improve my mood when we headed out of the Great Hall early morning.
“Blast this Scottish weather!” Luke Dunbar, beater for the team loudly complained as the team followed towards the pitch.
Sirius and I fell into step listening to Wade McGonagall (Reserve Keeper, purely a bizarre coincidence with no relation to the infinitely more intimidating McGonagall) and Leo (Beater) argue.
“Please, have you heard the chords on ‘Curing Heartache’? They’re fantastic.” Leo said as if the argument was settled.
“Alright, fine they were alright, but believe me the band won’t last.”
“They won’t” McGonagall, Sirius and I concurred at the same time.
“You too!” Leo looked accusingly at us. Leo and Luke looked, spoke and acted as if they were twins. No mortal being unfamiliar with their life-stories would’ve believed they never knew each other until they set foot at Hogwarts.
“Yes,” Sirius delved to explain. “Firstly, because 'The Howling Tornados' is a horrible band-name. Secondly because their logo has a winged pixie riding a unicorn: the sort of art which frankly should be reserved for gay pornography! And thirdly, Weird Sisters have a better bass player, better vocals and generally better everything.”
“You people have weird band-loyalty issues,” concluded Leo, shouldering his bat as we reached the entrance to the pitch.
Sirius grinned smugly as a distant voice caught my attention.
“Easy on your left-turns, Garrow!” came an instructive tone from beyond the entrance.
“What the hell is going on?” Sirius and I quickened our pace soon reaching the gates and passing on into the field.
“Oh you’ve got to be joking!” Sirius exclaimed as we both spotted several people in broomsticks already up in the air practicing according to their captain’s instructions, each of them clad in green.
My jaw clenched and Sirius blew out a harsh angry breath making mist rise in front of him. He took a step toward the players who had paused mid-air having spotted us. I quickly flung out an arm to block his path.
Sirius looked at me angrily. “This is the third time they’ve rampaged on our time-slot! They did this last year! Each time we kill about half an hour of our time trying to ‘figure out what went wrong’! Let’s settle this!”
“Oi, I’ve got five members on my team! I don’t need my chaser benched for the season!”
Sirius growled resentfully but heeded. Taking a deep breath I curled my sore fingers over the broom-handle beside me. Pain zapped along my arm and my brain suddenly focussed suppressing my anger, reminding me that I risked Gryffindor losing our winning streak if I lost my control.
The captain of the opposing team dropped down from his broom and pulled the contraption out of mid-air. He’d grown taller over the summer, a few more freckles maybe. His eyebrows gathered in weary confusion as he stepped towards me muttering some incomprehensible instructions to his team mates over his shoulder.
“Theodore…” I acknowledged with a tight smile.
He rolled his eyes at me, “It’s still Teddy. What are you doing here, Jimmy?”
“I could ask you the same thing, Theodore. I booked the pitch for Gryffindor today. And it’s James, no one’s called my Jimmy since I was ten!” I added shrewdly.
“It must be a mistake…” Theodore spoke calmly ignoring my last words.
I gave an exasperated sigh, “One that seems to keep repeating!”
“Look, I think Downer and Foley are messing with the books.”
“Why would the ’Claws want to do that?”
“Do I need to spell this out for you? Of course, to pin us against one another! That way nature will take its course and as usual half of each of our teams will end up in the Hospital Wing, the rest in detention.”
“While as usual you wash your hands of the mess!” I said matching his tone.
“Look, I don’t know what your problem is-”
“You’re joking, right?”
Theodore clenched his jaw before speaking loudly enough for the pitch to hear him. “Can the teams please excuse us; I need to speak with the Gryffindor Captain.”
Looking daggers at the Gryffindors the Slytherins retreated several paces before heading off toward the opposite end in clusters. Sirius and I exchanged an understanding nod and he led the team away.
“Look,” I turned to Slytherin Captain once we were sufficiently alone, “Whatever you have to say I’m pretty sure I don’t need to hear it.”
“Would you stop acting like a child for five minutes!” he said angrily dropping the broomstick at his heels.
Ted fisted his auburn hair irritably, “I told you, this is a mistake. Every time we book a slot with Downer or Foley they claim its free, we start practicing, and you lot show up claiming it’s your slot!”
“You honestly expect me to believe that yarn you’re spinning?”
“Listen, contrary to what you may think Potter, foiling your carefully constructed training schedule is not a top priority for me! I’ve got bigger problems, family problems… life and death problems!” he paused to stare intensely at me, “Not that you’d care. After all you stopped speaking to me the day we set foot in this place!” he said almost spitefully.
I rolled my eyes, “Life and death?”
“She really loved you, you know, my mum.” He said in a low voice. I swallowed. “Remember her, James? Remember how she read Beedle and Bard to us every day after lunch?”
I could see his hands shaking slightly by his side. She was a nice person Ted’s mum. Her name was Elaine. My father didn’t approve of associating with Slytherins but my mum was a rebel, always had been. She and Elaine had been school friends. So, of course I grew up with Teddy, half the time at his house, half the time at mine. When we came to school though, things changed. Mum had ideals, but the two houses just didn't get along. So Teddy and I parted ways. But his Mum I respected still. She looked after me like I was her own son, as my mum did Ted. She was kind to me, and cared for me. Maybe she even loved me. The thought of something bad happening to her actually made my heart beat wildly.
“Ted, what happened?” I asked.
Teddy gave a harsh bark of bitter laughter, “Oh now you care?”
He seemed to struggle for words. His face was contorted in agony. I took a step forwards swallowing again. He backed away from me and I stopped.
“He left… He just… left.” Teddy spoke to the ground his eyes unfocused.
“Who…?” I asked cautiously.
“Bryce…” He swallowed hard, and looking at my blank expression, “He left a couple of months ago…”
“Left…?” I was trying to grasp it but…
And then Teddy looked up at me, his blue eyes wide with horror, “He left to join them” he whispered.
I felt my blood run cold. No…
“The Death Eaters!?” I hissed.
“Shhhh!” he censured angrily.
I ran my tongue over my dry lips wondering what an earth I could say to him. I had to though. If she can take back vermin that had tainted her life, there was certainly place to comfort an estranged old friend who had lost a great deal.
Bryce was Ted’s oldest brother. Like his parents Bryce was also a Slytherin but unlike Ted and his parents, Bryce had little choice to belong to any other house.
“Mum didn’t speak for days, not even when I left. Dad just kept saying, ‘Act normal… act normal…” his voice became hopeless and hollow, “How?”
I felt a sudden pang. This was someone I’d known for a long time. I’d let him go because he was a Slytherin, and Dad always said they could never be trusted. And I idolized my father. The strength of the stupidity of my judgement and how I’d never questioned it hit me all at once. I moved to place a hand on his shoulder but at the touch Teddy pushed it away.
“Don’t… everyone’s watching… listening.”
He was right. A few heads were turned discreetly towards us, both Gryffindors and Slytherins.
“It’s not just me, James.” Teddy continued in his quiet distant voice, “look around.” I followed his gaze out into the field spotted with red and green clad players, “Sure, there maybe a few stupid meatheads in Slytherin who’d be proud that someone they know bears the Mark… but look at the rest, they look broken and hopeless. Distant… Just hoping that the people they love chose the right side.”
“What does that mean?” I asked, although I had feeling I already knew.
“One from each family I suspect. It’s not really an invitation you can say no to…”
I felt sick to my stomach. It couldn’t be… How many?
“They came for them?”
“No…” he said with more despair, “That’s what’s worse… They all join willingly. Bryce started this job at the Ministry. Three weeks in he came home talking about how ‘The Dark Lord’ had the right idea. It shocked the hell out of us, we thought he was joking but… he was completely brainwashed. He kept saying we had rights and the muggles were stripping us of them one by one… We can’t wear what we like ’cos we have to blend in, we can’t travel whenever we want wherever we want because we shouldn’t be seen. We tried to reason with him, but he just wouldn’t listen. He got violent… and then he just left…”
My throat had gone completely dry. I’d known Bryce. He wasn’t the most cheerful person but Bryce had played Quidditch with us at his house. I had pictures with him and Teddy… I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“Do you remember your tenth birthday when we spied on your parents talking to each other?”
“Your father, he said there was a war coming but none of us had any idea who or what the enemy was, how many of them there were or how far they’d go… Now the war is upon us and still we’re no better prepared against ‘the Dark Lord’ He’s just always ten steps ahead…”
A moment of silence passed as we both stood against a shivering wind. And then the air was still again.
Teddy sighed loudly and he pulled his shoulders up. He’d always been a tough child, picking himself up when he fell. Never crying, just dusting off the dirt and moving on. But something behind his blue eyes looked broken.
“I don’t think I’m feeling all that well enough for practice, Potter. You may continue with your training, my apologies on behalf of my team for any delay we may have caused.” His sharp business-like tone surprised me and I automatically stiffened.
Ted picked up his broom and called for his team who instantly flew to him.
“Dismount and head to the showers.” He said firmly.
The team looked confused and exchanged glances but unquestioningly obeyed him. I felt a twinge of envy at his excellent leadership. If I’d said this to the team I would have been greeted by “James, what the f-” before I cut them off with “I’m captain! What I say goes!”
Sirius reached my side and behind him the rest of my team lagged.
“Potter,” Teddy pulled out the glove and held out his hand, I numbly slipped my hand into his, shaking it without thought.
“Hope you have a good practice.”
“Yeah, now that-” I elbowed Sirius in the ribs as he was about to rebuke. Teddy’s eyes flashed over to my shoulder where Sirius stood coughing.
“Uhmm… thanks McKinnon.” He said instead.
We watched the Slytherins leave just as it started to drizzle lightly, Teddy McKinnon trailing behind his team.
“You actually got him to give up the pitch,” marvelled Sirius, “What did you say to him?”
No matter the internal drama and chaos, when a friend asks politely to be a supportive encourager when she’s about to take a big step she’s not entirely sure about, one just had to comply.
“Lily! I need you to come down with me to the Quidditch pitch. I’m going to train today and try out for the team.” The girl with her short crop of dark hair walked into the dormitory in her towel leaving a watery track of footprints from the bathroom behind her.
Well that was as polite as Quinn ever got.
“Quinn… I-What?” I dropped the book I was reading and sat up on my bed.
“Oh! Yes, I’m playing Quidditch this year. I think it’ll be great! I’m going to train today and you’re coming with me.”
“Yes it’s raining, no it’s not a sign and yes you are still coming with me. Put on an impervious spell or something witch!” she said busying herself at the drawers by her bedside.
Or I could just bring an umbrella, you know, like all normal people.
“Oh and don’t tell anyone, at least not until I make the team!”
She straightened up with a white t-shirt and some supportive underwear.
Well at least she was being sensibly dressed for this nonsensical idea.
Ten minutes later she was walking ten steps ahead of me, Cait and Mary. Quinn wore a set of black and tan Quidditch training gear that she had ordered by owl-mail the instant she’d dreamed up the idea of being on the Quidditch team, and matched it with a frown and constant stream of muttering.
“You think she’s upset you told us?” Cait asked softly, her brown eyes earnest as she fiddled with her braid of dark hair.
“I think she’s probably upset in the same sense that Filch gets upset when someone accidentally leaves a dungbomb in his office.” Mary said to my left.
I laughed at the pair of them and hurried to keep up with Quinn.
Once we were outdoors the rain seemed thicker than we realised and we hurriedly pulled up our umbrellas though Quinn continued to battle the rain unguarded since she’d get wet up in the air anyway.
“Remind me why I’m here?” Mary asked somewhat regrettably.
“You want me to help you with Astronomy so you’re happy to accompany me right now!” I replied.
“Oh, right! Yes, ecstatic!”
We reached the gates to the Quidditch pitch, our boots already mud-caked having sloshed through the wet grounds. Quinn had paused in front of us and we came to stand just behind her wondering why she stopped.
“Quinn?” asked Cait cautiously.
But I’d already seen them and stopped dead in my tracks as well. Black and Potter. Drenched by the rain. Hair matted to their faces with mud, grime and rain as they approached.
Quinn took a step back.
“Ouch! Quinn!” Mary exclaimed as Quinn stepped on her foot. Her outcry had called the boys’ attention.
“Quinn?” Sirius called surprised.
“Uhh… Hey,” Quinn said awkwardly. I could hear her swallow as Sirius’ eyes travelled all over her seemingly unaware of doing so. His eyes were admiring but his mouth seemed shocked into silence.
Potter on the other hand, “What the hell are you wearing, Dalton?”
For some unknown reason (as if he needed a reason) James Potter and Quinn Dalton had never gotten along with each other even though his best friend had chosen to date her.
Quinn seemed to regain her voice, “I’m training…” she said confidently, her shoulders squared. “To join the team,” she added as an afterthought.
“I beg your pardon?” Potter asked with an arched eyebrow as if questioning her sanity. Sirius elbowed him in the ribs. I wanted to punch him, in fact Mary was holding me back.
“I’ll be going for try-outs,” Quinn replied.
“You’ve never flown before!” said Potter, continuing to be a prat.
“I know… it’ll take some work-”
“Some work? The try-outs are next week!”
“I will be ready by then,” Quinn continued though her confidence had faltered slightly.
“She says she’ll be ready. She will be ready!” the words were out of my mouth and I didn’t even realise. Everyone else seemed just as surprised as I was, though if it were the words or the anger in them that shocked them, I couldn’t tell.
James Potter’s eyes found mine for the first time that day and they gleamed with some hidden emotion.
I hate you…
Last night still hung unresolved between us. But I couldn’t stand what he was doing to my friend.
“Mate, just give her a chance.” Sirius said quietly by his side as the rest of the team reached the pair. James looked incredulously at Sirius, as did Quinn. Finally James gave an exasperated sigh and broke away from the group.
His eyes narrowed and jaws clenched as he approached us I was fairly sure I’d never seen James Potter this way. He was hardly recognizable. Rain drops glittered on the surface of his glasses. Behind them his eyes were in turmoil.
“You’re wasting your precious time, Dalton” he said. His voice had changed suddenly and I knew what he said, he meant. It wasn’t a disrespectful jeer anymore. It was advice, quiet and honest.
More than anything else James had said so far, that what he said last seemingly changed Quinn’s certainty. Her chest rose and fell and I clutched her elbow.
Then James’ eyes slid over to me and he was much too close to ignore what was in his eyes. A deep cutting pain, mixed with an almost self-loathing anguish. I felt my breath hitch. And then he was gone, the tip of my umbrella rib scratching the wet skin of his cheek.
(To be continued)
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