Chapter 22 : Meeting Keelie
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James stared around the room in shock. His head ached so bad that all he wanted to do was close his eyes and go back to sleep, but he couldn’t, not in a strange house.
The sun was shining through the window and James managed to pull himself into a sitting position. There were no clocks in the room so he stared outside, trying to tell the position of the sun, but it was near impossible from the angle he was.
“You’re awake,” a female voice said from the opposite side of the room. James jerked his head and ended up keeled over with his face in his hands. “That looks painful,” the girl said without any sympathy.
She was wearing muggle jeans and had an odd lilt to her voice that James couldn’t decipher. He recognized her, he knew he did, but he couldn’t put a name to a face. He didn’t even know how he knew her. “You blacked out, didn’t you?” The girl asked, a little more empathy in her tone this time. “You do that a lot?”
James didn’t like to talk about his drinking habits with anyone so he merely shrugged. “Sometimes.” He paused, trying to think of her name and took a shot in the dark. “Anna, right?” He asked. He was pretty sure he knew an Anna.
The girl cracked a small smile, but instantly wiped it off her face. “If you knew my name I’d be pretty surprised. I never told you.”
James burned bright red. That tone implied he’d done something wrong, which probably meant he’d slept with her. He wasn’t a player, but he’d had a few girlfriends at Hogwarts and he was far from a virgin. He’d never had just a one night stand before, though.
“Er- last night. Did we er- you know. Have sex?” He asked, stuttering over the words until he finally managed to get them all out.
She looked horrified at the thought. “What kind of girl do you think I am? I brought you here, against my better judgment I might add, to help you and you accuse me of being a slut? Next time clean up your own messes.”
“Wait, I’m sorry!” James begged, standing up to follow her out of the room. He winced as the light grew even brighter. “It’s just you’re a girl, and I’m at your apartment, and I don’t remember anything from last night, so it seemed like a possibility.”
The girl took a few deep breaths to calm herself before turning back to James. “Last night you tried to get into a fight with my friend. Gabe. Remember that?” James shook his head, although it was beginning to sound a bit familiar. “And then you collapsed and were in and out of consciousness so I brought you here.”
James’s eyes widened as the events of the previous night came back to him. “Oh,” he said, remembering the look on Gabe’s face when he tried to punch him. He’d mistaken it for fear at the time, but now he could see it was mocking, maybe even a little bored. “Oh, no.”
“Don’t worry,” she said, seeming to know what he was thinking. “Gabe doesn’t hold a grudge. He’s a really good guy as long as you don’t go after him for no reason.”
“He knocked my drink over,” James muttered, although the excuse sounded flimsier now than it had then.
“Well from the looks of it you’d had quite enough,” she said. “James, you can really be a moron sometimes.”
James shrugged. He didn’t particularly like it when people he didn’t know well called him a moron, but he wasn’t in a situation where he could argue very well. “What happened then?” He asked, trying to fill in the blanks on his night.
“Like I said, I brought you here because clearly you weren’t going to make it anywhere on your own,” she said with a shrug. “I wasn’t going to abandon you in the pub. The manager would’ve thrown you out.”
“Oh,” James said again, feeling more and more embarrassed. “You could’ve just taken me home.”
“Because I know where you live?” He felt stupid for even inquiring abut that so he shut up, then a thought dawned on him.
“How do you know my name, but I don’t know yours?” He asked.
The girl shrugged. “Your family’s been in the papers for weeks. I recognized you immediately. I wouldn’t have brought you here if I hadn’t known who you were.”
“So I’m just the object of your pity?” James asked. He hated being on the receiving end of pity. Didn’t people know that just made him feel worse?
“Would do you rather I had just left you on the street, half unconscious?” she asked. When James didn’t respond she rolled her eyes. “That’s what I thought. My name’s not Anna, by the way. It’s Keelie.”
“Keelie,” James said, trying out her name in his mouth. “I’m James. I mean, you already knew that, but- er- my head really hurts. Do you have any hangover remedy?”
The girl- Keelie- laughed and handed him a tall glass of orange juice. “I already added it. Drink up.” He did and once he’d finished the glass felt instantly better. He still had a slight headache, but that was to be expected. The important thing was that the pounding was gone and he could now think clearly again.
“I guess I should, uh, thank you for helping me last night,” he said, unsure of himself. He’d never quite been in this situation before and Keelie was a very direct person. “I’m sure you would’ve done it for anyone, but thanks.”
She shook her head. “I’d’ve let Gabe break your face if I hadn’t realized who you were,” she replied. “I mean, at least you’ve got a reason, even if it’s a shitty one.”
James looked at her in surprise. He hadn’t expected to hear her curse. Most of the girls he knew, namely his sister and his cousins, didn’t like cursing. “Er- thanks for stopping him from breaking my face,” he said.
Keelie smiled at him. “I wouldn’t have really let him hurt someone,” she admitted. After a moment of pause she asked, “So care to enlighten me as to why you were getting so shitfaced?”
“Not really,” he said. He didn’t feel like delving into his personal life. She’d just assume it was because of Lily no matter what he said. That was what all the papers claimed.
Granted it was probably at least a little true, but James didn’t like to think about that.
“If you’re trying to be the quiet mysterious type, don’t,” she said bluntly. “It gets old real fast.”
All of a sudden James realized why the lilt in her voice sounded so strange. “Are you American?” he asked.
“Went to school there for two years,” she said with a smile. “Why?”
“Your accent is a little odd.”
“I’ve been around the world,” Keelie replied vaguely. “I’ve got a lunch date in about an hour and I really don’t like leaving strange blokes wandering around my flat.”
“Oh, right,” James said, forgetting that he was still in her flat despite having no apparent reason to be there. “I’ll er- see you around I guess. Or maybe not, I dunno.”
“Well I’m pretty certain I’ll continue to see you in the papers so that’s something,” Keelie said. “Bye.”
James apparated away and landed in his own flat. The lights were all off and neither twin was anywhere to be seen. He looked at the clock and groaned when he noticed it was almost noon. It meant he was two hours late for his shift at the shop.
But then he remembered he’d quit the night before. James groaned again. He couldn’t go back there now that he’d shown such disdain for the place and he really didn’t want to go back there. It was horrible, he felt like he was suffocating sitting at the desk all day.
Just thinking about it made his chest tight so James headed to his bedroom and grabbed his broom, the Cannon’s standard Xtremebolt, the newest version of the Firebolt.
He was going to do what his coach told him for once and stay in shape, practice his flying skills. Once he had the broom he apparated to an abandoned field he knew was safe. His father had taken him, Al, and Lily there when they were small to do all manner of things that couldn’t be done in front of muggles.
He would be safe from any prying eyes, he knew. Once there he mounted his broom and soared higher and higher into the air. He would be out of sight if anyone happened to walk by, or they’d just assume he was a bird. Muggles made excuses all the time for things like that.
The air grew a bit thinner and James felt breathless and excited. He’d forgotten how thrilling it was to do such dangerous things. If he fell now he’d surely lose his life. No one could survive something like that.
He soared and dipped on his broom, what people would have called showing off if there was anyone to see. He didn’t call it showing off, he called it practice. This was what he had to do to stay up with the team. He had to be good enough to start when Powler left in just a few months.
James dodged through the air like he was flying around opposing chasers and beaters and ducked like a bludger was coming after him. He used to play games like these all the time when he was by himself and had no one else to play with.
He liked to imagine the entire game around him, even though he was the only real thing there. Chasers materialized in his mind’s eye and James took an immediate dive to dodge one.
Nothing helped him hone his skills so much as an imaginary game. And besides that, it was fun. He could be the star.
James grinned, glad no one was around to see him foolishly play a game of Quidditch by himself.
He swooped again, then pulled his broom into a slow circle, just glad to be breathing freely again. He wasn’t made for cramped office jobs. He was like Lily, born to fly and be free.
A/N: Finally introduced one of my favorite characters! I hope you guys like Keelie. :)
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