Chapter 9 : The One with the Romance
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If we were going anywhere to escape the presses, it was going to be the States. Since I was little I had a weird fascination with the States and since Ali kept talking about it I couldn’t get it out of my head. She even showed me pictures of her backpacking trips up and down the mountains. The mountains didn’t look like that in Great Britain.
To be clear, I didn’t grow up in the center of London, but I also didn’t grow up around pigs and horses. So when I saw the “Kilarney Ranch” sign when Avery and I arrived, my nose may have wrinkled. I also may have made a colorful comment or two regarding the yellow grass.
What? It was yellow.
The place was enormous and somewhere in a place called Wyoming. Wherever that was. I didn’t study American geography at Hogwarts except for that one time Freddie, Bink and I tried to plan a tunnel system from Amsterdam to Mexico. It didn’t go as planned, but we still had the documents under Freddie’s bed at home.
There was one ranch house made with dark wood. It was surrounded by a fence and yellow grass and lots of empty space out back. I could hear animals. Big animals. Beyond the ranch stretched the foothills of the mountains and further than that the bigger mountains. I briefly wondered what was on the other side, but then I remembered that two dogs and a cat movie and thought better of it.
“This place is beautiful,” Avery said, tossing her backpack onto the dusty porch. An old hound was laying there with his ears on the decking. “Look at the sky. It goes on forever.”
I mentally named the dog Eagle Dog.
I did look and she was right. Everything was blue with tiny puffy white clouds breaking up the color.
“Think they’ll find us here?” I asked, instinctively looking over my shoulder. Just the long twisted gravel drive back toward the road. I couldn’t even see another house in the distance. Everywhere consisted of rolling hills, grass, and some trees and fences.
“I hope not. I like it here.” She scratched Eagle Dog behind the ears and pushed open the door. It creaked. “Hello?”
“The note said they would probably be gone,” I said. I’d booked the place only the day before, hoping to get away from both the media and my flat for a while. It was through a Muggle travel agency and the couple was on holiday for a couple weeks traveling to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. They were renting out their house for the time. And their animals.
Attached to the fridge was a list of how much and when to feed the animals.
“Horses?” I said, gaping at the ripped sheet of paper. “I can’t feed horses. They have mouths the size of my head.”
“How very Gryffindor of you,” Avery teased and laced her fingers in mine. “I’ll feed the horses, how about that?”
“I’d like that.” I shrugged. I was still plenty brave. I just didn’t like horses. They could kick hard. I’d seen a documentary on that once. Or maybe it was a made-for-tv movie.
I followed Avery inside and there was less dust than I expected. It was simple enough – living room with weird furniture patterns, kitchen, dining nook, big windows, and two bedrooms in the back behind the bathroom. It would do for the weekend. For our weekend.
I was still piecing together how we got to this point. How Mr. Flynn wedged himself between us during school and how we closed the gap. It took a while to get back to where we were – mostly my fault – but we got there. We were there right now.
We explored the rooms and made tasteful comments about the décor. Then, since the sun was setting, we fixed sandwiches for dinner and returned outside to Eagle Dog to eat.
Watching the sunset in Wyoming was something like I’d never seen before. There were a thousand colors all bouncing off tiny clouds as the sun sank into the mountains. I couldn’t look away, even when I blinked and all I could see were tiny black dots. Avery gave half her sandwich to Eagle Dog.
I uncorked a bottle of wine and lit a few candles on the front porch. “Nice out here,” I said stupidly because I couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Peaceful,” Avery replied.
“So what are we supposed to do about this us thing because I’ve only just realized I love you and how am I supposed to do this with being benched and King sodding Henrik breathing down my back and Cooper so fucking obviously wanting to be your husband?” That might have come out in one breath. I took a deep gulp of wine.
Avery looked over. To her credit, she was handling this situation much better than I was. Probably because she wasn’t going to get benched for snogging me.
Maybe she would. Cooper wasn’t to be trifled with.
“Anyone know we’re here?” Avery asked.
“Then relax.” She scooted closer. “We have the whole weekend for you to have a freak out about you leaving the oven on or some rubbish.”
“I believe I said I left muffins in the oven…”
“I should have just moved in with Costaso.”
“Not amused.” I scooted away and pulled a thin blanket off the wooden bench behind us. “I’m being serious, though. I’m good with Quidditch and plays and giving my team a schedule. I’m not good with stuff like this.”
“James,” Avery said, placing a hand on my thigh and I jumped. “You’ve been in love with me since Bink took us to the grotto. You’ll find a way. You always do.” She smiled and looked back at the fading sun.
She had a point. I had a very long track record of always finding a way, whether it be with her or Quidditch or my family or the press. I always found a way. I was breaking the Tornados’ code wide open right now and I’d have to find a way around it. I wasn’t give up my dream, but I wasn’t giving up Avery either. Especially now that I’d just found her again.
I really had loved her since the grotto, hadn’t I?
I would not be repeating that to anyone quickly. Love wasn’t a masculine trait. It was a Gryffindor one, though. Dad never let me forget that.
Neither did Mum because they snogged all the time and it was burning holes in my eyes.
“What’re we going to do about Bink?” I asked.
“Support him,” Avery replied. She was swishing the wine around in her glass. “Whatever he decides to do we just have to be there for him.”
“Try not to leave him near open flames?”
I wondered what would happen between Freddie and Amy when she went back to school and they didn’t see each other for months on end. I wouldn’t put it past him to Apparate to Hogsmeade on her weekends to see her and have a quick snog (among other things).
And what about when Rose went back to Hogwarts? Would Bink give a damn?
I had far too many people in my life. My mates. My family (was Lily still seeing Wesley? Albus and Paloma still shagging?). My enemies (Where had Emerson been? Mason was also being strangely quiet. Clint Lawson was probably trying his luck at Quadpot. Was Meta my enemy?). My team (If Jack ever stuck me in a room alone with his kids again I would claw my way out).
There was just too much happening at once. All while I was trying to concentrate on Quidditch and actually playing my first game.
I looked over at Avery, who appeared to be concentrating on the tall grass just past the drive. If it kept up like this I’d never see a professional Quidditch match and everything would be for nothing. I’d get sent down to the reserves and live out my pathetic existence like Mason on the Hurricanes.
“I told you to relax,” she said, not bothering to look.
“I can’t help it. I’m nervous.”
“You’re always nervous. It’s annoying.”
“Aves, this is my dream.”
“And you’re pursuing it.” She did look over then and I could tell I’d taken things a little further than I should have. Especially on a pseudo-romantic getaway. I was bad at romance. Ask Nia Baker. “If your dream is more important than figuring this out, that’s fine. Just tell me now because I’m losing patience waiting for you to figure out your life.”
“Of course it’s not. I mean it is. But it’s not.”
I needed a bigger shovel for this hole.
“Let me know when you figure it out.” She placed the empty wine glass on the deck and went inside. The screen door bounced back before settling. I heard the bedroom door close and two lights flipped off.
The horizon was the lightest of gray against the navy backdrop above me. I could see every star. Like little golden snitches up there. There weren’t any street lamps or car lights or shop windows. Just the front porch, a lot of tall grass, and the sky. The perfect place to do some thinking.
Only thinking was what I didn’t want to be doing.
I’d just told a girl I loved her. That was way more than fancying. Love.
“Love is when you literally cannot picture your life without the other person,” Mum had said when I’d asked her what it meant years ago. “When they would leave a hole too big in your heart to fill.”
I stood and walked inside, abandoning the wine and blanket. I walked straight past the living room and into the bedroom. Avery was by the closet tugging on her white cotton night shirt. Her hair fell in static waves over her face. She swiped it away, unamused.
“I’m scared, okay?” I blurted, standing in the doorway. “I’m scared of losing you the same way I thought I had before. I’m scared of losing my career, something I’ve been working toward since I could stand. I’m scared of Lily dropping the ball and Albus being some sex god – please don’t ask – and Freddie moving on with his life and Bink being depressed. I’m scared of being a fluke. Getting all this hype and not being any good against real players.” I leaned against the door frame, raking my fingers through my hair. I was sweating a little. “Of Dad being disappointed and Mum patting me on the head and saying oh well, honey, at least you tried your best. I’m scared of Mason using his ammo to hurt people that I care about and I’m scared of everything. Mostly of you.”
“Of me?” Avery pulled the rest of her hair from the neck of her shirt and twisted it into a low pony-tail.
“One of these days you’re going to wake up and realize you can do way better than me,” I said, speaking fast now. I wasn’t thinking. I was blurting and I temporarily blamed the wine. “That you’re sick of my shit and my crazy antics and you can do better. I’m terrified you’re going to realize it and call it quits.”
Avery took her time wrapping the hair in a band. She wiggled off her jeans and folded them, placing them on the stand beside the bed. She tugged on some plaid pajama shorts. She was unbelievably beautiful and I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
“James, you’re an idiot,” she said eventually with a deep sigh. “You just are. And I love that about you. For someone with so much, you’re always worried things are going to disappear before you can enjoy them.” She took a few steps toward me, fingers twisting in her hair. “It’s cute.”
“I prefer mysterious and devilishly good-looking,” I muttered.
“It’s sexy,” Avery said, closing the distance between us. She placed two fingers in my belt loop, tugging me toward her. “I’m not telling you not to be scared because you should be. The world’s a scary place. But not of me.”
“You’re going to…” I began but her other hand went to my cheek and into my hair and I forgot what I was going to say.
“We’ll figure it out, okay?” Avery said. “Okay?” she repeated when I didn’t react because her hand was still in my belt loop and in my hair and it was distracting. I nodded. “I promise.” She stood on her toes and kissed me.
I pulled her against the door and we kissed for a while. I had to remind myself just to kiss Avery when I was thinking too much because that changed the worrying into a completely different feeling. I slid my arms around her waist and moved her against my body, kissing her harder.
When the kiss broke sometime later, I leaned my forehead against hers. “It’s going to be fine,” I said, mostly to myself.
“It is. And you owe me breakfast on the porch to make up for being a shit.” Avery kissed me again and pulled away. She broke into a quick run and leapt onto the bed, bouncing as she hit it and messed up all of the covers.
Throughout our friendship we’d shared a bed a zillion times, roughly. I couldn’t remember the last time we’d really slept apart when in the same room. Tonight, though, I paused in the door. I didn’t know what to do.
Avery grabbed the blankets and pulled the up to her middle. She fluffed her pillows and went for the bedside lamp, only to glance up at me. “What’re you doing?”
I flushed. “Standing?”
“Are you being serious right now?”
I pointed at my legs. “Definitely standing.”
“Get in the bed, Potter.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I flipped off the light and joined her under the blankets. Suddenly things were like they always used to be. I stretched and pulled her beside me, her head on my chest. I kissed the top of her head and she draped a leg over mine. A bare, smooth leg. I was trying not to think about that but I was and it was the only thing I was thinking about.
“I love you, James,” Avery said with a yawn. “Even when you’re a shit.” She snickered. “Especially when you’re a shit.”
“You sure Bink isn’t your type? I hear he’s smoother with the women.”
“I could never take him to the beach.”
“He upgraded his sunscreen,” I said conversationally.
“Ah. Well, in that case I’ll give him a snog tomorrow.”
“Good, good.” I yawned and sank into the pillows, my fingers absently running through her hair. The same as I’d always done.
It was just us out here in the middle of nowhere. Just James and Avery in a house with a dog in the States. Nothing spectacular or hidden or frightening. Just. Us.
Things were the same when I woke, except Avery’s hair was now in my mouth so I had to try to spit it out without waking her. I could see the saliva in her hair and made a mental note not to mention it.
The sun had already come up. I had no idea what time it was since the digital clock beside the bed was blinking twelve.
I carefully withdrew my arm from around Avery and stood. Then I replaced the covers up to her neck and kissed her forehead. She didn’t stir, so I pulled on some cargo shorts and made my way into the kitchen to make good on a promise for breakfast on the porch. I’d ruined the romantic evening by being a twat. The least I could do was attempt to cook breakfast for a romantic morning.
I really needed some sort of romance 101 course. No doubt Nia would be the instructor and suggest plush teddy bears and boxes of chocolates and lots of kisses. It was really obvious how I failed with her. That, and being in love with Avery probably didn’t help.
How did I not realize? We’d been friends for so many years and I thought that’s just what we were. Chalked my jealousy up to just hating Twitwards. I hated hormones and decided I was boycotting.
I whipped up some eggs and toast with strawberry jam. I even cut the toast into triangles to look fancy. I tried for bacon, but burnt it and had to give it to Eagle Dog. He thought it was satisfactory and then drooled all over my hand.
“Morning.” Avery was standing behind the kitchen counter, hair flattened a bit and her white shirt full of wrinkles. It almost covered her tiny shorts.
“Hey,” I said, unable to not grin. I kind of liked that her cheeks were pink.
“Smells like bacon.” She leaned against the counter on her elbows.
“I burnt it.”
“He liked it.” I shrugged, my own face going red. How was I a man and couldn’t so much as cook bacon? What rubbish. That was in the man handbook. Rule one: Grunt. Rule two: Understand the basics of preparing bacon.
“Do you need help?” Avery moved fluidly around the counter to where two plates and two glasses of orange juice with bendy straws were placed. She grabbed a couple napkins and paused. “We’re in Wyoming, why not?”
“Why not what?” I said, grabbing the plates.
“Why not?” Avery repeated and took a bottle of champagne out of the fridge. She uncorked it so quickly it made me want to ask her the secret and poured a bit into each glass of orange juice. “There. Romantic breakfast.” She grinned in a cheeky way and picked up both cups. “Shall we?”
I balanced both plates in one hand and pulled open the front door. Then I kicked open the screen door and Eagle Dog bounded out ahead of us. I took two steps onto the porch and bumped the screen door with my bum so Avery had it, but she didn’t. It slammed shut behind me.
“James,” she said, shoving open the door and standing in its place.
“James.” Her tone was forced and she wasn’t looking at me. She was looking out into the tall grass.
I turned immediately to see what had happened and my throat closed up. Both the plates dropped sending egg and toast everywhere (Eagle Dog was thrilled by this). They shattered, sending a few pieces of china up onto my legs.
“Do you think they recognize us?” I whispered in a last ditch attempt to find some humor in the situation.
Avery didn’t answer. She was downing both mimosas.
I turned to the congregation of journalists and photographers that had camped out on the front lawn. Pictures were already snapping and there was nothing I could do to stop it. They were shouting questions and comments and speculation.
Hell, they had a lot to speculate about.
“Why don’t you have a shirt on?” called one. He had a Daily Prophet Sports badge pinned to his chest.
“Why is she dressed like that?” Oh, that was Witch Weekly. Fantastic.
“Are you two an item?”
“Are you hiding this from the outside world?”
“What will your captains think?”
“A Tornado and a Harpy!”
“Get inside,” I said out of the corner of my mouth, backing into the cabin with Avery already inside. I closed the doors tight, locking them out of instinct. Avery went to each window and drew the curtains until it was so dark inside we had to flip on the lights. “Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”
“How?” Avery breathed, falling onto the sofa. “How would they know? I didn’t tell anyone.”
“The only one who knew was Ali,” I said. “I didn’t tell Bink or Freddie.”
“Not your parents?”
“Yes, my parents phoned up the press and told them we were here.” I rolled my eyes. “But no. Not even them. I just said I was going away for the weekend and they told me to use protection and then it got weird.”
“Then it had to be Ali.” Avery rolled onto her stomach and I tried not looking at her legs because it wasn’t the time to be staring at her legs.
“There’s no way,” I said. “Ali has been helping me. She’s my mate.”
“Maybe she’s been helping you because someone paid her off to get you off the team,” Avery replied. “Like Mason.” She grimaced.
“I can’t believe you went out with him,” I said.
“I can’t believe you’re bringing that up right now with both of our faces about to be on the front page of every Quidditch-related magazine.”
I groaned. “Fine. But it wasn’t Ali.”
“Maybe you’re so trusting of her because she’s a pretty girl who doesn’t want to get into your pants,” Avery said.
“Jealousy suits you,” I muttered, sitting on one of the stools in the kitchen. This was getting crazy. “I haven’t even played one game yet. They don’t even know about the Code and they’re still fixed on this. What a nightmare.”
“We better think up a plan,” she said. “I don’t think your King Henrik is going to be too thrilled about this.”
“Can’t imagine so.” In fact, the scenario I’d dreamed up sounded a lot like him saying “benched” over and over again until every other word sounded like benched and it was its own horrifying language.
“Not exactly in our favor, coming out dressed like we were.”
I looked down at my bare (manly) chest and khaki shorts. Then over to Avery in her too-tiny shorts and legs for days and the baggy cotton shirt. We hadn’t even done anything. I’d like to get credit if we had, but we hadn’t.
“What’s the plan?” I said.
“Break up?” she guessed.
“Are we officially together?”
“Not the time, James.”
“Right. Can’t we just say it was Albus. Albus and Avery.” Ew.
“You really look very little like your brother.”
“I’m blaming him for this.”
Avery buried her face in the throw pillow. “Maybe we should just call it quits until your first game. That way you can play and there’s no way Ballo would let Captain Lindt bench you.”
“And if I’m a fluke?”
“Then you can quit Quidditch and we can have babies and live happily ever after working at the pet shelter with Freddie.” Avery shrugged, snickering.
“Great plan, Aves.” I sighed. “Do we really have to do that? Call it quits?”
“I don’t see any other option, do you? We’ll just casually have a snog alone in your flat when Bink and Freddie are in the other room and we’ll wait it out. You’re too good for them to bench. Let’s be honest.”
“I’m not that good. I’m a rookie.”
Avery looked up and the florescent kitchen lights were reflecting off her eyes. “You’re that good, I promise.”
“Is that our plan then? Just call it quits until the end of the summer?” Even saying it out loud made me hate everything. I didn’t want to call it quits when I’d just realized I could never lose her. And here I was… losing her.
“It’s all we’ve got.”
“Or,” I said. “Or I could just overthrow Henrik and become Captain of a team I’ve never technically played a game for.”
“Let me know how that works out for you.”
I tipped back the bottle of champagne (sans orange juice) and then sighed. “We have to head home, don’t we?”
“I can’t imagine this will be very romantic anymore.”
“I have to talk to Ali,” I said.
“Ask her Mason’s favorite color,” Avery muttered darkly.
I didn’t reply. Instead, I went into the bedroom and stuffed the two things I’d unpacked back into my bag. I was going to do the same for Avery, but then I realized there may be personal things and I called for her to do it herself. She threw one of her bras at me and I froze, uncertain of what to do.
I really was a virgin. Hell.
Then Avery put it up to my chest. “Pink works for you,” she said. “Not to mention lace. Well done, Potter.” She snickered and I pushed her onto the bed so we could snog for a while before we had to leave.
The chattering press outside knocked me back to my scenes so I put on a shirt while Avery got dressed. We put a bunch of food in Eagle Dog’s dish and lifted the barrier to the doggie door for the back yard. I patted him on the head. What a good dog.
“Ready?” Avery looked around to make sure we weren’t missing anything. She always did that.
“Wish I wasn’t,” I murmured and took her hand.
With a crack, we Apparated back to my apartment.
Bink and Rose were snogging half-naked on the sofa.
Rose shrieked. Bink yelped because she kicked him and fell sideways off the furniture. His belt was undone and his shirt was off.
I tossed my suitcase onto the empty chair. “What are you fucking doing?”
“Don’t you KNOCK?” Bink cried.
“Not when my weekend is interrupted by fucking press!” I cried, angry again. “Someone called them and told them where we were.”
“Where were you?” Rose asked, buttoning her shirt.
“Wyoming in the States.”
“Why?” she said.
“Because I sodding wanted to me. Why were you two snogging?”
“Same reason.” Bink shrugged and flattened his hair. “So they just showed up? Who knew you were there?”
“Ali,” answered Avery. Bitterly.
“So then she told them.” Rose shrugged.
“No. She wouldn’t.”
“Maybe she would. She’s that kind of pretty that might be devilish.” Bink grinned and Rose threw a pillow at his face. “She’d be the only person, right? Wait, did Fred know?”
“Of course not. He’d tell one of the dogs and be caught on camera or something.”
“He wants to adopt a dog, by the way,” Bink said casually. “A wiener dog.”
“He would.” I brushed my fingers through my hair. “I have to get to the stadium and head off Henrik before he finds out.”
“Got caught then?” Bink said.
“We both walked out onto the porch, half-sodding-dressed.” I narrowed my eyes. “You figure it out.”
“I hope you aren’t flashing anything on the front page. Gross.” Rose kissed Bink on the forehead. “I have to go spook Albus. He’s about to try making another move on Paloma but I find humor in messing that up.”
I stared at her. “Did I ever tell you that you’re my favorite cousin?”
“Add it to my tab,” she said and disappeared down the stairs.
I rounded on Bink immediately. “What are you trying to do? Just monopolize my cousin long enough for her not to find someone who actually gives a shit about her?”
“Relax, Potter.” Bink made a face. “She’s the one that came over here. She kissed me first. Let it go.”
“I won’t let it go. I’m going to hex the shit out of you if you don’t let her alone.”
“She said she’d be back tonight.” Bink winked and I hated him.
“Watch yourself.” I turned to Avery. “I have to go see if I can straighten this out with Henrik. Mind staying here?”
“I think I’m going to head home, honestly,” Avery said. “I should give Mum a heads up she’s going to see my face everywhere tomorrow and may get some questions.”
“What’s our story then?” I said, heart hammering. Calling it quits.
“You needed a weekend away from the spotlight,” Avery said calmly. How could she always be this calm? Well, except that time she blew up half of Hogsmeade. And that time she hexed the shit out of me in the hallway. “I knew a person with a cabin in the middle of nowhere and offered to do with you. We considered getting together, but we decided it was a bad idea with how busy our lives are and have decided to stay friends. Got it?”
I swallowed hard.
“Wait are you staying friends?” Bink said. “Seriously? Because this back and forth is getting hard to follow.”
“Pot. Calling kettle.” I threw another pillow at him. “And it’s the only way to get past it.”
“Or you could just say fuck them.”
“I’d like to play Quidditch after trying so hard to get on the team,” I shot back.
“Yeah. Me too.” Bink rolled his eyes and stood. Then he disappeared into his bedroom and slammed the door.
“Don’t be so hard on him,” Avery said softly. “He’s dealing with things the best way he can.”
“Shagging my cousin?” I hissed.
“Maybe.” She shrugged. “I’m going to go give Mum a heads up and hope Cooper doesn’t take this too hard.”
“Because he wants to be your boyfriend?” I said. “Fat chance.”
“It probably wouldn’t hurt for me to be seen in public with another boy in a week or so. Just so the rumor fades.”
“No,” I said, faster than I intended.
“Why not?” She was snickering because she knew exactly why not.
“Same reason as everything else,” I muttered. I grabbed my Quidditch bag. “I’ll see you later, okay?”
She kissed me. “Don’t lose your temper. You get stupid when you lose your temper.”
“No idea what you’re talking about.” I grinned and kissed her again before Apparating to the stadium. I needed to confront this before I chickened out or had the bright idea to go somewhere else.
The locker rooms were empty. As was the conference room and the showers. It was an eerie sort of empty that made me wonder whether or not I was in a B-list horror flick. At least it had been recently steam cleaned and didn’t smell like … Quidditch.
I set my bag beside my locker and walked down the hall toward our entrance to the stadium. The walls were lined with pictures of the greats – former captains, record-holders – and at the end was a charming picture of King Henrik. I contemplated telling him I had a poster of him just to get on his good side.
I pushed open the heavy white door to find it was raining. The pitch was already soaked and no brooms were in the air. Usually on our off-days some of the reserves would train in the stadium in case they were called up. No Shelby or Mason or the other ones whose names I couldn’t remember.
I glanced up to the stands and wasn’t shocked to see Henrik sitting under a large black umbrella. He was staring out at the pitch.
I walked toward him and once I was out from under the overhand, my clothes were immediately soaked. It was that cold summer rain I both hated and loved. My shoes sank into the mud and I scraped them on the side of the cement before walking up a dozen stairs to get to where Henrik was. He looked up, but didn’t offer me shelter under his umbrella. His face was level and a little bit of stubble grew around his chin and mouth. He knew. He had to know.
“Potter,” he said.
“Look,” I replied immediately. “I want to explain.”
Henrik didn’t seem interested. He took a magazine from the left side of him, where it had been hidden, and placed it onto his lap. “Pre-Print issue forwarded to me.”
There it was. Right there on the front page of Witch Weekly (of course). My shocked-as-shit face just after I’d dropped the plates. Avery behind me in her too-short shorts looking just as shocked. The headline read: Rival Lovers Caught.
“Fuck,” I muttered, sitting beside him on the wet bench.
“Benched for our first match, Potter.”
“We’re not seeing each other,” I said desperately, though I knew it wouldn’t do any good. “She’s my mate and we were trying to get away for a weekend just so the damn press would leave me alone. We thought about getting together, but we’re staying friends.”
“I don’t give two shits.” His eyes were like stone. “You knew the rules and you broke them. Our first preseason game you’re on the bench. Is that understood?”
“Now if you’re going to go on a romantic weekend with someone, do not pick a Harpy.” Henrik shoved the magazine back onto the bench. “You’re a talented player, but not too talented not to follow the rules. I don’t know how they ran things at Hogwarts while you were there, but there are consequences if anyone breaks my Code.”
I frowned. I upheld the Code for Meta and Bink, but never for myself. I always preached so much about the rules and how they were there for a reason, but I was never punched for breaking the rules. My seventh year I broke all of them, I think. Never had a punishment beyond my team being pissed. I was above it, as Captain.
I wasn’t Captain anymore and I was getting a taste of my own medicine. It was horrible.
“Do you understand, Potter, or are we going to have to make it two preseason games?”
“I understand, sir,” I said, chewing on my bottom lip.
“I would suggest if you’re going to hang out with her, you keep out of the public eye for a while. This won’t be easy to kill off. Good luck.” Henrik didn’t smile. He gathered up the magazine and his umbrella and walked away, leaving me feeling like a tool on the wet stands as it continued to rain.
The water dripped off my hair and down my back. I was benched for the first preseason game and more if it happened again. I’d lost Avery yet again and my Captain was disappointed in me.
And I had to find out who had hinted to the press exactly where we were.
When I did, I wasn’t going to be nice about it.
A/N: Well, it was only a matter of time before they had to get caught. Now they just need to find a way around it. Or rock it.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! The setting for the first part of the chapter came from something I was inspired by as a drove the other day.
So who the heck outed them? And how?
UP NEXT: Dealing with the press and getting to the bottom of who the jerkface is.
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