Chapter 10 : Wondering Eyes and Insinuations
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He was mortified and embarrassed and very confused when he woke from another dream in the early hours of the morning to find James knelt by his bedside. He had his elbow bent to rest his face in his hand and his eyes were closed, a light snore loud in the silence.
Tidying himself up and fixing his sheets so they were no longer twisted, and then sitting up, Oliver raised a hesitant hand and shook James awake.
"You have a bed," Oliver whispered once he was sure that James' eyes were open. "What time is it?"
"Five past five," James replied just as softly.
"In the morning?"
James' answering grin wavered because he yawned at the same time, but it was wide and genuine for a moment, then it disappeared.
"I have Quidditch practice, early is good apparently. If I'm not downstairs in ten minutes, Jen will come for me," he admitted with a grimace. James put a finger to his lips when Oliver opened his mouth, ready to ask why he was by his bed. "You get freaked out and embarrassed very easily; I was afraid if I didn't talk to you now you'd try to avoid me again. So, here I am, hungover and wishing I could go back to bed, to make sure you don't... do that."
"How long have you been sat like that for?" Oliver asked, gesturing to James' place on the floor.
James shrugged. "About five minutes. I have to get up." He rose to his feet, groaning when his knees made a cracking sound. He bit his lip and Oliver thought that James had hurt himself by kneeling for too long, but then he looked contemplative and wary. "It was just a game, you know? Ryan wasn't lying about us playing it before; no one cares. They won't say anything about you or us."
"That's not why I ran," Oliver said honestly without meaning to.
"But when I found you, you said -"
"I know what I said," he interrupted, looking away as he remembered his words about wondering what people would think. And he'd meant it, Oliver wouldn't deny that, but it wasn't his true reason for leaving the party - James had been too close to finding out about his feelings, quite literally. "It was just a weird thought, that's all. I ran because I was drunk and stupid and I shouldn't have said what I said to egg you on. I didn't mean it."
"Yes, you did."
Oliver smiled when he noticed that James was, too. He remembered his words about Melanie being a bitch. "Okay, I did. I just shouldn't have said it... all."
Shaking his head and letting out a scoff, James agreed with him. He pointed to the door and Oliver turned, frowning when he saw nothing, and then he heard light footsteps and a whispered voice demanding James hurry up.
"I should go. Captain's orders."
"I thought you were captain."
James nodded sympathetically. "You'd think."
Using a Muggle camera had its disadvantages; Oliver would never part with them, they were what he used and it wasn't about to change, but zoom only went so far with them when he was on the ground. The top most part of the stands was the best place to go; his camera wasn't like a magical camera, or the omnioculars you could apparently buy at live Quidditch games (he'd never been to one), his images didn't move (although, he mused, he could film the games if he wished), but his images were clear and he always got what he needed to show a good game.
There may be more pictures of James than others, but that was beside the point.
The match was reaching it's second hour with no sign of the snitch for either Seeker. Occasionally, Oliver used his camera to try and find it, but he made sure Sarah never noticed - she accused him of trying to cheat and tell James the first time he'd done it, when that actually hadn't crossed his mind; his only thought had been if finding the snitch first would make him better than James when he used it to gloat later.
So far, he'd had just as much luck in finding the small golden ball as Gryffindor and Slytherin had in trying to best each other. Slytherin were only winning by ten points, each team had only been surpassing each other by ten points since the game had started, and it was starting to get to both the teams and the spectators; the atmosphere was tense, the crowd torn between yelling and holding their breaths, and eyes were drawn to the Seekers like moths to a flame.
When Gryffindor got to the final for James' first year as captain, they said they didn't win because Xavier Sinclair had stepped down as captain for his seventh year, though he still played Seeker. James had been a Chaser then, like his namesake and his mother, and Xavier had been Seeker. He was considered the best even then, but had been unable to take charge due to personal reasons that had stopped him from coming to school. They gave the title to James. When he had come back in time for the first game, he didn't take the title back with his position. They said the pressure got to James, but that Xavier was a good teacher. When they won the next year, they said it was because James had the Seeker position, his natural position; with Xavier gone, James could have the spot. He wasn't as good as Xavier, but it didn't matter because he still won them the cup. Now everyone was expecting James to surpass that, to win the games and the cup, to be the best and maybe even follow Xavier's footsteps and go pro. Oliver often wondered why no one ever said it about Ryan, since he was the guy's cousin, but never asked because Ryan didn't seem to care.
Neither James nor Ryan, despite the odd joke, showed a real desire to play professionally.
The only time Oliver doubted that was during school games like this, when both were so focused that not even the pressure of yells and chants got to them. They could play for real if they wanted to, but Oliver hoped they wouldn't because he didn't want to stand so high in a real stadium.
A goal brought him out of his memories; Jen was like lightening on her broom, one minute Oliver had caught her on camera near the Gryffindor goal and the next she was the across the pitch, scoring a goal that left two Slytherins puzzled.
"Does she cheat somehow? Is her broom magic?" Oliver asked in shock.
Sarah shook her head, grinning. "She's been practicing since she was a kid. It helped her learn control. She's good, isn't she?" his friend said before he could ask why the girl needed to learn that.
Oliver brought his camera back up to take a picture of David scoring another goal; Sarah would like that. "Think she'll make captain next year?"
"Maybe," Sarah replied with a shrug. "I think she'll more likely get the job for her last two years. Next year will probably be Jake's time; it's what he's always wanted. To be like his dad."
Oliver nodded in agreement and hoped James would do that when the time came; Jake Wood was more lighthearted than his father and he didn't think of Quidditch as his life, but it was still their father/son thing, or so Oliver had been told once. Every time Quidditch came up, Jake mentioned his dad and how much being captain would make the older man proud. Next year would be Jake's final year, so he was starting to think he'd never get that chance.
Personally, Oliver thought that Jake's dad put a little too much pressure on his son, but his friend never complained or said anything that made Oliver think Mr. Wood would be very disappointed if he didn't make captain, he figured Jake had built it up in his head, and Jake did love to play so it wasn't like he had been forced into anything he didn't want to do, so Oliver never said anything.
Might mention something to James, though.
Conversation stilled when Sarah started yelling; a foul had been committed between her brother and a Slytherin beater that seemed highly uncalled for, in her opinion, but no one else had seen it because James had found the snitch. From his camera lens, Oliver tracked the boy's movements as he sped around the pitch, his body lowering to the broom to gain a faster advantage, his hand outstretched the closer he got. He didn't look for Slytherin's Seeker, he didn't seem to care where she was at all; his eyes were focused straight head, he only wanted one thing.
The crowd was silent, the only noise being the near constant clicking of Oliver's camera if you were close enough to hear it; he documented almost all of James' movements, from finding the snitch to catching it.
He caught the moment James' hand curled around the small ball just in time.
One side of the pitch roared with excitement, the other side booed until their throats were probably hoarse, and the Gryffindor team flew to congratulate James; it was something they did every game, since long before James was in charge, and it never seemed to get old because it was due to all of the hype; winning meant cheering and celebrating no matter what.
Oliver moved his camera to the middle of the pitch, to where the two teams had come together, intending to take one more picture of them when he caught sight of someone else. Dion wasn't quite with the rest of them, but hovering slightly above them all, content to watch and laugh along. He mostly seemed to be looking for something, or someone - Oliver realized too slow who that might be when Dion stopped at him, his smile growing a little bigger. He assumed it was because everyone knew he was taking pictures and the boy wasn't surprised, but then Dion winked before turning away.
Oliver lowered his camera down, both surprised and confused as he wondered what the hell that had been for. Then fear steadily began to rise when one question forced itself to the front of his mind: Does he know about me?
But that couldn't be true, he told himself resolutely. He was so careful, even when around James; no one knew if they looked at him.
By the time Oliver had calmed himself down enough to take the picture again, the teams had long broken up and Sarah was nudging him to go.
"I can't believe it. We were so close."
Ryan dropped his head onto James' shoulder with a thud, causing them both to wince and halt their walk to the Great Hall, which quickly stopped everyone with them. James gingerly patted Ryan's shoulder before pushing his friend backward and away from him. The game had finished a few hours ago; after showers and a quick change, James and Ryan had met with Oliver, Sarah and Tucker by the lake, and the moment they'd sat down Ryan had started moaning about the game.
Even when time passed and dinner was ready to be served, he didn't stop. James had thought about hitting him across the head with a bludger, knocking Ryan unconscious seemed like a good idea; he quickly dismissed the foolish idea, though by the time they to got up to go to dinner he couldn't remember his reasons for thinking it was foolish.
Thankfully, his friends, both old and new, had managed to balance out the conversation; first by congratulating Gryffindor and teasing Ryan, then by changing the topic every time Quidditch came back around - Oliver was the most relieved by this, James was quick to notice, but even fans like himself were getting bored of it.
The topic moved onto Christmas plans as they walked, and though it was only the beginning of November, and he wasn't the type to plan ahead, James found himself enjoying listening to everyone's else's plans; Ryan was looking forward to going skiing with his family as his cousins were joining them, including Xavier, and Sarah couldn't wait to cook the Christmas dinner this year. Even Tucker had plans with his parents; it was only Oliver who looked as clueless as James did.
His mind had drifted off to think of ways they could hang out during the holiday when Tucker nudged him in the shoulder and informed him that Jake and Dion were waving them over.
Sliding onto the bench across from his teammates and friends, James nodded along and covered his plate, ignoring all talk surrounding him; he hadn't eaten since his late breakfast, not wanting a too full stomach during the game by eating at lunch, and now he was starving. Talk, in his mind, could come later.
Words got through here and there, school, Quidditch and Hogsmeade between the most common (there wasn't much that a person could do in a boarding school hidden in the middle of nowhere, magical or otherwise); he blocked them all out until a certain name came up.
"So, did you help with the game at all, Dion, or was Oliver way more interesting?" Ryan asked, his tone far too innocent to be genuine.
James' head snapped up so fast something clicked; his eyes went to Dion, who blushed, then to Oliver, who kept his eyes on his pate, and finally to Ryan, who had decided to join the Gryffindor table and was currently staring at them with a wide grin and, because James had no other way to describe it, a twinkle in his eyes.
"What?" he asked, dumbfounded.
"Chew before you talk, Potter," Sarah snapped, disgusted. James wiped at his chin... just in case.
"I was watching Oliver take pictures, tried to guess what part of the games he was getting," Dion admitted quietly, his face still red though he was determined to keep eye contact.
Ryan winked. "Didn't look like it."
Dion muttered something about not caring what Ryan thought, but James had stopped listening again. His stomach dropped and, his appetite gone, he pushed his plate away from him. Something stirred within him, clawed at his insides and forced its way up his throat like bile. Maybe it was.
If James didn't know any better, though he liked to think he did, he would tell himself it was jealousy he was feeling, mixed with an intense desire to hurt two people he normally considered friends. But that was just stupid.
Neither he nor Oliver said anything on the subject, both apparently partaking in the unspoken agreement to ignore it.
Ryan caught his eyes for a second, the second being all he needed to waggle his eyebrows suggestively and smirk knowingly.
Knocking Ryan unconscious doesn't seem like such a foolish idea now.
A/N: Finally got a new chapter posted, I'm so sorry for the wait. I hope you enjoyed reading it, please let me know what you think. :)
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