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Chapter 2 : Crossing Paths
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One of the biggest problems with James was that he was gorgeous. And he knew it. There was a reason he could get so many girls. Not only was he the son of the famous Harry Potter, ‘The Boy Who Lived’, but he had certainly inherited the family looks. He had his mother’s bright brown eyes and his father’s untidy jet black hair, but it really suited him and his mischievous streak.
But worst of all, he was popular. Not just at Hogwarts, but now, as the new Chaser for the Montrose Magpies, he had the largest fanbase of the League, particularly Scottish witches and wizards who supported the biggest team resident in their country. And boy, did he love it! For as long as I’d known James, he’d lapped up the fame that he received at school due to his father’s achievements, and if The Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly were anything to go by, he lapped up the fame he received as a League Quidditch player too.
And here he was, the famous James Potter, walking towards me, surprisingly, without a blonde bimbo in tow.
“Willow, darling! Great to see you!”
I rolled my eyes. Every time our paths crossed he’d act like this. Darling, sweetheart, gorgeous… the list was endless. He should know by now that I wasn’t going to fall for that one.
“Hello, James,” I replied.
“You never told me you were a proper Healer now! Look at those robes, you look gorgeous, sweetheart! But a fully-fledged Healer after only a month… I always said your brains rivalled Aunt Hermione’s!”
It was true; he had always told me that I lived up to the standards of the great Hermione Granger. I had, of course, read all about her during my first year at Hogwarts. The famous Muggleborn was often referred to as the brightest witch of her age, and in some ways, I felt I could relate to her. Always teased for being an ‘insufferable know-it-all’... now why did that sound all too familiar? One of my ambitions from then on was to meet my witch idol, but I never dared say anything to James. I didn’t want to associate with him for one very important reason…
“Cut the crap, Potter. What do you want from me?”
He pretended to look offended, as I unlocked the door to the block of flats we both resided in.
“Who says I want anything? I just thought we could chat…”
I started walking up the stairs, replying without turning back to look at him.
“Don’t play games with me. I’m not just another blonde you can wrap around your little finger. I’m not interested in the fame and fortune. In fact, I’m not even interested in you. Now, that might come as a shock to you and your massive ego, but the world does not revolve around James Potter, no matter how much Witch Weekly claims it does. So if you don’t mind, I have better things to do than hang around and listen to your pathetic attempts to reel me in.”
I sensed James stop behind me in shock of my sudden catharsis, but I didn’t care. Just because we were neighbours, I had no obligation to be nice to him. After all, it needed to be said. Besides, I had more important things to do, like climbing the remaining three flights of stairs, trying not to collapse of exhaustion doing so. The last thing I needed was James Potter’s chivalry.
My flat was a cosy one bedroom affair, with a decent sized bathroom and a kitchen adjoined to the spacious living room. Naturally, I kept it super clean, thanks to all the cleaning spells I’d mastered. As soon as I got in, I collapsed on to the plum couch, took off my comfortable work shoes and set them beside the coffee table, and fell asleep.
“Fancy seeing you here, darling!”
I turned to see James walking towards me from his previous position at the doorway of Professor Chang’s Charms classroom.
I rolled my eyes. I don’t know who else he expected to be sitting in my seat at the start of class.
“Mr. Potter, can you please refrain from shouting in my classroom,” came Chang’s voice from the front of the class, completed by her icy-as-Scotland glare. “And sit down, the lesson started 30 seconds ago.”
This is why Charms was my favourite class. Someone told me that Chang only hated James because his father broke her heart at school the year after her former boyfriend died, but I’m pretty sure she also hates James because he’s James. Arrogant sod.
The arrogant sod slid into the seat next to me, his muscled shoulder brushing against mine. He was a typical male Quidditch player – all muscle, not much common sense.
“So,” came the soft voice from beside me, “I hear a certain someone tried out for the Ravenclaw Quidditch team and is now their new Seeker. What say you, Will?”
I glared. He loved doing that. He would shorten my name to Will, a lot worse when shouted after me in the corridor. I’m sure half of Hogwarts must think I had a sex change or something.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh come ooon, Will, Dom is the captain. Don’t you think I’d manage to weasel it out of her?”
He was right, of course. His cousin, Dominique Weasley, was captain of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and stubborn though she was, James did have his ways…
“Okay, fine. I’m the new Seeker. What’s the problem, Potter?”
James cocked his head to the side, a small version of his signature grin appearing on his face.
“Well, sweetheart, I wouldn’t want you to get hurt. I don’t like to think what one of my team’s Bludgers could do to your pretty little head.”
Typical. As Quidditch captain, he could easily turn the play to getting me out of the game to give their Seeker free range.
“I don’t know what you’re trying to do, James, but you don’t frighten me.”
James gave a little laugh as I turned around and focussed all of my attention on Professor Chang and Vanishing Spells. I’d show him how real Quidditch was played.
I woke with a start. It was still light outside, but a glance at the clock told me it was 9pm. That was the greatest thing about Scottish summers was that it could be light outside until 10pm. The weather wasn’t great, but it was lovely to go for walks in the cool evenings without the need for streetlamps.
Though if I was going to be wandering around a Muggle area, I should maybe change out of my Healers’ robes and just put on a pair of jeans. You tend to draw attention to yourself if you’re wearing robes.
Not long later, I set out for a walk through the Muggle city I lived next to. Unfortunately, someone else had the same idea.
“Hello, again,” came a familiar voice.
I turned to see those bright brown eyes boring into mine, their owner’s black hair sticking out all over the place.
“May I walk with you, Willow?” he asked, unusually polite.
That was when I noticed the lack of twinkle in his eyes, and the extra mess of his hair. He sounded a little unlike himself. It was disconcerting.
Wait, was I actually feeling sorry for James Potter?!
“I don’t see why not.”
And with that response, James’ face lit up, just slightly, and we began to walk together for the second time that day.
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