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Fight or Flight by DragonHeart15
Chapter 1: He Made the Team
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The library was quiet that Saturday. The days had started to grow warmer and most students could be found out on the grounds. Some were studying, but most were putting it off for one last weekend. There was still a month left of term so the procrastinators had yet to head to the library in a panic to catch up on all their missed opportunities to revise. Violet had always been relatively disciplined when it came to her study habits, although most of that was due to having Roxanne as a best friend, not to mention her desire to pursue a career as a healer. She was currently pouring over her potions notes from the previous years. N.E.W.T.s would include material from all of their time at Hogwarts and there was a lot of ground to cover. She didn't understand how some people were able to get by with only studying for N.E.W.T.s like they did any other exam. Of course, some people had other types of careers in mind. The kind that didn't require all E's and O's.
She had arrived just after breakfast and hadn't been bothered all morning. Roxy and Lorcan were off taking a well deserved break from their rigorous study habits and his Head Boy duties. She had no clue what the other boys had gotten themselves into, and she prefered to keep it that way. She wasn't disturbed until lunch time. She had lost track of the hour and had continued studying into the meal time when she was roused from her concentration by the sound of quick, heavy foot-fall coming her way. She looked up to see James Potter approaching her table. His dark hair was disheveled and he looked slightly winded, as if he had run across the entire castle to get there. He was clothed in jeans and a worn out practice jersey that she would have guessed was from their 5th year. A letter was clutched tightly in his hands. He had a slightly disbelieving look on his face, but he couldn't quite manage to keep a grin from forming. Taking all of this in, she stood up from her seat in anticipation.
"Well?" she asked, trying to keep her composure and not disturb all the other occupants of the library, even though she was fit to burst.
He held the letter up and let his smile completely take over his face.
"Puddlemere wants me on their reserve team."
Violet couldn't help but let out a slight shriek of happiness as she quickly moved around the table towards James and threw her arms around him in a massive hug.
"I knew they'd want you! You're brilliant. I just knew it."
He hugged her back tightly and laughed.
"I still can't quite believe it. I mean, I was hopeful, but Oliver's assurance that the scouts were impressed was almost too good to be true."
They had pulled back from their hug and she was quickly packing up her things. She shot him an impatient look.
"Don't let this go to your head, Potter, but you don't give yourself nearly enough credit. You're a fantastic Chaser. I wouldn't be surprised if that was only your first of many offers."
"Thanks, Vi," he said, slightly bashful at her praise. "I know that means alot coming from you. You're not one to usually stroke my ego."
She chuckled at him as she shoved the last of her notes into her bag. They had started to gain looks from the other few occupants in the library, and she would prefer they leave of their own free will rather than face the wrath of the old librarian. She gestured for him to keep his voice down before continuing with their conversation in a whisper.
"Yes, well, that's for all the other girls in this castle to do. I'm here to make sure that head of yours doesn't grow to the size of a pumpkin."
They began to make their way out of the library and to the Great Hall, where she assumed he had quickly fled from upon receiving his letter during lunch.
"Can't argue with you there," he said with a lopsided grin as they started down the corridor. She was quick to give him a well-placed shove with her elbow as he laughed. He moved back to stand next to her and threw his arm around her shoulders, a friendly and familiar gesture that helped her relax after her tense study session.
"Sorry, sorry. Would it make you feel better if I said I don't know what I'd do without you?"
He laughed at the serious expression on her face.
"Merlin, I still can't believe it's real," he said, looking at the letter still clutched in his hand as they continued on their way to lunch.
"Are you going to accept right away then? Someone else could offer you a starting spot you know. The only reason Puddlemere is offering you reserve is because they're stacked already."
As much as she wanted him to jump at the offer, she knew it was her duty as a friend to make sure he considered all his options and made the best decision possible. He nodded his head slightly, deep in thought. They continued in silence for a while, and he eventually slipped his arm from around her while simultaneously taking her bag from her shoulder and transferring it to his, another familiar and friendly gesture.
"I've always wanted to play for Puddlemere," he began, almost as if he were talking to himself. "That's been the dream, you know? I reckon I owe it to myself to see it through. I know I could get what most people would call a better offer, but I'm not sure I'd see it that way."
She smiled slightly, excited about his potential future and impressed by how much heart he was putting into making his decision. Sure, it might not be the most logical decision, but he was a Gryffindor and a Potter. They weren't exactly known for going with their heads. They were much more comfortable with following their hearts.
"Just as long as you're the one making the decision, James. I don't think anyone should fault you for following your dreams. I have complete faith in you to make the right decision."
James seemed to relax at her words.
"Thanks for being so supportive. I know everyone else will be too, but it's nice to know you'll always have my back."
They had stopped just outside the entrance to the Great Hall. He gave a soft smile which she returned. He had grown up well. There were still the occasional times when he'd get himself into trouble, but only with his friends. She had watched him mature into a man over the last seven years. One who could make his own choices. One who would always be there for his family and friends and would do absolutely anything for them. She stared at him and remembered the boy who had pulled her braid as they were waiting to be sorted. She never would have guessed she'd be standing here now, excited about his future and getting lost in the joy that shone out of his hazel eyes. She loved those eyes. They were warm and caring and mischievous. And they were moving closer to her. She wasn't sure who was moving closer to whom and she wasn't about to complain, but her fears and uncertainties outweighed her temptations. Knowing he would, in all likelihood, reject her, helped to keep her grounded.
"So," she began, taking a slight step back and gripping his upper arms, "if everyone else threatens to disown you because every other team in the league offered you a starting position and you turned them all down," he gave a bark of laughter at her words before she continued. "I will be right there, by your side, one hundred percent. Even if you never manage to make it off the bench."
He almost looked scared at her final words.
"Well let's hope that doesn't happen."
She laughed at his expression as they turned and walked into the great hall to join their friends. Everyone was sitting at the Gryffindor table and they looked to be in an intense conversation.
"Well what if it was something serious, Rox? What if - "
But they never got to hear what if, as Fred had spotted them and quickly rose from the table to meet them as they made their way across the hall.
"What the bloody hell was that?" he practically yelled at James. "Where did you run off to? Is everything alright? Do you have any idea how worried I've been?"
James chuckled at the rankled disposition of his cousin.
Fred scowled at him.
"Here," and he casually passed him the letter. Fred snatched it out of his hand and grumbled unintelligibly to himself as he started to read. His eyebrows rose higher the further he got down the page. When he finished he let out a whoop and launched himself at his best friend.
"That's brilliant, mate!" he said, slapping James on the back, who had briefly returned his cousins embrace before quickly dislodging him. They were starting to gather stares from around the room. The rest of their friends were watching them curiously from the Gryffindor table as they made their way over to them. Fred was quick to hand the letter off to Roxanne, with Lorcan and Lysander reading over both of her shoulders, as he, James, and Violet sat across from them. James quickly tucked back into the meal that he had earlier abandoned in his haste to find Violet, who noticed she seemed to have been the only one in the loop before he had informed Fred.
"Did you really not tell any of them before running off to inform me?" she asked.
James shrugged and said, "Didn't I tell you that you'd be the first to know? Plus, I'd rather you not hex my bollocks off for being the last to find out."
She slapped his arm at his crass language but smiled at him all the same. The other three had finished the letter by that point and were taking their turns to congratulate James.
"Of course, you're going to get more offers though," Lysander said, as if this was merely a drop in the bucket. "It's not like you're going to take the first one you get. This is just reserves anyway. Someone's sure to offer you a starting spot."
James cast a nervous glance at Violet, who gave him an encouraging smile.
"Actually, I was leaning more towards accepting."
Everyone else had nodded in agreement at Lysander's statement, so they were slightly surprised to hear his response.
"You're serious?" Fred asked.
James nodded and looked around at all of his friends.
"Puddlemere has always been the dream. You lot know that better than anyone. I know it's not the highest salary or the most playing time that I might be offered, but, it's the dream isn't it?"
He sounded slightly uncertain at the end of his sentence, but they could all still tell how determined he was. There was a moment of awkward silence as they all exchanged glances before the silence was broken.
"Well I say go for it, mate."
James looked at Lorcan gratefully, and pretty soon, the whole lot of them were congratulating James again and discussing everything related to his future with Puddlemere United. Lysander and Fred ended up in a heated discussion about the pros and cons of the location of Puddlemere's pitch, and James took the opportunity to turn his attention to Violet, who had become rather withdrawn. Her brown, shoulder length hair was covering her face as she slumped forward, poking at her food.
"You alright?" he asked quietly.
She turned her head slightly so he could see her face and nodded at him with a small, sad smile.
"I'm just realizing how so much is about to change. I don't know if I'm ready for it."
He gripped her hand that was sitting on the bench between them.
"How about we only let the things that have to change, change. Let's make sure the good stuff stays the same. Deal?"
"Deal," she said with a true smile that he returned. Satisfied that he had cheered her up, James turned back to their friends and his meal as Violet looked down at the hand that he was no longer grasping. She couldn't help but ponder all the things she hoped would never change, and the things she feared would always stay the same.
A/N: Story number two is underway in the Show a Little Faith world! I'm not sure how often I'll update this but I have a lot mapped out in this universe so I wanted to start getting some of it out there. Let me know what you think! It will eventually catch up to SALF and this one probably won't be as long. Enjoy!
Chapter 2: They Found a Flat
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Working as a reserve was harder than expected. Training had started a week after James had left school and he had never been as exhausted as he was a week into his new rigorous schedule. The Saturday following his first week of training, he and Fred would be moving into their new flat. It was in Muggle London, but only a block away from the Leaky Cauldron. Fred was working with his father in the shop, but he had been working on an expansion project. He wanted to be able to market some of their project to muggles, so he spent most of his off time experimenting and studying up on muggle science and technology. He eventually wanted to open up a partner shop in Muggle London. James was able to floo to Puddlemere so he didn't have to live there. There was a facility by the stadium for the team to stay at if need be, but he would only do that if he was exceptionally exhausted.
Lorcan and Lysander had come to help them move things into their new apartment. They weren't able to use magic since it was a mostly muggle building, but there were a few witches and wizards living nearby as well.
They were struggling to get the couch up the stairs in the sweltering heat. Al had failed to show up like he'd promised, and he was supposed to be bringing lunch. James planned on giving him a swift kick up the arse when he got there.
"I think your side needs to be lower," Lysander hollered from down the stairs. He and Lorcan had one end while James and Fred had the other. They started to lower their end of the couch only for Lorcan to grunt under the weight.
"Maybe if you actually held your corner Ly, we'd be able to do this properly," Lorcan snapped, the strain from the weight obvious in his voice.
There was grumbling and a shuffling of feet as Lysander moved forward to wedge his shoulder under the foot of the sofa. The weight immediately lessened and they were able to get the couch up the next flight of stairs much more easily. James and Fred collapsed on it as soon as they'd set it down in the nearly empty flat. Lorcan sat in the armchair they'd already brought up, and Lysander was left to collapse on the floor, but he didn't do so without grumbling.
"Serves you right for making that harder on the rest of us," Fred said as he swung his foot at the blond boy, who easily dodged it as he made himself comfortable on the hardwood floor.
"I was trying to give directions. It was harder to do when I couldn't see a bloody thing," he insisted.
"I don't even care anymore. All I care about is the fact that I have an empty fridge and an incompetent brother!" James complained, ending his sentence in a holler, willing his brother to hear him from wherever he was.
"He's probably just running a little behind," Lorcan tried to defend Al. "The Leaky's probably pretty busy today."
James knew Lorcan was right, but he was too hungry to let his sour mood dissipate.
"So what've we got left?" Fred asked. "Might as well get some work done while we wait."
They carried up a dozen more boxes, two bookshelves, and were about to bring up the last few odds and ends when Al finally showed up, and he wasn't alone.
"Took you long enough!" James exclaimed when he saw his brother walking down the street with the youngest Longbottom. Both of them were laden with bags of food.
"Don't blame him. You lot order enough food to feed a dozen people," Erin said as they approached the stairs that led up to the flat.
"And stop complaining or I'll eat half of this myself," Al warned.
They all hurried upstairs and Erin and Al joined them for lunch. They didn't have a table yet and all they had to sit on was the couch and the armchair in the living room, so half of them had to eat on the floor.
The food lifted everyone's spirits and Fred and James started going on about how they were going to organize everything in the flat.
"You realize you're missing a few key items to actually qualify this as a home, right?" Erin said with a skeptical look at the two boys.
"We'll sort it out later," Fred waved her off. "In the meantime, I need to figure out where my work station will be."
"You are NOT blowing anything up in this flat, understood?" James warned his new roommate.
"No need to panic." Fred rolled his eyes, shoveling more shepards pie into his face. " I 'aven' dom tha in ages."
Erin had a look of disgust on her face as food spewed out of Fred's mouth as he spoke.
"Did you ask your mum about those beds?" James asked Fred. He nodded as he swallowed his bite of food.
"She's thinking about it, but I think she still wants to rent it out so she's waiting to make a decision."
"You mean you don't even have bed's yet?" Erin asked incredulously.
"No, we don't," James said defensively.
"Were you prepared to move at all?" Al asked with a chuckle.
James glared at his brother.
"No one asked for either of your opinions you know. But it just so happens that this place opened up rather suddenly and we didn't want to risk someone else snatching it out from under us."
"I thought there were tons of empty flats in this building," Lorcan said.
"There are," Fred agreed, "but this was the only one with both two bedrooms and hardwood floors."
"Why are hardwood floors important?" Erin asked
"Because stains, Erin. I can't stand a stained carpet," James said seriously, trying to keep a smirk from forming on his face. Erin just rolled her eyes at him and went back to her food.
"Anyway," Fred said, getting back to the subject of beds, "If Mum and Dad can't find someone to rent the flat above the shop, the beds are up for grabs, along with a few other things."
"I hope a table is one of them," Erin said as she tried to cut her sausage while her plate was resting in her lap.
"Remind me not to invite you to the housewarming," James said with a surly expression which Erin mockingly returned. The two of them actually liked each other rather well, but this tended to be how they showed their affection, much to Al's annoyance.
They finished up their meal and Lysander was elected to carry all the garbage down to the dumpster behind the building.
"We've got to be heading out, actually," Al said, gesturing to himself and Erin. "She's technically on her lunch break and Dom wants me to meet her over at Shell Cottage."
"I thought you said you were going to help me today. What's Dom want anyway?" James asked.
"She's been trying out some new recipes and needs people to taste test, which is why I'd rather be with her than you right now," Al replied.
All of the other boys looked extremely disappointed to be missing out on such an event.
"Well, at least bring a few things by later," James said, sounding slightly disgruntled.
"Especially if it has jam in it," Lysander interjected, standing up from collecting trash with a dreamy look on his face. "Everything's better with jam."
"Who else has she gotten as test subjects?" Fred asked.
"I think Rose and Lily will be there, and Eva, as always." Al shot a smirk at Fred who was quick to start rummaging through the nearest box, most likely trying to hide the color that was rising to his cheeks. No one else seemed to catch on to Fred's discomfort.
Al and Erin left them to it and within a few hours, it was looking as put together as it possibly could at that point. Fred had shoved all of his boxes under the window on the far side of the living room, where he would put a desk once he got one. The bookshelves were placed along one of the walls and filled with books and photographs. They had sleeping bags so they laid those out in the bedrooms. Their plan was to meet up with Violet and Roxanne for dinner so they headed to The Leaky Cauldron just after six o'clock. Hannah Longbottom was a fantastic cook and the boys could never get enough of the food she served, so they had no trouble eating there twice in one day.
The girls had been looking around for a flat of their own all afternoon. Lorcan and Lysander were planning on moving out and living together as well and had only just found a place on the far end of Diagon Alley. Roxanne and Violet showed up after the boys had already started on their butterbeers, looking a little worse for wear. They stopped at the bar to grab their own drinks before joining them.
"How'd it go?" James asked as Violet collapsed into the chair between him and Lysander. Roxanne sat between Fred and Lorcan, the latter of which gave her a quick peck on the lips in greeting.
"Bloody awful," Violet moaned before resting her head on the table. "There's nothing within a ten mile radius of where we both work that isn't either haunted or home to a creature of some kind. And if I have to travel any further than that by Floo Powder everyday I'll be perpetually sick. I don't know how you two managed to find something." She gestured to Lorcan and Lysander without lifting her head.
James patted her back in sympathy. He and Fred had no trouble finding a flat, but it was easier to find a place in Muggle London than in Diagon Alley.
"Don't make us say it again," Fred said with a smirk. Roxanne shot him a look and Violet glared at him as she lifted her head from the table and sat back in her chair. Fred and James had been telling both of them that they should just move into their building. They weren't as picky about the carpeting and there were plenty of empty flats. It was witch and wizard friendly, too. James and Fred had even been able to connect to the Floo Network.
"We'd like to be able to use magic on a regular basis thank you very much," Roxanne said.
"How long did it take you lot to move in today without it?" Violet asked.
James took a swig of his butterbeer, ignoring the question, but Lorcan answered for him.
"Longer than it should have, and they only have four pieces of furniture between them."
Violet laughed into her butterbeer.
"Are you planning on living like that? What all do you even have?" she asked incredulously.
"A sofa, a chair, and two bookshelves. So plenty for now," James said defensively, crossing his arms over his chest.
"My dad's got a desk he's going to give me," Fred chimed in, "and I think I've talked Mum into letting us have the beds from the flat above the shop."
"Why aren't you two living there?" Roxanne asked. "It's available, isn't it?"
"Yes, but Freddie here wants as much exposure to muggles as possible. For research purposes, of course." James rolled his eyes at his cousin. Fred was brilliant and had developed some incredible magical and muggle products, but James would never quite understand the intense fascination with nonmagical people that he shared with their grandfather.
Roxanne and Violet looked at each other with wide eyes as matching grins started to grow on their faces.
"I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner," Roxanne said to her friend. "It's the perfect space, especially for just starting out."
The girls were now positively giddy with excitement as the boys caught on to what they were saying.
"There's no way he'll let you," Fred was saying as he shook his head at his sister. "That's a bachelor pad. Dad would never let two girls take it over and risk them turning it into a frilly mess."
Violet quirked an eyebrow at him, a disbelieving look on her face.
"Are you forgetting that Roxy is his favorite and he happens to have a rather large soft spot for yours truly? We've got this in the bag."
"I think it's brilliant," Lysander piped in. Fred went from looking hurt at the insinuation that he wasn't the favorite child, to looking as if he had been betrayed by his friend.
"No, really," Ly continued, "it's the perfect central location, halfway between our flat and yours. We can meet up there all the time. Especially because there are no neighbors to disturb. It'll be perfect if we ever what to throw a party or something."
All the boys started to cheer up at this, even Lorcan, who wasn't always the biggest fan of parties, but he'd come out of his shell more in the past year. The girls, however, didn't look pleased.
"If you think you'll have free reign on our home you've got another thing coming," Violet warned, Roxanne nodding along with her.
The boys started to argue and pretty soon it was a free for all of the boys throwing out their own reasons why it was a brilliant idea and the girls countering with their objections to it. They were interrupted by Ethan Longbottom coming over to take their order.
"Sorry everyone," he said in greeting, "we're a little full tonight if you can't tell."
"No worries, mate," Lysander said as they all took a break from their heated discussion to place their orders. He turned to leave before James stopped him.
"Ethan, wait. Maybe you can solve a problem for us. You're smart, right?"
Everyone else at the table looked at James like he was an idiot. Ethan was a shoo in for Head Boy in September and everyone knew he always had brilliant marks. Harry had practically guaranteed he'd make it into the Auror program which he planned on applying for. James seemed to realize what he'd said and waved off their stares.
"Right, nevermind. Here's the thing. If we allow Roxanne and Violet to come and go from our flats as often as they please, and at any time of day" he shot a wink at Lorcan, who blushed, before continuing, "shouldn't we be allowed to do the same?"
"You never said that we'd be allowed to do that before now," Violet insisted.
"Well it was implied," James said, rolling his eyes at Violet before turning back to Ethan expectantly.
The younger boy looked slightly uncomfortable as they all watched him, waiting for a response.
"Well," he began, scratching his head nervously. "I think that, if it's their flat, they should be allowed to do with it what they want, just as you're doing with yours. Even if it's a different decision."
The girls grinned in triumph as the jaws of all the boys dropped.
"Thank you, Ethan. You may leave," Roxanne dismissed him. He looked very happy to go as Lysander yelled after him that he'd couldn't believe he'd shamed his own kind.
"Well, I still say you should let us throw the occasional party," James said. "Especially if it's for one of your birthdays."
Roxanne looked like she thought this to be a reasonable request, but Violet scoffed. James turned to look at her expectantly.
"Got a problem with that, Finnigan?" he challenged.
"I do, actually. Those things are no more parties than I am an Acromantula. You'll destroy our flat within the first hour."
James wasn't to be swayed. He scooted in closer and placed his arm around the back of her chair. He smirked as she stiffened due to his close proximity.
"Come on Vi, we promise not to invite as many people this time around. You know you love a good party as much as the rest of us. And you'd hate to give up your hosting duties. You know you're brilliant at that."
She glanced at him and he could tell she was trying very hard not to melt under his warm, convincing gaze.
"Flattery will get you nowhere," she assured him.
"I'll let you approve the guest list," he offered.
She pursed her lips in thought and he knew he was getting somewhere. Everyone else was watching them intently, either a smirk or a grin on each face.
"And, you reserve the right to veto any decision I make in regards to said party."
Her eyebrows rose at this offer. He knew it was a significant one, but he hadn't said she could do the same for any decision one of the other boys might make. Loopholes were his specialty.
She finally caved.
"Alright, but be warned, we will take away that right the moment something's destroyed or someone gets hurt. Understood?"
All of the boys grinned and nodded.
"We'll head over and talk to Dad as soon as we're done here," Roxanne said. "He should be closing up right around seven."
They finished their meal before heading out and walking through Diagon Alley to get to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. Fred and Lysander had run ahead and were, as usual, acting like children as they attempted to shove each other in front of the people they were passing on the street. Lorcan and Roxanne were behind them, walking hand in hand and talking quietly to each other. Violet brought up the rear with James, who was carrying the leftovers from dinner.
"Sometimes I can't believe this is our life now, you know?" Violet said. "You and Fred have just moved into your own flat, Lor and Ly are days from moving into theirs, and it looks like Rox and I are about to do the same. I don't know if I'm ready for that much freedom. It's like life is actually starting."
James chuckled at the wonder in her voice.
"You're forgetting one important part," he said. She glanced at him in confusion, not sure what she'd missed.
"We all have to go to work now too." He said this with a frown on his face, looking so pathetic that Violet burst out laughing.
"You're right," she said, trying to regain her composer. "I guess it's not all fun and games then."
"Well maybe for me and Fred, but not the rest of you lot." She shoved him for his lame attempt at a joke and he grinned at her.
"How was training this week? I don't think I've asked you yet."
"Not bad," he said with a slight shrug. "Bloody exhausting to be sure, but it'll all be worth it in the end. I feel pretty competent. The rest of the reserve Chasers aren't bad, but I can already see ways that I have a bit of an edge. One of them has a problem protecting his left, another is a little shaky on her dives, and the third one has been having trouble with his aim lately. I think if they call someone up it'll be me for sure. They'd be crazy - "
He stopped abruptly in his speech and in his tracks. He turned and faced Violet who was stopped next to him. She had a judgmental look on her face and James immediately felt ashamed.
"I did it again, didn't I?"
She nodded at him and he hung his head as they continued walking.
"You shouldn't be too hard on yourself," she reassured him. "All those thing are probably true, and while I don't mind hearing them, you're going to be doing interviews soon and you probably don't want the wizarding world thinking you're a complete arse."
He shot a look at her cheeky grin.
"The point is," she continued. "I know all those things are true, you know they're true, but it might be best to keep it at that. And, if you're going to take the time to pick out everyone else's flaws, you should do yourself the same courtesy."
He grinned shyly at her.
"I know, you're right. I just get carried away thinking about it sometimes," he admitted. "I might actually play for Puddlemere United one day. How crazy is that?"
"Not as crazy as you think," she said. "As insane as it is for me to say, you've always been better than you think you are."
He looked surprised at her words and a grin grew on his face. She nudged him with her elbow and rolled her eyes.
"Don't let it give you a big head."
He laughed and threw the arm that wasn't carrying food around her shoulders.
"I know I can always count on you, Finnigan."
She grinned up at him and put her arm around his waist.
"Well you know I'd do anything for you, right?"
He looked down at her and saw the uncertainty in her eyes. He placed a kiss on the top of her head before responding.
"Same goes for me."
She gave him a wide grin that spread to her entire face and made his heart skip a beat. He looked away before she could notice the heat rising in his cheeks.
"Anything else interesting happen during training?" she asked.
He thought about it for a second before responding.
"Actually yes, I met someone."
She looked up at him, her smile gone.
"Yeah, she's one of the medical team interns. Really fit. I've been thinking about asking her out."
She looked down at their feet and James watched her closely for her response.
"Oh, that's brilliant."
She didn't sound too disappointed, maybe not as happy as she was moments before, but her face wasn't betraying much. She'd even let out a slight flicker of a smile.
James tried not to be too disappointed that her response hadn't revealed much. He'd struggled with his feelings for the girl beside him for longer than he cared to admit, but he wasn't about to do anything that might cause him to lose her either. Until she gave him one hell of a sign, he was happy to wait around, but that didn't mean he couldn't have some fun in the meantime. He actually was considering asking the girl out.
"Yeah, she seems like fun."
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence before James asked her about her training.
"I start on Monday and I'm trying my best not to shit myself."
James laughed out loud and she couldn't help but laugh along with him.
"Relax, Vi," he said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. "You're going to be brilliant. St. Mungo's won't even know what hit them. Absolutely nothing to worry about."
She gave him a shy smirk.
"Thanks, James. I hope so."
"We'll go out on Monday night and celebrate. All six of us. My training ends at three. When are you done?"
"I'm seven to five the first week for orientation."
"Brilliant. We'll go to The Leaky and have a feast. I'll even give Hannah a heads up. Anyone you want there is more than welcome."
She chuckled at his enthusiasm and reached her hand up to grab the one that he had draped over her shoulder.
"As long as you're there, that'll be just fine."
James tried not to be too pleased with her statement and the position their hands were now in. They'd held hands before, in a strictly friendly sense, but it felt different when it was accompanied by her words.
"Of course, I guess this lot should be there," and she nodded her head towards the four people walking in front of them. Lysander and Fred had reached the shop and were banging on the already locked door.
James tried not to let himself feel too disappointed. He figured she'd want other people to go out with them on Monday night, but it was hard not to hope, even for a moment.
They reached the shop just as George opened the door to let them in. Turned out, he was thrilled to have the girls rent out the flat and immediately handed over the keys before offering to give them a tour.
"Dad, I lived there as a child, I think I know my way around," Roxanne said, but George's enthusiasm wasn't to be swayed. He bounded up the back stairs as Fred and Lysander wandered off into the back room, probably to look at something Fred was working on. Violet moved to follow Lorcan and Roxanne upstairs before James stopped her.
"Don't be nervous, Vi. You were right, this really is all happening. And we're all going to be just fine."
She smiled at him and reached out, gripping his hand for a moment, before turning and following her new roommate and her boyfriend upstairs. James willed his heartbeat to slow down as her hand left his. He needed to watch himself. If he wasn't careful, he was in danger of falling for her further than he ever had before.