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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.
Chapter 3: He Ran Late
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The incessant tapping of her foot matched the rhythm of the rain against the windows. Everyone else was doing a fine job of acting as if nothing were wrong, as if this were how it should be, but she knew better.
He should be there. He should have been there an hour ago. She was thankful that everyone else had shown enthusiasm about the evening and grateful that they had shown up, but his lack of appearance was standing out like a sore thumb. They all felt it, but everyone else was doing their best to make the most of the evening. She wanted to do the same, but this whole thing had been James' idea. The least he could have done was show up.
Violet knew she shouldn't be letting herself stew in anger and disappointment, but it had meant a lot to her when he'd put in the effort to plan the evening. She had been looking forward to it all week. It might have been naive of her, but even though the rest of her friends were going to be there as well, she had hoped that it could mean a little something more for the two of them. Maybe they'd be able to build off the momentum of the evening.
Violet had put on a dark plum dress that just reached to her mid thigh and hung loosely around her frame. It had a flattering sweeping neckline and thin straps. Her usually slightly wavy hair was stick straight and half pulled back. She rarely put this much effort into her appearance, and she felt almost ashamed of herself for wanting to impress a boy who hadn't even bothered to make an appearance.
They'd decided to go somewhere nicer than The Leaky Cauldron for the occasion and everyone else had dressed up as well. Roxanne was wearing a flowy, floor length, floral dress in various shades of yellow and orange. All the boys were wearing button-up shirts, and Lorcan had even put on a tie. James' siblings, as well as one of hers, had been invited to join them. At thirteen, Bobby was the only one of Violet's siblings that was old enough to come as Sean, Bella, and Layla had yet to reach Hogwarts age. It was the first time he had been out with any of her friends, and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely, oblivious to his sister's distress. She was glad he was enjoying himself. Bobby was a good kid, but he'd never been as social as she was, preferring to keep to himself and a book most of the time. He was sitting between Al and Lily and across from Fred and Lysander, a bright smile lighting up his face. She looked around the rest of the table. She was sat at the head with Roxanne to her right and Lorcan next to her, followed by Lysander and Fred. There was an empty seat to Violet's left where James should have been sitting next to Lily, who also looked like she was having the time of her life. The joy on everyone's faces served to cheer Violet up for a moment, and she almost forgot about her sour mood, before her heart plummeted to her feet as a couple entered the restaurant. James had finally arrived, but he wasn't alone.
He sauntered into the restaurant with a girl trailing behind him. The only words Violet could think of at that moment to describe her were blonde and legs. She clutched James' hand as he pulled her towards the table where his friends sat. He was greeted jovially by the group at large, but Violet couldn't find the strength to force a smile to her face. He had yet to send a glance in her direction as he and his friend made their way down the table towards her. He only met her eyes when they reached the end.
"Hey, Vi! This is Mia, she's one of the interns for our medical team."
The blonde, Mia, smiled and waved at Violet, who tried very hard to return the gesture. She thought it might have come off as more of a grimace and an odd twitch in her arm, but James just pulled up another chair between his and Violet's for Mia to sit on.
"Where've you been James? Our reservation was for over an hour ago," Roxanne asked her cousin. Violet was torn between being thankful for her friend and wanting the whole situation to go unnoticed.
"We just lost track of time, that's all," he said with a noncommittal shrug, throwing his arm around Mia's chair, refusing to meet the blank stare that Violet had turned in his direction. Mia chose the next moment to excuse herself from the table and run to the loo, and Violet full on glared at James, no longer holding back in an effort to not offend the girl who'd done nothing wrong. This was all on James as far as she was concerned.
"Lost track of time, did you?" she challenged. "Did you lose it up her skirt by any chance?"
The boys all did their best to stifle sniggers at Violet's comment as Roxanne wore a displeased look. The younger three appeared to either be feigning innocence, or were truly too young to understand the subtleties of the evening that had led to this point.
"I was injured in training today, okay?" he defended himself, and Violet was momentarily taken out of her anger due to her concern for his safety, before remembering that he now sat before her, perfectly healthy.
"I broke my wrist during a training exercise due to a well placed bludger. Mia was the one who healed me. It took some time to patch me up and we got to talking and one thing led to another and…"
He trailed off and looked imploringly at Violet. She glanced at his wrist, which she now saw was bandaged as the bones continued to be regrown. Should she give him the benefit of the doubt? He had been injured, after all. But she didn't want to excuse his behavior, and it truly bothered her that he had gone so far as to bring the girl along to what was supposed to be her night. She felt slightly selfish about it but she had wanted his full attention to be on her tonight, and now she knew she'd be lucky to be spared a glance once this conversation was over.
"I know this night was important to you, Vi. I know that and I feel bloody terrible. Please let me make it up to you."
Violet glanced behind James to see Mia making her way back to the table. Being the bigger person was never the fun person to be, but causing a scene in a restaurant was not her idea of a nice way to end an already unpleasant evening, so she swallowed her pride.
"It doesn't happen again, do you understand?"
She shot him a hard look and he nodded sincerely as Mia took her place between them again.
The rest of the evening continued as she assumed it would. The boys joking around, her brother asking inquisitive questions, and James whispering into Mia's ear whenever his attention wasn't elsewhere, which it rarely was. Dessert was brought out half an hour after James arrived. It was a chocolate cake with white chocolate icing and raspberry sauce, Violet's favorite. Apparently, James had called ahead and asked for it to be especially made for their evening. He'd told her so with a look of pride on his face. This helped to soften her slightly, seeing that he had put a little extra thought into their celebration, but it wasn't quite enough to make up for it. It wasn't that she wanted to keep score when it came to their friendship, but she couldn't help but want a little something more from him.
It had stopped raining as they left the restaurant and prepared to head their separate ways. The restaurant was in muggle London, near James and Fred's flat, so they walked home, Mia accompanying them. Lorcan and Lysander had moved into their new flat so they were heading back to Diagon Alley with Roxanne, who had already moved herself into the flat above the shop. Violet would start moving her stuff in the following day. She and Bobby would be flooing home through the Leaky Cauldron, and Al and Lily would be doing the same. As the seven of them entered the pub before they parted ways, Roxanne pulled her best friend aside.
"I'd apologize for him, but I don't much feel like forgiving him myself. That was a rotten thing to do."
Violet was looking at her feet, a sad smile on her face and tears threatening to fall. She shook herself into composure and spoke without raising her eyes from the floor.
"You know what's silly? All evening, even after he showed up with her, I was holding out hope that maybe he'd make some kind of grand gesture. That tonight would be the night. The cake was a nice touch, but I wanted something more. Maybe we'd be about to part ways and he'd apologize for being such an arse, leaving what's-her-face behind and…"
She trailed off as her cheeks flushed in embarrassment at what she'd almost said. Glancing up at her friend, she saw a sad smile on her face.
"Don't look at me like that, please," Violet said. "I don't want your pity. I know I'm an idiot and it's all rather fanciful thinking, but it's been going on for so long…"
She blushed even brighter. Talking to Roxanne about her feelings for James was uncharted territory. She'd always assumed that she knew, but it had gone unspoken for so long that it almost felt like they didn't have to talk about it. Things were changing though, and she didn't think she could handle it all on her own.
"I think I've loved him for a long time Rox, and it's starting to scare the hell out of me. Especially after tonight."
Roxanne pulled Violet into a corner where they could talk in private. Al, Lily, and Bobby, were all up at the bar chatting with Erin and Ethan as they waited for the line for the floo to die down, in no hurry to leave.
"What part are you scared of?" Roxanne asked.
Violet thought for a moment before answering.
"The whole thing, honestly. That he might not feel the same, that he probably never will. That I'll eventually make a fool of myself. I could possibly never get over him and then I'm stuck being miserable for the rest of my life. I might have to watch him go through girl after girl until he finally finds the one, and it isn't me."
She couldn't remember a time when she had ever been more vulnerable in her life. Looking at Roxanne, she was glad she didn't see pity, only determination.
"My cousin's a great oaf. A brilliant one, but he's one hell of an idiot most of the time. Especially when it comes to females. If he feels the same for you that you do for him, rest assured that he will make a complete arse of himself before he gets anything right." Violet let out a light chuckle before Roxy continued. "I don't want to give you false hope or assure you of things that I don't know, so I'm not going to tell you to hope for the best or to push through. I'll simply say, that while you certainly don't need a man, you sure deserve one hell of a good one. And he's definitely a good one. So don't go feeling ashamed of your feelings for him or talk yourself into thinking you don't deserve him. That's the farthest thing from the truth."
Tears had started to gather in Violet's eyes and she quickly brushed them away at the end of her friends speech. She gave Roxanne a nod before she was pulled into a quick hug.
"I know it sounds cliche, but focus on yourself right now. Everything else will fall into place at the right time."
With those final words of advice, they bid each other a quick goodbye and Roxanne made her way out of the Leaky Cauldron as Violet went to join her brother and the two younger Potters, saying farewell to the Longbottom's before flooing home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Violet couldn't sleep. Her mind was still whirring from the events of the evening and her conversation with Roxanne. She knew her friend was right, but it was hard to shake off the emotions that had been running rampant through her entire being earlier that evening. Feelings of hurt and doubt and even betrayal. Not to mention the heartache she felt when he left with her.
She kicked her covers off, giving up on sleep for the time being, and sat up in bed. She contemplated reading til she fell asleep, but her stomach started growling so she figured the kitchen was the place for her to be at the moment. She made her way downstairs, being as quiet as possible as to not wake her family. Her mother had just done the shopping so their kitchen was packed with food, but she went for the leftover cake that she had brought home earlier in the evening. She poured herself a glass of milk and sat down at the kitchen table. They'd only eaten two thirds of the cake at the restaurant, and she didn't even bother cutting a separate piece before pulling out a fork and digging in.
She only had a few moments of solitude before she heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs accompanied by quiet voices. Her mother entered the kitchen carrying a four-year-old little girl. They didn't immediately notice Violet. Layla's head was tucked into her mother's shoulder as she whispered words of comfort into her ear while soothingly rubbing her back. Violet's mother flicked the light on and caught sight of her eldest daughter enjoying her midnight snack.
"Couldn't sleep?" Lavender asked. Layla pulled her tear stained face off her mother's shoulder to see who she was talking to. A smile immediately appeared on her face at the sight of her older sister.
"Something like that," Violet said as her mother placed a squirming Layla on the floor, who promptly went to climb into her sister's lap, asking if she could have a bite.
"If it's alright with Mummy," Violet said while looking at her mother for confirmation.
"Fine," Lavender sighed. "But just this once." Layla grinned in excitement as Violet cut off a small piece for the younger girl to eat.
"This one had a nightmare," Lavender said, reaching across the table to push Layla's curly blonde hair off her forehead.
"You alright now, love?" Violet asked the little girl in her lap.
"Yeah," Layla said focused on her cake. "Where did this come from?"
Layla had been in bed by the time Violet and Bobby had gotten home, so she'd missed the arrival of the dessert.
"I went out to dinner with my friends tonight remember? We had some leftovers."
Layla nodded as she continued eating her cake and Violet started rebraiding her sister's hair. Her curls normally caused it to knot as she slept, and the braids they normally kept it in to avoid that had come loose.
"You sort of disappeared as soon as you got home. Did you have a nice evening?" Lavender asked.
Violet shrugged, not wanting to say much and not sure where she would even start. She trusted her mother, but they tended to see the world differently and it would show when they discussed whatever was going on in her life.
"Anything you want to talk about?" her mother persisted.
"I don't know. It was an off night. I'm doing alright though."
She tried to give her mother a reassuring smile but wasn't sure she succeeded, especially based on the look she received.
"It's just James. He's being a prat, as usual."
"What else is new?" Lavender chuckled. "Don't get me wrong, I love the boy, but he can be a bit dim at times and it normally gets him into trouble."
Violet gave her mother a small smile as she finished off a braid before moving onto the next one.
"I don't know if I don't understand him, or I don't understand our relationship. It's driving me mad trying to figure it out."
"Oh please," her mother scoffed. "That boy fancies the pants off you or I don't know a cat from a toad."
Violet chuckled at her mother's expression.
"I highly doubt that. You should've seen the thing he showed up with at dinner tonight. An hour late, I might add."
Violet had the decency to look ashamed of herself.
"Girl. The girl he showed up with. Sorry."
Lavender chuckled at her daughter.
"I believe I was referred to as a "thing" by at least one jealous girl in my youth. Brings back some rather unpleasant memories actually."
Despite her words, she still had a small smile on her face and a nostalgic look in her eyes.
"Weren't you and Dad together for most of your Hogwarts years? I don't recall you ever mentioning another girl being in the picture."
Lavender looked at her daughter in surprise.
"Oh, heavens no. We weren't together the whole time. Actually, we weren't even really together until after the war."
At her words, Lavender reached up and rubbed her hand along the scar on her neck that led to her jaw.
"I didn't realize that. You talk about each other from all seven years. I guess I just assumed."
"Well we were friends during that time," Lavender confirmed. "And we attended the Yule Ball together in our fourth year. I knew he liked me throughout most of our time at school, and to be honest, I felt the same way, but I did some wandering at one point."
Violet's mother looked slightly ashamed of herself at this confession, but she was still grinning slightly.
"Do I know about this? I feel like I would have remembered any romantic relationships from your youth."
"I don't think we've ever talked about it actually. I'm not sure why but I guess it just never came up."
Violet looked at her mum expectantly as her little sister started to drift off in her arms having finished her cake. Lavender sighed resignedly before launching into her story.
"It was just a little thing between me and Ron. It only lasted a few months and we were both aware we should have been with other people, no matter how in denial we both were."
"Ron as in Weasley? Rose and Hugo's dad?" Violet clarified.
"That's the one. Hermione and I still have trouble getting along to this day. Although, to be fair, we never got along all that well to begin with. I guess it's better now than it used to be though. She did save my life and all."
This part of the story Violet was familiar with. Lavender held the Minister of Magic in extremely high regard and had even campaigned on her behalf when she was rumored to be up for the job.
"It's all water under the bridge now. Your father was right pissed at me for a time, but we managed to work it out in the end."
"But you weren't actually together?"
"No, but we knew we meant more to each other than just common friends. Nothing had ever really been said, but everyone who was close to us knew it. I think part of me was scared by it, so I went with my flight response and it ended up making a mess of things. I'm just glad he didn't give up on me."
Lavender was looking tenderly at her youngest child as she tried to stay awake. Violet's mother was of a very caring nature and doted on her children. You would never question how grateful she was to have them.
"I think it's time I get this one back in bed," Lavender said, nodding at Layla and rising to take her from her sister.
"Mum, can I ask you something?"
Violet paused to collect her thoughts as her mother gathered the sleeping child into her arms.
"I'm a little too mad at him to think about doing anything right now, but if I wanted my relationship with James to change, should I, you know, make a move? Or is it best to wait for him to do so?"
She cringed at her own question as her mother smiled at her.
"You said he showed up late tonight and with another girl?"
"It sounds to me like he's still got some growing up to do. You've got time, Vi. Both of you do. I wouldn't worry about it yet. Give him some time."
With a final goodnight, she turned and left to put her youngest child back in bed, leaving her eldest to her cake and her thoughts.
A/N: Been awhile since this one got updated! Haven't forgotten about it :) I've always been a Seamus/Lavender fan so it was fun to explore a little of that history. Maybe I'll write their story sometime too! Leave a review and I'll like you a lot and probably update sooner. Happy reading!
Chapter 4: She had a Birthday
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James chucked his near pristine gloves into his locker - his brow furrowed and his manner agitated. The reserves had been practicing with the starting lineup once a week for the past month, and James had barely seen the pitch. His flying was fantastic during reserve practice, and he was sure his coaches could see his potential, but Puddlemere's head coach Reuben Cooper was a hard old bastard who had yet to give him a fair shake, in James's humble opinion.
"Easy there, Potter. You'll burn a hole through the wall with that arm of yours."
James threw a look of annoyance at his teammate. Jacob Reed was a Keeper and had been on the reserves for three seasons now, and so received more time on the field than James did. They got along reasonably well; both were the only former Gryffindors on the reserve team.
"You're one to talk. You actually get to touch the Quaffle during these things."
James flopped down onto the bench and kicked off his boots with a huff. Reed placed his gloves in the locker next to James's and began to take off his jersey.
"True, but I was just like you once upon a time."
Rolling his eyes, James moved to undress as well.
"Stop talking as if you're some wise old sage and let me be frustrated, will you? This isn't what I expected."
"It never is. You expected to be some rookie hot shot that impressed the coaches to the point where they threw protocol out the window? This is the way it always works. You have to prove yourself. Let them know you're a part of this team and not just in it for the glory."
Grabbing his towel, Reed turned to head towards the showers.
"I remember you telling me you always wanted to play for Puddlemere, right?" he asked before leaving.
"Well, part of being on this team means being a teammate above all else. You've managed to open up with me, but I'm not considered a threat. So try focusing on getting to know your fellow Chasers. You've got the skill, no doubt about that, so show them you've got the right spirit and perspective too."
He clapped James on the shoulder with a hand that was calloused from throwing and catching a Quaffle for many years and left the room.
James mulled his teammates words over in his mind. One of the things that had drawn him to Puddlemere was the camaraderie that he saw, on and off the field. He wanted to be a part of that. Yet here he was, stewing in what he thought was his own failure, but was really just a part of the process. Deciding to take Reed's advice to heart, he made his way towards where two of his other teammates that he'd barely spoken to sat on the bench in front of their lockers. He looked around for Gemma Talley, the fourth reserve Chaser, but she was already gone. She was a new recruit like James and tended to leave right after training. Apparently she was having trouble opening up to her teammates as well.
"Hey, anyone fancy a bite?"
The two Chasers looked startled at the presence of their new teammate. They shared a look before the younger of the two, dark skinned with curly black hair, stood and gave him a skeptical look.
"Why now? You've barely paid us any mind before."
James let out a sigh, thinking it best to be honest in this situation.
"I've been a bit of a prick. I made this all about myself so I thought staying at a distance was the way to go. I was wrong. Team first, right?"
They looked impressed with his honesty.
"Well, in that case." The one still sitting stuck his hand out and James grinned in relief, gripping it firmly.
"I don't believe we've properly met."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"You're barking! Sanders deserves the Hall of Fame, no matter what tripe the Prophet may write about him."
"But what if it's true? The bastard might have actually sabotaged his own teammate!"
The argument between his teammates continued and James watched as they bickered good-naturedly. They'd grabbed dinner before moving on to the local pub where they now sat, each in good spirits thanks to the few drinks that they'd already consumed.
The younger of the two was named Peter Walker and had been traded to Puddlemere after spending his rookie season with the Tornadoes. Chip Edwards - rather lanky with honey blonde hair - had been bumped down to the reserves after sustaining an injury during his second season as a starter for the Arrows. He'd been traded to Puddlemere a year later, and it was questionable if he would ever be back to his full strength.
"This could be my last season," he'd confessed earlier in the evening. "There hasn't been any improvement in a while and it's been hard on the wife. Not to mention I have a kid to think about now."
Peter had opened up as well. He'd been devastated when he was traded from the Tornadoes. He felt much the same about them as James did about Puddlemere. The move had been all about politics on the Tornadoes side, and it still ate at him.
"They have no proof though," Chip argued back as they continued to discuss the fate of a former Puddlemere Beater. "It's all rumor and the Prophet is pulling a rather shitty move reporting on it."
"Oi!" James interrupted. "My mum happens to work there so mind what you say."
Peter Walker laughed at his friend's expense, slightly tipsy from the alcohol that was beginning to course through his system.
"You made a slight at his mum!" He broke down into another bout of laughter.
"Don't mind him," Chip told James. "He's a bit of a lightway. Never drank much in school. You, however, seem to be holding your own rather well." He took a swig of his own drink as James's third was placed in front of him.
"My cousin and I managed to swipe quite the large amount of contraband over the years, so I was able to develop a nice amount of tolerance."
Chip nodded and signalled for another beer.
"You talk about your family a lot. You all close?"
James nodded and patted Peter on the back as he stopped laughing and started choking on thin air.
"Yeah, my cousin Fred and I share a flat just down the street from the Leaky Cauldron in Muggle London. And we see a good bit of some other family members as well."
Slightly more in control than before, Peter leaned his elbow on the table and rested his chin in his hand.
"What's it like? Being famous and all that?"
Chip rolled his eyes and looked embarrassed for his friend. James chuckled.
"Actually, it's more my dad that's the famous one. And I guess the family as a whole. But I'm not exactly recognized on the streets or anything."
This seemed to disappoint Peter and he stuck his lower lip out in a pout.
"So you don't get like, girls flocking at you or anything?"
James blushed slightly at this but hid his embarrassment with a grin.
"Sometimes. Once they know who I am."
"Bloody hell. Once I'm a starter, I won't be able to get enough of that."
Peter reached for his drink but Chip was quick to grab it and down it himself. Peter groaned in disappointment.
"You won't get anything until you can either learn to hold your liquor or stop drinking all together. It's rather horrid to watch."
Peter scrunched up his face at Chip's comment before folding his arms on the table and resting his head on them, officially checking out of the conversation.
"What is that like, though?" Chip asked James. "Sorry, but I can't help but ask. Your mum was a rather brilliant Chaser, and I don't think I even need to cover who your dad is. Sounds like a lot of pressure."
James nodded. Typically, he didn't like to talk about his family much. But there was something about Chip that made James feel like he could trust him.
"Sometimes, but they've been brilliant with the whole Quidditch thing. I think my dad wanted me to be an Auror, but that area has always been what my brother Al's been good at. He's only sixteen but we all know he'll be brilliant at it one day. My mum was rather proud, though. And Dad is too. He knows it's what I love. They don't really pressure me, but some other members of the family, and the world for that matter, that's a bit of a different story."
He hadn't expected to share quite that much, but Chip nodded his head as if he knew what he was talking about, making James feel at ease.
"My grandfather was always the one to put pressure on me. He wanted me to be like him and have a career that rivaled his. I think he's the only reason I haven't retired yet."
James looked at him with a question in his eyes for a few moments, as if trying to work out a puzzle, before it hit him.
"Chip Edwards. You're Charles Edwards' grandson? Hall of Fame Chaser for Puddlemere United Charles Edwards?"
Chip merely took another swig of his drink in response and James leaned back in his seat in shock.
"Wow. He always seemed like a tough old bastard. That must've been horrible and wonderful all at the same time."
Chip set his drink down and pointed at James to signal he'd hit the nail right on the head.
"He's always pushed me and he still does. My dad never really played much and he has no other grandsons, so I'm all he's got."
"Well, thankfully I have another brother to make sure my dad isn't disappointed," James remarked, making Chip laugh.
"You're one lucky prat that's for sure. Although I don't think you have anything to worry about."
James raised his eyebrows in question.
"How do you mean?"
"Anyone who has seen you play can tell you're brilliant. You'll get your shot one day. By the sound of it, your dad's a pretty solid bloke. He'd have to be to save the world, right?"
James rolled his eyes and his teammate chuckled.
"Sorry, couldn't help it. But my point is, as long as you're doing what you love and doing it with your whole heart, he'll be proud. And I have no doubt that you'll make a hell of a name for yourself. You're a talent, James. I wouldn't be surprised if you got pulled up over either of us or Talley when the time comes."
He gestured to his slightly comatose teammate who merely groaned in response. While James was pleased with the praise, he also found his teammate's honesty slightly comical.
"What happened to the stoic man that ordered me my first round?" James jested.
Chip let out a laugh.
"I'm a rather sappy drunk and the drinks are starting to go to my head. I don't get out as much with the kid being around."
Chip had told James earlier that he and his wife had had a baby boy; Charles William Edwards the fourth, Charlie for short.
"My dad was Chuck and I'm Chip," he'd said. "And no matter how infuriating my grandfather can be, he means enough for me to carry on the family name."
After Chip had once again assured James that he was a brilliant Chaser and he'd fit in well with the team once he got to know everyone, they called it a night and Chip was left with the difficult task of seeing Peter home. James had offered to help but Chip had insisted he could handle it himself.
They'd been at a pub in Puddlemere, so James flooed to the Leaky Cauldron and headed home from there. As he walked, he felt a sense of pride fill him. He'd made an effort he hadn't anticipated needing to make until he moved up to a starting position. The mindset that the reserves was a competitive atmosphere was common throughout the league, but Puddlemere was different. It was about more than an individual's success. It was about growing and working together as a team. It wasn't what he had expected, but he loved it. It was exciting to branch out and meet new people. He'd had the same friends all throughout Hogwarts. Friends who were brilliant and would last a lifetime, but it made him feel like he was finally starting a life outside of school. He couldn't wait to tell his friends about his breakthrough. He couldn't wait to tell -
James stopped in his tracks. His friends. Violet. He'd completely forgotten. He turned and rushed back towards the Leaky Cauldron, checking his watch to see it was half-past eleven. Had he really been out for four hours? He flew through the pub and into Diagon Alley, racing towards Weasley Wizard Wheezes and hoping he wasn't too late. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that there was still a light on above the shop.
He raced up the back stairs and pounded on the door. After waiting for roughly a minute with no response, he pounded again, this time raising his voice.
"Vi? I can explain. I completely lost track of time. Please let me in."
There was no response. He tried again.
"Violet, please. At least let me-"
The door flew open and a scowling Roxanne greeted him.
"This better be good, James."
"Please, let me talk to her."
"That's not my call."
Roxanne refused to budge and James leaned back against the railing behind him. The metal landing shook with his movements.
"How mad is she?" he finally asked.
"Well, how mad would you be if she flaked on your birthday?"
James cringed at her words and looked down at his shoes. Roxanne moved out into the still warm, late August evening and closed the door behind her.
"Merlin James, what could possibly have been so important? This isn't the first time you've done this to her either."
He looked up in mild surprise.
"What? I've never missed her birthday."
Roxanne rolled her eyes.
"Don't act all innocent here, James. This isn't about just her birthday. The night we celebrated her first week of training? Our housewarming party the week after? And the friends and family luncheon a month into her training? You were either late or didn't show to every one of those after you promised you would be there."
She was right, James realized. He hadn't been there like he should have. Quidditch kept him busy, but he could have easily made it to each of those events. It had either been a girl or a teammate, like tonight, that had kept him away.
"I'm a right prat, aren't I?"
Roxanne gave a snort of agreement.
James turned and gripped the railing, leaning over the edge and cursing. He felt Roxanne walk forward and join him against the railing.
"Look, she's my best friend so I can't betray her trust. But, as my cousin, I think I can safely give you some advice."
James turned and looked at her, eager to learn how to fix the mess he'd gotten himself into.
James stared at her blankly. She gave him a bemused smile and continued.
"Come back tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that if you have to. Show her you care as much as I know you do. And don't be an arse and show up too late or not at all ever again unless you've got a damn good excuse."
James flushed in shame.
"I won't. I promise."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Knock, knock, knock.
"I know you're in there, Violet! You can't put up with this forever."
It was the third day that James had waited outside of the flat. Roxanne and Lorcan had both made appearances and even given him refreshments, but Violet refused to allow them to let him in. He'd caught a glimpse of her through the window a few times the previous two days, but he'd yet to see any of them that evening. He was currently sitting with his back to the door, occasionally lifting his hand to knock.
"Well if you're not going to talk to me you can at least listen," James said. "I've started to get to know my teammates. They're some pretty great blokes, actually. That's where I was the other night. I talked to Reed, you remember me mentioning him? Well, anyway. He said I was focused too much on my own success rather than the success of the team as a whole, and I should start getting to know people. I went out for drinks with two of the other Chasers. They're right solid blokes. You'd like them."
He paused for a moment to see if she'd respond, and continued when she didn't.
"It was the first time I really felt like I was part of something, Vi. And I couldn't wait to tell you all about it. Of course, that's when I realized what an arse I was and hightailed it over here. And I've done the same thing every night since by the way, incase you haven't noticed."
He sat in silence for a little while longer. He'd shown up sometime around seven, right as training had ended for the evening, and it was now going on eleven. It was the same routine he'd followed the two previous nights as well, but this was the latest he'd ever stayed.
"I've even blown off my teammates the past few nights, you know why? Cause you matter to me you stubborn git."
Building momentum, he stood and faced the door, leaning with his palms pressed against it.
"You matter to me, Violet. And I was so bloody stupid. I'll stay out here every day for months if I have to. Would you just please talk to me, or at least let me know you're listening?"
He stood, listening, for a few moments. Hoping she'd give him some sign she'd been listening. But it startled him when he actually did heard her voice.
"What are you doing?"
He turned abruptly, and the moment of elation he felt at the sound of her voice quickly faded when he saw her standing at the bottom of the steps that lead up to her flat. She wasn't alone.
"Hey, Vi," he said, pulling himself together. It then hit him that she hadn't been home and probably hadn't heard a word he'd said.
"Who's your friend?" he asked, gesturing to the rather handsome young man who stood just behind her.
Violet started, as if she'd forgotten the other boy was there.
"Oh, right. Nate, this is James. James, Nate."
The young man had warm brown hair that was practically the same shade as Violet's. It looked incredibly soft as it caught the light from the lamp that hung outside their door as he inclined his head towards James in acknowledgement.
Violet looked between both boys for a moment before turning towards her date and talking to him in an undertone. James pointedly looked away, trying to ignore the way his heart continued to sink the longer Nate stuck around. He looked around when he heard her walking up the steps, and her date was nowhere in sight. He sighed in relief.
"Can I talk to you now?"
Violet stopped in front of him. She looked nice, he noticed. More than nice. She was dressed for a more casual date. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail and she wore a black leather jacket over a silk red shirt. Dark wash jeans hugged her legs, and ankle-high boots with short heels made them look even longer than normal.
She crossed her arms and James pulled himself out of the daze he'd slipped into as he took her in.
"Depends," she said. "Are you planning on needing to give the same speech again in a few weeks time?"
"No," he insisted. She almost cracked a smile at his eagerness, before walking past him and into her flat, leaving the door open behind her.
"How long were you two out there? Did you hear anything I said?" James asked as he followed her inside and closed the door behind him. Violet shrugged off her jacket and tossed it over the back of the couch. The girls had given a slight feminine touch to the flat, but neither were overly girly so the boys felt very comfortable in it. Probably a little too much, in the girls' opinions. They were there more often than not. At least the Scamanders and Fred were. James had maybe been half a dozen times in the nearly two months the girls had lived there, while the other boys seemed to be there at least twice a week, if not more. James noticed there were still balloons from Violet's birthday party tied to the tops of the chairs around the kitchen table. They were dragging on the floor, the spells used to keep them afloat having worn off a few days previously. Streamers still lined the wood paneled walls. They were red and blue, Violet's favorite colors.
As Violet sat on the couch she'd tossed her jacket on, her legs curled up underneath her, James moved to take the rocking chair that sat across from her. She still hadn't said anything in response to his question. She just sat there, studying him for a few moments before she found her voice.
"We showed up right around the time you said what an arse you've been. And that you've been banging on our door every night this week, which I can personally attest to. No one can say you're not persistent."
James held back a smile.
"But I'm tired of you making promises you can't keep."
James cringed at her harsh yet accurate words.
That sat in silence for a few minutes.
"Well, what you didn't hear then, was that I was out with my teammates the other night."
"You've hung out with Reed before," she was quick to fire back.
"It wasn't Reed."
She looked pleasantly surprised at this news.
"Really? Was it that female Chaser with the flaming red hair and the dark chocolate eyes?" she asked sarcastically.
"No, actually," he responded in kind. "It was the other two male Chasers. We went for dinner and got to talking so we grabbed drinks after. They're really fantastic, Vi. You'd love them."
Violet didn't say anything, but she wore a soft smile. After a few minutes of silence, she got up and headed to the kitchen. Aside from the bedrooms and bathroom, it was a studio style flat. It was very open. Every room flowed into the other, and the kitchen was behind the chair James sat in, so he had to turn to watch her grab a kettle and put water on to boil.
James got up and joined her in the kitchen.
"Yes please. Thanks."
She worked silently and James watched as she grabbed them both mugs and prepared the tea to steep. Pushing her too much to forgive him or talk at all was something he didn't want to risk, so he waited. She handed him his cup of tea and returned to the couch, this time sitting on one end and indicating for him to take the other.
"You know," she said as he sat beside her. "One of the only reasons I went on that date tonight was because I knew you'd be here. I didn't expect you to stick around this late, though."
James's heart had plummeted for a moment when she confirmed it was a date, but at least she'd been thinking about him, right?
"Who was that, by the way?"
Violet blushed slightly as she sipped her tea.
"I met him at work. He's in the year above me in the residency program at Mungo's."
James nodded, unsure what to say.
They sat in awkward silence for a moment. James wasn't the best at confronting things and being apologetic, but he knew this was on him.
"I know I haven't been around much, Violet. And I know I've broken promises. I've been a bit of a prat lately and I want to make it up to you. However I can."
After a moment, Violet reached out and placed her hand on his knee, giving it a pat and an affectionate squeeze.
"I know. You did stay outside my flat the past three nights. That's got to count for something."
James grinned as relief flooded through him. He gripped the hand that she had resting on his leg and pulled her into his side. She rested her head on his shoulder as he put his arm around her.
"I've missed you."
She said it in such a soft voice that James wasn't sure he'd heard her, but he'd felt her say it against his shoulder. He smiled and kissed the top of her head.
"I missed you, too."
They sat there in comfortable silence for awhile, before James couldn't help but ask about her date once again.
"So, how was it?"
"How was what?" Violet asked, sounding relaxed and tired.
It took her so long to respond he thought she might have fallen asleep.
"It was fine," she finally said, sounding more alert than she had before. "He's nice. Seemed keen on taking me out again. We'll see, though."
"Why so hesitant?" James asked.
Violet shrugged against him.
"I can't come up with anything to say about him other than he's a healer in training, a Ravenclaw, and owns a cat he's rather fond of."
James chuckled at how disappointed she sounded.
"So he's a dud. There are plenty of other fish in the sea."
Violet yawned and rubbed her eyes.
"I suppose you're right."
James stroked her hair as she started to doze in and out of sleep. His thoughts were running a mile a minute. His former grief over seeing her with another man had passed, but now the fear of what he could ruin if he ever tried to make things happen between them had sprung back up in it's place. He had felt daring and willing to take a risk if she had shown any signs of making a go of it with this bloke a few moments ago. He might have tried to convince her not to. But now he had her back. He would just enjoy the moment and let the rest of it come when it would.
James had started to drift off too, when the front door banged open and the sound of giggling voices and rustling clothes filled the flat. He slowly opened his eyes and saw two people wrapped tightly around each other slowing making their way across the room. Seeing clothes start to fly, he spoke up.
His cousin let out a yelp in surprise and almost lost her footing before Lorcan caught her around the waist. James quickly shushed them so they wouldn't wake Violet, who was thoroughly passed out against him. The couple composed themselves and Lorcan picked up their jackets and his shirt that now lay on the floor.
"You two made up?" Roxanne asked, grinning like a fool.
James nodded, smiling along with her.
"Want me to help -?" Roxanne gestured to Violet's sleeping form.
"No need," James waived her off, rising from the couch and gently lifting Violet off it. "I'll see she gets where she needs to go. You two go have your fun."
He gave them a wink as Roxanne flushed and Lorcan grabbed her hand, pulling her to her bedroom and shooting James a quick thanks.
James chuckled before heading to Violet's room and placing her in her bed. He stood over her for a few minutes, taking in the peaceful look on her face before placing a quick kiss to the top of her head. He left her to get her sleep, hopeful that things would be better. That he would be better. One thing for certain, he was determined to try.
A/N: I think this is my favorite chapter in this story so far. Whether you think James is an idiot or everyone’s being too hard on him, be kind and leave a review! Happy Reading :)
Chapter 5: There's a Party
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As the fall went on, things were sublime. Training at St. Mungo's was going well - Violet was one of the top five in her class - and James had started coming around more often. He had continued to bond with his teammates and a few of them had visited his and Fred's place a couple of times. James was right - they were decent blokes with good heads on their shoulders. He'd even gotten Gemma Talley to come along a few times and she had gotten on swimmingly with the rest of them once she'd opened up. She had a bit of a snarky attitude, but Violet appreciated her even more for it. It reminded her of Ginny Potter. The thought made her slightly insecure at first. It wasn't that unheard of for a Potter to fall for a redhead, but James seemed to be keeping his distance. Especially since Peter Walker made it obvious to everyone but Gemma that he was interested. His flirting skills were subpar so it wasn't easy to overlook if you weren't the one he was failing at wooing. Violet figured Gemma wasn't used to the attention, being the youngest after five overprotective brothers.
By the time the holidays rolled around, Violet was in high spirits. She loved Christmas and the promise of a new year - the ability to start over if you needed to. The Potter's had a rather large friends and family gathering every year on Christmas Eve, followed by a rather raucous snowball fight at midnight. It had been started by Teddy, James, and Fred the first year Teddy had been home from Hogwarts for the holidays, so it was a rather long standing tradition. Violet had only taken part in it once she was Hogwarts age.
As Violet got ready to head to the party that evening, she felt a rush of excitement; a tingling in her extremities and butterflies in her stomach. Things had started to shift between her and James ever since that night she had finally let him into the flat. He was over at least once a week, and there were even times when she'd go and hang out with him and his teammates. Fred and Lysander would occasionally come too, but there were times when it was just her. It made her feel special. She knew they weren't dates, but she was thankful to have her best friend back. And they'd grown closer. They always had been, but there were more long conversations now, more affectionate touches, and even a few slightly charged moments that had yet to develop into anything.
This would be the night, she told herself as she slipped on her heels and prepared to floo to the Potter's. Something had been building between them and she felt fit to burst with anticipation. Roxanne had already left with Lorcan, and Violet was going slightly early as well to make sure Ginny didn't need any last minute help. James had offered to come and get her, but she'd told him that was silly. He was staying at his parents' house for awhile over the holidays so she'd convinced him it made more sense for her to just meet him there.
She flooed in to find various Potters and Weasleys running around making last minute preparations. Al was hanging lights above the entryway, with what looked like help from Hugo, although he didn't seem to be doing much. Lily was running around with her hair half curled, picking up last minute items that were scattered around the living room as Fred maneuvered around her, hanging sprigs of mistletoe in random places. Rose was with Roxanne, putting last minute touches on the rather tall tree that stood by the fireplace Violet had just flooed into. She could hear the clanging of dishes coming from the kitchen.
"Hey, Violet," Rose greeted.
"James is upstairs still," Roxanne told her. Violet's heart fluttered for a moment in anticipation and she willed herself not to blush.
"I'm looking for Ginny, actually. I'm willing to bet that's her banging around in the kitchen?"
Rose nodded and Roxy threw a nervous look towards the door across the room that lead to the kitchen as another loud bang sounded.
Violet headed over towards the kitchen with a yell of good luck from her flatmate and dodged a running Lily in the process. Considering the noises she'd heard just moments before, the room actually seemed to be in immaculate shape. The counters were clean, save for a few cakes that appeared to be waiting for the appropriate time to be served, and the sink was empty of all dirty dishes. The reason for the clanging became obvious when she noticed Ginny picking up various metal bowls off the floor.
"Need any help?" Violet asked, walking over towards a kneeling Ginny. She looked up at the young girl in relief.
"Violet, thank Merlin. Have you got your wand on you?"
Violet produced it and Ginny stood, opening a cabinet that was above the counter. With a flick of her wand, the bowls soared to their proper shelf.
"Thank you," Ginny said with a sigh as she closed the cabinet door. "Lily has been cleaning like a fiend and I think she accidentally stashed my wand somewhere."
"Did you try asking someone to summon it?" Violet asked. Ginny smacked her forehead and cringed in embarrassment.
"Would you mind?"
Violet chuckled and summoned Ginny's wand. They heard a few startled shrieks and yelps from the living room before it flew through the door and into Violet's outstretched hand.
"Once again, thank you," Ginny said, taking the wand from Violet. "I'd forget where my own head was if I could take it off."
"Is there anything else that needs done?" Violet asked as Ginny removed her apron and hung it on a hook in the pantry.
"We are all set! I think once everyone else finishes up with their tasks we will be good to go. We just need to uncover the food in the dining room once everyone gets here."
The other guests began to arrive about fifteen minutes later. The Longbottom's were the first to show up, followed by the rest of the Scamanders and Finnigans, who had little Ian Thomas with them. Violet's younger siblings and their friend were quick to crowd around her and show off their fancy new Christmas outfits. Seven year-old twins Sean and Bella were wearing the same deep forest green in the forms of a necktie and a dress, respectively, and Ian had on a shiny gold bow tie, while four-year-old Layla was in a bright red dress, slightly more so than the deep red of Violet's. Bobby had hardly said hello to her before wandering off to find his friends.
"Where's James? I want to show him my new cards." Sean pulled a stack of brand new Quidditch playing cards out of his pocket and handed them to Violet. They were all Puddlemere players.
"I thought you were a Falcons fan?" she asked her brother.
"Well, I still am. But James will play for Puddlemere one day."
"So that means you have to cheer for them, too?"
Sean nodded as Violet handed him back his cards, a bemused look on her face. His eyes lit up as he took them, his gaze focused across the room.
"James!" he yelled before running past her and heading towards the stairs that lead to the second level of the house, Ian following closely behind. She turned and saw James making his way down, the little boys running halfway up to meet him and Sean's cards clutched tightly in his hands. Violet watched with a smile as her best friend humored her little brother, bending down to look closely at the cards with Sean and Ian.
She was distracted by the sound of her sister's voice.
"How come Ian would rather play with Sean than me?"
Violet looked at Bella to see she was also watching the boys on the stairs.
"Well, they're both boys. They probably have more in common."
Bella gave her older sister an annoyed look. She had a lot of spunk in her for someone who barely weighed fifty pounds.
"But I like Quidditch too. I like playing out in our backwoods. They do that together all the time."
Violet squatted down so she was eye-level with her little sister.
"Sometimes it takes awhile for boys to want to hang out with girls. You know how I'm friends with James and Fred?"
"Well, even though our families saw each other a lot when I was your age, we never really became friends till I went to Hogwarts."
Bella looked at her older sister with hopeful eyes.
"Really. So just give it time," Violet said with a wide smile. Bella hugged her before running off, leaving an amused Violet who hoped she'd given the proper advice. Standing and looking around the room, Violet spotted Fred and Lysander making their way towards her.
"You clean up well, Finnigan," Fred said, grabbing her hand and twirling her around. Violet let out a cheerful laugh.
"You're not so bad yourself, Weasley." She tweaked his bright red bowtie.
"What about me? I'm a right sight better than this git," Lysander teased, earning an elbow in the gut from Fred.
"You look brilliant too, Ly," Violet said, giving him a condescending pat on the cheek. Her eyes couldn't help but slip back to James, who was now being fussed over by his mother. He looked very nice tonight. She was sure there was a more flowery way to describe it, but she refrained from letting her mind run away with her. She didn't fancy mentally gagging at her own fanciful thoughts.
"I doubt she thinks either of us look as dapper as our lovely Quidditch playing friend, though."
She snapped her eyes away from James and tried very hard to appear innocent. She silently cursed Fred for being far more observant than she appreciated.
"Don't be silly. I like each of you just as much as the next."
Lysander guffawed and Fred gave a snort as he grabbed a biscuit off a tray of sweets that floated by.
"Does she think she's fooling anyone but herself?" Fred said in a fake whisper to Lysander, who continued to laugh. Violet rolled her eyes and blushed.
"Will you two stop being so ridiculous?"
"I know where all the mistletoe is if you'd like me to stage a little chance encounter."
"Shut up, Fred. He's heading over." Violet tried to shush both of them as they continued to laugh.
"What did I miss? Did they start in on the Christmas punch already?" James chuckled and glanced at Violet before doing a rather comical double take and looking her up and down.
"Wow, Finnigan. You clean up well."
Violet blushed but rolled her eyes.
"And you're as original as they come."
James looked at her questioningly.
"Fred said the same thing," she clarified
James gave his cousin an annoyed look. Fred grinned cheekily at him, taking a bite out of his biscuit.
"As much of a laugh as you all are," James said sarcastically, his eyes drifting towards the front door. "I do believe my date just arrived. So you'll have to excuse me."
"Your what?" Violet asked in shock as he made to walk away.
"My date," he said, gesturing towards the front door. He walked away and Violet turned to watch him approach a beautiful young girl with long black hair who was having her coat removed by Louis. Violet could only stare and will herself to remain calm.
She turned away from the door just in time to see Fred smack Lysander in the stomach and give her an apologetic look.
"Did you two know about this?" she asked.
"No," Fred insisted. "No we didn't. We're not so heartless as to tease you about him right before his date shows up. On purpose, at least."
Lysander nodded in agreement. "Rotten luck, that was. Sorry Violet."
Violet forced a grin and waved off their apologies.
"Don't be stupid. You've nothing to apologize for. Besides," she looked over her shoulder to see James supplying his date with a drink while she giggled at something he'd just said, before turning back towards Fred and Lysander. "It's not like we're dating or anything, right?"
The two boys shared uncertain looks. They weren't the best with complicated feelings and relationships.
"You don't have to say anything. Let's just forget about it. Food?"
"Food," they agreed.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"I can't believe you didn't tell me sooner," Violet hissed at her flatmate in an undertone. "How long has this been going on and how did I miss it?"
"You switched to nights! It wasn't that hard to hide it from you."
"So you were hiding it from me?" Violet crossed her arms and looked at Roxanne accusingly, who sighed and rubbed the back of her neck.
"Not intentionally, at first."
They were standing in the second floor bathroom. Violet had headed upstairs - needing some space after watching James's date spoon feed him pudding - when she'd heard a shriek in the bathroom and had rushed to investigate, only to burst in on her best friend sitting on the counter with her boyfriend between her legs, and no doubts as to what they were doing. Violet had let out a yelp and slammed the door shut just in time to see them both turn towards her with wide eyes. Lorcan had opened the door a few minutes later, given Violet an apologetic smile, and then returned to the party, leaving Roxanne to speak with her best friend.
"The first night it happened was when you and James made up. You remember that night?"
"You passed out on the couch before we got home and James put you in your room when we showed up."
"So I was in the house the night you lost your virginity?"
Roxanne blushed and nodded in affirmation. Violet sighed and put the lid down on the toilet, sitting on it while Roxanne leaned her hip against the counter and faced her.
"I get it's your life and you don't owe me anything, but that was the end of August. I didn't start working nights until beginning of October."
"Well, after that first night we didn't do it again for a while. I sort of wanted to wait until after I told you, actually," Roxanne admitted. "It felt weird that such an important step had happened in my life and I hadn't talked to you about it. But then I just never did and you started working nights and he'd be over at ours and I'd be over at his and...well…" she trailed off, looking guiltily at her friend.
Violet gave her a small smile.
"I understand, ok? I do. It's personal. But we tell each other everything. So is there another reason I literally had to burst in on you in order to find out?"
Roxanne took a deep breath and moved to sit on the edge of the bath in front of Violet.
"I was scared. Sex changes things, and talking to you about it would've made it seem that much more real. I was worried it would affect my relationship with Lorcan so I guess I was sort of waiting. I wanted to be sure we'd make it."
"Rox," Violet said, reaching out to grip her friend's hand. "Wouldn't it have been harder if you two had broken up and you'd turned to me but I didn't have all the necessary information?"
Roxanne let out a slight chuckle.
"I suppose you're right. But it seems like I had nothing to worry about. Things are better than ever."
Violet smiled at the blissful look on Roxanne's face. She was truly happy and truly in love.
They were interrupted by a sharp rap on the open door.
"Time for toasts," Lily told them, before turning to head back down the hallway. They heard her knocking on another door and hollering the same message as they stood to leave, but Violet kept a hold on Roxanne's hand.
"Next time something big goes down, talk to me, ok? I'd like to be able to be there for my best friend."
Roxanne smiled and hugged her.
"As long as you promise to do the same, ok?"
Violet agreed and they moved out into the hallway to head back downstairs.
"So, do I get any dirty details? Or-"
There was a loud bang as the door to James's room burst open and he came tumbling out into the hallway in front of them with his date in tow. They were laughing as he held her around the waist. His tie was missing and her hair was mussed up. James's eyes widened as he caught sight of Violet and his cousin. The girl calmed down and stepped away from James when she realized they had company.
Violet couldn't help herself. She glared at James and he tried to give her a friendly smile, but her features only hardened.
"Sorry," his date said. "We were just-"
"It's time for toasts," Violet interrupted her, turning to look at the girl, a blank look on her face. "Didn't you hear?"
Without giving James another glance, she hurried past them and down the stairs, Roxanne trailing behind her.
She spun to face Roxanne once she reached the bottom of the stairs.
"Don't say anything, Rox. Just don't."
Her best friend gave her a sympathetic look and nodded before heading into the great room to find her family. Violet took a deep breath and steadied herself. She followed after Roxanne as she heard James and his date making their way downstairs. When she entered the room, everyone was already circling up. This was a traditional part of the Christmas Eve party at the Potter's. They would all gather around and a handful of people would offer toasts and sentiments. Her father, Percy Weasley, and Ron Weasley had been the ones to offer toasts last year, so it was likely to be different people this time. She was pretty sure they had some type of roster figured out, but she'd never given it much thought. This had been the boring part of the evening when she was growing up, but she appreciated it more now. Now that she knew more about what her parent's and all of their friends had gone through. She moved over to join her family and scooped her sleepy little sister into her arms, taking her place beside her mother.
"Having a nice night? You disappeared for a while," her mother said. Violet rocked Layla back and forth as the little girl held her around the neck.
"Just talking with Roxanne. Needed a little break from all the people."
Her mother nodded as Harry Potter called for everyone's attention.
"I want to thank everyone for coming, as always. I feel like this party grows each year, so thanks as well to my lovely wife for doing most of the hard work." Everyone laughed and gave a cheers to Mrs. Potter, who raised her champagne flute in acknowledgement, smiling fondly at her husband.
"Anyway, it's time for toasts! Turns out it's my turn to be put on the spot this year so I'll start things off, now that we're all here." He threw an annoyed look across the room as James slipped into the back, his date standing awkwardly at his side.
"Each year that rolls around, I'd like to be able to say that I'm more and more thankful. Unfortunately, I'm human, and I often get caught up in the frustrations of day to day life and lose sight of what's important. That's why I'm grateful for days like today. They allow all of us to take a step back and look around and truly be thankful for those around us and all that we have. So yes, on this day each year, I'm more thankful than the one before, but here's to being more thankful every day, rather than just the special ones."
There was a chorus of cheers and everyone who had a drink raised it. Next it was Professor Longbottom who stepped forward.
"I know you're all aware that it's been difficult for us lately, what with my grandmother's health beginning to fail, but I think I can speak for my entire family when I say this has been one of the best seasons of our lives. You all have done so much for us. You've been so supportive and helpful and we're thankful to have every last one of you. So thank you, and I don't have anything else to say."
Everyone chuckled and gave their cheers to Neville as well. Finally, it was George Weasley who wrapped things up.
"Well I'm not thankful for a single one of you."
Everyone laughed at the sarcastic comment that was so very George. He smiled at them all before continuing.
"In all seriousness though, you lot are some of the best people I know. So here's to friends, those here and those gone. Here's to friends becoming family." He gave a nod of his head towards Teddy and Victoire, who were both smiling brightly. "And here's to family. We will always miss the ones we've lost, but forever look forward to the future they sacrificed for, and cherish the moments we have together. Cheers."
Violet smiled and kiss the top of her sister's head as everyone raised their glasses for a final time and downed their champagne.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
An hour later, the party began to die down and the families with younger children began to prepare to leave, Violet's included.
"You can bring your brother home, yeah?" her father asked as he zipped up Sean's coat.
"And yer staying over as well to be with us Christmas mornin?"
"We've covered all of this half a dozen times, Seamus. Let the girl get back to her party."
Violet's mother gave her an exasperated smile and a hug, her youngest child bundled up in her coat and sound asleep in her mother's arms. Her father rolled his eyes and kissed the top of Violet's head before ushering Sean and Bella out of the house. Standing by the door after seeing her family off, she also said farewell to the Longbottoms and the Scamanders as a lot of the other parents were leaving as well. The older kids would all be sticking around for another hour to have their traditional midnight snowball fight.
"Wonderful toast, Professor," she said with a cheeky grin at her head of house. He blushed slightly but gave her a confident smile.
"I appreciate it, Miss Finnigan. Better than the slightly tipsy one your father gave last year."
Violet laughed before turning to bid farewell to the Thomas's as well, a sleepy Ian holding his father's hand, and a sound asleep two-year-old Betsy in her mother's arms.
By the time everyone who wasn't staying for the snowball fight was gone, they only had half an hour before midnight. Violet offered to help Ginny clear the food from the dining room table as the others went to change into their snow gear.
"You can pile all of those onto one plate and just stack the rest of them," Ginny said as she levitated a bowl of punch into the kitchen, leaving Violet alone in the dining room. As she reflected, she realized the night hadn't been terrible. She'd had a good time catching up with Dominique Weasley and Eva Wood, who were now in their seventh year at Hogwarts and she hadn't been able to see since they'd been back over the holidays. She got to talk with Rose and Al as well. She had a good relationship with all of the Potter's and saw Al as another younger brother. Lily had even pulled her aside at one point to pick her brain about a boy problem she was having.
She'd expertly avoided James all night. There were a few times before their encounter in the hallway where he looked like he was going to approach her and introduce her to his date, but she'd managed to avoid him each time. After the hallway incident, he'd tried to catch her a couple times as well, without his date in tow. Had she overreacted by getting angry with him? Maybe. But the shock of seeing something she never wanted to see had temporarily destroyed most of her emotional barriers. She had no desire for him to question her about it. She'd had enough heart-to-hearts for one evening.
She looked up from her shuffling around of desserts to see James standing in the doorway of the dining room, already changed into his snow gear. She ignored him and went back to her task.
"Can I talk to you?"
She stacked the last few plates and picked them up and began to move towards the kitchen. He was quick though, and managed to beat her to to kitchen door, barring her way.
"Can you at least tell me what's wrong?"
"Shouldn't you be with your date?"
His eyebrows rose at her question.
"She went home. Is there a problem?"
Violet assumed a mocking mask of innocence.
"Wrong? No, of course not. What could possibly be wrong? Tonight was fantastic, really. I especially loved the part where you offered to pick me up, leading me to believe we'd get to spend the evening together, only to find that you had someone else you were planning to do that with."
James frowned at her.
"You ignored me all night. It's not like I tried to ditch you completely."
She gave him a scornful look.
"You know what James, nevermind. Just forget about it. It's fine. Friends are allowed to bring dates to things. Roxanne and Lorcan came together. It would have been fine if Ly or Fred had brought dates. Hell, I doubt you'd have even batted an eye if I had. So why should I care? It's not like we're dating or anything. I'm just one of your best friends. You're at perfectly liberty to do what you want, just like I am. So let's just forget that I was in a bit of a strop because my evening didn't go exactly how I thought it would, ok?"
He just stared at her for a few moments and she averted her eyes from his penetrating gaze when she began to feel uncomfortable.
"Will you let me through, please?" she asked in a timid voice. He awkwardly cleared his throat and she glanced up to see him looking at the ceiling. She followed his eyeline and groaned. Some of Fred's mistletoe was hanging above the kitchen doorway, directly over the two of them. She looked back at James and he met her gaze. His head dipped slightly and he held a question in his eyes. There was that charged atmosphere again. The one that had been there more often than not the past month. It made her heart flutter for a moment, but she eventually pulled slightly away and gave him a blank look that was tinged with a small amount of regret.
"To bad for you I wasn't your date for the evening."
His arms dropped from the doorframe at her words and she pushed past him, shoving the door open and rushing to set the heavy stack of plates down on the kitchen counter. She looked around the room to find that Ginny wasn't there as she'd hoped she'd be. Taking a deep breath, Violet slowly turned around to face the doorway where James stood, only to find him gone.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A/N: Sorry it's been so long since I updated this one! I've been sitting on this one for a while because I don't have another chapter written yet, and I usually like to have one in the works at least. I do know where it is all heading so hopefully it won't be a horrible long delay. Looking forward to your reviews!
Happy Reading :)