Pink Green Blue

The Reality of Card Games by kablamo

« »
Rating: R. Created: December 25th, 2009. Updated: April 19th, 2014. Read Reviews (164)
Disclaimer: Characters, the magical world, etc, is property of J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros, not the owner of this fic.

The strange animosity that had sprung up between James and Frank continued through September, and, even more strangely, spread.  Frank would no longer talk to Sirius, Remus, or Peter.  Every morning he would wake up much earlier than the Marauders, as he had always done, but the rare glimpses of him leaving the dorm or from across the dinner table were always filled with a distance.  Even Lily, who knew Frank very well through association, being one of Alice's best friends, and who was nothing but pleasant with him, only received monosyllabic responses. This coldness toward her had appeared right after seeing her laughing with James.  Only Alice and Gideon were able to converse with him- everybody else could barely make eye contact.

Frank had always been a reasonable bloke, as far as James had been concerned.  Perhaps not as mischievous or foolhardy was the Marauders, but certainly someone who knew how to have a good time.  He'd conspired with Alice on several occasions to prevent Lily from discovering a party, a stack of illegal fireworks, and the like.  Occasionally he talked a bit too much about Alice, but it was something to poke fun at more than anything.  Overall, for Frank to hold on to some grudge over Quidditch tryouts, which had been weeks ago, seemed ridiculous, and, honestly, as Sirius put it, "like a fucking bird."  Frank had walked in when Sirius had said that, and, though the Marauders had tensed for some sort of confrontation, he hadn't reacted at all.  Just beelined to his trunk, threw something small in it, and ran out with a beet-red face. 

James and Frank had never been particularly close- he imagined the Marauders created an air of exclusivity, which had forced Gideon and Frank to become mates early on.  However, it was difficult not to have at least some level of friendship when living together for six years.  Even before Hogwarts, James could remember playing with him at a few of his parents' dinner parties, and though it hadn't resulted in a long-lasting friendship, it was rather petty of Frank to throw away all of that over Quidditch tryouts.  If the positions had been switched, James thought, he would've been much angrier at himself than at Frank.  After all, it wasn't as if Frank had performed spectacularly.  James wasn't ignoring a prodigy; he just thought that Claire and Troy would fit the team better.  Frank had slipped off his own broom multiple times. It was his own fault, James reasoned. 

Had Frank been expecting something different? Had he expected an automatic spot on the team, since they had a friendship? 

"Why does it bother you so much?" Sirius had asked him once.  "Just let him be a prissy little bitch."

"I dunno," James had answered truthfully.  "I just don't understand it."

In reality, the distance between him and Frank had only added to the escalating amount of stress in James' life.  His father and Valerie had both sent him letters, each with contrasting messages.  While his father insisted everything was fine, Valerie had passed on the opinion of her own father, who insisted quite the opposite.  Mr. Potter's position on several boards and committees was being questioned, and even some of the Potter family assets had been temporarily closed off until Mr. Potter could be deemed mentally healthy.  The letter from his father had seemed perfectly functional, but James wondered how many drafts his dad had written.  

The goblins from Gringotts also seemed to think that it was James they should be dealing with, since he was the one whom they had consulted about security at the Lucas' over the summer.  James had almost written back to tell them that it was his father who handled such matters, but thought better of it.  His dad certainly didn't need more stress, and the most they were asking for was a signature at the bottom of a few sheets of parchment.  Remus cautioned him about signing documents he didn't know a lot about, but, as Sirius had swiftly pointed out, in the worst case scenario James could always have the documents invalidated since he wasn't the primary holder of the various accounts.  Still, James had read through the documents, only understanding about half of them on the first read. 

He was also trying to take on more Head Boy duties, since it was obvious that Lily was drowning under her school work and the Headship duties of two, since James still had no clear idea what he was supposed to be doing.  He'd discovered that he was expected to tutor younger students, and that Lily had taken on the entire project for herself.  After insisting that he could handle it and promising that he wouldn't deliberately mislead them, Lily relented and let him take over all the Transfiguration groups.  It was easy enough actually tutoring, but several of the students were clearly so intimidated by him that they didn't bother to ask questions.  Several others took it as a joke and stopped showing up.  To further complicate matters,  Maddie Brookings was in one of the groups, and she had taken to idolizing James.  When he'd complained to the Quidditch team about Maddie tracing his name over and over in clear view of all the others, Angela had pointed out, "Well, what were you expecting when you saved her life?"

And, finally, there was Quidditch.  The team itself was working out beautifully.  Angela had been encouraged by tryouts and only improved as practices went on.  Emmeline and the new Beater, Anthony, complimented each other nicely (Blake, though clearly disappointed at not being chosen for first string, still smiled at James in passing, in a clear contrast to Frank).  Gideon was thriving, happy to be off the Reserve Team at last.  Troy was becoming more tolerable and less of a mouthy git, and Claire was quickly picking up on the tricks James had shown her to compensate for her size.

The problem with Quidditch was, for once, James.  His broom was still missing;the poster in the Common Room covered my much more recent requests.  The team was clearly holding their tongues; only Gideon and Troy dared to gently bring up the topic of ordering a new broom.  James always shut down the topic immediately.  Despite it being a little over a month since his broom had disappeared, he couldn't let it go.  He couldn't seem to explain it satisfactorily to the team.  To them, James was just being ridiculous and even harmful to the team with the Slytherin v. Gryffindor game coming around the corner.  But to James, who could still remember the splinters the broom had imbedded into his fingers the first few days of flying too hard, his Nimbus wasn't replaceable. 

And, as it later turned out, no Nimbus was.

 

 

"Fuck. Fuck."

The Quidditch Quill, which James had been subscribed to since he was ten, had published the first article in his memory that had led to such surprise.  James usually knew most of what was printed in the monthly magazine, following Quidditch dealings daily, but this article defied everything that he had previously conceived about broom companies, specifically Nimbus, who had always produced the highest quality Quidditch brooms in James' memory.  Others might be faster, but the handling and balance of a Nimbus broom could not be matched. 

"In order to pursue revolutionary research into the improvement of racing brooms, Nimbus will temporarily cease production.  No news has been released as in to how long this hiatus will last or concerning exact details of Nimbus' 'research'.  An anonymous source claims the company is having financial difficulties- Dragon shit.  Nimbus makes the best fucking brooms around," James spouted angrily.  "Do you have any idea what this will do to the League?"

"Please enlighten us," Remus said sardonically, reaching across the breakfast table for the double chocolate chip pancakes that he'd been gesturing at for the past minute.  It was a dreary Saturday with an icy rain that had no business on a Hogsmeade weekend.  Regardless, most of those third year and above were bundled and eating a light breakfast before heading out.  James, Remus, and Peter (they'd lost Sirius on the way to the Great Hall) were not, however.  The Marauders had been there so often that it had lost much of its appeal.  Besides, while many of the seventh years had also been there a good many times, they were looking forward to their first trip of the year.  The Marauders had already accomplished that multiple times during the last month and a half.

"The 1700 has been out for a little over a year!" James continued, ignoring Remus and Peter's knowing smiles.  "But still not every team has them, fucking idiots.  The teams that do are still going to have an advantage on the League, until Comet comes out with a new broom, which still won't be as good at the 1700.  This is going to completely unbalance the scales. Not to mention, the value of the broom is going to skyrocket faster than it can fucking fly.  People are going to make so many knockoffs, most of which will fly for five minutes before falling to the ground.  Nimbus has no idea what it just did!"

"So, are you going to buy a Comet broom then?  Because you can't ride the Swiftstick, Prongs. I don't care how bloody good you are at flying, mate, that broom is a piece of shit," Peter asked.

"No idea," James responded instantly, honestly not having connected the article with his own situation until now.  "I'd really rather get my own broom back."

"But how are you going to do that?" Remus asked impatiently. 

"The same way he's going to get Evans to like him," Sirius jabbed as he sat down, having caught the end of the conversation.  

"Where've you been?" James asked, mostly to change the subject.

"Talking to Meadowes.  Said I was real sorry about last year, but did she care for a quicky in the broom closet? I didn't even get slapped."

"No way, you shagged her?" Peter exclaimed loudly.

"Not yet. What needs to be emphasized here is that I did not get slapped. That means she wants me to shag her," Sirius explained, as if to a small child.

James nodded in agreement, but Remus just looked aghast.  "Is that it? Is that the end to your argument?"

"It made sense to me," Peter said.  

Remus shook his head.  "Shame you don't still have your Nimbus, James.  You could buy Padfoot some brains."

The four of them ate the rest of their breakfasts in relative silence (all were loud eaters), before standing up to leave.  James debated on whether he should bring Quidditch Quill with him or just leave it to rot until the end of days, but eventually decided to roll it up and shove it in his pocket, in case there was some detail that he'd missed.  He caught up with the rest of the Marauders and left the Great Hall; Diggory gave James a strange look in passing that Peter imitated well enough to have all the Marauders laughing loudly in the Entrance Hall.

They were just climbing the staircase when James heard his name being called out behind him.  Recognizing it instantly as Maddie Brookings, James' eyes widened, and he ushered the Marauders to move faster.  Instead, they made sure to take up as much space as possible on the staircase and move at the pace of a three-legged dragon about to give birth.  James frantically tried to squeeze between them, but he couldn't manage it in time.

"James! Hi!" Maddie said brightly upon reaching them.  She still had a few scars around her face that Madam Pomfrey hadn't been able to get rid of, but they were faint.  There was one on her temple that curled slightly at the end; it was eerily similar to one on James' back.  It had unnerved him at first, to see the reminder of the curse they'd both suffered, but now he was more unnerved by the advances of a fourteen year old girl.

"Hey, Maddie," James said as naturally as possible.  "What's up?" The Marauders behind him were faking a very quiet conversation so as to overhear.

She nervously put a strand of hair behind her ear, her eyes flickering between James' face and her hands.  "I was just going to Hogsmeade now," she said.

Oh, fuck me. "Oh, yeah? With your mates?" James supplied.

"No, my friends are all going with some boys.  Even Angela's got somebody- Not that, you know, Angela's not good-looking, just that she doesn't usually get guys.  Not from any deficit on her part, just that she's more focused on other things. You know?  But, yeah.  They're all going with somebody.  Alone.  With somebody.  They're obviously not going alone, how pathetic would that be?"

"I don't think it'd be pathetic at all," James lied.  He'd always thought the loner kids strolling through Hogsmeade to be a bit off, honestly. "Maybe people just want to be alone with their thoughts, yeah?" He vaguely remembered Remus using that as an excuse sometimes when they'd force him out of the library to have a bit of fun.

"Oh, yeah, you're right," Maddie backtracked.  "I'm not really in that kind of mood today, though."

"Right.  Well, I'm sure you could find somebody that'd go with you.  You're one of the good ones, Maddie." 

A faint blush rose in her cheeks.  "Thanks, James."

"Not a problem.  I would offer to go with you, but-"

"Oh, Prongs, don't worry about it," Sirius cut in.  "We can do that later."

"No, I really don't think-"

"Prongs, don't be ridiculous.  It can wait until later, I promise," Remus insisted.

Maddie must have caught the look of hatred that James shot at the Marauders, because her smile, which had remained steadily bright during this entire conversation, wavered.  James felt a sudden guilt sink into his whole body.  James quickly rearranged his features to a look of relief, and said, "Well, I guess that settles it.  I could go with you to Hogsmeade."

"Great!" Maddie exclaimed.  "Do you need to go get a cloak, it's awfully cold outside."

"Nah, I'm alright," James insisted, walking away from his friends and towards the Entrance Hall doors.  Maddie followed him, and, as soon as she was even with him, James flashed the two behind his back at the Marauders.  He could hear them stifling their laughter as they left the castle.  The rain had relented somewhat, but the chill remained.  James instantly stuffed his hands deep into his pockets, his right curling around Quidditch Quill.  

"Sorry about them," he added.  "They weren't laughing at you."

"Okay."  She didn't seem to feel the need to elaborate.  They walked along the path, finding themselves at the end of a throng of students waiting to pass the gates.  Filch was waving a Secrecy Sensor over every student before allowing them through.  James mentally checked that he didn't have anything illegal on him before stepping forward.  Filch ran the Sensor over him seven times before being satisfied and still glared distrustfully at him as he ran to catch up with Maddie.  

The pair passed the walk to the village with mostly small talk.  They spoke a lot about Angela, since that was the only common link between them besides that night, but Maddie was became very closed off after a while.  James asked her what she liked to do for fun, but she didn't give any sort of a specific answer for him to build off of.  Maddie told him a story about her first visit to Hogsmeade last year that he was evidently supposed to find funny; James laughed just inside the appropriate time limit.  She seemed to hang on every detail that he said.  Once or twice she complimented him, after which James became much more natural.

When they reached Hogsmeade,  Maddie pointed at the Three Broomsticks, but James shook his head.  There'd be too many people there right now, all of whom would think that James Potter was dating a fourteen year old.  Maddie failed at concealing her disappointment as they walked further down the road, passing their classmates diverging into Gladrag's or Honeydukes.  James led them down a road to the right, and they ducked quickly into the Hog's Head.  James' hair was very wet, though the back did manage to stand up, as always.  Maddie's cloak wasn't much better, making a thick splat as it hit the chair that she hung it on.  

The bar was cleaner than it usually was.  The glasses had no brown remnants sticking to the bottom, the chairs were all standing upright, and even the barman smiled at them as they walked in.  Pleasantly surprised, James sat down at the table opposite of Maddie.  He noticed that more students were in the Hog's Head than usual, but he saw nobody he recognized.  Conscious of the fact that they would still likely recognize him, he turned his head away and looked at Maddie.

"Are you nervous for N.E.W.T.s?" she asked.  "I'd be out of my mind."

James was momentarily confused.  "It's October."

"Well, you still have time, but you really only have seven months before you take the biggest tests of your life.  I hate tests.  I'm awful at them.  But I suppose you already knew that."

"I'm not worried," he said confidently.

"Of course, you're not," she said, reaching across the table and grabbing his hand.  James retracted it quickly, as if it had been set on fire.  He saw the pain sink into her features, and she let her hand slip drearily back into her lap. Her eyes left James', settling on the corner of the table.

"Maddie... I-"

"Are we ready to order here?" A waiter had come over the table, but his chipper mood disappeared as soon as he looked at Maddie.  

"Two butterbeers," James said hurriedly.  The waiter looked more than glad to leave the awkward situation.  James sighed, his eyes never leaving Maddie's face.  "I thought you knew, that me coming to Hogsmeade with you... was just as friends."

"Well, I wasn't sure," Maddie explained, still staring at the corner. "I was stupid.  Obviously we're just friends.  I'm Maddie Brookings, you're James Potter.  The only reason anyone knows who I am is because my parents died and because you saved me.  I'm not pretty like Lizzy Bennet or popular like Lily Evans... "  At this point, she began to cry; thick tears cascaded down her cheeks, practically forming a current, but her voice didn't waver. "Why did you even bother?"

James, who until that point had been preparing a gentle let-down, felt something burst inside him.  "Maddie.  Don't say things like that.  You're worth everything that Angela and I went through that night, and more.  Alright? Don't ever think that you weren't worth it."

Her eyes darted from the table to James' face, locking eye contact.  "Do you promise?"  A bit of snot ran down from her nostril, and she quickly wiped it with her sleeve.  "Do you promise?"

"Yes," James said instantly, unaware of what he was actually promising to.  Maddie seemed satisfied with that answer, though, as she flashed the waiter a grin as he set the butterbeers down in front of them.

She giggled feebly.  "I feel like an idiot.  I just poured out everything.  I made things really awkward."

"No," James said, though he completely agreed with her.  He'd learned early that girls often expected you to disagree with them.  "Don't worry over it."  He was just taking a large gulp of butterbeer, hoping that Maddie would say something else, when Lily and Dorcas walked into the bar. Both were soaked, Lily's hair almost copper with rain.  Dorcas' hair was dry, having the hood on her cloak pulled up, but James could tell that she was complaining about her mud-covered shoes when she entered.  The two girls hung their cloaks on the back of some chairs, and were about to sit down when they spotted the pair sitting at the opposite table. 

"Hi, James! Oh, hi, Maddie!" Dorcas said, walking over to the table.  Lily followed her, seeming almost reluctant.  "How're you two?"

"Fine," Maddie said quietly, quickly rubbing any remaining tears from her face. Dorcas was clearly going to pretend not to notice, but Lily's eyebrows rose as soon as she saw the puffy red eyes.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine," she said, but clearly not meaning a word she said.

"Do you want to talk about-?"

"That's a great idea! Lily is such a good listener, Maddie," Dorcas said knowledgeably.  "Talk to her, I promise you'll feel so much better."

"I'm fine," Maddie insisted, but Dorcas had already grabbed James' arm and pulled him from the table.  Butterbeer sloshed down his robes.

"Oh, don't be so posh.  We have magic," she said when James made an indignant gesture.  "We'll give you two a minute.  I'm sure Lily is better at solving this problem than James anyhow."

"There isn't a problem," Maddie spouted angrily.

"Well, maybe there isn't, but can I still sit down and talk to you, Maddie?  We don't have to talk about anything you don't want-"

The rest of Lily's words were drowned out by distance as Dorcas pulled his sleeve. James turned around, and Lily had taken his seat.  Maddie was already beginning to cry again.  He hoped Lily was a miracle worker, because this was by far the most uncomfortable encounter he'd had in the Hog's Head.

"James," Dorcas said sternly, stopping abruptly in the corner.  "James, I know where your broom is."

"What?" His head snapped forward so fast that his neck popped.  "Where? Did you take it? Who did?"

Dorcas smiled, as if she was expecting all of these questions.  "I didn't take your broom.  I just know where it is."  She pulled a strand of dark hair behind her ear, much the same way that Maddie had done before.  "It's in the Room of Requirement."

"You know about the Room?"

"Sirius showed it to me last year," she said dismissively.  "It's in the Room of Hidden Things.  Near the back, where the cabinet with the five-legged skeleton is? It should be leaning up against it. Don't tell anyone I told you this, though, okay? Just tell them that you found it behind the school or something weird."

"Fat chance.  Who took it, then, if you didn't? Why are you telling me?"

"I'm telling you because the person who did take your broom told me to tell you." She glanced over at the table with Maddie and Lily, who were now both occupying one bench, and spoke more quickly.  "They decided it was a mistake and felt really bad about it, but they're afraid of what you'll do if you knew it was them.  They came to me, because if anyone can keep a secret in this school, it's me. And I want to see Gryffindor pummel Slytherin as much as anyone.  You seriously cannot tell anyone- alright, you can tell your bloody Marauders, but that's it, okay? I promised I wouldn't tell everything, but please, James?  Please.  I promise you won't like it either."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I can't tell you, git.  That's what I just said, innit? Now go get your broom."

"This isn't over," James said, still moving away.

"If you say so," Dorcas said, knowing very well that it was.

James rolled his eyes and sprinted back to the table.  Lily was embracing Maddie, rubbing her shoulder as she sobbed. Pulling some coins from his pocket, he opened his mouth for an excuse, but Lily shook her head quickly.  James understood and dropped the Sickles on the table as quietly as possible, mouthed a quick "Thank you" to Lily, before running out of the Hog's Head as fast as his legs would carry him.

 

 

The broom was just where Dorcas said it would be.  His fingers closed around the handle with a paradoxical mixture of relief and apprehension.  The familiar grain pattern eased the muscles in his hand, and he suddenly knew that this was his Nimbus, not anyone else's.  This was the Nimbus he'd flown when he'd won the Quidditch Cup last year, when he'd gone an entire practice upside down, and, yes, when he'd flown for eighteen hours and his hands had become a blistered, calloused mess.  This was the Nimbus he'd flown to Sirius' house the summer before fifth year, to kidnap him from his ridiculously pureblood maniac family. He'd flown the broom to Remus' house over the summers, to help him through the moon.  And it was this broom that he'd drove into the glass of his mirror back home.

It was also the last thing that his mother had given him before she went to St. Mungo's.  

The balance was exactly the same as it had been before.  James couldn't help himself, he mounted the broom and kicked off right there.  Even though he wasn't outside, the familiar rush of air against his face was exhilarating.  He dived towards the ground, swooping through the rows of broken furniture and oddities of the magical world, then flew upwards sharply, his feet scraping the ground.  He looped through the air, unable to wipe the smile from his face.  

It was quite a while before James was able to come down from the air.  When he did, he rolled from his broom to the ground with a few feet still to go.  The impact of the stone floor spread through his shoulder, but he still laughed from the elation of it all.  Standing up, he walked over to his broom, which had fallen to the ground without a rider.  He held his open palm above it and shouted, "Up!" The Nimbus responded instantly, zooming into his hand as though it had been anticipating the command.

James left the Room of Hidden Things about two hours after he'd entered it, and he was still torn between the pitch and the Common Room.  Deciding that the Marauders could wait after their stunt that morning, James sprinted down the corridors and slid down the banister, feeling liberated beyond all constraints.

It wasn't until he reached the tapestry on the fourth floor that his mood drained at all.  James pushed the tapestry aside, revealing the narrow staircase that skipped a floor, along with Frank Longbottom, whose leg had sunk into the trick step.

"Thank Merlin, I've been here since noon," he said as soon as he saw James.  "Give me a hand, will you?"

"Looks like you need a leg to me," James said, walking down the stairs leisurely.

"Ha ha ha.  I suppose you don't want to stoop to my level either? Come on, James, I can't feel my leg anymore."

"Alright, alright, don't get your panties in a bunch," James retorted, resting his broom against the railing.  He supposed it was hard for Frank to be angry at him when his help was so desperately needed.  Hardly anybody used this staircase on the weekends, Frank would've likely had to wait for Filch to patrol that night.  

"On three, yeah?" James said, doubling over and wrapping his arms through Frank's pits. Quidditch Quill fell out of his pocket in the process.  "One, two, three." He pulled upwards while Frank wiggled his leg, which came free with a strange pop. 

Frank groaned, turning to lean on the railing.  "My leg's been asleep for a while," he reiterated.  

"Right," James said, grabbing his broom and continuing to descend the staircase.

"Hey, James," Frank called, reaching into his pocket.  Something in Frank's voice, a certain friendliness and familiarity, made James turn around to see Frank holding up a pack of cigarettes.  "Smoke one with me?"

James was about to refuse when he really looked at Frank's face for the first time.  His eyes were red; his brown hair had clear treads where his hand had run through it multiple times; and his face, which had always been on the rounder side, was thin and pale.  He needed this cigarette, and he needed to share this strange moment in the middle of the stairs with somebody.  James nodded, leaning his broom against the railing again, and moved up a couple steps.

Frank opened the packet, shaking out two cigarettes.  James took one while Frank stuffed the box in his pocket, pulling out his wand in the process.  He lit James', which was already poised between his lips, and then his own.  They both inhaled simultaneously, the gold at the end of each stick glowing as it consumed itself.  

James exhaled first.  "Remus get you hooked?"

Frank nodded.  "Yeah.  Didn't think Muggle drugs could be so good."

"That's what we thought too," James replied, knowing Frank would understand that "we" meant Sirius, Peter, and himself.  "I used to smoke a lot, until I realized it was affecting Quidditch. Quit cold turkey.  Still" -he took another drag- "it's not too bad, every once in a while."

"I'm the opposite right now," Frank said.  "I used to only smoke whenever Remus offered, but lately I need it way more. Alice isn't too happy about it." 

James shrugged.  "She's a girl."

"Is that supposed to mean something?"  It wasn't aggressive, more genuinely curious.

"Birds don't think the same way we do.  Half of them have a wand up their arse all the time, but all of them have a wand up their arse half the time."  James knocked his cigarette against his finger, the ash sinking to the ground slowly. He watched it until it hit the ground, then looked back up at Frank.

"Profound," he said, nodding while suppressing a grin.  

"I like to think so." 

The pair smoked their cigarettes in calm.  James could feel the nicotine hit his brain, stimulating him in a similar way flying had done moments ago.  Thinking of this, he gestured to his broom, but Frank didn't notice, lost in his own thoughts.  James took a last drag, the cigarette nothing but a stub in his fingers, before steadying his gaze.

"Does this mean you're over Quidditch tryouts?" he said nonchalantly, flicking the bud onto the staircase.

Frank's eyes focused on him, nonplussed.  "Quidditch tryouts?"

"Yeah," James said, frustrated that Frank was going to try to beat around the bush.  "Ever since then, you've been acting like a fucking cock."

"I have not," Frank objected.  "I mean, sure, I've been a bit.... absorbed, but I wasn't deliberately being a cock, man.  And it has nothing to do with Quidditch tryouts.  I could hardly blame you for not picking me- I botched my flying. I really only tryout because Gideon kept pushing me to."

"Oh," said James, surprised.  "Why've you been so off then?"

Frank sighed.  "It was Alice's and my anniversary today."

James furrowed his eyebrows.  "Yeah, that's unfortunate..."

"I wanted to propose today."

"Holy fuck, Frank," James said, almost taking a step backwards.  "Propose? Merlin, Frank, you two haven't- I mean, you've got to be- You've got to be one of the luckiest blokes here."

Frank narrowed his eyes suspiciously.  "Are you pulling my wand?"

"No," said James honestly.  "Fuck it, if you know you're in love and you want Alice forever, why the hell not?  You two have been together for an eternity. If anyone's should be married, it's you two. I think it's a great idea.  It's honestly a bit nauseating to see you two together sometimes."

"Thanks?" Frank said, laughing as he pulled out the packet of cigarettes again.  James took another one automatically, mulling over the situation while Frank pulled one for himself and lit the two.  

"So, what? You've just been so bloody nervous for the past month that you've dropped off all contact with everyone?"

"No...." Frank's good mood evaporated instantly.  "I just... I've been trying to figure out a way to get enough money to buy the ring.  I've done odd jobs for everyone I could find around Hogwarts, but none of the students really have money and the professors don't have anything a student can do.  I've been down to Hogsmeade and there's nothing there...I've borrowed so much money, but it's not enough... I've even mailed my mum, but Gringotts has temporarily closed down access to vault because of some security issue... Hell, I've sold everything I have that's valuable...And it has to be perfect. I know the ring that she wants, she pointed it out to me in Diagon Alley once, but damn is it expensive.  But it doesn't matter, Alice deserves a perfect proposal, and I'll be damned if I can't give her one.  But our anniversary is already gone.  I was going to propose to her the same spot I asked her out for the first time, I had it all planned, but I didn't have the ruddy ring!"  

James stopped mid-inhale.  Frank gritted his teeth, shaking his head.  "Alice deserves so much more than this.  So much more than what I can give her."

"Frank, I don't think Alice could be more in love with you.  After seeing the past few years of you two together- have I mentioned the nauseating thing yet?"

"This isn't a bloody joke.  Alice means so much to me, alright, and I just wanted to give her something as perfect as she is."

James honestly didn't know how to respond to that.  One part of him wanted to make fun of Frank for being such a pussy, but another smaller, but stronger, part admired him. For giving everything he had for love. For wanting everything for someone else so badly that he was willing to have nothing.  For loving somebody else and having the courage to act upon it.  James knew, had known, for a long time that his own life revolved around emotion; he knew that if anything was worth anything, love had to be worth everything.  And to Frank, Alice was everything.

Fuck, I'm the pussy. 

He had just opened his mouth to say something, though he had no idea what, when Frank dropped the rest of his cigarette and began to walk up the stairs.  James grabbed his broom, intending to follow him, when Frank spoke.

"That mag.  It's yours."

Quidditch Quill lay open on the stairs in front of James.  He leaned down to pick it up, still intending to follow Frank, when he realized it was open to the Nimbus article. His own words from that morning reverberated somewhere deep in his skull.

"...the value of the broom is going to skyrocket faster than it can fucking fly..."

The weight of the Nimbus suddenly seemed very heavy in his hand.  He knew very suddenly what he had to do, though he never thought the words consciously.  It was just a heavy presence in his bones, a paralytic in his brain, a resignation in his whole body.  It was these things that James felt now, just as he had felt them the night he had saved Snape, and exactly as he had that night of agony he'd endured, thinking of little but Angela and Maddie.  And while this was less grandiose than saving lives, the feeling was still the same: a conviction, a morality, a core of a new soul that James would not let go. 

 

 

 

 

A/N: I will not even begin to give you excuses.  I had my reasons for not posting for so long, but they are a number of small things that stacked up that I'm sure aren't satisfactory.  I plan to put aside more time for fic writing, so you can count on more regular updates!  I am so sorry to everyone who has followed this story. I know exactly what's it's like to be on the other side of the fence here! Please forgive me, but I completely understand if you find yourself unable to! 

 This chapter is not betaed, just a warning.  My betas didn't have time, which is totally my fault for not giving them more room to work with.  But, I promised you a deadline! So, here it is!

Yes, I know I have already asked so much of you, but I'm afraid I do have the audacity.... Review? :)

« Previous Next »
Privacy Policy, Terms of Service. Coding created by Cine and constantly hacked by DNA since her disappearance. HARRY POTTER © and all related are the property of J.K. Rowling and various publishers, including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Entertainment. All works (stories and art) on unknowableroom.org are based on the original work with no copyright or trademark infringement intended. Unknowable Room is an unofficial, non-profit site not affiliated with afore mentioned entities. All works hosted on UR.org are property of their respected owner(s). No material may be reproduced from this site without expressed permission from its creator. UR.org takes no responsibility for views or opinions expressed by members. UR.org takes no responsibility for views or opinions expressed by members.