Chapter 26

Ines had awoken the next morning to the sound of laughter, no doubt from Sirius. They had all started speaking to each other more and consequently, the house felt, brighter. They had even played Quidditch one afternoon, but had yet to speak of what happened. When Ines arrived downstairs ten minutes later, fully dressed and carrying her empty breakfast tray, it was to find James sitting at the kitchen table in great agitation, while Sirius laughed beside him. "I only said I think Dumbledore said our O.W.L. results would be arriving today, I'm not sure". "Today?" shrieked James. "Today? But why didn't you, oh Merlin, you should have said —". Ines sat across from them, cutting James off before he could blabber on any further. "Since when have you become such a scholar? What do these marks mean all of a sudden.". James, still unable to speak, didn't answer so Sirius relayed his thoughts for him. "With the results also come to the verdict on whether or not he's Quidditch captain.". Ines nodded and sent a big smile to Sirius, which he seemed to understand, he was without a doubt getting captain.

Euphemia came from behind them, dressed quite nicely, "James what is all this ruckus? I can hardly-" Her words were drowned in a scream. James was pointing through the kitchen window. Three black specks were clearly visible in the sky, growing larger all the time. "They're definitely owls," said Sirius hoarsely, jumping up to join James at the window. "And there are three of them," said Ines, hastening to her other side. "One for each of us," said James in a terrified whisper. "Oh no . . . oh no . . . oh no . . .". He gripped both Sirius and Ines tightly around the elbows.

The owls were flying directly at the window, three handsome tawnies, each of which, it became clear as they flew lower over the path leading up to the house, was carrying a large square envelope. "Oh no!" squealed James. Euphemia squeezed past them and opened the kitchen window letting them in, to then line up in an even row on the kitchen table. All three of them lifted their right legs. Ines moved forward. The letter addressed to hers was tied to the leg of the owl in the middle. She untied it with fumbling fingers. To his left, Sirius was trying to detach his own results; to his right, James' hands were shaking so much he was making his whole owl tremble. Nobody in the kitchen spoke. At last, Ines managed to detach the envelope. She slit it open quickly and unfolded the parchment inside. On top, there was the regular term paper, book list, and then the exam results. She read the parchment several times, her breathing becoming easier with each reading.

It was all right. She had expected to do poorly in Herbology and was quite satisfied with her "Dreadful" grade considering how difficult it was. She looked around. James had his back to her and his head bent, his exam grades were on the floor as he discarded them the second they arrived only to read through the Quidditch letter. But Sirius was looking delighted. "Only failed History of Magic, and who cares about that?" he said happily to Ines. "Here, swap,". They handed their papers to each other and Ines found that his grades were essentially the same, save for an 'Acceptable' in transfiguration where Ines had gotten an 'Exceeds Expectations' as well as an 'Acceptable in Herbology'.

"Well, we're N.E.W.T. students now!" grinned Sirius. "Mum, are there any more sausages?" Ines looked back down at his results. They were as good as she could have hoped for. James was still standing very still with his mouth slightly open, gaping at his letter. "What's the matter?" said Sirius with mock impatience, moving around James to look over his shoulder at the parchment. "Captain!" he said, staring incredulously and happily at the letter. Ines saw something scarlet and gold fall into Sirius' palm. Ines gleamed "You were a shoe in James, I'm so happy for you.". James could still hardly speak and sat down silently, pinning his badge to his pajama top and eating, his eyes still glazed over.

"Wotcher!" Sirius called, "We've got another letter? Maybe is Dumbledore sending to say they messed up the captain spot! Oh I hope it's me." Sirius got a shove in the side for that but after a laugh, he stood to collect the letter from the owl. He paused for only a moment before turning to Ines, his gaze darkening "It's for you, Gavin.". He handed her the letter and she walked from the table, leaving him and Euphemia coddling James for his accomplishment. In the sitting room, she ripped open the seal and read the letter.

Dear Ines,

By the time you receive this I assume the Hogwarts letters have arrived, as well as the Quidditch one. I hope James doesn't hurt himself from shock, I could see him doing that. Tell him that he truly deserves the position and I wish him the best for the upcoming season. I'm pleased to say I've found a job at the Department of Magical Games and Sports, It's no Puddlemere United but I'm quite happy with it. I'm writing to clear some things up more than anything else. I, first of all, want to say that you are truly a wonderful girl and I wish you nothing but the best. Which is why I understand our relationship, or whatever it was, this past year. I had always been a bit uneasy when it came to understanding your feelings, I couldn't figure it out. I think it all came together the last time we spoke, on the train ride home. I'm not the best for you, someone else is, and I want nothing more for you to be with them if that is what makes you happiest. I hope for you to be happy above all, and maybe teach him to aim his bludgers better, I don't want you getting a broken nose like me.

All my love,

Gavin Gudgeon

Ines read it over and over again, rivaling James stance when reading the captains letter. Gavin was too kind, she should have treated him so much better than she had. He was truly a good soul. She took a moment to collect herself before walking back into the kitchen, James was now showing the letter to his father and Sirius was eating his breakfast quietly. Making her way around the table the talking quieted before she sat. "James, Gavin says congratulations and that he wishes you the best this upcoming season," James smiled, still high of the exhilaration of the announcement. "That was all?" Sirius asked, trying his best to sound confrontational. "Almost all," she whispered before shoving her mouth full with breakfast.

Hours later Ines was arranging her books she would be packing in two days time to head back to school. She was interrupted by a knock at the door, assuming it was Euphemia she opened it with no hesitation. But to her surprise, it was Sirius. In all the times they'd spoken, it was never in her room. She stared into his eyes, trying to decipher the look behind them. When she couldn't she stepped aside, letting him inside. He walked in, whispering a thank you, and sat on the bench adjacent from her bed. "Packing?" he asked, motioning to the open trunk. She nodded, and went and sat at the end of the bed facing him. They were silent, Ines could tell there was a question on the tip of his tongue that he was too scared to answer. "What is it," she whispered, he looked at her and blushed slightly at her perfect understanding of him. "Is he… are you… and Gavin s-". "No," she said firmly, then after a small blush lowered her tone "No, were not… anything. He wrote to say congratulations to James, where he was working, and that he understood that we weren't right for each other,". He didn't reply, taking in what Ines had said. He grinned slightly and stood to walk out, walking past her he ran his hands across her shoulder and went out the door.