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Southern Cross by ad astra
Chapter 16: First Dates
I keep analysing and overanalysing Henry’s words during the week. Is he planning a big party or something for me? He’s definitely planning something – but what? He’s also staying incredibly tight-lipped about the whole thing – I can only assume he’ll come and get me when it’s time for whatever it is he’s planning.
When I wake up, I find a pile of presents by my bed.
“What is this?” I ask, startled.
“The house elves brought them in during the night,” Lucy explains. “When people send you things for Christmas or your birthday they keep them until the morning, where they bring them in.”
“These came from home,” I say in awe, glancing at the cards from my parents and friends.
“Yeah,” Lucy says, not looking too surprised.
I have five gifts in all – one from each parent, one from Georgia, one from Ella, and one from both brothers. Mum’s is a pair of paua shell earrings, Dad’s is a watch – typical Dad to follow wizarding tradition and buy me a watch on my seventeenth – Georgia’s sent me a whole lot of Whittakers chocolate and a stuffed sheep, Ella a gorgeous framed photo of us on the last day of Year 11, and my brothers – how on earth – they sent me a pav.
There is a pavlova sitting on my floor. I am definitely related to those boys.
The Gryffies make a point of singing me happy birthday at lunchtime, and I bring out the pav in the common room afterwards, where Rose, Scorpius and Henry join us. Rose and Scorpius in particular get some hostile looks – they’re behind enemy lines here – but I tell the hostile Gryffies it’s my birthday and I decide who’s in the common room on my birthday, and they just shrug and agree. At first I was worried about having enough pav to go round, but apparently my brothers – and by brothers I mean Martin because Nick doesn’t pay attention in Charms – have charmed it that it won’t run out until everyone’s had enough.
By dinnertime Henry still hasn’t said anything about his surprise thing, and I’m beginning to wonder if a) I dreamed it, or b) he was just saying that to make me feel better, when he takes me aside after dinner and says, “Meet me outside your common room at half past nine, okay?”
“Sure,” I agree, relieved and more than a little bit intrigued.
I have no idea what Henry’s planning, and pace around a bit wondering what to wear before settling on jeans and a hoodie – in my mind it’s much less embarrassing to be underdressed than overdressed. Heart racing more than a little bit, I head down the stairs to the portrait hole at nine twenty-nine, finding Henry dressed just as casually as me and holding what appears to be some kind of shimmering material.
“This is an Invisibility Cloak,” he explains, holding it up. “Belongs to your Gryffindor buddy Albus, I asked to borrow it. We’re sneaking out of the castle.”
My eyebrows shoot up. “Who are you and what have you done with Henry Greenfield?”
Henry shakes his head in despair. “I can’t believe you haven’t realised.”
“You’re an insult to the name of Kiwi.”
“I can’t believe you’re even asking these questions.”
“What’s going on?”
“It’s our countries’ biggest, most defining moment—”
The light suddenly dawns. “It’s the Rugby World Cup final tonight, isn’t it.”
“I can’t believe I forgot about it! I am a bad Kiwi…I haven’t even been following the games at all…The All Blacks made it to the final?”
“They sure did.”
“And who are we playing?”
Henry raises his eyebrows.
“Yep.” He holds out the Invisibility Cloak. “We need a TV. Get under here and let’s move.”
The journey through the castle is hair-raising to say the least – there are ghosts, teachers and prefects to try and dodge, but we make it to a passage that Henry says will take us into the wizarding village of Hogsmeade.
“If it’s a wizarding village, how will they have televisions?” I ask logically.
“We’re not staying there, we’re Apparating from there.”
“We can’t Apparate.”
“I can, and I can take you as well.”
“Where exactly are we Apparating to?”
“A Muggle pub.”
“We couldn’t get in, the drinking age is eighteen here, isn’t it?”
He hands me my Muggle passport, exactly the same except my birth date is one year earlier than it actually is.
“Yeah. Don’t abuse it though. We’re watching rugby, not going on an underage drinking expedition.”
“Wasn’t planning to abuse it.”
We emerge out into Hogsmeade, and Henry takes my hand, which immediately increases my heart rate an unhealthy amount.
“You do know where you’re going, right?” I ask cautiously.
“Sorta. Don’t worry, how hard do you think it’ll be to find a pub in London?”
“True…wait a minute.” I pull off my hoodie, shivering a bit in the chilly night air, and charm my T-shirt to black, before drawing a very misshapen silver fern across the front. “Much better.”
Henry pulls off his own hoodie, revealing a Springboks shirt underneath. “I came prepared.”
“You knew where we were going.”
Having put our hoodies back on, Henry takes my hand again, and I feel a horrible suffocating, squeezing sensation that makes me feel like I’m being sucked into a black hole. I am being sucked into a black hole, I’m probably going to die—
“We’re here,” Henry announces, and as the sound of faraway crowds yelling meets my ears, I dare to open my eyes.
We’re in an alleyway just off a very busy street, crowded with people. Loud yelling and cheering can be heard from what I assume are pubs, and I’m acutely aware that Henry’s still holding my hand, mainly because he’s now pulling me in the direction of one of the said pubs.
“Hurry,” he says urgently. “It’s nearly kickoff time.”
I swear Henry must have done his research before bringing me here. Either that, or he got extremely lucky with where he Apparated, because pretty much everyone in the pub is crowded around the huge big screen television and most of them are clad in black and waving All Blacks flags.
We flash our nice fake IDs at the barman, who grins as he waves us to the TV.
“You two make an interesting couple,” he notes. “South African and Kiwi? Going to be a good match, shame England did so badly in the semi-final.”
I briefly wonder how he knew our nationalities considering we’re still wearing our hoodies, then remember we used our passports as ID. That’s always a good indication.
Henry claps me on the shoulder. “With any luck, you’re going to be very unhappy come full time, Adelaide Crosby.”
What happened to Nice Guy Henry?
“Whatever,” I shoot back. “You’ll be burning that Springboks shirt in the street and claiming New Zealand citizenship, mate.”
“You tell him, girl!” someone yells, and I grin.
“Crowd’s on my side, Greenfield.”
“Oi, shut up!” a guy yells, and the din suddenly subsides. “They’re doing the haka!”
Henry and I edge closer to the TV, watching as the All Blacks start the haka, and I feel a sudden wave of unexplainable happiness, pride and excitement. I’m not homesick anymore – there are so many Kiwis here I feel like I am home.
The hush in the pub continues until the moment of kickoff, where the crowd erupts into yelling and cheering.
“South Africa has possession!” Henry shouts gleefully.
“Get it off him, mate!” a guy bellows at the TV.
I’ve watched a few rugby games in my time, but this is by far the best. Maybe because I’m so far from home, maybe because I’m with Henry, or maybe because it’s actually a really good game, but I can’t remember having quite so much fun in my life. Every time New Zealand scores everyone goes nuts, leaping to their feet, shouting, waving their flags – I did a nifty duplication charm while everyone was distracted and scored myself one – and singing the national anthem, but the amount we sing is getting progressively shorter, and we don’t get past “God of nations” by half time. There’s a small knot of South Africans in the pub, and a few Brits who are supporting South Africa for the simple reason that the Kiwis were so smug after beating them in the semi final. The scores are nailbitingly equal – it’s 13-12 to New Zealand at half time, and that was only after a last minute penalty.
I sling an arm around Henry’s shoulders. “Sure you don’t want to switch sides now?”
“Never!” he declares, throwing a fist in the air. “I. Am. South. AFRICAN!”
This proclamation gets him a number of cheers and whoops from the small knot of South Africans. “Somebody buy that man a beer!”
The game resumes, and so does the cheering, yelling, flag waving and shouting abuse at the referee. New Zealand scores again, then South Africa has a spectacular try that had Henry jumping up and down and yelling in a way I’ve never seen before, then it’s twenty long minutes of toing and froing.
“Just hang on, All Blacks!” someone yells. “Hang on till full time, you can make it!”
“You can still win!” Henry bellows. “Get the ball, Springboks, come on!”
With five minutes left, South Africa gets a penalty that puts them two points ahead, and everyone’s on their feet and I can’t hear my own voice for all the yelling and screaming, and suddenly a guy in black breaks away from the pack and tears down the field, and he’s passed it onto another guy, and they’re nearly at the line and OH MY GOD HE’S OVER THE LINE NEW ZEALAND’S SCORED and if I thought the pub was crazy before it’s nothing like what it is now. People are laughing giddily, cheering, whooping and hollering, shaking hands of people they’ve never met, and as the whistle for full time blows I turn to Henry, and without even knowing what I’m doing or why or how on Earth it even came to my mind at a time like this, I kiss him.
What the hell am I doing? I’m in a crowded pub, his team just lost, I don’t even know if he likes me and for one awful moment he doesn’t respond at all – but then I feel his arms wrap around me and he’s kissing me back, and there is nothing in the world that could make this moment better—
I slowly become aware that the yelling and shouting in the pub has quietened, and has been replaced by applause. Applause? I pull away from Henry – somewhat reluctantly, I must admit – and see that half the pub is now watching us. And applauding. And wolf whistling.
Oh good Lord.
“Aren’t you glad the All Blacks won, mate?” One of the more vocal guys – I think I heard someone call him Callum – asks Henry with a grin.
“Nope,” Henry says firmly, to a chorus of “oohs” and “you’re sleeping on the couch tonights” from the Kiwis and some more applause from the South Africans. “But I’m not really complaining about the result of it.”
A/N: So, I apologise for all the rugby talk - I'm not much of a rugby person myself, but I got swept up in World Cup fever enough to know something about the game. I hope this wasn't too difficult to follow for those who don't know or care about anything to do with rugby, and as always feel free to drop by my MTA with any questions :)