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Chapter 23: Confessions, Try-outs and Kisses
“And Connie said that…” Rose starts off again. Quickly, I tune out, just nodding and “mm”ing whenever she looks at me.
I’m good at that.
It’s something you have to learn to do with two annoying brothers.
For those of you who are going, “Who the fuck is Connie?” Connie’s that eighteen year old I mentioned before, remember? The girl who had the baby, blah, blah. Great for her.
Okay, that’s mean. I’m sure she’s lovely and sweet and smells of fucking roses, but to be quite honest, I don’t really care about everything she says or does. Unfortunately, Rose seems to think I do. So, Rose is intent on telling me absolutely everything she’s suggested. Which is brilliant, don’t get me wrong- her advice is much more useful than mine.
Connie can teach her how to a hold a baby, whereas with me if anyone passed me a baby, I’d run around panicking yelling, “HELP ME! GETITAWAY NOW!”
But that’s just me.
Babies actually terrify the living shit out of me. I can deal with them to a certain extent. I’ll blow a bloody raspberry or pull a face at a baby on a bus (to make it laugh. Not to traumatise them.), but actually having one 24/7… I shudder at the thought. I suppose I’ll come round to the idea eventually- when I’m older, I guess.
Good job I’m not the pregnant one, eh? If I was in Rose’s situation, I’d still locked in the bathroom, rocking back and forth, surviving off toothpaste. I actually quite like toothpaste, so I reckon that would be okay. I’m not sure it’d be great for getting all the nutrients and carbs and whatnot, but it’d be tasty. Although too much mint actually hurts. Makes my eyes water and my mouth feel like it’s burning. Well, I could wash it down with some water- I’d have plenty in the bathroom. I wonder if shampoo is edible... Y’know, if I dilute it a little with water. I’ll bet Vane’s strawberry body wash actually tastes quite nice…
Suddenly, I feel a poking in my side, and I look around. Rose is looking at me expectantly.
“Well?” she prompts, looking at me pointedly.
“…Yes…?” I reply slowly, grasping at straws, grimacing slightly. I have absolutely no idea what she just said.
“You have absolutely no idea what I just said, do you?” she says, raising her eyebrows. She can honest to Merlin read my mind.
“…Yes. Yes of course I did!” I reply, feigning being indignant.
“What did I say then?” She asks, looking very unimpressed.
“You were talking about Transfiguration!” I invent wildly. Well, to be fair, Transfiguration is one of her favourite subjects.
Rose looks at me, her wide blue eyes staring into my soul. I’m not even kidding- she has those eyes that feel like they’re piercing you and can actually see all your secrets.
I blink back at her.
“Do you honestly believe that was what I was talking about?”
“Kat!” Rose exclaims, annoyed. Swiftly, she turns and punches me, hard in the shoulder.
“Ow!” I cry as I leap backwards, rubbing my arm where she hit me. Rose is very violent, if you haven’t noticed already. And she can punch hard.
“Am I really that boring?” Rose looks at me sadly, her blue eyes shiny and shimmering. She could apologize, but of course, she pulls out the puppy dog face. Her bottom lips out and wobbles suspiciously.
“No! Of course not! It, um, was just a joke. You’re not like that, Rose. Don’t worry!” I grin a her, sarcasm just behind the words. Immediately, Rose cheers up and grins at me.
“Well, don’t you want to know what I said?” Rose giggles as we stroll along the corridor.
We’re heading back to the Common Room, it’s around six-ish in the evening and we’ve just eaten. Everybody is still eating back in the Great Hall- we’re two of the first to finish.
“Sure, go on then,” I sigh, unable to muster any enthusiasm.
Rose’s face crumples again, and she looks hurt. “No! If you don’t want to know, I won’t tell you!” she cries angrily. Quickly, she storms off, speed walking ahead of me.
Sighing, I jog after her, catching up to her reasonably quickly. Spotting me, she speeds up, waggling her arse as she practically runs ahead of me. I speed up a little and quite easily catch up to her once more. Fit Chaser vs Now Quite Pregnant Girl: who will win…?
When Rose makes another bid for freedom, I grab her arm and drag her towards a window. It overlooks the school grounds, which look still look gorgeous, even in the cold weather.
“Rosie Pose, of course I want to know. I’m sorry! Please tell me,” I pout, sticking out my bottom lip and batting my eyelashes at her.
Rose wrinkles her nose at me. “Okay, fine. I’ll tell you- just so long you stop looking at me like that. It’s scary!”
“You’re not going to like it anyway… I just said apparently you told James you are in love with him!” Rose says.
I didn’t know choking on your own spit in shock was impossible, but I managed it then.
“I-um, no. Yes. I mean. I did. Because I love him. Yes. It’s true.” I choke out, staring fixedly at the Whomping Willow.
“James told me. He didn’t tell anyone else, if you’re wondering,” Rose continues, standing right next to me, shoulder to shoulder. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her looking straight at the same spot I am.
“You’re still in love with Albus, aren’t you?” Rose says, completely relaxed. Not a drop of accusation is in there.
Eyes popping, I splutter, “Pssh. No, no of course not! Pssh. Why would you say that?”
I watch Rose roll her eyes. “You’ve been in love with him since First Year, Kat.”
“Was it obvious? Do you think anyone else realised?” I mutter quickly, turning my attention to the tree again.
“Aha!” Rose cries, raising her hand and pointing it at me. “You admit it!”
“I never said that!” I retaliate, realising too late I actually did. Groaning, I drop my head into my hands and shut them tightly.
“No-one else realised, Kat. I don’t think so anyway. I’m pretty observant,” Rose says gently.
I mumble incoherently in reply.
“You feel guilty for telling James you’re in love with him when you’re in love with Al, aren’t you?” Rose continues, her voice still soft.
I lift my head up. “Of course I feel guilty. I mean, how could I actually tell him I’m in love with him, when in fact I’m in love with his brother?” I cry angrily, though none is directed at Rose. “I’m such a bitch.”
“Fuck off, Kat.” Rose mutters, prodding me in the shoulder. “You’re not. You’re just… Confused.”
“Permanently so, I think Rosie,” I grin, and she chuckles in agreement. “You’ve got to understand that I really did like James when I started going out with him.” I look at her, speaking quickly and earnestly.
Rose nods slowly, “I know. I do believe you.”
“I just hoped the whole Al thing would wear off, you know? Schoolgirl crush? I suppose, for a while it did. But every time something happens, James says something big, I’d just be reminded of Al again.” I explain, still speaking quickly. The words are just flowing out of my mouth- like verbal diarrhoea.
Rose just nods and I take it as a sign to keep talking.
“I’m just angry at myself, y’know? For lying. For telling him I love him when I don’t.” I bite my lip, and look out to the grounds again.
“I don’t think you’re being entirely truthful with yourself.” Rose says carefully; I can hear her choosing her words carefully.
Frowning to myself, I ask, “What do you mean?”
“Okay. Don’t say anything till I’ve finished, right?”
I nod in agreement.
“Well. I think you are in love with James- don’t deny it!- I really do. Just the way you look at him, and come on Kat, you wouldn’t be so worried about his feelings if there wasn’t something a little deeper than a crush for him. I think you do love Al- don’t interrupt!- but you’re scared of giving him up. You don’t like change, Kat, you never have. And you’re just scared of giving Al up for someone else after you’ve liked him for so long.
I’m not angry, I not pissed off, I promise. I’m… Sympathetic. And I get it, I really do. But don’t go playing the victim on me, Kat. Not now. I could go all ape-shit on you for messing around my cousins, okay? But I’m not. But make up your mind, and soon, Kat. Otherwise I might not be so sympathetic.”
With that, she flashes me a quick smile before turning and waddling off.
“Everyone get your arses in the air!” James roars over the sound of the downpour. Sopping wet, the entire Gryffindor team, bar Keeper, rise into the air and gaze down at the new Keeper hopefuls.
James stays down and screeches some orders at them. I doubt they’ll actually hear most of it- it’s blowing a bloody gale. As James points at each of the team, explaining to the hopefuls what do, I focus on the new kids.
It’s an odd bunch, I’ve got to say. There’s a few promising looking, burly sixth and seventh years, but far too many tiny first and second years, shivering behind the bigger kids. One particular girl is shaking violently and hasn’t stopped coughing and sneezing since she arrived. Brilliant- that’s all we need. A sickly wimp.
It’ll be a difficult practice of course- replacing Rose will be hard.
She resigned officially from the team yesterday, much to the rest of the school’s interest. A lot of rumours cropped up- some worryingly accurate- but fortunately, when each of us told everyone the same story (Rose was too busy with her schoolwork- a very plausible excuse. Everyone knows what Rose is like, and everyone dreads to think what she’ll be like during OWLs), most people accepted it without a fuss.
Rose is actually sat in the stand, wrapped in about a million layers (Scorpius insisted. I know.). She waves enthusiastically, though somewhat sadly, at us. I wave back.
It’s been a little awkward between us. I’m sure you can guess why.
The first hopeful- a particularly scary looking seventh year- suddenly and clumsily clambers onto his broom and jerks into the air. Once he reaches the hoops, James soars up next to me and presses the Quaffle into my outstretched hands. With a wink, he flies off and I follow, Lily close behind me. Albus swoops above us, watching the Keeper closely. The Beaters follow Al’s leave and fly close, watching him.
Burly Seventhy- as I fondly christened him- misses four out of the five shots we fire at him. It’s horribly uncomfortable watching him lunge clumsily in the opposite direction to the Quaffle. On his final shot, he punches the Quaffle, hard, and it soars through the air and narrowly misses me.
We tell him he hasn’t got it and ask him to leave as politely as possible.
We speed through the next few hopefuls quite quickly. Most manage to save two or three shots- which isn’t bad in this weather.
A rather good-looking and cheerful looking boy eases his way into the air. He looks very relaxed as he takes his flies agilely up. Expertly, he stations himself in front of the left hoop- an odd but good choice. Most position themselves in the middle, but he’s gone for the left. James looks impressed as he tosses me the Quaffle.
This lad obviously knows his stuff and has been studying our tactics- we often favour the left hoop in games.
He easily saves the first two shots, only just misses the third (to a chorus of disappointed “ahh”s) but saves the final two.
Happily, James flies over to him and claps him on the shoulder in congratulations. He tells him to wait down back on the pitch till we’ve seen the rest of them.
Well, he’s definitely got the position.
However, James insists on seeing the rest of them. Well, there’s only three left: three particularly wimpy and skinny looking second years.
The first clumsily manages to get onto his broomstick and fly, haltingly, to the posts. He actually manages two shots- two particularly easy shots to be fair. Both Lily and I felt bad for the poor boy, so we practically threw the Quaffle into his outstretched hands.
He leaves, grinning broadly. He looked incredibly proud of his two shots as he trod back up to the castle. Not a single one of us had the heart to tell him that we went easy on him.
The next girl misses the first four shots and bursts into tears on the fifth. She then proceeds to refuse to leave the pitch and demands a re-try. In the end, because she wouldn’t leave, we give her a re-try.
She misses all five shots again.
Of course, she wants another shot after that too. Fortunately, James puts his foot down and mentions getting Professor Chang. Without another word, the girl whizzes down immediately to the ground and runs back to the castle.
As we laugh, Lily very nearly falling off her broom in of laughter, the final girl flies up to us. She flies slowly, but steadily, face determined.
I must admit, I “AW”ed a little- she was so cute. As I pass James the Quaffle, he yells, “Don’t go easy on this one, Kat!”
I call back loudly, “But she’s too cute to upset!”
He laughs and throws the Quaffle to Lily. She chucks it, an easy shot and the girl easily catches it. I grin at her encouragingly and she smiles back. With remarkable accuracy, she tosses the Quaffle to me- a clean and fast throw.
Impressed, James grabs the Quaffle, passes it to me and I quickly throw it over my shoulder. Lily catches it and flies under me, throwing it back to James who pulls off an impressive throw, heading straight to the right hoop. As if she expected us to throw it there, the girl is there like lightening and kicks the Quaffle back towards us.
Raising my eyebrows, I fetch the Quaffle and we begin again. Over the next three shots, we throw increasingly harder and she catches each one- the final admittedly by the tips of her fingers, but she manages it.
Once we’ve finished the shots, we motion for her to follow us back down to the pitch.
She looks exhilarated and buzzed and she bounds over to us. “Oh Merlin! That was awesome! So cool! Thanks!”
I hold out a hand and she slaps it lightly.
“That was some cracking flying up there, kid,” James tells her, beaming happily.
“What’s your name?” I ask, smiling at her.
“Oh! Rosaline. Rosaline Berry,” she grins, sticking her hand out for James to shake. He does and shakes it quickly. As they release hands, the good looking bloke comes over, grinning.
I cough awkwardly, realising this guy evidently thinks he’s got it- he’s been sheltering in the changing rooms.
“So when do I start?” the boy says. He has a nice voice- neutral- but there’s an edge to it I don’t like. He’s smug- that’s it. Smug.
James grimaces, uncomfortable. “Sorry mate. Alfie, isn’t it? Alfie King? Well, sorry anyway. Rosaline here outflew you today and under these conditions, it’s pretty impressive. So we’ve decided to give Berry the position. We’d like you to be our sub though.”
The guy’s smile stays plastered on his face, but it’s sour. His angelic and rather beautiful face suddenly looks very ugly. He nods stiffly before thanking us for our time. Then, he turns, still wooden and walks back to the castle.
Fred widens his eyes and stares at us all. “We’re in deep shit. He’ll murder us in our beds.”
We all laugh, and Lily scolds him for swearing in front of Rosaline. We all head back to the changing rooms, except for Al.
I beckon for him to follow us but he shakes his head. “I want to work on my skills in these weather conditions- it makes it tough for the Seeker. It’s Britain- we could do we practice for this.”
I grin and add, “Do you want any help?”
He shrugs. “Yeah, that’d be good if you want. Are you sure though, it’s so grim out here?”
“I’m wet already, m’dear. Might as well,” I laugh and shoulder my broomstick. I lead the way while Albus calls to the others to explain. They all mutter about how we’ll end up killing ourselves, but nobody objects.
As I climb onto my broom, Albus runs and leaps onto his, soaring into the air. “I’ll race you!” he calls over his shoulder before zooming off. Laughing to myself, I soar up, chasing him. I grab the tail of his broom and yank it back so I’m level.
“Hey! That’s cheating!” he cries indignantly.
“Says you!” I yell as loudly as I possibly can over the clamour of the bouncing rain. Rain slashes into my skin, but it doesn’t bother me- I’m used to it.
I’m focused on the race.
Laughing, I will my broom to go even faster, to beat Al. But he’s a Seeker- a faster flier, a clever one. He knows his broom better than anyone. He swerves a little closer to me, and I’m distracted for a millisecond as I panicked in case he whacked into me. That gives him the little leeway to speed off ahead of me.
Annoyed, I pull back and stop flying, watching him continue flying, evidently believing he’s still racing. Soon, he flies too far away that I can’t see him. I didn’t realise before, but it’s got dark and misty. The rain adds to the affect, and I realise I can’t see the ground.
Instead of being afraid, I laugh. I’m invisible. Nobody can see me, I can’t see anybody. It’s an odd feeling.
Albus suddenly comes zooming up next to me and pulls up. “Hey! What happens?” he asks breathlessly.
I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs, eyes lighting up.
“You gave up! So I win!” Al cries happily, pointing his finger at me.
I sniff, looking up at the black sky. “I wasn’t playing anyways. You cheated.”
Albus chortles and shoulders me gently. “A sore-loser’s excuse.”
We both giggle and then go silent, looking around us. It feels like we’re floating on nothing- there seems to be nothing around us except rain. It’s funny really, how comfortable I feel up here on the broom. I don’t feel like I could fall, I feel like the nothingness is holding me up- a fluffy mattress I just can’t see. I suppose that’s the practice talking.
“It’s weirdly beautiful, isn’t it?” I mutter, voice oddly soft.
“Yeah it is. Darkly beautiful,” Albus nods, his voice gravelly.
Slowly, he turns to look at me and I gaze back at him. He tilts his head slightly, staring at me straight in my eyes. He bright green eyes are mesmerizing.
And suddenly, I don’t know how it happened or why it happened and I can’t remember the moment before, but suddenly we’re kissing.
His lips are on my and he’s kissing me, it’s so gentle but it’s so desperate, there’s so much meaning behind it. And I’m kissing him back, with more force.
I’ve been waiting for this moment for years. And it’s so oddly perfect, but so imperfect and wet and slimy, but so desperate and we need it and I can’t let go.
I feel myself swing my legs over my broom and wrap my arms around his neck. He grabs my waist and pulls me closer, my broom floats towards him.
The rain envelops us- our own Cloak of Invisibility. No-one can see us; we’re hidden.
Without warning, our brooms slowly circle down back to earth. We don’t break apart; we don’t even pause for breath. I can’t stop. He can’t either. I don’t want to let go and I let everything melt.
It’s just me and Al and the rain.
Our feet touch the ground slowly and without speaking or stopping, he grabs me and pulls me up as he stands. One hand on the small of my back and the other on my neck, he’s wrapped around me. My arms are draped around his neck, though my hands are clawing at his hair.
I don’t know how long we’re kissing, but I know it’s for a long time. I don’t care, I don’t care. I just want him. I just want Albus. And I’m crying, and the tears and mixing with the rain but I don’t care because Albus is kissing me and he wants me and I don’t know why I’m crying anymore.
Simultaneously, we leap apart, both nearly falling over our floating brooms. Chest heaving, we stare at each other.
His hair is plastered to his forehead and water drips down his nose. He’s staring back intently at me, and I wonder what a sight I look.
Then I gasp, real life hitting me, hard. I flinch and Albus seems to reach out to me, but changes his mind.
“Kat-” he whispers, his voice hoarse and confused.
Eyes wide, I shake my head and back away. Voice cracking, I mutter, “No, don’t. Just- No-”
I make a grab for my broom and run, run as fast as I can. Albus is shouting after me but I don’t stop. I run back to the Castle and I don’t look back. I run, run through the castle and through the Common Room, taking no notice of anyone and straight to my dormitory.
A/N IT HAPPENED. THE KISS HAPPENED. AND IT’S KIND OF SAD AND I’M CONFUSED. AND DON’T KILL ME FOR SLOW UPDATES.
LOVE YOU ALLL!