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Chapter 2: Try-outs
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise, including Nike and the quote, 'Just to it', aren't owned by me, but credited to the appropriate parties.
The wonder that is HeavenLeigh @ TDA came up with this
Do you know what's worse than being woken up at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Being woken up again not less than three bloody hours later.
“The fuck, Scorp?” I grunt at the prat standing beside my four-poster. Through my fuzzy vision and fuzzier state of mind, it seems that his blonde head is swathed in flickering yellow flames. I briefly wonder if he would still be grinning if I really did set his head on fire.
He doesn't give me a chance to satisfy my morbid curiosity, however, and says, “Finally! You were completely out of it, mate. Like, Sleeping Beauty.”
Allowing Gen to teach him about Muggle fairytales had been a big mistake.
“By the way, it would be best if you got ready pronto. Try-outs start in half an hour.”
I groan. Of course we had try-outs today. And of course I had forgotten all about them, being involved in a tampon heist this morning and all.
I curse, throw the covers off, and feeling a vague sense of déjà vu, amble to the door of the bathroom.
When me and Scorpius arrive at the Great Hall, it is to find that other than us, the only ones up and about are a few Ravenclaw nerds and Hufflepuff early birds and the hopefuls for the Slytherin Quidditch team. Even the Staff table is deserted. I briefly entertain the idea of doing a bunk, weighing the pros and cons of the possibility. Then my eyes fall on Monica McLaggen, sitting by herself at the end of the Slytherin table.
My stomach does that sick, lurching thing where it seems that my intestines are coiling and and un-coiling and re-coiling again. My mouth feels dry as the Sahara and Scorpius has to prod me to make me move again.
To any casual onlookers, it may seem like I might sort of, kind of fancy Monica. Might.
We plop down on the bench in front of her, and she looks up from her breakfast to greet us. "Morning Scorpius, and, er... Albert."
I wince. “It's Albus, actually.”
Seven years of studying together and my thoughts going dangerously haywire in her presence, and the girl still thinks I'm called 'Albert'.
Still, nothing can stop my innards from flipping over everytime she smiles at one of mine or Scorp's jokes. Vaguely, I feel that perhaps Gen is waiting for me to pass her a glass of her favourite Cranberry juice (she hates everything to do with pumpkin), as is our custom.
But I'm distracted by the way Monica's hair catches the light (if you look carefully, you realise that there is this reddish tint to her dark brown hair) and don't realise that I was pouring the juice into thin air until several feet of white linen in front of me are stained blood-red.
Hastily mumbling an apology, I glance to my right, expecting to see Gen scowling at me, only to notice for the first time, that the girl in question was not even there.
“Hey, where's Gen?” I ask no one in particular, though Monica answers.
“Gen? She's probably still in the dorm. She drove out everyone else with her griping and complaining,” she sniffs disapprovingly. “She should realise that she's not the first female to experience menstrual cramps.”
Her declaration is met with silence from us. Reluctantly, I decide to go and drag her down here, because though we hate it, the try-outs need to be held today.
I reach the staircase to the girl's dormitory, and quickly mutter a spell to transfigure my feet into a girl's, complete with glittery pink nailpolish. Lily discovered this loop-hole to the stairs' male-detection charm in her Fourth Year, when she got her first boyfriend (James wasn't amused). Gen fails to understand why I don't like it.
Oh, I dunno. For some unfathomable reason, having pedicured, painted-toed feet makes me feel slightly effeminate.
I find Gen in her dorm, alright. She's dressed in her Quidditch robes, thankfully, with her Captain's badge pinned to her chest and white Nike trainers laced and ready to 'Just do it'. Only hitch in the plan? Gen is lying on the floor at the foot of her bed, curled up into a sort of foetal position, mumbling about how she is dying.
She hears my footsteps as I approach, looks up, and whispers, “Al, please Avada Kedavra me. Kill me. I can't bear it.”
Merlin, spare me. “Come on Gen. You have try-outs to hold.”
“Try-outs be damned. I'm not moving. This floor happens to be very comfortable.”
She's making this so hard. “I'm sure it is, Gen, but as the Captain, it is your duty to put your team's interests before yourself, and-
“Nooo!” She wails, and pulling her knees so close to her chin it's a wonder her spine doesn't snap, begins rocking from side to side.
“Genesis Aleck, if you don't come down to the pitch right now, I'm dragging you down there by your hair.”
She's silent, allowing my sensible words to penetrate through her stubborn skull. Then, finally, with a wince, curse and something about me being a git, she leaves her sanctuary on the carpeted ground and we're ready to go.
It is then that she chooses to look down at my still transfigured feet, and, with the eye of a critic, tells me, “Next time, pick crimson. Fuschia doesn't suit you.”
I should be paid for dealing with her.
To no one's surprise, Gen is business as usual as soon as she's on the pitch. You'd hardly think that just a couple minutes ago, she was lying on the floor, begging for death.
“OI! YOU LOT! STOP ARSEING AROUND AND GET INTO GROUPS!” She yells at the crowd, and everyone flinches and hastens to follow her orders.
I join Scorp at the side of the pitch, where he's polishing his Beater's bat, when Gen shouts, “OI! POTTER! MALFOY! D'you need special invitations? Join your groups!”
We stare at her, dumbfounded, until I manage to get out, half-amused, half-puzzled, “You're making us try-out?”
“No, I just want to see you skydive from your brooms.” Ah, how I love her sharp, sarcastic tongue. “Of course I need you to try out, you dolts.”
“B-but, what for?” Scorpius splutters in surprise, “we're already on the team!”
“Well, for all you know, there might be someone out there whose better than you,” she answers, sauvely flicking her hair away from her face and swinging onto her Foxflame 009, “and I want nothing but the best for my team.”
Shaking our heads in shared bewilderment, we join the groups of Seekers and Beaters waiting for their turns. “Okay, everyone,” Gen's voice booms over our heads, “First up: Seekers. Simple rules. Catch the snitch, you're on the team.” I get the feeling that she's staring right at me as she says the next words, “And oh, try not to get knocked out.”
I swing myself onto my broom- a Velocity XT, and kick-off on her whistle. I take a glance at my competitors, most of them Fifth and Sixth years riding outdated models of Nimbuses and Cleensweeps. I feel like laughing. Gen hoped to find someone better than me amongst this lot?
Then she opens her palm, releases the Snitch, and all Azkaban breaks loose.
It's like a bloody free-for-all. Nobody's flying with any sense of direction, as if actually hoping that the Snitch would pull a Harry Potter, and get jammed up their oesophagus. Not to mention, Gen is bludgering us to near death here.
I may have forgotten to mention it, but apart from being the Slytherin Quidditch team Captain, Gen is also a Beater. Not many girls get that position, but despite the fact that she hardly looks capable of it, Gen could concuss a troll if she wanted to.
In any case, ten minutes, some near-death free-falls, a few fractured bones and a cracked skull later, I manage to capture the Snitch, and smirking, hand it to her.
It's the try-out for the remaining Beater next, and as expected, Scorpius gets the spot. It's unsurprising, considering one of his rivals managed to knock himself out with his own bat.
He lands next to me and gives me a high-five. Then Gen appears, arms-crossed and face expressionless.
“Well, I'm not going to say we told you so,” I begin, smug and gleeful, “but WE TOLD YOU SO.”
Scorpius laughs. Gen cracks a smile.
Uh-oh. The warning bells ring in my head. Gen's 'smile' is like this herald of untold doom, a tight-lipped deadly curve that foretells evil. I'm not exaggerating.
Not even when I say she resembles a Cobra ready to bite us with that 'smile'.
“Yes, you told me. Congratulations,” she says coolly, smile still fixed in place. “Now you can go run 10 rounds around the pitch. Get to it.”
Our jaws drop. “Bu-but, what for?” Scorp splutters.
“I would hate it if your over-inflated heads prevented you from taking off,” she answers dismissively, “and besides, I remember someone who was out of breath just climbing some stairs.”
“Seven flights! And so were you!” I indignantly say, but before we can protest anymore, she's back in the air, shouting at the Keepers.
And then Scorpius has to show-off his Arithmancy skills and go all, “10 laps- heck, that's like 10 miles!”
Great. That just made me so much more eager to start this torture.
By the time we finish, Gen has completed the try-outs, and is yelling at the remaining people on the pitch.
“THIS TEAM IS MY FINAL CHOICE AND IF YOU DON'T LEAVE THE PITCH RIGHT NOW, I'M GOING TO HEX YOU INTO NEXT WEEK!”
Such a patient, sweet-tempered little girl, isn't she?
A round of introductions ensue. Apart from me as Seeker, and Scorp and Gen as Beaters, the only other Seventh year on the team is Chaser Ryan Smith. Fourth year Darcy Robins and Sixth year Henry Warenshire are the other Chasers and Third year Parker Collins is the Keeper.
“Okay, team,” Gen addresses us, “our first match against Hufflepuff is in three weeks' time. I think all of you are excellent players, but we need more than individual effort. We need teamwork. So, we start practicing now to get accustomed to each others' styles.”
And much against our complaints, begins the first practice session of the Slytherin Quidditch team, that continues till late afternoon, when Gen decides she has been enough of a Quidditch Nazi for one day. Stomachs growling, the rest of the team hurries into the castle. I wait outside the Captain's office as Gen locks up the Quaffles, Bludgers and Snitch we'd been practicing with.
We walk back to the castle together, talking and discussing Quidditch strategies. We decide to grab lunch in the kitchens and then head back to the Common Room.
“...Al, I know that Wronski Feint is a very useful Seeker diversion, but you can't pull it at every single match, you'll ruin the element of surprise,” Gen tells me insistently just as we round up the corner of the corridor leading to the kitchens.
I am about to vehemently deny her argument when suddenly, we come upon a large throng of girls. They're Hufflepuffs, by the looks of their yellow and black uniforms, and mostly Fifth and Sixth years.
We stare at each other for a long while in complete silence, the girls and Gen and I. A sudden breeze wafts from a nearby window, making me realize that I'm shirtless. The guys had discarded their shirts midway through practice.
I feel like a kneazle caught in multiple wandlights. Nothing moves. All at once, someone shouts, “Grab him!”
I don't think I've ever run faster in my life. Gen is beside me, cursing incessantly and glancing back repeatedly. The only reason why we've not already been overcome by the crazy, vicious mob of estrogen-fueled harpies is that they're fighting against each other, pulling back anyone who seems to be gaining on us. That, however, would not stop them for long.
Somehow, we leave them a corridor behind, but the crowd is sure to catch up. Gen looks around desperately. She catches sight of a tapestry depicting a group of Snidget-hunters. She roughly pushes me behind it.
“I'm not hiding in here while you fight them!” I whisper furiously. I may not be a Gryffindor, but I did learn basic chivalrous manners. Those manners stated that I do not let a girl fight for me.
“Shut up, Potter, and let me deal with this!” She replies, and then whips around, wand in hand, just as the crowd of mad cows turns the corner into our hallway.
She raises her wand and shouts out, “Ater fumus!” With a loud bang, the corridor is filled with impenetrably dark smoke, and I feel Gen slip beside me into the alcove behind the tapestry, grab my hand, and lead us down a hidden corridor which I did not notice earlier. We don't stop until after we realize we have no idea where we're headed.
“We're lost,” I state unnecessarily, gazing around at the dusty tunnel and Gen displays her extensive knowledge of crude four-letter words.
Without the Marauder's Map, we have no idea where we're going, and by the time we get out of the long-winding, definitely unused tunnel, we're dirty, sweaty, hungry and it is after curfew.
Gen stomps ahead of me and stops in front of the entrance to our Common Room, angry scowl set in place. A muscle twitches unattractively in her jaw.
“Well, I...” I nervously reach up to ruffle my hair, when Gen twists around and points a slender finger with a long nail at me threateningly. I back up against the rough stone wall.
“If you ever dare to roam the hallways of Hogwarts shirtless again, Albus Severus Potter,” she growls, and I swallow thickly, “I will personally charm a set of frilly purple robes onto you for all eternity.”
A/N: Hey everyone! So, I know I made you wait long for this, but I would not bore you with the reasons. The question is, did you like this chapter? I did a boy's POV for the first time in my life, and I have to admit it is heavily inspired by Laura (sour_grapes_snape)'s redentions of James Potter's POV. Also, special thanks to Tantin/Tanvi, who pestered me to near death about this chapter. I really tried to present a different perspective on Gen in this chapter, so I hope you like it. Well, only one way for me to know: tell me in a lovely long review (or really, even a short one).
Frilly purple robes and red nail-polishes,
P.S. Ater fumus is Latin for 'black smoke'. The spell works something like Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.
Edit: On a whim, I decided to change Evangeline/Eva's name to Monica. Somehow, Monica McLaggen just sounds so much more characteristic of her.