Chapter 23 : ~*~ Chapter 23 ~*~
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~*~ Chapter 23 ~*~
“C’mon, April! It’s Quidditch! You can’t back out of a game, even if you don’t play at Hogwarts!” It was Todd beckoning me forward from the kitchen door of Devlin’s home.
It led out to a wide-open field where the top-most hill met the blue sky and the clouds tickled the wild flowers blooming all around. The leaves on the trees blew in the slight wind that howled quietly throughout the grass. But I wouldn’t budge from the door… I hated flying.
My eyes glared at Todd, trying to tell him that flying wasn’t good for my complexion. The wind buffeted my skin, making it rosy-red, and if I was up in the air on a bucking broom, I would feel sick, light-headed and dizzy. I just hated flying!
“Please April! Without you the teams’ are unbalanced… with you it’s evenly matched; four against four,” Eleora begged, her eyes roaming around who was up for the challenge.
I looked between them all too. Each and everyone of them; including Todd who was only a sub for Gryffindor, owned a broom. Devlin owned his father’s Firebolt as Halden owned his father’s Nimbus Two-Thousand and One. Sirius, Eleora, Madison and Kenny had school brooms, each different from the other.
I had nothing.
Eleora and Madison were wearing their Ravenclaw colours of blue as their Quidditch uniform. Kenny, Devlin, Sirius and Todd were wearing the Gryffindor red as Halden was wearing green. I had jeans and a t-shirt, nothing special.
“Here…” Devlin threw me some hand-gloves to protect me if I had to catch the Quaffle, some shield-pads to go around my arms and legs and over my knees. “Go and get your black cloak and play, please?”
His eyes searched me quizzically, trying to find a hole so to squeeze his pleading gaze into my heart. I faltered and sighed and nodded reluctantly. He suppressed a huge grin and turned back to everyone else as I ran back inside to fetch my cloak.
Devlin’s house was really extraordinary. It was the tallest house in the entire village, homing three stories above ground and a cellar underneath. The cellar provided cold air for wine and alcoholic beverages for celebrations.
The door I went through led to the kitchen and pantry. The pantry held a large double-door fridge holding large amounts of food. The same was for the freezer. The kitchen was surprisingly small and held a large amount of worktops to prepare food and cupboards and drawers holding cutlery, dishes and plates.
There was a sink below the window looking out across the large field with some amount of washing up to do from lunch earlier. A farmhouse-stove was used to cook food on with a kettle sat next to it. It was so like Grimmauld Place it was unbelievable, especially the likeness of the fire at the opposite end of the room was an exact replica.
A door led out to a long hallway, doors leading off to different rooms on the ground floor. At the end of the hallway was a grand black door with a window set high into it. This led into the house from the village square, which we hadn’t set foot out in yet. Devlin said it to be boring and full of drunks.
The doors leading off from the hallway led to different rooms of the house. The first on the left from the kitchen was a downstairs toilet. The first on the right, opposite the toilet was the grand dining room. We hadn’t been in there either owing to the fact that it was only used in celebrations such as birthdays - it was also said to believe to hold a secret passage-way where the two house elves could get to reach their den.
The house elves were brought here by Harry and Ginny from Hogwarts itself. I had only seen them once during my whole visit and they had been stoking the fire of which I had come through the night before. House elves weren’t necessarily meant to be seen or heard, so it was understandable…
“Can Dobby get anything for miss?” A squeaky voice asked from just below my waist. Said contradiction before was misused in the Potter household, especially to this house elf. His name was Dobby.
His bat-like ears were pointed forwards and upwards to listen for my answer as his large, green tennis ball-like eyes looked up at me, wondering my answer. “No thank you, Dobby… I’m quite all right,” and I walked away as Dobby disappeared into the kitchen.
The door next to the dining room door led into one of the libraries and studies of the house. This was generally used for Devlin and his parent’s work for Hogwarts. It was surrounded by a circular dome of shelves piled to the ceiling with books galore, a few comfy chairs and desk to do work and read on were also situated in the room. A fire glowed for the family if they happened to wander in at night.
The last door held behind it the living room, always used by the family. It shocked me to see no television - only a radio. Devlin explained that his mother grew up listening to the radio and his father didn’t mind not having a television. The fire place was grand and was used as part of the Floo Network to places like Grimmauld Place, Hogwarts and even the Ministry of Magic. I could understand this as well, seen as Harry was a very busy man, but for the centre of the network to be at his home was quite disturbing.
The room itself was brightly lit during the day and throughout the night. It homed many photographs of the huge family Devlin belonged to, some being of Todd’s family for I knew they were connected through blood anyway. A sofa was situated in front of the bay-window looking out across the village square, another sofa in front of the wall opposite the fire place and coffee table. An armchair was cornered next to the fireplace, now just glowing embers.
I turned out of the hallway and came to the front door, where the staircase leading up to the upper floors lay. On the first floor was Harry and Ginny’s bedroom complete with en-suite and office. Opposite them slept Devlin. Also on this floor were three spare bedrooms where the other boys slept. There was a family bathroom right at the end as well.
The staircase spiralled on and upwards to the top-most floor. Here was another bathroom and four bedrooms. This was were my sisters and I were put to sleep at night, we also discovered on our third day here that there was also a small library and study area upon this level too.
I came into my room and noticed another house elf making my bed. I quietly snuck in so as to fetch my cloak from the wardrobe, but she heard my footsteps upon the creaking floorboards. Her large brown orb-like eyes turned on me, her small chest heaving up and down as though I had startled her.
“Miss startled Winky!” She squeaked highly. “I was just making your bed, miss… you are such an untidy thing, oh yes!” She plumped my pillows then jumped off my four-poster and sidled up to me. “Would Winky need to help miss with anything?” She asked, an air of modesty in her voice now.
“No, it’s quite all right. You deserve a break, Winky… Dobby is in the kitchen probably preparing your lunch,” I pointed out as I went to look out of my window, it also looking out across the wide back field.
“Oh, Dobby! He’s such a helpless thing too! I’m surprised master brought him here… Dobby is such an unreliable house elf…” Winky mumbled as she walked towards the door. “He starts one job does Dobby… and then leaves it and does something else. Master should punish Dobby, but no… Dobby is a special elf! And what is Winky… a disgrace!” She walked away sobbing to herself.
I don’t know what Winky was talking about, Dobby seemed to be doing all of the jobs given to him at such a satisfactory rate that his praising for his jobs well done seemed slightly low. Harry explained that Winky had a bad life with an old Master and jealousy of Dobby was only to be expected.
My eyes wandered over to my crowd of friends sitting down upon the grass below me. They looked so peaceful; too peaceful against the upcoming time of Quidditch and of course the prophecy… yes, that was still on my mind.
I sighed and then I tuned out of my room and jogged down the first set of stairs, bumping into Harry along the way. “Hey, what’s the rush?” He asked as he held me at arm’s length in front of me.
“Quidditch, sir…” I breathed in forcefully then heaved out the air, my face going slightly red. He eyed my cloak and protection and laughed to himself. He then led me into his office and then into his own bedroom and opened his wardrobe.
“Here, take these…” He handed me a pile of old red robes, the same as Devlin’s but in a smaller size as though they had once belonged to a girl. I was correct at this point. “They used to belong to Ginny… she used to play for Gryffindor too,” Harry explained proudly.
I felt the soft smooth fabric between my fingers and sighed. I then looked up at Harry and I saw him smiling down at me. “I think you would’ve made a good player, April…” he complimented in a soft voice and then picked up his own broom; a Storm-Glider - the new proto-type broom that Harry so willingly offered to tryout for the Ministry. It seemed to work fine later on when we began to play.
I quickly changed into the robes and I looked at myself in Ginny’s mirror. I looked all right in them, not the perfect Quidditch player, but all right. I then ran down the stairs, down the hallway and through the kitchen, ending up out of breath outside before the game had even started.
The sun was dipping steadily below the horizon, the different colours folding over the hills - red, orange and yellow glowed magnificently, the purple and deep blue contrasting well with them.
Harry was talking to the others and as I sidled up to them all, he turned and looked at me with a smirk across his lips. “You need a broom,” he said, patting my shoulder and walking across to a broom shed near to the house. He came back with a broom and gave it to me. “It belonged to Ginny also…”
I turned my shy face to smile and thank you at Ginny, but she seemed to not have noticed for she had fallen back on to her back on the grass and was now staring up at the sky, eyes closed and breathing in and out lightly and quietly. I turned back to listen to Harry…
“Right, I want Devlin and Halden to be team captains, no arguments! This is because they’re both Seekers for each of their teams at Hogwarts and this seems a likely opportunity,” Harry explained. Devlin and Halden smiled gleefully, but they caught each other out and glared at each other loathingly.
“Pick your team, boys! Remember pick wisely and accurately… and try to pick balanced teams…” his eyes narrowed over at Devlin, probably trying to tell him that picking the whole Gryffindor team would result in a shambles because he, Harry, would sort it out afterwards.
Halden and Devlin faced each other, Devlin drawing out a silver coin from his pocket. He flipped it in the air, it flipping upwards and then steadily falling to the ground; both boys watching it with keen interest.
“Heads!” Halden yelled as it began to come down. Devlin smirked in an almost contradicting way that it cracked Halden’s smile. The sickle fell to the grass and Devlin bent down to pick up it up. It had landed on the heads side.
Devlin walked up and down the people remaining, hoping to pick out the best for his team. Between us were four chasers, a substitute for Keeper and myself. “I guess we’ll be playing with no Bludgers… just foul play I think…” Devlin muttered in a threatening tone. “My first choice is Madison!”
Madison jumped unrepentantly, unable to grasp the idea that she had been picked first for a team. She regained her composure and walked over to stand next to Devlin, head held high.
“I pick… Eleora!” Halden said as he gestured Eleora to come forward. She looked mortified at having been picked, especially for being on Halden’s team. She whispered something to Halden, his attention hooked on to every word she spoke. She moved away from him after he gave her the briefest of nods.
“Kenny!” Devlin shouted. Kenny smiled gleefully at him and ran to stand next to Madison, her face flushed with excitement.
“Sirius!” Halden yelled. Sirius strode over to stand behind his captain, again Eleora whispered something and the faintest of smiles crept upon his lips. He seemed happy to be on this preferred team.
There was only Todd and I left and it was Devlin’s turn to chose. I could see the pain etched on to his face, the difficulty to chose between two friends. His eyes seemed to volley back and forth between us, I could sense Todd’s feet wanting to move and join him, so I nudged him forward slightly. He turned back around asking for an explanation of my movement.
“I don’t mind. I don’t see any difference I could make for anyone’s team to be perfectly honest…” I explained walking over to stand next to Eleora. Todd smiled happily in a high gratitude towards me; he then went to stand next to Devlin.
Halden’s face was still facing Devlin, but his eyes kept looking out of their corners, just to see if I was all right. Of course I wasn’t all right… I hated flying! How many times do I have to bloody say that in one frigging chapter?!
“Mount your brooms, teams…” Harry ordered. Everyone around me hopped on to their brooms, and I with some difficulty. Harry placed a wooden crate in the middle of the two teams and kicked it open.
The purple-black Bludgers were still contained in their chains, but the small insignificant golden snitch flew out rapidly and zoomed upwards and out of sight. Only Halden and Devlin’s eyes seemed to be following its invisible light…
“To score, you need to pass the Quaffle through the magical golden hoops at either end of the playing court… kinda like basketball girls. One from each team needs to be a Keeper, so decide that now…”
I saw out of the corner of my eye Todd fly to his team end, circling the golden ring around him. Halden looked at us and Eleora stepped forward… she was our best Chaser, she couldn’t become a Keeper now… “I’ll do it…” I stepped in Eleora’s way and placed my voice in someone else’s control.
“Are you sure…?” Halden asked unsurely. He seemed to have a confused expression across his face… was he worried about me falling off from a twenty foot height, or being knocked out by a speeding Quaffle?
“Of course I’m sure…” and I began to float up through the air, just hovering above my team mates. “I’ve never been so damn sure in my whole bloody life!” I yelled from when I reached my post.
Halden looked at me severely then turned back to Eleora and Sirius, talking tactics. I also saw Devlin looking up at me once or twice, just to see if my balance was still in check. Once talking was exchanged, the teams flew upwards; Halden and Devlin going further up for a bird’s-eye view of the snitch, Sirius and Eleora, and Madison and Kenny squaring off one another.
“Ready?” Harry called up to us. We all nodded, well except from me, I was just shaking and randomly nodding my head to anything said. “Go!” Harry yelled as he tossed the Quaffle up in the air and everyone made a grab for it.
I saw Eleora dive beneath the jumbled crowd, breathing in the fresh air sweeping her hair over her face. The scarlet ball was held underneath her left arm. I cheered for her quietly just as Sirius began to fly around her, protecting her from any opposing attack. I saw Todd beginning to ready himself to save…
Eleora halted in mid-air and then threw the Quaffle, just brushing Todd’s fingertips as it made its way through the hoop. The hoop sparked as it went through, the sparks whizzing and whirring all around.
Eleora celebrated by hugging Sirius but she resumed the game immediately. Her and Sirius made a spectacular partnership up in the air as though they were dancing when they passed the Quaffle to and fro, not flying.
The game was on our side for the most part. Eleora and Sirius were too fast for Kenny and Madison; once or twice Madison or Kenny did get possession of the Quaffle only to have it stolen from their hands either by Eleora or Sirius.
“Heads up, April! They’re coming you’re way!” I was immediately knocked into action when Halden’s voice from above me shouted to me.
My eyes shot up from the ground when I heard a whooshing noise coming towards me. It was Kenny with the Quaffle and Madison directly beside her. I prepared myself to make a save knowing in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to…
I closed my eyes and just trusted the wind and my own able limbs. I listened hard and concentrated on my power within myself. I heard Kenny move and the Quaffle flew to my right and I followed it without even knowing it. My fingertips encircled the rim of the ball…
“What the…!” I opened my eyes and saw to my own amazement that I had grasped the Quaffle firmly with my own hands, my legs holding me still tight on my broom.
The person who had gasped when I made the save was Madison and Kenny equally amazed, but Kenny more in like wonderment and Madison more in jealousy. She hadn’t been able to make a catch like what I had.
Everyone up in the air had stopped in their flights and had turned to look at me. Devlin and Halden were looking down at me, Devlin more with shock and Halden with praise and thankfulness.
“How in the world did you do that, April?” Eleora asked when she flew up beside me. I shrugged my shoulders as an answer. “You’ve never flown on a broom before never mind held a Quaffle… are you feeling alright?”
I didn’t know how to reply to that question. In some way I was feeling quite shocked with myself at actually having caught the Quaffle and still in perfect balance. I felt quite nauseous at looking down from such a height and pretty nervous with everyone looking at me. But also proud of being able to do it and silly for ever thinking at that I couldn’t.
No one was talking around me; no whispering, no snide comments, just silence. I decided to break it with: “Just get on with the game, all right!” And I threw the Quaffle directly into Sirius’ open arms.
As the game progressed I began to feel more confident in myself and whenever Kenny or Madison began to throw shots at my goal I saved everyone of them, including those shots which looked impossible to catch. I knew Kenny was trying to have some fun with me, trying to test my weak points, but Madison was having none of it and was trying to catch me out with her full force. She looked tired and weary and almost had the painful mark of hating me because of my skill.
Eleora and Sirius still seemed surprised and when the Quaffle wasn’t down his end, Todd looked on with mild interest. When the snitch had gone out of either of their focus and eyesight, Halden and Devlin looked at my skills and process of saving goals.
The night was beginning to become cold and lights had to be put on in the field so that people could see each other. I looked at my watch and noticed it to be half past nine. I yawned and willed the game to be over soon. I was tired and sore in places I never thought existed and all I wanted was my bed.
“April… you might want to move!” Madison hollered to me. I turned around to see what she was pointing at. I flinched slightly when I caught a glimpse of the golden snitch fluttering frantically past me.
And then the two figures of Devlin and Halden zoomed passed me like bolts of lightning trying to see who would be the first to catch the golden snitch and end the match.
Everyone else had forgotten about their part in the match, like it was necessary to watch two wonders chase after a tiny ball in the cold night. I watched in amazement as they dodged each other, spiralling and tumbling through the air, arms outstretched, trying to gain their prize.
A strange and almost innocent voice went through me like a cold wind travelling neatly down my spine. It was a weird sensation to hear your conscience speak to your mind, but what I thought was quite unnatural for myself.
“Why didn’t you try out for your team, April? You were great today and you didn’t even know it. You thought you couldn’t fly, never mind catch a stupid red ball thirty feet up in the air! You’re a great flyer, why stop after this game?”
The voice did make some sense, but I didn’t totally agree with what it said. I battled against what was saying in my mind. “I can’t fly… I’m not so comfortable in heights. You saw what happened to Kenny… I don’t want that to happen to me at all! So no! I’m not flying after this! Not now, not ever!”
Suddenly, cheering broke out from beneath me and I realised that I was the only one still up in the air. “C’mon down, April! You can’t stay up there all night!” Devlin shouted up to me, the golden snitch held firmly in between his firm fingers.
I floated down gracefully then jumped off my broom without haste. I was glad to get off it and out of the air. The ground was where I belonged, not the sky, and no stupid conscience was going to tell me otherwise.
After everyone had changed out of their Quidditch gear, we all sat down to dinner prepared by Ginny. I wasn’t up to eating because of the rushing thoughts going through my mind. I wanted to go off and think to myself for a bit, but I hated to be rude and leave a full plate behind me.
Someone again snapped me out of my thoughts and I realised it was Harry this time. “Welcome back April! You know… thoughts shouldn’t be entertained so lightly… want to go away from this busy area and think on your thoughts?”
His eyes searched mine and I could tell he had been searching my mind. It was the sensation I always felt around him and it didn’t creep me out at all, not in the slightest. It was strange, but his quizzical eyes were slightly welcomed by my thoughts for an odd reason, which I couldn’t quite understand.
I don’t think I’ll ever understand the Potter’s at all. “Thank you, sir.” I rose from my chair quickly and left the kitchen and walked slowly up the two flights of stairs to my bedroom.
I fell on to my bed and just closed my eyes and thought about Quidditch and nothing more. If I did join the team, would I be a good asset? I knew Quidditch was so confusing for me, but if my sisters could handle it, then why couldn’t I?
“Because you’ve never tried it before, that’s why…”
“Shut up!” I yelled out loud and then I screamed into my pillow. “I’m no good at it, and never have or will be! It was just a fluke nothing more. It just happened by pure chance, all right?” I whispered to myself.
“Having some trouble, April?” I shot up in an instant and jumped up from my bed to stand in front of the inquisitive being. “May I come in?” He asked politely and I nodded as my chosen answer.
He strolled over to my window and sat down on the cushioned seat positioned in the small alcove. He looked out over the field as the rain poured down the condensed glass. I could see the raindrops reflected in his glasses and slightly, but painfully, realised his eyes were heavy with sadness as well.
“I used to think a lot on my own as well at your age. I used to think a lot when I got older and more aware of how my life was at stake. I still think by myself even now… it makes your brain understand your emotions more and then you begin to see yourself for who you truly are. I hope I’m making some sense here, April… am I?” He turned to look at me, his green eyes watery. I nodded for curtsey.
He chuckled slightly and then cast his eyes to my door. He spotted Ginny’s Quidditch uniform hanging up there. “You planning to return that before you return to Hogwarts?”
I followed his eyes and turned red in the face. “I’m sorry. Yes, I’ll return it sir, I have no use for it after all. I don’t play Quidditch at all, so what’s the point…”
“After my first flying lesson at Hogwarts I got put forward for the Gryffindor team… the youngest player in a century I was. You made a good save today… you could make a good Keeper for the team. Much better than Todd anyways, or even Jay Wood I believe… don’t tell either of them I said that though,” he winked slyly and began to walk over to me.
I blushed even deeper for his compliment but I giggled slightly because of how he rudely acknowledged that Todd could make a rubbish Quidditch player.
“I’m going to my study to do some file work and probably do some more thinking. Everyone else is downstairs playing games I think and then tomorrow we’re off back to Hogwarts.” He was half-way out the door when I tapped him on the shoulder, which made him turn around and study me quizzically.
“I can talk to you about anything, can’t I sir?” I pondered and he nodded and he leaned against the door frame, wondering on what I was going to say next. “I trust you… trust in me in whatever I may do sir… and maybe you can talk to me about anything.”
He smiled genuinely and let a small tear escape his eyes, for a reason I don’t know why, but he hastily wiped it away. “I’m sure I could April, and yes I do trust you… a lot to be honest with you.”
A/N: Sorry for the late update but I was doing exams, but I’m back and writing this lovely story for my wonderful fans! This chapter was the end of their Easter holidays… which was a long time ago but never mind. There’s only two more chapters left in their first year of Hogwarts and I’m so thankful… this year has dragged on a lot! Reviews please!