Chapter 1 : Spreading the Word
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Maybe this year I could try it. I had been watching for such a long time and hearing Ang and Alicia and Katie talk about it, but I had never really done it. Fred and George made it sound like an orgasmic ritual with body paint and awkward piercings, but I knew that was rubbish. Still, though, every time I watched Quidditch from the stands I felt a pang of regret for not learning to fly properly.
Hell, it was my sixth year and I should be able to have some fun.
I looked at the broom in my hands. It was old and I took it from the broom shed, but I knew it worked.
I stared it down.
It stared back. Somehow.
“I can do this,” I said quietly, putting it down between my legs. “Maybe when I tried to fly my first year it was just a fluke.” I sighed. “Ok, so I’m rubbish at flying. I just want to…maybe if I want it bad enough I’ll just take off like one of the Finches players.” Another sigh. “Maybe I might be able to stay on this time.”
The air was warm against my face as I kicked off against the dirt of the Quidditch pitch. I didn’t feel the early autumn air for long, however, because I was barely a meter off the ground before I fell sideways and I was given a facial by some earthworm-filled soil.
“That look is really you.”
I groaned. Out of all the people that could possibly witness my sorry excuse for a broom ride, I had to hear the Scotish drawl of the one man I hated the most at Hogwarts: Oliver Wood. I could see him walking toward me, smug expression of satisfaction on his face, as he held his expensive Nimbus at his side.
I stood up, quickly wiping the dirt from my face in any attempt to make myself look decent—or at least that I had meant to wipe out like a git. “Yeah thanks, Wood.” I dusted off my pants hurriedly and picked up the sour broom beside me. “It’s the newest feint.” I rolled my eyes.
Wood chuckled. “Jane Perry, you’re something else.”
“Why is that?” I let him continue despite my wanting to strangle him for, well, anything.
“Because you spent the last five years telling everyone that Quidditch was rubbish because you couldn’t play and here you are out on the pitch trying to get a ruddy broom in the air.”
Even though I knew he would take a shot at my now filthy attire, I wasn’t directly expecting him to see through me. I frowned. “Shut it, Wood. I just wanted to make sure this broom worked…for some first year upstairs…wanted to test it out.” I knew my face was getting red but I didn’t care. I couldn’t stand him or his know-it-all attitude.
“Do you need help learning to fly?”
My face was hot again, this time with a little more anger than humiliation. “Shut up, Wood!” I said, hoisting the broom over my shoulder. “It’s broken! I can fly just fine! I told you lot I have motion sickness so I can’t get too high.”
Wood was laughing as he mounted his own broom and trailed behind me as I walked back toward the castle.
“What are you doing?”
He smirked. I hated his smirk. “I’m following you.”
“Why?” I said loudly. “Don’t you have some blond fifth year to snog or something? Fan pictures to sign? Captain-ing to do?”
Wood chuckled lightheartedly. His dark eyes sparkled as he sprawled out on his broom, hands propping up his head as he glided next to me. “I tested every broom in that closet this morning because McGonagall wanted them safe for First Years to learn how to fly next week. No one has touched that broom since then.”
I stopped on the grass long enough for my lips to go from red to white. “Stop lying, Wood.”
He was looking at me strangely, like he knew something I didn’t. There was a playful smirk tugging at his lips as he watched me. “There’s a Seeker position open this season, Perry.”
“Sod off, Wood,” I said, resuming my pace toward the castle.
He laughed lightheartedly from behind me and kept going. “I heard you talking to yourself too.”
Trying to compose myself, I kept walking. He was not going to get inside my head. I would not let him. “I told you to sod off. That means I want you to go the hell away.”
“Why didn’t you even tell your mates you couldn’t fly?”
“WOOD SHUT YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW!” I couldn’t help it. My brown hair flew all over my face as my fists clenched up, one around the broom so tight that I could almost feel splinters seeping into my palm.
He was still laughing. “No need to get so upset, Perry. I’m just observing.”
“You do a lot of that,” I retorted. “You need to observe your way out of here.” Yes, it was a completely lame come back compared to our usual snappy retorts but I wanted to die. I wanted to shove the cheap broom so far down his throat that he would be forced to never play Quidditch again because of some circumstance.
Wood smirked at me. He sat up on his broom again, still hovering. He was an obvious Quidditch player—even people that did not know him would be able to pick him out of a crowd because of the arm muscles forcing his t-shirt to stretch. He was a Keeper, all right, but he was a damn cocky one which is why I never paid mind to the muscles all the girls swooned over.
“I suppose I’ll just observe my way back to the castle then,” he said quietly, eyeing me. I really think he lived to drive me insane.
It went back so long, Wood and I at each other’s throats. We had known each other since my mates got onto the Quidditch team, but the first time he actually met me was my fourth year, his first year as captain. Angelina had entered our dormitory with a bloody nose and the other two were both helping her fix it and limping because of the grueling practices they had been having.
After being completely fed up with Oliver high-horse Wood and his before-dawn practices and hundreds of bleacher sprints, I marched downstairs (dodging flecks of Angelina’s blood) and poked him hard in the chest.
“Look here, Wood!” I said loudly. “I’m sick of you! You’re a rubbish captain with your crack of dawn practices and your teammates aren’t doing good in their classes because of you!” If I would have thought it through before I did the marching I would have thought of something much more clever to say.
“So you’re mad?” He was very calm and collected, an attractive fifth year boy with smooth hair and a small group of girls around him.
I then realized I had an audience. “Yes! Bloody yes I’m mad!”
“Are you sure you aren’t mad because they made the Quidditch team and you didn’t?”
My eyes were the size of tea saucers. “What the—fucking NO I’m not mad I didn’t make the team! I don’t even LIKE Quidditch!”
“Don’t like Quidditch?” Wood asked. He was irritatingly calm about the entire ordeal as if he dealt with the friends of his players daily. “Well, I don’t think we can even talk. I don’t speak with people that don’t like Quidditch.”
I thought about throwing several things at him, including a log from inside the fireplace.
“Or,” he said suddenly, cutting of my list of things that I wanted to throw at him, “are you just mad because I’m taking your friends away from you?” Wood raised a brow.
“No I’m not—that’s not even what I’m talking about!”
He nodded. “Yes, of course it’s not.” He yawned. Wood actually yawned, then added. “That’s nice, though. I’ll tell the girls you really care about them and to meet me at the pitch a half hour early to do a hundred sprints.”
I stared right back at him, my finger still close to his chest. “You—you’re horrible!” Without thinking of a single interesting or insulting thing to say, I turned and marched my unproductive way right back into the dormitory and opened one of Angelina’s Quidditch magazines to try and find out what all the hype was about.
I continued walking back up to the castle, trying to ignore the Quidditch captain floating behind me, watching my every move. For some reason, I paid attention to the way I walked with the broom over my shoulder and made sure not to slouch too much. My dad had been telling me that for years, but being watched was awkward enough already without me slouching and looking like a prat.
“I just can’t believe it,” Wood said, breaking the silence. “After all these years of you telling me how ridiculous I am as a captain—”
“I meant every word.”
“—that you don’t even know how to fly.”
“What does that have to do with you being a rubbish captain?”
“Nothing,” he answered joyfully, “but I just got you to admit you can’t fly.”
I couldn’t help it. I threw the broom at Wood and he ducked just in time.
“Touchy! Touchy!” he chimed, circling through the air and coming back down to pick the broom up off the grass and carry it to where I was walking, now fuming. “It’s not like I’m going to tell anyone.”
I narrowed my eyes. It was common knowledge that anything Wood or I knew about each other was fair game to spread rumors about (when he made a bet and had to dress in drag for a show in Hogsmeade) or ruin lives about (when I had a girly crush on Lee Jordan and Wood spilled the beans over cereal in the Great Hall after my long night of homework. Needless to say, Lee did not find the bags under my eyes at all attractive).
“What do you want?”
He smirked. “Whatever do you mean, Perry?”
I stopped again and folded my arms. “Don’t play stupid, Wood. What do you want? I know you want nothing more than to tell the whole damn school that Jane Perry can’t fly…so what do you bloody want?” It made me wonder if the sole reason he even came out to the pitch was to find something out to humiliate me with it.
Wood thought for a moment. At least it looked like he was thinking because he put his thumb and index finger to his chin in mock impression of the gesture. “Ok! I know!”
I wrinkled my nose and looked around to make sure no one was around listening to our strangely calm conversation. “What, Wood?” I said through gritted teeth.
“Why don’t you tell them, anyway?” He stared for a moment, curious. “I mean they’ve been your best mates for six years now and you never told them you can’t bloody fly.”
“None of your business,” I snapped. “What do you want, Wood?”
Wood let his Nimbus float back and forth for a moment before looking back over, his mahogany eyes obviously enjoying the torment he was putting me through. “You have to try out for Seeker.”
I almost lost my footing even though I was standing perfectly still on the ground. “Ex-excuse me?”
“Yeah. You have to try out. You can use a better broom though.” Wood pulled the broom closer to his eyes for inspection. “Yes, this is just rubbish. I’ll see that you get a good one for try-outs.”
I gaped at him. “You can’t be serious.”
“Oh, I am, Perry.”
My teeth were nearly grinding together. Oliver Wood had taken things too far with this one. Either way I was done for. If I refused to try out, Wood would simply let the secret slip over some sort of food in the morning. If I did try out, my secret was out anyway. I looked at him.
“Fine,” I said lightly. I would not let him best me in this.
Wood beamed. “Great. See you on the pitch in a couple of weeks.” He blew me a sarcastic, pompous kiss, and flew back toward the castle with the beat-up broom still in hand.
I groaned, dragging my feet the rest of the way up the path. He was a lousy git.
But, I thought, opening the doors and walking into the Entrance Hall, I could get away with it. I couldn’t stop him from telling if I didn’t try out, but I could stop myself from being complete rubbish at the Seeker try outs.
I could learn how to fly.
That optimism was erased before it had a chance to make me smile. If I were to learn how to fly, who would teach me? I paused outside of the Great Hall for a moment. The only person that knew my silly secret was Oliver Wood and I would rather throttle him and then myself then ever ask him for help, the lousy git.
The girls were in the dormitory when I arrived. Each looked up as I clicked the door shut and collapsed on my bed.
“Rough…studying?” asked Angelina. She was browsing through her large Potions book from her own bed, feet kicked up on a few pillows.
I nodded. “Library was extra crowded today,” I replied with a sarcastic grin. I’d almost forgotten my library lie before I left to try and figure out the whole ‘flying’ thing. “I had to elbow some third years just to get a table.”
Angelina raised a brow, probably wondering if she should ask me what was really making me act like an irritated git. She decided against it, however, and placed her eyes back in the book. I admired Angelina for her studious nature, but I would never be able to pull that off. She was organized and in control and she weighed her options at every choice—even breakfast.
Alicia, however, was quite the opposite and it was obvious. She had a Charms essay due the next day, but her nose was in a Quidditch magazine as she took a quiz about Which Quidditch Position Would You Play? I watched her for a moment. She bit her tongue a few times and erased some answers. Alicia, at least to me, was the life of the group. She made things worth doing—even if Angelina disapproved and it was completely against the rules.
And then there was Katie. Quiet, romantic Katie. At the moment she was desperately trying to finish a Transfiguration essay even though it was not due for another three days. She did those kinds of things and it was my theory that she did it just to explain facts to us that we didn’t know (and didn’t care to know). Katie was always full of something random and uninteresting. It was also common knowledge that she had an infatuation with George Weasley. The only person it was not common knowledge to was her and George.
“Finish your Potions essay?” asked Angelina, closing her book lightly.
I made a face. “No.”
“You were in the library for an hour!”
“I told you…it was too crowded. I couldn’t concentrate.”
Angelina narrowed her eyes. She was about to reply when Alicia cut her off.
“This is RUBBISH!” she cried, chucking the magazine across the room and knocking a few hats off of the coat rack. “Keeper? I’ll bloody show YOU Keeper!”
Katie snorted. “We’d better go tell Oliver he’s off the team.”
“Good,” I muttered.
“Oh, don’t get Jane started,” said Angelina loudly, laughing a bit. “Once she gets something in her head she’ll find a way to do it.” She paused, faking a striking thought. “Oh! Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. I might find out what sleep is for once in my sodding life.”
I nodded wholeheartedly while the others laughed.
Alicia leaned back, now magazineness and looking for something to occupy her mind. Her eyes turned toward me. “Janey, do you ever think you’re going to get along with Wood?”
“Why in hell would I go and do that?”
She made a face. “Well, because it’s kind of hard to get together with the team when two of the members hate each other.”
“I’m not on the team.”
“You might as well be. I reckon you’re on the team but you just don’t play.” Katie smiled. “You’re the cheerleader.”
“Oh, brilliant. Cheerleader.”
“I’m serious,” said Alicia. “You two loathe each other and all you do is fight when we get together. Hell, even if you two are across the room there’s something said.”
I didn’t even know why she was asking me this again—we have had that conversation several hundred times over the past couple of years and each time I try to explain to her that I would like nothing more than to see Oliver sodding Wood wiped off the planet along with his pompous face and his obnoxious wink.
“Look,” I said, getting to my feet and putting on some slippers. “I don’t want to get along with Oliver Wood and he doesn’t want to get along with me. He’s a real asshole and maybe when he learns to treat people fairly I might say something nice…but until then (and by then I mean when hell freezes over) I hate his bloody guts.” With that, I turned and left the dormitory, heading down the spiral staircase and into the common room.
It was surprisingly vacant for a Thursday afternoon except for two red-haired twins laughing in front of the fireplace. I breathed a sigh of relief. If anyone was to make me feel better it was these two.
I sank into a comfy chair beside them and smiled. “Hey, boys.”
Fred looked up and shot me a devilish grin. “Janey! I’ve heard the news!”
I raised a brow and yawned. “What? That Alicia is really destined to be a Keeper?”
“That you can’t ruddy fly, love!”
My entire stomach sank to somewhere around my ankles while my temper flared up quickly. “What in the—where did you hear that load of rubbish from?” I could feel my face get hot and my nails were slowly tearing the upholstery on the chair.
Fred raised a brow and elbowed his twin. “Oliver Wood.”
A/N- I would really love to see what everyone thought that read this (especially if you enjoyed it because I love to hear from people that did like it). Let me know :)
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