Chapter 1 : They Call It Expertise
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1 – They Call It Expertise
I sat on the ground, almost drowsily, leaned with my back against Megan who was listening attentively to the professor. I was almost asleep; I knew the whole thing he said. It was unfair really, to place such classes in the morning. The sleep had barely gotten out of one’s eyes and most students probably wouldn’t be able to do their best. Classes in the morning was to be History of Magic – to those who took the class, naturally – or Charms in which you could wake up slowly and work in your own tempo.
I looked around at my classmates – Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs that was – noticing half of them were nearly asleep yet, just like me. And then there were the few – so-called purebloods mostly – who in fact listened to the ramble the professor gave. My eyes stopped at the four boys from my own year and house; The Marauders. Sirius Black was playing with a strand of the grass, picking it into smaller strands (I wondered for a second why Dumbledore had bothered about making an indoor court, but if we were to play in the winter, snow shouldn’t be covering it all. And of course, if there could be a ceiling as the sky outside, there surely could be a grass covered classroom too). I shook my head softly and looked at Remus Lupin, who unsurprisingly, was listening. Peter Pettigrew was snoozing, lying down in the grass. No surprise there either. And then the shocker, James Potter who sat with straight back and an attentive expression. Why, I had no idea, he would do brilliantly anyhow. He was a natural at everything he did and it annoyed me. It was unfair that someone could be both on top of most classes and still be an amazingly Quidditch player, be – though I hated to admit it – very good looking, and (what some people would think as) funny. Somehow it seemed unfair that one person could have all those things at once.
As Megan moved, some of her hair fell over my shoulder. With a heavy sigh I took hold of the brown lock and absentmindedly twisted it around my index finger. Though Megan seemed nervous about this “class” I was sure she’d do much better than me. I wasn’t very athletic, but she was. She was even on the Quidditch team, keeper, and doing an amazing job.
I wondered for a second if my nonexistent athletic abilities would embarrass me more than those with magical parents would embarrass themselves, trying to do a good job. Or even maybe oppose to it. A picture of the Slytherins’ flashed across my mind for a second. Snarling at the sight of having muggle PE – no, not even PE, more like a football tournament – the sports of mudbloods. How embarrassing for them (note sarcasm here).
I sat up a once, looking around. No one had noticed my sudden movement. Not even Po- James who usually was very attentive around me. I moved away from Megan and lay down on my stomach in the grass, closing my eyes. Though it was only second day back at school, I didn’t like the way this year was heading. After the shock of finding James had been made Head Boy at our first meeting of the year, I had been talked into making a peace treaty with him. He had agreed and together we’d agreed to let our differences lie when in public and act as we could in fact get along. A thing we hadn’t been able to in more than half a year. The last half of our sixth year had been spent fighting against each other. I was at some point sure if I’d been a boy, he’d have hit me. I’m sure he felt tempted, but okay, it had been some low blows I’d aimed at him, unfair, some might say.
It was in fact Sirius Black, James’ best friend, who had persuaded me to try and act civil with him. Sirius had some gift of making people feel guilty about something, even if one weren’t guilty. I hated him for that. Thus, I had been the one, asking James about a peace treaty, swallowing my pride with much difficulty.
I think Megan was a bit behind it too. She was a good friend of Sirius, and I knew she’d been sick and tired of James’ and mine fights too. The last straw might have been when I was at the station and let my trolley run into him, which caused him to stumble forward onto the hard ground of Hogsmeade Station and then rolled onto the rail where he broke a leg. I had felt good until Megan was yelling out her lungs at me. Then the regret washed over me. I helped him up, healed him and apologized. Then Sirius nodded at me and I did what I had to; ask for the treaty.
He’d agreed, but still glared daggers at me through the rest of the evening. I think somehow this would be much harder for him than me. After all, I had been the one trying to control my anger towards him for several years; he’d only had a few months in which he hated me, and he’d never even tried to suppress it all. But okay, this whole thing was my fault in the first place; he’d right to be angry with me.
My eyes shot open as Megan knocked on the top of my head with a knuckle, “Helloooo? Anybody there?”
I slapped her hand away and lifted myself slightly up. “Of course. Why?”
She shrugged. “You seemed so lost in your peaceful thoughts…” I caught the irony. “What were you thinking?”
I looked at her with raised eyebrows. “About how annoying you can be.”
“That’s now sweet,” she said with a chuckle. “But I’ll take it as a compliment. I try to be different. No, I was actually knocking because we’re about to begin.”
“He’s finished with the rules already?” I asked and sat up slowly. True, everyone else was getting up too.
She nodded. “Yes. In fact we’re about to play now.”
“Now?” I repeated. “I don’t even know how to kick a ball.”
She shook her head in mock disdain, “Merlin, Miss Evans. As a girl who has lived eleven years in a world where magic doesn’t exist you should know how to play football.”
“I do know how to play football,” I defended. “Get the ball into the goal, which just happens to be big rectangular posts. Easy.”
She rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I wonder if you’re just pretending to be muggleborn. You sure you’re not lying to me?”
Now it was my turn to roll my eyes. “Yes,” I said, “100 percent positive.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed.”
Our team – that being all Gryffindors – gathered around James who had proclaimed himself as captain of the team. With Megan at my side we walked to the group. James was delegating out the different positions as knowing everything about football. I sighed as I stopped next to Remus.
“Why don’t you let someone who actually knows about this sport do that, Potter?” I asked, crossing my arms.
Everyone looked at me and then back at him, waiting for him to bite something back, but he just smiled angelically at me, though his eyes were cold, “And you, Evans, can start at the sideline. We can only have seven players on the court at the time.”
“Isn’t that stupid, James?” Thea Jackson asked. “She’s muggleborn, she probably knows a lot more about this than most people.”
Before both James and I could object Daniel Griggs spoke up, “Yeah, we could make Lily our captain. She’s probably a little more into this than you.”
Oh no. I had a lot of things I was good at, sports weren’t one of them. That was James’ expertise, not mine.
Before I knew of it, everyone was agreeing. I opened my mouth, but James spoke first, “Fine!” he half-snarled, looking at me. “Let’s see what Evans can do. Here you go. The scene is yours.”
I opened my mouth and then closed it again. I repeated that a couple of times, pretty sure I looked like a fish on land. At last I cleared my throat, “Erm, okay, in fact I had in mind that I’d ask what people wanted to play. I mean, we’ll be in need of one keeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers. I think we should play with only one striker. That’ll give three defenders, two midfielders and one striker.” I looked nervously around, trying to see if anyone saw how unsure I was. Only James looked at me sceptically. “Does anyone have a special place they want to play at?” Thea raised her hand. “Yes?”
“I’ve played a bit as a kid, and I played defender.”
Then why were you not named captain?! Or Daniel?
“Our first we have then!” I said. “Yes?” I asked as Mary Macdonald raised her hand.
“I’d just say that defending sounds like something I’d do.”
“Another defender then.”
No other people raised their hands. I looked around, changeling and at last James raised his hand. I nodded at him to speak.
“I’d like to be striker,” he said.
“You’re a striker then.”
Slowly I got the rest of the team settled. My goalkeeper turned to be Peter; my three defenders were Thea, Mary and Remus; my midfielders were myself and Sirius. Megan, Daniel and lastly Angela were all round players. Angela also got the post as reserve goalkeeper. I had my team and James had not said one thing to me.
Professor Aaronson was impressed with the teamwork our team apparently had shown by delegating our positions out all by ourselves. Then we started training. Gryffindors had one end of the court and Hufflepuff the other. I was more nervous when it came to training. I was to lead this team through training and six matches that year. Would I be able to do so? And if not, how bad would James’ gloating be?
With a sigh I called to everyone to stand in a line except Peter who I told to go stand in the goal. It was the best I could come up with; shooting at the goal. I didn’t know if it was right or not. I was pathetic, but who was I to let people know I thought so? Lily Evans never failed and didn’t show weaknesses. Especially not when James Potter stood on the sidelines, waiting for me to fail and then laugh at me.
“Okay, Potter,” I called, “You’re up!”
Letting the ball roll a few meters in front of him into a halt he smirked, looking at me, then he made a short run-up and kicked to the ball. Peter jumped after the ball, but it was too perfectly placed in the right upper corner. As Peter threw the ball back out to James he sent me a mockingly smile which clearly said ‘Don’t for a second think you’ll be able to get me down!’
“Next!” I called without taking notice of him.
Megan’s shot was just as perfect. She jumped and high-fived Sirius and me on the way back. Peter saved the first when it was Remus’ turn. Thea’s shot was placed a bit to the left and Peter could have just taken it with his hand, but instead he chose to use his whole body. He fell to the ground, hands between his legs. Most of the team rushed to his side while I just watched, shaking my head.
Megan stopped at my side, “Looks like we were wrong after all, Lily.”
I looked up at her with a grin, “Strange how some things just surprise you.”
She chuckled. “We better see how he’s doing.”
When we stopped at the little group, Peter sat up with watery eyes. Remus was holding one arm, Daniel the other.
James was shaking his head, “I told him to wear a cup,” he muttered to Sirius who snickered.
“Poor bloke.” He crouched in front of Peter. “You were just shot down by a girl, mate.”
Even Peter smiled. “She shoots pretty hard.”
I smiled weakly. “Need ice, Peter?”
Before Peter could ask James spoke, eyes on me, “I’ll get it.”
What was with the looks he gave me? It wasn’t my fault Peter had been shot! I picked up Remus’ ball, “Okay folks! I think we should maybe practice some passes while our goalkeeper is out. Pair up please!”
With Peter out we were an uneven number so I stood on the sidelines first. As I stood there, I slowly started panicking. Everyone, it seemed, were better at this than me. Sirius and James… Megan, Thea and Daniel. Every single one of them in fact. I was screwed.
I turned to James and Remus who were quietly passing the ball back and forth next to Megan and Sirius. James was looking at me, smirking. I knew that instant that it wasn’t a good fact he’d called for me.
“Uhu?” I asked, my voice very low and weak.
His smirk grew. “Well, we were just wondering… Could you teach us how to tackle properly?”
My eyes locked with his, and I was sure he knew exactly that I was less capable of playing football than he was at being silent for more than five minutes. I sighed and slowly moved towards them.
“Sure, James, I would love to.” I let the sarcasm drip from each word. Only he heard it.
He grinned and placed a foot on the ball. We stared at each other a few seconds. I bit the inside of my cheek, wanting so badly to hit him instead.
“So are you getting the ball or not, Evans?”
I clenched my teeth. He was going down. I tried to remember all those things my dad had said to me when I was younger; he’d always wanted me to play football, but I stopped when I broke an arm. It was after two trainings.
“Are you standing still or are you going to make it a little hard for me?” I smirked, hoping he’d go with the first.
He narrowed his eyes. “I’ll make it easy for you.” Why did he have to mock me so badly?
With an almost invisible snarl I concentrated on the run, the ball, yet in the back of my mind it appealed to me very much just running into him, elbow first where it hurt the most. A few metres away from him I closed my eyes and let my one foot slide in front of me as I nearly sat down on the other. I’m not sure it was exactly like my dad imagined, but when I opened my eyes, the ball was gone and James looked at me stunned. Silence and then Megan hooted loud.
“Wow, Lily! Take that, James!”
I helped myself up and looked at James. He was annoyed beyond everything I’d seen so far. With a snarl he picked up the ball.
“Let’s make it a bit harder, shall we?”
“Yes, let us.”
He dropped the ball again and he was gone, running with the ball perfectly rolling at his feet. With a sneer at Megan, who didn’t help the situation by encouraging James, I ran after him. He was a much faster runner than I, but had a ball which needed to follow with him. But he toyed with me, running around in a smaller circle on our half of the court. At last I’d had enough. With a snarl I tacked him from the side, not only getting the ball away, but his legs as well. Lying on my back, I suddenly felt his huge body land on top of my, pushing all air out of my lungs. I gasped in pain. I opened my eyes and found his hazel eyes only centimetres away.
Before he could really react on being that close to me, I’d placed two hands on his chest and pushed him away. “Get off me, idiot!”
“With pleasure,” he snarled and stood up before I could even sit up. But just when I had pushed up to my elbows he was down on knees next to me, his eyes blazing. “Don’t for a second think you’re fooling everyone, Evans!”
My eyes narrowed. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”
He grinned mockingly. “Think about it… we couldn’t have you to do something wrong, could we?”
“What are you doing, Potter?” I raised an eyebrow. “Is this some sort of... I dunno, blackmail?” Okay, I was becoming paranoid.
He licked his lips. “Why would you think that? I’m simply stating that you don’t want to lose your face in front of the whole class.”
I was speechless. How did he dare? I had both my hands raised, about to strangle him when he was suddenly gone, trudging towards Sirius. I swear to Merlin, someday I had to kill him.
A hand was offered to me. I looked up at Megan as I grabbed her hand.
“You know what?” I asked as I stood up again. She shook her head. “I truly, truly hate Potter.”
She snorted. “Oh, figured. You’re never a surprise Lily.”
As we returned to the rest of the group I noticed Peter was standing up again. With a heavy sigh I ordered everyone to start out again, shooting. I watched the team closely at they on turn shot at Peter. Megan, James, Sirius, Daniel all had very good shots. The worst part of it was that the three first had never in their lives played football before today, yet they were better than me. Daniel had a little when he was smaller, but he’d had to let it go as he started at Hogwarts. I wondered why they hadn’t chosen him as team captain as he obviously was just a tad better than me. Even Peter showed to be in fact a good goal keeper, and Mary, Sirius and Remus showed to make some very good tackles, and Thea and Angela had some very precise passes. The whole team except me had talent.
Life was so unfair.
When Professor Aaronson called to end our practise he praised both teams. Especially the Hufflepuff captain, Greg Wright who had played football almost since he could walk. He’d managed to pull together a perfect practice with both exercises where the team was basically running, but also running with the ball and shooting at goal. I hadn’t done any of the first two things. I would remember that.
Then we all exited the court into the changing rooms at the court. Trying to drown my sorrows in water, I was the last to finish up showering. The loyal friend Megan was, she waited for me, smiling encouraging.
“You’re doing better than I’d thought,” she said as we closed the door behind us.
I raised an eyebrow. “As in…?”
She shrugged. “Well, I have noticed through the last six years that you’re not very athletic. I think you did good taking that in mind.”
I sighed, “Potter – sorry, Megan, James – will try making these classes hell to me.”
“Oh, that’s harsh, Evans!” We both turned and looked as Sirius came trudging towards us. “He will just try not making it exactly easy for you.”
“Wasn’t that what I said?” I asked with a frown, pointing my thumb at him.
He grinned. “‘Hell’ and ‘not exactly easy’ are not the same.”
“Gee, Black, thanks.” I raised an eyebrow, looking at him. “You know as well as I that he’s furious that I was made captain instead him.”
“Yeah,” Sirius chuckled. “He’s seething. But to be honest, I’m a bit shocked too. You have no idea how to manage a team, less of all a sports team.”
I smiled; Sirius knew me all too well. I’m sure that hadn’t he been best friends with James we’d made great friends just like he and Megan. Megan and I were the only girls Sirius in fact respected. He was a very disrespectful person towards most people (teachers included), but somehow he treated us like he should.
I shook my head. “I really wish James had gotten the job, not me.”
“I don’t think that’ll please him more to know,” Megan said.
“No,” Sirius agreed. “Now he just wants to see you screw up.”
“But I know I will,” I groaned.
“You could go and talk to him…” Megan trailed off.
I snorted. “You know as well as I that he’d never talk to me if he didn’t have to.”
“Yeah, who wonders,” Sirius mumbled looking away.
“What was that?” I asked sharply.
Sirius looked at me. “Sorry, Evans, but can you really blame the guy? It was some pretty bad stuff you said back in January. It hit him hard and it really doesn’t surprise me that he’s gotten a lot of suppressed emotions. Though he is a boy, he’s still got feelings.”
“Well that’s just bloody brilliant!” I replied.
“You could apologize,” Megan said.
I looked away. “I’m not doing that.”
“He probably won’t forgive you anyhow,” Sirius muttered.
My hands balled into fists. That boy did really know what buttons to push on at the moment. He knew how to make me mad, and he used it when thinking it was necessary. No one really thought Sirius as this smart, but oh boy did he play his cards fantastically.
We’d made the Entrance Hall and headed towards the staircase. We had Transfiguration next.
“You’re giving me a headache, Black,” I groaned.
“At least I can get some reaction out of you.” He smiled.
“I really wish I could say ‘I hate you’ to you and mean it.”
He chuckled. “I’m too irreplaceable.”
I pinched the bridge of my nose. “This is the worst day ever. Not only do we have to play football at Hogwarts, no, I get named captain, mocked by James Potter and Sirius Black thinks he’s king of the world. I need to lie down.”
“She’s overreacting, isn’t she?” Sirius grinned at Megan.
“Oh, yeah. She likes that people feel bad for her.”
And I who had been looking forward to go back to Hogwarts. It seemed like this year would be just as hell as last year. If not it was one thing like James Potter that was bothering me, then it was another thing, like football. I really, really hated football.