He leaned closer.
I leaned closer.
“Jane,” he said, his voice quick and panicked.
“What?” I said, sort of annoyed now. Was this about the letter?
“Jane, Ellis is in the hospital wing. He got cursed pretty bad about twenty minutes ago—he’s not waking up but Madam Pomfrey said he’d be fine eventually.” Oliver swallowed hard, but never blinked.
“Jane, you’ve got to play tomorrow.”
I was silent. I heard the gasps and the drinks falling out of hands around me. I was vaguely aware that my jaw was lopsided and that Oliver was still staring at me. Angelina fell into her chair. The entire room was becoming a blur and I thought for a moment that if I was standing up I would have fainted.
“I—I’m sorry, what?” My voice seemed to mesh together in my head. Everything was a bit fuzzy, even the outline of Oliver’s face.
“Are you quite sure?” Alicia cut in, pulling on Oliver’s shoulder. “Ellis is really down for the count?”
“I got thrown out for trying to shake him awake,” Oliver said suddenly. He turned back to me. “We can go out to the pitch right now if you want to.” He placed a hand on my thigh. “We can practice all night.”
I shook my head. This was impossible. I couldn’t play. I didn’t play Quidditch. I definitely didn’t play Seeker. I wasn’t Ellis. I had barely flown in months unless they counted the few times I fell off my broom and tried not to kill myself. This just—there was no way.
“You’re kidding,” was all I managed to say.
“I wish I was kidding,” he muttered and I didn’t take it offensively. Of course he wished he was. Ellis was the best Seeker this school had seen for years.
“I can’t—I’ve never—this is ridiculous.” That was all I could manage to say. No one else spoke but I could feel Oliver squeeze gently on my leg. “I can’t catch a bloody Snitch! Isn’t there a reserve for the reserve? You need to get me out of this. You got me into this.” My body was starting to panic—the very thought of going onto a field with scarlet robes on while hundreds of students were counting on me to catch a little gold ball was ludicrous.
“Jane, listen to me.” Oliver’s voice was hushed—the same tone as when Roger and I broke up over Christmas. “You’re going to be fine. You caught it fine during try-outs and once you’re up there, you don’t fall as much.” I gave him a scathing look. “Besides,” he said quickly, trying to give me confidence that never came, “we’ll be working extra hard to make sure that even if you don’t catch the Snitch we’ll win.”
“Ravenclaw has to beat us by forty to win,” he went on. “You’ll be fine, Jane.”
I stood up quickly and nearly knocked Oliver on his rear end. “I’ve got to—I’m going for a walk.” I pushed past the rest of the team and ran for the portrait hole. How I made it down the stairs and outside without getting caught was beyond me, but there I was: standing in front of the lake with my arms pulled around me and the wind slipping into my hair.
This was impossible. It was all supposed to be a stupid, spiteful joke anyway—me even making the Quidditch team. Oliver just wanted to put me through Hell. And he did. I thought that was punishment enough—going to those team meetings. Having to freeze my arse off during that retreat. Attending every practice after that and running so many laps that my legs would never be out of shape. Wasn’t that enough?
No. Of course not. Now I had to walk out there—I could just see the pitch in my head—and try to remember everything Oliver told me at the team meeting while I was sleeping. Which way did Roger kick off? And the Ravenclaw Seeker—what was his name again? Oliver mentioned them getting a new Seeker since their female Seeker was injured in their Slytherin game but I couldn’t even place a name. Was he prone to feinting? The crowd would be enormous from there—nearly on top of you screaming things with their posters and chants. They were funny before—the Slytherins making up silly songs about the Gryffindors, but all of a sudden they didn’t sound so amusing anymore.
My stomach dropped.
My father would be there. I sent him a ticket when he asked for it and he said he would be there. In the stands. Watching me. Watching his daughter play the sport he was so obsessed with. I groaned. This was a nightmare.
Maybe I could just pinch myself and wake up from this express of disaster.
I closed my eyes. As if this night couldn’t get worse. I flew around, staring Oliver right in the face. It was apparent he had tried to flatten his hair a bit before approaching me. “Look,” I said roughly, holding up my hands, “don’t you dare let this influence your choice.”
“With the letter. And the team in Brazil.”
I thought I saw him roll his eyes. “Jane, I’ll think about that later. Are you all right?”
I shrugged. “As good as I could be I guess.”
“Do you need—what can I do?”
“Wake me up from this nightmare.” I smiled weakly. “Other than that, nothing.”
“Are you sure—God, I feel like this is all my fault.” His eyes fell to the grass between us.
“Well, it is.” I smiled again, this time at his dumbfounded expression. “It’s all right though. There’s nothing you can do—at least you have me or there wouldn’t be anyone to play.”
Oliver took a few steps forward. “Look, Jane, I don’t know what’s going through your head right now, but you’re going to be fine. I can practice with you now if you want. We can go turn on the stadium lights and practice through the night if you want. Anything.”
I shook my head. “You have a lot more on your mind then making sure I can stay on my broom.” I tried to laugh, but knew I really wanted the extra help more than anything. “Just go back upstairs and mill it over. I’ll be fine. Seriously. I’m just…freaking a bit.”
“Is your dad coming?” Oliver asked suddenly.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Yes, he is. Now that he knows I’m on the team. Thanks to someone.”
He smirked. “Good. I sent him extra tickets just in case you didn’t.” He beamed and I tried to punch him in the arm, but he dodged it too quickly and I hit the air. “I’ll be up in my room if you need me, okay?”
I nodded, watching him walk back up to the castle. Though I had remained calm so that Oliver wouldn’t freak out, my insides were a mess. I felt like I was going to throw up all over my shoes.
Stupid sodding Ellis. Why did he have to go and get himself hexed? If he wasn’t so good, people wouldn’t want to hex him. I groaned. Stupid Ellis. He had no idea.
Breathing in deeply, I made a run for the castle. I tore through the hallways and up to the hospital wing where I crept through the door and immediately saw Ellis two beds from the end with the curtains open. Everything was tidy around him and I knew he wasn’t faking this one. Not one magazine had been opened and two were still in plastic wrap.
I sat on the edge of his bed and stared at him—stupid Danny-Boy. He looked so peaceful—so—good at Seeking. I wished he could transfer some of his talent into me for just one day. I poked him in the ribs.
“Ellis. Hey, Ellis. Give me some of your Seeker powers,” I said desperately, clinging to any hope that he might hear me. “Seriously. If you don’t, we’re going to lose. And by lose I mean be demolished. Psst. Ellis. Come on. Do it.” I pressed his shoulder. “I’ll tell Elizabeth you’ve been flirting with Libby. I swear. I’ll do it.” This time, I grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him up and down. He didn’t move. I shook him again. “Ellis!” I whispered violently, shaking again. “Damn you.” Setting him still, I groaned. He was as hopeless unconscious as he was conscious.
As it was late, my next option for the evening was to go to sleep. Out of all the things I thought I could do at the moment, sleep was right up there with catching the Snitch.
I retreated to the common room, only to be bombarded with the noise behind the portrait. At first I thought the group was having a Cup party a day early, but then I realized when Libby shot me a scathing look that it was because of me.
“Are you kidding me?” said a nearby third year. “How can we—do we even know if she can catch a Snitch?”
“Losing Ellis now? No bleeding WAY!”
“We’re going to lose! I’ve seen her at practices! All she does is laps!”
“That’s why she has such nice legs,” said Fred, poking a few fourth years in the head. “Scram.” He pushed them out of my way. “All right, Janey?”
I shrugged, trying to ignore the conversation around me. The problem was, it was everyone.
“Jane, I swear to Merlin if you let us down after Ellis got us this far…” That one was Libby.
I turned and stared at her, trying to decide if I wanted to say anything. Quickly deciding that I had said all I needed to when I screamed at her the last time, I veered back to the spiral staircase and listened to my name be tossed around on lips that had never spoken to me.
The girls were quiet when I walked in. Katie was tossing a Quaffle up and down while lying in bed. Angelina was finishing up an essay, looking anxiously at me. Alicia closed her Qudditch magazine to stare at me.
“Hey,” I said weakly, my hands still feeling a bit weird from shaking Ellis. “I’ve got quite the fan club downstairs.” Smiling, I kicked off my shoes and started going through my bag, searching for a quill for no apparent reason other than to look like I was doing something.
“So I heard,” muttered Angelina.
“Jane, you’re going to be fine, you know,” said Katie. “I’ve seen you practice and you’re far better than you think you are.”
“Just no Ellis,” I said bitterly.
“Well, Ellis is hardly Ellis sometimes,” said Alicia, trying to smile.
“Listen, we’ll help you practice tonight if you want,” said Angelina. “I’ve got my broom up here and we can go down together and I’ll turn on the lights and we can catch the Snitch together.”
I shook my head. “Oliver already offered. Don’t worry about it. I just want to sleep.” Frowning, I climbed into bed fully-clothed. I pulled the blankets up over my eyes and tried to drown out the sounds of whispering around me and the echo of complaints from the common room.
I stayed still for a few hours, just listening to the tiny noises around the room. I was clinging to Roger’s teddy bear, hoping it would be a skilled Seeker and could pass on the powers that shaking Ellis could not. I didn’t feel any better. My stomach was thinking about exploding and all I could do was lie on my side and stare at the underside of the blanket.
I couldn’t to this. I couldn’t realistically walk out onto that pitch tomorrow with confidence. Groaning, I turned over. The candles had been blown out and the whispers were dying down now. I couldn’t be on the opposite side of the pitch as Roger in the morning. He knew what he was doing—how to fly. How to duck. How to be a real Quidditch player. I read about it in magazines and got angry with my Captain for being a prat. That was as close as I had come.
There was a pretty good chance Oliver wouldn’t be with us for the Final. We could find a quick reserve, I was sure of it. I was pretty sure Oliver had mentioned a few people being interested in being reserves—he had just forgotten to hold trials after the Seeker try-outs. Leave it to him.
What if he didn’t show up though? He’d be going to pursue his lifetime goal of being on an International Quidditch team. He would finally see himself as the amazing Keeper he really was—and maybe his father would as well. I wouldn’t be upset if he left. This was the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup game…as opposed to a secure future doing what he loved.
I turned over again. When Ellis woke up I was going to hex him again.
It was no use. I wasn’t going to sleep. Not with my mind so obnoxiously awake. I turned over again. This was irritating. I could hear Alicia’s soft snores. I lifted my head. Angelina was asleep and I could see the still form of Katie under her blankets.
Groaning, I sat up in the darkness. This was worthless.
So I grabbed my Nimbus from under my bed, pulled on my robes and shoes, and left the dormitory.
The common room was nearly empty when I got there. A pimply fourth year gave me a nasty look and I stopped dead, irritated from my lack of sleep and the whispers that seemed to be following me now. “You know what?” I said loudly and she jumped, obviously not expecting me to speak to her. “I’m going to lose the game for Gryffindor now. Just because you gave me that dirty look.” She gaped at me and I stuck up my nose and continued on my way.
The halls were empty and I was wondering how I kept getting so lucky as to not get detention after hours. I made it outside all right and realized rather quickly that I didn’t bring my cloak. Sucking it up, I moved against the wind until I found myself on the Quidditch pitch. Flipping a large switch just to the right of the locker room door, the stadium fairy lights came on and the grass was illuminated.
I had to practice. I couldn’t just go out onto the pitch without practicing—and let’s face it, laps did nothing in Quidditch except get me male attention.
Mounting my broom, I kicked off lightly from the ground. I stayed up for a few seconds, shifting this way and that as I tried to balance. Oliver wasn’t lying when he said balance was important because I seemed to have none. I hovered a few feet from the grass for a while, slowly accelerating as I crossed the pitch and let the tips of my shoes brush the green under me.
It was nice—the calming quiet. I flew for a while, eventually trying to get higher and higher without eating dirt. I did reasonably well for a person who could not only fly horribly but was also nervous to the point of vomiting. After finally letting myself soar through one of the hoops, I allowed a smile.
Even though I knew I had no chance of flying like any of the other players (or anyone that tried out for the team even), I had improved. I wasn’t falling anymore and I didn’t have bruises up and down my arms. But I was better. A lot better.
I climbed off my broom several hours later, refreshed from the fly. It had been hours since I’d left the castle and I noticed, checking my watch, that it was nearly time for breakfast so I stuck my broom in the locker room and made my way back up to the castle cheerfully.
Unfortunately, the cheer only lasted until I walked through the doors. Immediately, whispers erupted again. Groaning, I did my best to cross the Entrance Hall without them getting into my head. It was, after all, the morning before the game and the new Seeker couldn’t be troubled with people that were less cool.
But they could play if they wanted. I wasn’t going to be greedy.
“Eugh, we’re going to lose now!”
“She told me she’s going to lose the match on purpose!”
I laughed at that one.
“She’ll never be as good as Ellis—why did Oliver put her on the team anyway?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said a blond boy. “Look at those legs!”
Rolling my eyes, I pulled open the doors to the Great Hall. The environment was unlike anything I had experienced. I was sure in the past it had been crowded and crazy when a match drew near, but since I was a part of it that made everything a little more chaotic.
The Gryffindor table was in between whispering about me and talking about the game. I looked at my food.
There was no way I was going to eat that.
Eggs. Sausage. Toast. Croissant. Ham.
No. It looked disgusting. In fact, my stomach was starting to feel uneasy at the very thought of eating. It grumbled and moved uncomfortably and I knew right away it was nerves. Another twinge told me I was right.
Roger rushed up behind me and shoved George to the side so he could sit down. He was wearing his Ravenclaw Captain badge.
“Blimey, Jane, I heard what happened,” he said, out of breath. “What can I do? Is there anything I can do?”
“Find whomever hexed Ellis and hex him,” I said. “Or her.” I shrugged. “Other than that, you can wake me up from this nightmare.”
“You look like you’ve been awake for hours,” he said, running the palm of his hand over my cheek. “You need some sleep.”
“That’ll work when the game is only a couple of hours away, huh?” I smiled at him and kissed his nose. “Don’t worry about it, Roger. I’ll be fine. I just hope Ellis is okay.”
Roger beamed. “That’s the spirit, Jane!” He kissed me. “I’ll see you after the match, okay? Bye!” With another quick debonair grin, he rushed back to the Ravenclaw table to eat some breakfast.
I was glad he bought that rubbish about me being fine. Because I wasn’t. But I didn’t need him to be worried about me. He had enough on his plate already as it was and truth be told, I just didn’t feel like dealing with him.
That reminded me of someone.
My eyes scanned the Gryffindor table and told me one thing: Oliver Wood had gone to fulfill his duty as Keeper for the Brazilian International team. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to notice.
“Where’s Wood?” snapped Angelina, looking over to the Hufflepuff table and then to the Slytherin table. “You don’t think someone got him too, do you?”
I tried to play it off like I had no idea. After all, it wasn’t my business what he did with his life. I shrugged. “I doubt it, but maybe. You could go check the hospital wing if you want.”
Angelina made a face. “I might just do that.”
It was Oliver’s choice. That was right. His choice. His decision. His life.
And yet, part of me sort of wanted to see his pompous face in the Great Hall. I felt nervous without him there—stupid, I knew that, but he was always some sort of arrogant, narcissistic constant in my life.
Frowning, I stared at my food. There was no way I could eat—the same with me sleeping. It just wasn’t going to happen. I pushed my plate away just as Fred and George plopped down on either side of me. “’Lo boys,” I said miserably.
“Hey, Janey,” said George, draping an arm around my shoulders. “We’re here for you, you know.”
“All the time,” said Fred loudly.
“Well, not up in the air,” George said. “Because we’re Beaters so we’ll be making sure you don’t die.”
“But that’s not the point,” said Fred. “Otherwise, when we’re not beating away Bludgers and making ridiculously inappropriate comments about the length of your leggies, we’re here for you.”
Willing myself a smile, I stared at the boys one at a time. Then I wrapped them in a hug. “Thanks, guys.” I kissed each one on the forehead just so they would feel like I was mothering them.
“I guess we should hit the locker rooms soon,” said Katie, standing up and looking around.
“But Oliver isn’t here,” said Angelina, coming back through the door. “And he’s not in the hospital wing either—I’ve just been to check there. Ellis is still out cold. What are we supposed to do? Do you think he fell asleep somewhere? The library?”
“I saw him up earlier—how would he be asleep somewhere?” said Libby, narrowing her eyes. “I was downstairs in the middle of the night trying to find where I left my glass of water and he was walking out with a big bag over his shoulder.”
“Why in Merlin’s name would he be up in the middle of the night?” Angelina roared. “Especially when we have a match—and the bag? What in blazes?”
“We have to go,” urged Katie. “We’ve got to talk about the match.”
“Who’s going to talk then, huh?” Angelina continued. “You? Fred? The unconscious Ellis in the hospital? Why don’t we all crowd around his bed and ask him if he can lead us into victory against Ravenclaw?” She was panicking and it was expected. Alicia was starting to look a little irritated herself.
“Let’s just go,” I said after a minute of Angelina breathing heavily and the twins surveying her with looks of horror. “Let’s just go down there and take it one step at a time. Oliver wouldn’t want us to lose our heads, right?”
Angelina nodded. “I guess you’re right. Come on, team.” She grabbed one more piece of toast and led the way out of the hall. I could see Roger talking to his team and Mandy lurking nearby like a lost sodding puppy.
An ugly puppy.
That liked to ruin other people’s lives.
Roger looked nice, talking to his team, but for the first time I had to be the one out there going against him. I couldn’t let our relationship deter catching the Snitch (even if I saw the bleeding thing) and I couldn’t go easy on him just because we were snogging in empty classrooms. At least I hadn’t given him ammo to use against me. Not that I would even be able to go easy on him anyway considering I had only managed to stay on my stupid broom this morning and that was low to the ground.
Frowning, I followed the group out onto the warm grounds. It was breezy outside—a perfect spring day. Then I saw the pitch and my stomach exploded into what could only be described as horrible nerves. I couldn’t feel my legs for a moment and I nearly fell face-first into the grass (luckily George saw this and caught me before hand).
“Oh no,” I moaned, staring at the stadium seats as we approached. “I can’t do this. I can’t catch a Snitch. Who am I kidding?”
“Jane. Shut up,” said Alicia. “You’re going to be fine.”
“Fine? Have you seen me play? Are you mental?” I said, gasping for air.
Then I leaned over and puked in the bushes.
“Aww, Jane!” George said loudly. “That almost hit my shoes you know!” He held back my hair and rubbed my back gently. “Are you okay?”
“I think so,” I said, using my wand to get myself a glass of water. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. I feel better…I think.” I straightened up, trying to wipe the sweat from my brow, and smiled at the rest of the team. “Seriously. I’m good. Let’s just… let’s just keep walking.”
Angelina led the walk again, this time looking a little less convinced, and we went in silence. The outside of the stadium passed in a blur and before I knew it, we were back inside the locker rooms.
For some reason, it seemed different this time as I walked over to my locker to sit down. This time I was actually going to put on my robes and leave with the rest of the team—Nimbus in hand and everything. It just seemed different. It was like being in there during the retreat with the air mattresses on the ground, huddling up by the fire as Angelina and Fred simultaneously agreed that their feud was stupid and while Alicia confided in me about her father studying in Brazil.
It was missing Oliver.
I looked around the room and his things seemed untouched (except that his broom wasn’t in its usual position leaning against his robes). Angelina stood up in the midst of our silence and began pacing back and forth between Fred’s locker and Ellis’s empty one.
“Well, we have to do this. Wood or no Wood,” she said quietly. “Obviously we are going to have to find a replacement Keeper…but there are so many able candidates that I wouldn’t worry about it. Someone will just have to go up there in a few minutes and pick the first one on the list.” She paused and Alicia nodded. “We can do this. The three of us are good Chasers—even if the Ravenclaw team doesn’t know that since we haven’t gotten to play much at all. And Fred and George can Beat their way out of a tunnel so we’re good on that front.” She paused again. “Jane, just do your best. No one is pressuring you. We’re going to be fine.”
Alicia got up to retrieve the Keeper and peeked her head out the door. “There are only a few people in the stands,” she said.
“Obviously, since we have a while before the game starts,” said George with a smile.
“I’m just saying there usually aren’t any,” Alicia snapped. “They’re scouts.”
“Scouts? How many?” Angelina rushed over to the door.
“Four of them,” she said breathlessly. “I can’t tell what their badges say, but those are scouts.”
“Too bad Oliver isn’t here,” said Fred. “He needs some scout attention.”
“Especially with Ellis not playing,” said George. “Now the scouts might be able to see all of us in action.”
I groaned again. As if there couldn’t be more pressure, the twins had to drop another bomb. If I caught the Snitch too fast, none of them would be signed. Well, most of us still had another year to be signed (them, I meant. Not me. I didn’t want to be anywhere near the pitch), but I had to be careful to catch it after the scouts had enough time to get a load of what we had.
There went my stomach again. I rushed into the girls’ showers and threw up in the nearest garbage can, trying to hold back my own hair while I ignored yelling behind me. Blimey, this was going to be horrible. Why wasn’t Ellis awake? Why hadn’t my shaking done the trick?
I puked again and my stomach felt weak and horrible. This was a disaster. Why wasn’t Oliver here to annoy me or lend me his broom so I could try out for his sodding team?
But I had Roger.
Who bleeding cared about Roger? He wasn’t in the locker room and in a little while he was going to be going against me on the pitch. He wasn’t important at the moment.
He probably had no idea how nervous I was. I never told him about my nerves. Or about my feelings. Or my family. Or…much of anything.
I wished I had eaten more at breakfast as I vomited again, my mind swimming while I thought about the crowds and the cheers and the Gryffindors who didn’t think I was worthy enough to be their Seeker.
I felt my hair being scooped off of my neck and I sank to the tile, thankful to whichever Chaser was behind me. The sweat was piling onto my brow and my heavy breathing wasn’t helping me.
“I can’t do this,” I whispered, trying to will back the tears without success. I took a quick drink of water.
“Yes, you can,” said someone that was most definitely not a Chaser. “That’s why I’m here.”
I whipped around and my face was inches from Oliver Wood’s. He was kneeling behind me, sweating as well, his hair tossed everywhere (including onto his face). He still had a piece of my own hair between his fingers.
“Oliver,” I breathed, not willing myself to believe what was going on. “I thought—but you weren’t—and your broom!”
He put a finger up to silence me. “I want you to know something,” he said hoarsely and I shut my mouth. “I need you to know that I came back here for you.”
“For…me?” I gaped at him.
“I couldn’t let you do this alone.” He stared at me, his brown eyes spilling into my own and he released the hair he was holding. “I came back as fast as I could—got all the way to Brazil before I realized where I had to be was right here. I just…I couldn’t let you do this by yourself.” Oliver touched my cheek with his hand. “I’m here for you.”
I could have cried right there. I wasn’t alone anymore. Not that I ever was with the team that I had, but I was really not alone now.
Oliver grabbed my arms and hoisted me up. “Are you going to be okay? Do you need something?”
I shook my head. “Not anymore,” I said without thinking and I smiled weakly. He returned the grin. “I guess we should go play Quidditch soon then. Good to know Alicia doesn’t have to go find a replacement Keeper.”
“No one could replace me,” Oliver said and laughed.
“Oh,” I said, closing the door before he could open it, “by the way. There are four scouts out there so I’ll try and strategically catch the Snitch so you get noticed.” I winked playfully and walked out the door before him.
“Scouts? From which teams?” He looked around at the rest of the team while I took my seat.
“We don’t know but I see a Canons logo on that one,” said Fred, pointing across the pitch.
“Okay.” Oliver took his place in front of the chalk board and faced his team. He put on a defiant face and narrowed his eyes. “This is going to be a piece of cake,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and play our game. We’ve undergone so much to get where we are and we’re not going to let those ‘Claws get in the way now. Not when they’ve done what they’ve done.” He paused, staring out at each one of us. “They’re saying they’ve outplayed us. They spied on us. And I really think they’re the ones that got to Ellis last night when he was walking back from the library. That was the last bleeding straw.” Oliver started to pace. “We’re going to outplay them. We’re going to be in position and they’ll never know what hit them. I’m going to save just about everything that comes at me. You lot are going to do what you do best—pass around the Quaffle and shoot it. Hit the Bludgers right into Collins’ face. Find the Snitch.” He stopped right in front of the chalk board. “I’m not going to draw plays today. I’m not going to give you a bunch of crap about us being the better team and which way we should fly and how Davies kicks off to his left. I’m going to tell you that we’re going to go out there and play our game. We’re going to have fun playing the game we love. We’re going to go out there and demolish them, keep our pride, and win like a classy team just to show them what class is supposed to look like.”
Taking a deep breath, Oliver nodded. “Are we ready to do this?”
The twins jumped up, excitement on both of their faces. “Let’s win a Cup!” shouted George, pumping his fist into the air.
“Let’s wipe the grin off that idiot Collins’ face!” yelled Fred.
While cheering, the team put on their robes and I turned to my own. PERRY was written on the back in gold letters and I could feel the lightweight material as it moved over my arms and the pads on my elbows. My Nimbus seemed to be staring back at me, willing me to pick it up, and for once it felt natural in my hands. Except my hands were shaking.
It took me a while to turn back to the team, my stomach spotty with nerves once again. When I did finally turn, my mind swimming with images of my father, scouts, Gryffindor scowls, and laughing Ravenclaws, I saw Oliver standing before me. The rest of the team was near the door, but he reached out and put his hand on my shoulder.
“You’re going to be great, Jane,” he said slowly, in a voice I had only heard a few times before that. My stomach jolted, and it wasn’t because I was nervous. He had used that tone in the way he said my name before he kissed me after his breakup. “I wouldn’t have put you on the team if you weren’t going to be great for us.” He ruffled my hair and pulled me into a very uncharacteristic hug.
Smiling, Oliver kissed my cheek and where he placed his lips stung for a moment. “Plus, you’ve got to catch the Snitch because I came all the way back just for you.”
*title from a Walt Whitman poem
A/N: Okay, so the chapter was up a little early because I love you guys and I hope you Americans ate your weight in turkey & stuffing like I did :) Thanks so much for all of your amazing reviews, it really makes me want to get out the chapters faster (hence this one). I want to thank you for all of the great things you've said about my story. It means a lot. And holy crap--over 250 reviews! Best turkey day present ever :)
And next chapter: Ravenclaw vs. Gryffindor
So what do you think? About Oliver's choice? About the upcoming game? About Jane trying to shake Ellis to death in the hospital wing?