Chapter 10 : Transfigured Elephants
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The rest of Tuesday passes in a way that makes me feel as though I’m walking around with a large neon sign that proclaims loudly ‘Look at me! The Quidditch Freak! Point at me! Whisper about me! Mock my meagre attempt at glory!’
Of course I’m not attempting to get myself any sort of glory.
In an insane moment of enlightenment, that appears to have fled as quickly as it arrived, I thought I might just see if I could prove everyone wrong and show that I’m not just ‘another Anderson’.
I’m ‘another quidditch-ass-kicking Anderson’.
Entirely different species.
Surprisingly, though I spend the day surrounded by a constant stream of whispering, only one person actually mentions tryouts to me directly.
This occurrence causes both the girly part of my brain and dear Connie to join forces to push me towards the startling fact that a certain Mr Wood might behind the lack of hassle I’m experiencing.
Which is a concept much to frightening to contemplate.
The one person who does mention tryouts is Burns, who pushes his way through the crowd and quidditch tackles me as I make my way into the Great Hall for lunch.
“Kit!” exclaims Burns, as he hurls himself at me.
“Ompf,” the breath is knocked out of me, but I manage a greeting in response, “Hello Burnsy,”
“Is it true, is it true?” he gushes on, unaware I’m currently trying to re-inflate my lung. “Have you really put your name down on the tryout sheet?”
Looking up at me, his eyes lit up with an excited puppy like gleam, it does strike me how much he looks like a certain Captain Obsessive.
Dear help the quidditching world when this one gets unleashed- he’ll be ten times as determined as Wood and that’s a scaring prospect.
“Yep, it’s true. I put my name down last night,” I reply. “In fact, it’s all down to what you said last night that I finally put my name down.”
A small shy smile appears on his face and he blushes faintly.
“So, if this all goes wrong and I make a prat of myself; I’m blaming you,” I end on a grin that lets him know I’m only joking.
“Yeah,” responds Burns, rolling his eyes at me, “Like that’s going to happen.”
“Hey you never know what can happen!”
“I’m going to get some lunch, I’ll see you later Kit,” he just tells me with a weary shake of the head as he walks off.
There is something about getting that exasperated parental-like look from a little first year who’s only half your height.
I spend the rest of the day doing my best not to let all the pointing, staring and whispering get to me. I remind myself frequently, when I feel the urge to reach for my wand, that I have only myself to blame. It’s scant constellation and I would have probably have gone mad before the end of the day if it weren’t for Jon and Beth who always keep the conversation on other topics or when needed find the humour in the fact I get followed into the girls bathroom by two third year Gryffindor boys.
Granted finding the humour in that situation isn’t particularly challenging.
Yet that’s not the most amusing highlight of the day.
No that award has to be given to the highly original and adorable Plastic Idiots, who begin a loud conversation anytime I’m within earshot about how I’m so sad being so desperate for attention.
Far from annoying me, as is their intention, they just end up making me chuckle at their constant need to find some way in which to insult me. My amusement increases tenfold when they make the mistake of attempting this tactic at dinner.
Sensing just insulting me wasn’t going to produce any results, they branch out into insulting my sisters as well. Before I have a chance to react two seventh year boy’s sitting opposite them immediately start arguing with them, informing them just how good my sisters are and just how much they did for the team.
Several other surrounding males also join in with the defence of my sisters and it doesn’t take long before the Plastic Idiots flee in the face of such sizable opposition.
Life is just full of small amusements.
I spend the rest of the week managing to ignore all the attention, instead my mind focused on the fact that by Friday Jo has yet to respond to my owl.
This is unusually late, even for Jo.
All is quiet on the Wood front also.
Which is mildly disconcerting but as Jon wisely pointed out, when I mention the lack of Mr Wood, that Wood managed to last a whole meal on Tuesday without being a prat so he probably doesn’t want to push his luck.
And he is most likely waiting till tryouts to let it all out.
Friday evening finds me in the library pretending to work on a potions essay beside a muttering Beth who is attempting to work out whether Neptune is in retrograde.
“I can never understand it,” I say to Beth as I look up from my Potions textbook, “you’re one of the smartest witches in our year, you take some of the hardest subjects, like Arithmancy and ‘Runes, yet you keep on with Divination.”
“It has comfy seats, Trelawney is always good for a giggle and it doesn’t involve any wand waving, so no innocent bystanders are in danger of being harmed by me during the lesson,” replies Beth distractedly as she studies a chart in her textbook. “Now is this the fourteenth or fifteenth full moon since the last leap year?”
“Haven’t a clue- I do know it’s a Friday, if that’s any help.”
My response just earns a Look from Beth, who finds what she is looking for and begins to scribble out a passage from the textbook. I turn back to my own textbook and continue my doddle of a hippogriff.
I’m slowly amassing a nice little collection of magical and non-magical beasts in my potions text. Most of the farmyard animals had been covered before Christmas and then I have moved onto more exotic animals. Last week I had drawn a particularly good dragon that I’m actually quite proud off since for once one of my cartoon animals actually looks like the animal I was aiming for.
“You know, if Pince finds you drawing on a book in her library she is liable to explode,” comments Beth without looking up from her work.
“My book, I paid for it if I want to doodle on it then I can.’
“Still the thought of someone defacing a book, albeit a non-library owned one will still send her into heart palpitations.”
“Ah, but the flaw in that statement is the presumption that Pince actually has a heart.”
Further discussion on the existence, or not, of Pince’s heart is interrupted by the arrival of Jon. Who in a very un-Jon like way throws his bag rather heavily down onto the table and slams into the chair opposite.
Beth and I share a worried glance as he begins to viciously search through his schoolbag.
“Everything okay?” I ask cautiously.
“You know, I beginning to have a new found respect for you Kit.”
“I really don’t know how you have managed to last all those years without stringing Wood up from the nearest ceiling.”
“Why do you want to string Wood up from the nearest ceiling?” asks Beth with a confused look.
“Not Wood- sodding Bell with his sodding obsession with winning,” grumbles Jon in reply as he finds the books he’s looking for and slams them down onto the table.
The Bell he is referring to is Frederick Bell, no relation to Katie, Captain and Chaser for the Ravenclaw Quidditch Team. Bell and Jon have never really gotten on due to the fact Bell is a bit of a prat and has an obsession with all things Ravenclaw. He sees Jon being best friends with two non-Ravenclaws as one of the highest acts of house treason you can commit.
He also has issue with the fact he has yet to manage to score a goal against Jon in practice this year. Anyone else would think this is fantastic as it means they have a great Keeper, Bell just takes it as a conspiracy by Jon to undermine his leadership.
“Why, what’s he done now?” I ask, hopeful to hear the next amusing story in Bell’s quest to reveal Jon’s alleged plans for a coup.
“He has just spent the last half hour attempting to get me to ‘revel’ any of your flying secrets and has also informed me that as Captain of Ravenclaw he’s orders me to break off any friendship with you since now more than ever, you are ‘the enemy’,” answers Jon bitterly.
“I haven’t even made the bloody team yet!” I splutter in response.
“That’s little odds to Bell, he’s already decided that since you’re ‘another’ Anderson you’re a shoe in for the team,” answers Jon with a disgusted look. “And those are his words not mine. Merlin, I just wanted to throttle him, he kept going on and on about which sister style do you match most. I don’t know how many times I tried to tell him you’re not just some weird mini clone of one of your sisters.”
He finishes on a head shake as he unrolls an essay and gets out his inkpot and quill.
“You know,” he continues with a slight smile, as he unscrews the ink cap, “I really am amazed you have lasted so long without castrating Wood.”
“He probably would have lost the ability to have children years ago if I hadn’t stopped her on several occasions,” answers Beth with a chuckle.
When I give no response Jon turns with an anxious look.
“What’s wrong?” he asks.
“Look, I’m really sorry. I never thought you would be hassled over this,” I answer; annoyed that Jon should have to suffer because I put my name down on the tryout sheet. “Why can’t these prattish quidditch captains just leave well enough alone? I never would have put my name down if I thought for a minute you would get hassled about it.”
“Kit, stop being daft,” retorts Jon, “it’s not your fault Bell’s a prat, so you have nothing to feel guilty about.”
“But nothing, it’s just Bell being his usual annoying prattish self,” Jon tells me firmly. “Anyway, if it wasn’t this he would have found something else to get at me about. So don’t start beating yourself up about it.”
I just grumble in response, still annoyed about all the fuss being made by everyone else over these tryouts.
“What I want to know is, what did you say to him when he said you weren’t allowed to associate with us non-‘Claws?” enquires Beth.
“Well considering I’m sitting here with the pair off you, what’d you think I said?” asks Jon with a sarcastic look.
“Well you never know, you could be here to say a heartfelt goodbye or something,” protests Beth.
“What and he’s going to write a quick draft out first?” I comment as I gesture towards Jon’s ink and quill.
“He’s a Ravenclaw. You never know what funny notions they take into their heads!” Beth answers, throwing her hands up defensively.
“Well no, I’m not here to issue some odd pre-written emotional goodbye,” mocks Jon before becoming more serious, “I told him to wise up- considering Kit was the one who taught me how to fly properly and how to Keep I highly doubt she’s going to discover anything new weaknesses about my technique between now and the match. I also told him he was an idiot if he was honestly worried about Gryffindors stealing our plays. This is Wood we’re talking about- he probably has a handy hundred or so plays just floating about his head, he would hardly need to steal any of Bell’s crappy ones.”
“I’m guessing that didn’t go down the best with him?”
“Well, no not really,” responds Jon with a small grin as he picks up his textbook and flicks to the index.
Beth shakes her head and chuckles as she returns to her work, while I continue to stare off into the middle distance, an odd thought forming in my mind.
“I’ve just realised something,” I start.
“Realised what?” Jon asks his attention still on his index.
“If I make the team- I’ll be playing against you.”
“Well that is what generally happens in the Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw match,” comments Jon distractedly. “The team from Gryffindor tend to take on the team from Ravenclaw.”
“Aren’t you just a proper little comedian?” I reply. “But that’s not what I meant.”
“I was only winding you up,” Jon glances up from his text book and gives me a full blown grin. “It’s odd, for once I’ll have the upper hand about something to do with Quidditch; I have some matches under my belt. Granted, saying that you’ll probably score a record number of goals against me or something.”
“That’s only if I make the team; there are still tryouts to get through!” I counter nervously. As the time draws closer to Sunday I find the butterflies in my stomach have gotten progressively worse. Images of me either falling off the broom or failing to either score or catch a pass keep playing in my head.
“You’ll be fine,” Jon replies with a patronising look that says he thinks I’m an idiot for thinking otherwise.
“Everyone keeps saying that- but how do they know?” I grumble. “For all you lot know I might discover I’m only good for the occasional trick and I’m actually crap when it comes to working in a proper team.”
“Kit- you couldn’t have taught all those Sunday morning lessons if you weren’t pretty decent at flying and knew what you’re talking about.”
“Ah- but what about the old saying,” I retort, “Those that can’t do teach!”
“You are determined to expect the worse aren’t you?” Jon asks exasperated.
“Yes,” I affirm with a nod.
“I take it there’s still no word from Jo?” Beth asks sympathetically.
“No, so much for having bloody sisters.”
“I’m sure there’s a perfectly good reason to why she hasn’t replied,” consoles Beth. “I bet you get a nice thick letter full of kindly sisterly advice tomorrow morning.”
“We are talking about the same sister?”
Beth just gives an exasperated shake of the head and shares a look with Jon that clearly says they’ve given up on trying to get me to think positive and instead are just humouring me in my worries.
Why must everyone just presume that I’ll just be a shoe-in for the position? I’ve never had proper match experience, how do they all know I won’t just be totally unable to co-ordinate properly with teammates?
The pair of them continue on with their work and I glance down at my attempt at a hippogriff. It looks nothing like a hippogriff and also manages to bear no resemblance to either a horse or a bird.
I contemplate whether this is some sort of sign or omen.
I’m expected to be made up of all these different parts of my sisters and instead of the finely tuned hippogriff version people are expecting, I’ll end up looking like my cartoon- bearing no resemblance to either a hippogriff or the parts that make it up.
I do think this is what happens when you sit beside Beth as she does her Divination work, some of that airy-fairy crapy-ness rubs off and you end up seeing stupid things everywhere.
A hushed voice drags me out of my thoughts and I glance up, along with Jon and Beth, to find Burns and the others from the Sunday flying lessons making their way towards us.
“What’s up?” I reply concerned.
“Well, we just...” begins Burns nervously. He sort of stutters to a halt and gets a general shove from those around him that encourages him to continue and he finishes up very quickly as he rushes through the next part.“Wejustwantedtosaythankyou.”
The only part I can decipher from his sentence is the thank you at the end.
“Thank you? For what?” I question with a confused look. I look to Jon and Beth but they are none the wiser.
“For taking the time to give us all flying lessons,” replies Burns and those surrounding him nod in agreement.
“Well, as much I appreciate this lovely show of thanks,” I reply, still confused, “I can’t help feel I’m missing something. Is this your way of telling me you’ve decided that you’ve had enough and you don’t want any more lessons?”
Immediately they erupt in a chorus of protest.
“Okay, okay,” I raise my hands in a defensive gesture and they quieten down. I look to Burnsy with a questioning smile. “What’s this all about then?”
“Well, we all realise that this is the end of the you giving lessons,” answers Burns with a look on his face that lets me know he thinks I’m being incredibly thick not to get what’s going on.
“Still missing something here.”
“With tryouts,” a second year hufflepuff girl pipes up from the back. She immediately blushes red as our attention turns to her.
“What do you mean with tryouts?” I reply, my face scrunched up in concentration. “As far as I can remember, tryouts aren’t till eleven on Sunday. We’re always well finished before then.”
I glance to Jon and Beth for confirmation only to find Beth firmly focused on her Divination textbook but I can tell she’s trying to stop herself laughing. Looking to Jon I see the reason why as his face has taken on a very over the top hurt look.
“Right, what am I missing here?” I ask him.
“Well,” Jon answers with his air for theatrics, “it would appear they all think once you’ve made Chaser you won’t want anything to do with the flying lessons. Whether that’s because they think your ego will have swollen too much or because they think you won’t have to time to do it once you’re part of the team, I don’t know.” He turns his attention to the small group and continues in a mocking tone. “Though if it is the latter, I can’t help feeling undervalued.”
“And why on earth would you lot think that?” I ask, exasperated that they would honestly think I would just abandoned them all.
“You mean you’re not going to give up on the lessons?” Burns asks hopefully.
“I will stop giving lessons when there is no one there to teach,” I answer firmly.
“And you’ll have time?” a first year Ravenclaw boy timidly asks.
“Yes,” I reply, ignoring the theatrical tut coming from Jon’s direction. “I will always make time for the lessons. And I expect to see you all there bright and early as usual on Sunday since you lot are responsible for making sure I’m nicely warmed up and in touch for tryouts later on.”
They erupt in a chorus of yes’s as they express their dedication to making sure I’m ready to take on tryouts. I shoo them off as I see Pince making her way towards us and they quickly scatter. Once Pince reaches our length all she can do is give a dissatisfied sniff to which I just reply with a large friendly grin. I get a thunderous look in response as she swishes past and makes her way through the transfiguration section.
I wait until she is a suitable distance away before turning with a questioning look to Jon.
“So what’s up with Mr Drama Queen now?”
“Is the fact I’m the Ravenclaw Keeper elude them completely?” ask Jon with mock exasperation.
“Thank you as usual for the brutal honesty.”
Beth finally gives into her giggle fit and we quickly join her as we settle in for our usual Friday night of random silliness.
For not being overly bookish I spend a lot of time in the library. This is purely because it’s the only place all three of us can work or sit together, since Jon isn’t allowed in our common room and vice versa.
You know they talk a lot about house unity, but they really don’t make it an easy thing to achieve.
Saturday morning comes and goes with no sign of a response from Jo.
Which makes me wonder if everything is okay because it’s not like her to just abandon me after I had issued a call for help. Sure she’s a bit of a wild child, is hopeless for correspondence and doesn’t do touchy feely crap but this is quidditch and me in a tight spot looking for some advice.
Even if she thought, like the others, that I’m just being an idiot, I still thought she would have bothered to tell me as much.
My Saturday doesn’t improve any from that point.
The butterflies in my stomach have somehow gotten transfigured into elephants.
Everywhere I go people talk loudly about me, in such a way that makes me feel like I’m supposed to have gone deaf but nobody has gotten round to telling me.
And by some strange stroke of fate, that really shows have much the world hates me, the Plastic Idiots and Smith, the former Gryffindor captain and Seeker, discover they’re actually natural allies. While the Plastic Idiots talking loudly about me in a disparaging way is easy to ignore, adding Smith into the equation increases their annoyance level ten fold.
I seek refuge in the Library, forgoing the usual dander round the grounds and castle, with Beth and Jon that usual makes up my Saturday. For once I’m thankful for Pince being so severe about the noise level as it means I’m safe from having to listen to everyone talking about me.
I wile away the day by continuing to deface my Potions textbook, firmly stopping all thoughts of the Try-outs, knowing that if I did stop to think about them I would end up even more nervous.
I wake up with a jolt at four o’clock Sunday morning.
And I’m wide awake.
I twist and turn in my bed, hoping to find the right spot that will help me to get back to sleep. But once awake my brain decides it doesn’t want to go back to sleep.
Instead it focuses on replaying the dream that woke me up.
Hardly surprising it involves me making a prat of myself at tryouts.
I lie awake watching the time slowly ticking by, waiting for it to be time to get up. I see no point it getting up out of bed any earlier than usual because it’s not going to stop me feeling anymore nervous. So if I’m going to have a nervous breakdown I might as well do it somewhere comfy.
The clock finally gets to seven and I roll out of bed giving my head a final shake in an attempt to rid it of the image of me flying headfirst into the central hoop. The head shake as usual has no effect as I grab some clothes and head to the shower.
When Beth wakes up she senses how nervous I am and tries to distract me with some random rambling that I pay scant attention too. But in some weird way it is oddly soothing and I let her ramble on as we make our way down to breakfast.
Jon is already sitting waiting at the Ravenclaw table and we go to join him. He shares a concerned look with Beth as we sit down before pushes some toast and juice my way, telling me to eat something. I give a grimace in response, the chances of me being able to stomach something were slim.
“Don’t be stupid,” Jon tells me with a stern look, “eat something or you’ll end up falling off your broom with hunger.”
“Beats falling off because I’ve forgotten how to fly,” I mutter.
They share another look of concern and seem to come to the decision that it’s best just to leave me too it. Probably hoping I’ll get better once I’m out on the pitch.
Somehow I don’t see that happening.
After forcing me to eat some toast, we all finish up and make our way down to the pitch.
The elephants in my stomach get worse the nearer we get to the pitch.
I never realised just how intimidating the quidditch pitch looked before or just how tall the hoops were. I quickly make my way to the changing room and throw my kit on so quickly that I’m halfway through by the time Beth comes in.
“How’re you holding up?” she asks as she sits down on one of the benches.
“You’ll be fine,” she reassures, “what’s the worst that could happen?”
“I end up making a complete prat of myself by either flying into something or by just falling of my broom.”
“Exactly!” replies Beth. I stopped mid-way through lacing up my arm guards to look at her incredulously. “Speaking as someone who makes a prat of herself quite often, it’s not that bad. Worse things could happen!”
I continue lacing up my arm guards, making sure they are secure.
Strange as it may seem, Beth as actually spoken a bit of sense for once. I mean- there are worse things that could happen to me than making a prat of myself at tryouts. At the end of the day, I’m not going to end up emotionally damaged for life in some way if I do.
And the truth of the matter is I can only blame myself if I do because I was the one who put my name on the list. I decided to try-out for the team, no one forced me into.
So firmly telling myself to suck it up and have a bit of sense, I finish up lacing my guards and pick up my broom.
“Sorry,” I say to Beth, “I only brought this on myself so instead of moaning about the whole thing I should wise up and make the best of it.”
“And that was impressively philosophical for this early in the morning,” Beth comments, to which I chuckle in response.
“Talking of being early,” I begin as I glance around the changing room, “where is everyone? They’re normally all here by this stage.”
“I was wondering the same thing,” answers Beth with a frown. “How about we go out and see if we can see them making their way down.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I reply and we make our way out of the changing room. We walk the short distance to up onto the pitch and the sight that meets my eyes causes me to stop short.
“Well, that certainly answers the question of where everyone was,” comments Beth offhandedly.
My entire flying group were crowded around three figures standing on the edge of the pitch.
“What on earth...”
The sound of my voice draws everyone’s attention my way. The crowd splits to allow the three people through.
Not just any three people.
My three sisters.
“What in merlins name are you lot doing here?” I ask stunned.
“We’re here to make sure you don’t make a prat of yourself,” answers Jo with a grin, “though no guarantees.”
A/N: thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter, it was very nice of you. I hope you enjoyed this one as well.
I’m over the moon to be able to say I’ve now got trusted author status. This means no more waiting on the queue. So I’m taking a vote on what day of the week to post updates. Let me know what day you want in your review. Don’t just leave a review with a name of a day and that’s all because that would constitute as spam.
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by Liza Knight