Chapter 5 : Try-Outs
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I was semi-excited about Halloween, but not so much. Everyone else was so-so about it as well. The most anyone said was that they were looking forward to the Halloween feast and for after Halloween when the bats and spiders disappeared. No, what everyone was talking about was Quidditch try-outs. Starr was a whirr of excitement and I had to admit that I was pretty pumped as well, even though I’d given up my Quidditch dreams in my fourth year.
“Oh I so want to get on a broom again. This stalemate is killing me!” Starr whined on the Friday night. She was sitting on her bed cradling her broomstick as if it were a puppy.
“You are so weird,” Victoire said while brushing her hair.
“Oh I agree!” Gigi commented from her bed, a book propped up in her lap and a scroll of parchment rolled out beside her. Gigi always made sure to finish all or most of her homework on Friday night so that Saturday and Sunday night were free. Right now she was working on the Charms paper we had due on Monday. I’d finished mine about an hour ago and was thankful that I only had to practice a Defense Against the Dark Arts spell this weekend.
Melody came flitting into the room from the bathroom, her hair braided in two tails, wearing her Betty Boop pajama shorts and T-shirt. “I can’t wait until the Quidditch season starts,” she said. “I love going to matches and cheering. I don’t like it when it’s cold and miserable, but then again we do get to come back in and have hot chocolate afterwards.”
I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. When replacing them I asked Starr, “Who do you think you’ll get for a Chaser and Beater?”
Starr stopped purring against her broomstick and looked up at me. “Beats me. I’d like to have Andy Lessure for a Beater; he’s got nice beefy arms. But I heard he flies crooked on a broomstick and that could be problematic. And no one can replace Kimmi as a Chaser, but we’re going to have to find someone.”
Kimmi had been one heck of a Chaser that was for sure. She’d been playing for four years and she’d improved every single year. It was rumored that after she finished backpacking around Europe she was going to sit down with a scouting agent from Puddlemere United or the Chudley Cannons and see about getting a permanent spot in the Quidditch League.
“You sure you don’t feel up to trying out this year, Allie?” Gigi said, wiggling her eyebrows at me.
I narrowed my eyes in her direction was debating if I should throw a pillow at her or not. I didn’t have to though because then Victoire spoke up. “I heard from Teddy who heard from Jase that Nikki plays Quidditch. She was on her old school’s team and apparently she’s pretty good. Do you think she’s going to try out?”
I groaned. Of course Nikki was good at Quidditch. That’s probably one of the reasons that Jase was dating her. I couldn’t play Quidditch to save my life. I could ride a broomstick, but then to juggle a broomstick as well as either a bat to hit a Bludger or a Quaffle and toss it into a hoop would probably be the end of me. “If she tries out then I am definitely going to Confundus her ass.”
Vic stopped brushing her hair as the others broke into fits of laughter. “You can’t do that!” Vic said.
“God Vic, are you that naïve?” I said closing the book I was reading in my lap. “I’m not going to, obviously. I am going to sit in the stands and watch as Starr blocks every single shot Nikki attempts to get past her.”
“Yeah!” Starr said enthusiastically.
I smiled, “I’m going to bed now. Starr, are you sleeping with your broomstick tonight?” I looked at her pointedly.
She shook her head, “No, it’s going to be under my bed, just as it always is, thank you very much.” She stuck her tongue out at me and then put the broom under her bed before rolling over to turn out her side-table lamp.
Gigi sighed, “Sorry if the light bothers you, but I really want to finish this.”
We all mumbled our ‘no problems’ and went about our own business. Melody also had her lamp on and was writing something in a little purple and blue notebook that we’d gotten her collectively for her last birthday. She told us that it was perfect for writing lyrics for songs in. And because she happened to be humming at the moment, my first guess that she was writing a song was probably accurate.
Vic had stopped brushing her hair and made a trip to the bathroom before crawling into bed, yawning rather loudly and going to sleep.
I lay in bed for a few minutes thinking about the next day. October 31st and Quidditch try-outs all rolled into one meant a really long day. The parties would be in full swing tomorrow night, and Jase would be as high as a kite if he happened to find his two replacement players, and if Nikki was one of those players I was going to be lower than the lowest of the low by tomorrow night. For a second before falling asleep I thought, Oh how I wish I could play Quidditch really well, but then it wouldn’t be who I was and I didn’t want to become someone I wasn’t. At least not to that extent.
I woke up the next morning to a stream of light falling across my face. “Who opened the bloody curtains?” I mumbled before turning my face into my pillow.
“Uh, that would be me,” Starr said from beside me.
“You suck!” I muffled into my pillow.
“Aww, I love you too,” Starr said sarcastically. “Wake up, it’s almost seven thirty.”
“Oh, seven thirty, my mistake, I thought it was really early,” I lifted my head to peer at her dangerously through my messy hair.
“You do not look at all frightening like that, I'm sorry,” Starr laughed. “Try-outs begin on the pitch at eight thirty and I think you want to be there for that.
“Eighty thirty? This is Saturday right? This is the first day of the weekend when I am supposed to be allowed to sleep until at least nine in the morning.” I blinked and rolled over to sit up.
“Nope,” Starr said. “This is Halloween, the first day of Quidditch in the whole year, technically, and it’s our last year to watch this sort of thing, so get your ass out of that bed, or else I'm going to steal your pillow, blankets and maybe even your slippers.”
“That would be counterproductive,” a grumbling noise from across the room. Gigi was stirring. Her strawberry-blonde hair which was usually spiky was all flattened against her head…for all of five seconds when she ran her fingers through it to make it messy/spiky again. “I’m up you ungodly woman.”
“Me too,” Victoire yawned, pushing her sleep-mask up on the top of her head. “Can’t really get anymore sleep with all the noise you’re making.”
“You should be tied up and gagged and thrown in some dark crevice,” Melody said, shifting on the other side of Starr.
“Here, here!” I agreed giving a half-hearted fist-punch and yawning at the same time.
“Alright, ugly people, enough picking on me, please. We’re up, let’s deal with it now.” Starr trying to defend herself was amusing. She held up her hands in surrender and I saw that she was already dressed in her Quidditch slacks and tank. All she needed to don was her robe, grab her broom and the ensemble would be complete.
The rest of us started going through our morning ablutions, which took longer than usual, so by the time we were all ready it was nearly eight o’clock, which was still an ungodly hour, in Gigi’s words, especially for a Saturday morning. Starr was complaining that she wouldn’t get enough time to eat and then let her food digest by the time she had to perform on the pitch.
I saw Jase sitting at the table with Brad and Teddy on either side; Nikki obviously hadn't been roused by her roommates as I had by mine. He looked up when he saw us coming and shoved Teddy over to let Victoire and I sit down between them. “Morning sunshine,” he greeted.
“Ugh,” I replied unintelligently. He chuckled and handed me what looked like a mug of scolding hot coffee. “Ooh yum,” I said before taking my first cautious sip. The hot liquid slide down my throat and warmed the deep cockles within me and I could only mmm in delight.
“Feeling better?” Jase asked as he took a bite of his toast. I noticed then that he too was wearing his Quidditch robes. His hair was pushed back, a sign that he hadn't bothered to brush it this morning save for running his fingers through it, and his eyes were alight with excitement that I envied. He truly did love his Quidditch.
I nodded, “Oh yeah.”
“Toast?” he offered.
I wrinkled my nose, “Nah, not a toast morning. I feel like having me something sweet. Uh…” I looked around the table, “Ah-ha, gotcha.” I reached over to a platter of cinnamon buns and Danishes.
“Ah,” Jase said knowingly, “It’s one of those mornings, is it?”
I took a bite of my fresh and still warm cinnamon bun, “Mhmm.”
“Glad you could make it out this morning. I was wondering if Starr was gonna wake your little gang up getting ready this morning.”
I swallowed, “Yeah, she did that on purpose.” I glared across the table to where Starr was sitting beside Melody and Gigi. She simply shrugged and tried to look innocent; tried being the operative word here.
He nudged me playfully, “I’m glad all the same.”
I looked up at him and saw his brilliant smile and my insides melted. He was so beautiful, even if I was technically half-asleep still. “Yeah? Me too.”
He looked away and forked some scrambled eggs into his mouth. “Nikki is a great Quidditch player,” he said in between mouthfuls. Instantly my mood evaporated.
“Yeah, I heard that,” I said somberly. I really hope he didn’t notice.
“She’s planning on coming out for Chaser. I played with her a bit during the summer and she’s not half-bad with a Quaffle. She said she’s used to playing Keeper, less juggling of balls, etcetera, but she knew that position was Starr’s.”
“Damn right it is,” Starr chimed in from across the table.
“Yeah, but she said she’d be there a little late. She’s not really a morning riser, just like you,” he nudged me again and I felt like I was going to be sick. Nikki this and Nikki that was getting on my nerves, and it wasn’t anywhere close to April yet.
We finished up our breakfast and headed out to the Quidditch pitch. Melody, Gigi, Victoire and I made our way up to the stands, while Starr, Brad, Teddy and Jase went down to the pitch with a gaggle of new recruits that ranged from second to seventh year.
Starr got up on her broom and did a once-around the pitch, whooping with glee the entire time. We all clapped for her enthusiastically even if we thought she was a little but nuts. She did a bow before taking on the first Chaser applicant, who failed miserably.
Jase was a fair captain and so he gave the newbies seven shots at the hoops. He made it an uneven number because then there couldn’t be a tie anywhere. The first four newbies didn’t get a single shot in, mostly because all of them were second years and didn’t have the experience that warranted being on the team. Jase looked at everyone very carefully and finally when the third years started scoring one or two shots he nodded to them or gave them a “well done” before moving on.
Only one of the applicants for Chaser showed promise, a small fourth year girl named Emilie Bell. I could hear Jase talking to her as she was saying her mum, Katie Bell, had been a Chaser when she had gone to Hogwarts.
Beside me Victoire spoke up, “My Uncle George knows Katie Bell, they were on the Quidditch team together.” I looked at her; her eyes had a placid glaze over them.
Her entire family had pretty much been on the Quidditch team thirty or more years ago. I knew all about it mostly because she had a really big family and her Uncle Harry was Teddy Lupin’s godfather. I’d always heard Victoire speak so highly of Harry Potter and it pained me to know that Teddy’s parents had been slain when he wasn’t even a year old on the night when Harry Potter had defeated Lord Voldemort. I’d even met him once, in my fifth year when Victoire had invited the four of us and Jase as well, over to a family reunion of sorts. They had a really big family. I saw some of the children around the castle every once in a while but I didn’t really know them that well.
“Huh,” was my only response to her.
We watched as the Beaters rolled out and Starr got a break from her goal-keeping. There were a lot of scrawny kids trying out, which I didn’t really understand. If you were that tiny, why would you want to be a Beater on a Quidditch team? Those Bludgers came at you fast and if you weren’t prepared, you could get knocked off your broom in a second, flat. I knew from personally experience from the one and only time I’d ever considered trying out, except I hadn't wanted to be a Beater. I was going for Chaser and someone had loosed a Bludger by mistake. I got knocked out of the air and fell twenty feet before landing on my ass and whacking my head off the ground. Dream over.
I saw Andy Lessure mount his broom and take off into the air. He was a pretty good looking guy with sandy blonde hair, standing at around six foot two inches with nice muscle-y arms. I think the reason that Starr wanted him on the team was because he was so gosh-darn handsome and she wouldn’t mind spending some ‘quality time’ with him. But I wasn’t sure. I made a mental note to ask her all about it later.
Andy flew around the pitch once, proving that any rumours about flying crooked were all false, with the small bat used by the Beaters. I looked down and saw Alec Frost zoom into the air as Jase released the Bludger from the case. It zoomed around, came towards Alec and he batted it across to Andy. Andy had it all lined up and made contact with a nice THUD sound. They batted it back and forth for a little bit before Jase called it quits and they both descended. The Bludger made its way for Andy then and he caught it, not without some difficulty, and put it back in the case.
I looked at my wrist watch and saw that it was nearly nine thirty and the try-outs were almost over. The Hufflepuff house team was due out at nine thirty and Nikki still hadn't shown up. I was about to break into a full-out smile when I heard her familiar “Hell-ooo!” coming from the entrance to the pitch.
I had to squint my eyes to see what she was wearing; a crimson-coloured turtleneck sweater with a pair of skin-tight black leggings. The boots she was wearing were definitely not for playing Quidditch, but her hair was pulled back in a pony-tail and she was holding a broomstick.
Jase rushed over to her, conversed briefly and then called back over to Starr to get back up by the goal-hoops.
Nikki went up, raced around the pitch, Jase tossed her the Quaffle, which she caught, and she zoomed towards Starr and the goal-hoops. With a single evasive maneuver she had Starr out of the way and she scored in the far right hoop.
I heard the collective groan from my friends beside me. Nikki was good, I’d give her that. I looked down at Jase after she’d scored her second goal on Starr and he was staring up at her, his grin as wide as a Cheshire cat.
Starr blocked three out of seven shots, which gave Nikki equal standings with Emilie Bell’s score. Nikki landed and I watched as Jase hugged her and swung her around. Damnit, I wanted him to do that to me. I didn’t see this ending well, not one bit.
“Well,” Melody said from beside me, “she sure can fly.”
“Hmph,” Gigi grunted while squinted her eyes and flicked the air. The only conclusion for that was Gigi was pretending to flick Nikki’s head off in her mind, which I was pretty proud of her for. Gigi and I had always thought a lot alike for coming from totally different lifestyles.
“Come on,” Victoire said getting up and moving towards the staircase that lead back down to the pitch. “It’s Halloween, and I don’t fancy watching the Hufflepuff try-outs.”
“Yeah, it’s Halloween,” I agreed. “And the Wicked Witch of the West has got my best friend wrapped around her perfectly manicured finger. I can’t even click my ruby slippers to make things go back to the way things were, WITHOUT her around.”
I knew Victoire had no idea what I was talking about but the others chuckled slightly while shaking their heads. Melody spoke, “You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try.”
Gigi merely went, “Mhmm.”
I knew they were both right, but I still didn’t see how I could win against this beautiful and athletic and sexy person without going to some dark and devious lengths. I didn’t think I could buddy up to her. She had this protective barrier that Melody of course could see right through, and she kept giving me those looks, which meant she was up to something. Quidditch was just one more small victory that gave her another point on our little tally chart. I guess I would just have to resort to bringing up things that were totally Jase and I and totally unique that she didn’t know anything about. There had to be tons of those.
We walked down the stairs and then back out the entrance of the Quidditch pitch and up the lawn towards the Castle. All the for-sure Quidditch team members went back to their dressing room to discuss the applicants. I knew Jase wouldn’t make the decision until Monday probably so maybe I had a little time to wheedle my opinion in there and give Emilie the chance to beat out Nikki, if that was the way Jase’s mind was leaning.
Back in the castle the four of us sat down in the Great Hall and waited for the others to return. I rubbed my eyes beneath my glasses and thought of how exhausting it was being in love. It wasn’t until Vic spoke up beside me that I realized I’d actually thought it out loud.
“It’s really not all that bad,” she prompted.
“It’s totally different when the man you’re in love with doesn’t love you back, you know?”
“Well, yes there is that,” she conceded. “But I liked Teddy for a few months before he did anything about it.”
“Oh a few months, well then that makes everything better,” I rolled my eyes.
“Okay, I’ll admit that a few years, that’s different. Then finally deciding to do something and your man has someone else, that’s very different. But I guess if you really love him then it makes everything worth it.”
“What if,” I thought out loud once again, on purpose this time, “after everything goes as planned, he still stays with her? Say I spill my guts to him, tell him I love him and everything, and he ducks and runs for cover, back into her arms? What if he’s really in love with her and has always just had friendly feelings for me and nothing more?”
“That’s a lot of ‘what ifs’,” Gigi said.
“You can’t really know until you make things happen and ask him all of that and more. You’ll never really know what’s what until you make a few inquiries first,” Victoire said.
“Stop looking at it so objectively,” I grumbled.
“Fine,” she said, “Let things happen, tell him how you feel and he will tell you if he feels the same way.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Well then we’ll kick his ass and make him believe he’s in love with you,” Gigi pointed out.
I laughed, “Yeah, I’ll just bet you would.”
“Hey,” Melody nudged me in the side so that I would look at her, “you would do the same for any of us.”
True, very true, I thought. I looked back towards the entrance to see the team coming in, Starr waving at us like an idiot. “Speaking of which,” I said, “did you see how Starr leapt so enthusiastically when she mentioned Andy’s name last night?”
“Mhmm,” Melody said, glancing at our friend as she walked with the guys. She was currently the only female player because Kimmi had left, now with Emilie and Nikki in the running, she was going to try and level out the playing field, so to speak. I’ll bet she just hoped that it wasn’t Nikki. She’d probably throttle her by the end of the first practice.
But if Andy was on her mind then maybe there was hope for a few other things besides throttling the captain’s girlfriend.
“Do you think…?” Gigi asked.
“I do,” I replied.
“Do you think we should…?” Vic asked.
“Definitely,” I smiled brightly. I cracked my knuckles out in front of me and said, “Let’s do this.”
Laughs went up around the table and I found myself set with a new sense of purpose. Now I wasn’t going to focus solely on my love life, but I was going to start messing with someone else’s. Sounds like fun. Happy Halloween.
A/N: I must admit that it was really fun to write this chapter. But the next chapter is going to be awesome too. I'm having a really great time writing this entire story. I hope you guys enjoy reading it. The next chapter is where things get nice and interesting, as if they weren't already. :P Please leave a review. Thanks a million! K :D
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