Hello, beloved readers!! I know, I know, I'm in big trouble. I'm not even going to try and defend myself. You can yell all you want. I'm sorry though… I know it seems unlikely but I have been working on this thing almost every day. Mostly I write it down in my notebook in school then transfer it when I get home. But if you must yell, go ahead. I was being a terrible writer. But the chapters are so long! That’s gotta make up for something! If I don’t spend a lot of time on this, its gonna be short and boring and the story wont make any sense and then you will all abandon me and I will never write again! *pouts* Now you wouldn’t want that now would you?
So! Here it is! Hope I did it justice!
Oh and if you don’t like Beyonce’s songs, that’s okay. Do not forget!! This is a modern day story! For some weird reason…
Disclaimer: -The characters aren’t mine *sniff sniff* But before you start thinking I'm an uncreative idiot, I did invent the plot!
-Beyonce is not my invention. The lyrics belong to her and only her.
So umm I think that’s enough.
Oh and thanks to my absolutely wonderful beta Vera for all her wonderful advice!! J
“You have five seconds to live,” I growled at Tami.
Tami rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t be such a dramalily.”
Can someone please explain to Tami that it is drama queen??!! I have been trying to tell her this for many, many years but EVERY time I do, she stubbornly insists that it makes more sense when you say the person’s name! You know what, Tami? Go ahead. Call it whatever you want. I don’t care anymore.
“So,” I said nonchalantly. “Uh, I don’t know how long it’s going to take for them to get here, but umm… I'm estimating around two minutes? So we have to find a quick, painless way to kill ourselves in two min –“
“What?” Tami laughed. “I swear, sometimes, Lily, you just crack me up.”
I said nothing.
“Why are you so freaked out anyway? I mean, yeah, he’ll see you, but you could just… I don’t know… lie?” Tami asked, genuinely confused.
Poor girl. She doesn’t understand.
“Tami,” I started slowly. “If Potter sees us without the masks, he thinks we are Nicki and Desiree, can I call you Ray, by the way, Desiree is way too long, yeah thanks. So anyway, he thinks we’re Nicki and Ray. When we get to Hogwarts, he sees us again, but this time we’re Lily and Tami, he finds out we were in the competition and we lied, he’ll turn it into one huge embarrassing story and, with the influence he has on that school, no one will ever let us live it down and we’ll be forced to transfer schools, and come to think of it I don’t even know any other wizarding school, so we’ll have to become gamekeepers!!”
I bet Tami had to listen very carefully to understand that, because even I could hear the hysteria in my voice. Oh well, at least, she got the point. Her face paled and she whispered, “We are so dead.”
I turned and hit my head repeatedly against the wall. How could I have been so stupid? Of course there was no way for us to come here without Potter seeing our faces.
“There has got to be a way out of here.” Tami began frantically running her hands along the wall. “Come on, Lily! Get up!”
I dragged myself off the floor and looked around the damn hallway. There had to be a way.
Then my eye caught a rope hanging from the ceiling, a few feet away. YEESS!! A trap door! Or a door in the ceiling, whatever!
“Tami!!” I called. “Look!” I pointed at the door.
A look of relief spread across her face. “How do we get up there though? We should only have a minute left before Potter and his friends get here.”
“Uhh,” I said, brainstorming. Funnily enough, I couldn’t think of any spell to help us (hey! I panic under pressure). And Apparating was obviously out of the question, since the hall wouldn’t let us do that. “Come on. I’ll get on your back.”
“Why do you get to be the one climbing on my back?” she asked indignantly, putting her hands on her hips.
“Fine,” I shrugged. “You go on my back and possibly break your neck.”
“Uh, no thanks,” she said hurriedly. “Get on.”
She stood under the door and I put Mr. Cuddles down, then quickly scrambled on her back. When I steadied myself, I raised my hand and reached up towards the rope. It was too far away.
“Tami, I need to stand on your shoulders.”
“Oh,” she called, sarcastically. “No problem, Lily. Just climb on up there. It won’t hurt at all because you know me; I love carrying people on my shoulders.”
Deciding to ignore her, I gently climbed onto her shoulders and steadied myself, silently thanking my mum for the cheerleading classes she had forced me to take.
“Are you okay?” Tami called, holding my feet to steady me.
“Oh I'm just swell.”
I reached for the rope again, standing on my tippy toes. So close…
“What are you two doing?” A voice came behind us, and I jolted in surprise. Big mistake. I lost my balance and fell back, screaming.
I closed my eyes in terror, ready for the pain, but it didn’t come.
“You were doing really well before we came,” an amused voice came.
My eyes fluttered open and I found myself looking into a pair of hazel ones.
Hey, Hagrid! I was publicly humiliated at Hogwarts and can never show my face there again so I'm here to be your new assistant, I thought, practicing my greetings to Hagrid.
“Hello,” James smirked.
I grunted and jumped out of his arms.
“Nicki, are you alright?” Tami asked, worriedly.
It took me a minute to realize Tami was talking to me. I wonder how she remembers to always use those names!
“Er – I’m fine.” I said, still disgusted that James had caught me.
“Is this yours? Nicki?”
I whirled round.
Sirius, Remus, and Peter were snickering and poking poor Mr. Cuddles. I blushed and grabbed him from their evil clutches.
“Can we leave now?” I asked icily, assuming we’d be leaving by Side-Along-Apparition.
“Sure,” Sirius and James said simultaneously. “Grab on.”
I glared at them both, then turned and held unto Remus’ arm.
“Hi!” I smiled up at him. “I’m Nicki.”
Remus flushed slightly. I looked at him curiously. He was definitely an attractive guy. And he is so sweet! Honestly! He’s the only one who was ever nice to me when I was ugly…
“I’m Remus,” he smiled back.
“And I’m ready when you are,” I grinned.
“I understand that Scissors can beat Paper, and I get how Rock can beat Scissors, but there's no effing way Paper can beat Rock! What, paper is supposed to magically wrap around Rock leaving it immobile? Why the hell can't paper do this to scissors? Screw scissors, why can't paper do this to people? Hmm? Why isn't notebook paper constantly suffocating students while they take notes in class?”
I rolled my eyes as we climbed up the steep rocks. I had been trying to explain rock/paper/scissors to Tami for the past 2 years. She just doesn’t listen! She takes everything too logically.
“I'll tell you why,” she continued loudly. “Because paper can't beat anybody; a rock would tear that shit up in 2 seconds. When I play rock/paper/scissors, I always choose rock. Then when somebody claims to beat me with their paper, I can punch them in the face with my already clenched fist and say, "Oh shit, I'm sorry. I thought paper would protect you, you asshole!"
We ignored her as she continued to speculate about the rules of the game. She is in good shape! Here we are, panting our lungs off while she is springing forward, talking loudly. How do you climb huge rocks and talk at the same time?
Huge rocks, you say? Climbing, you say? We, you say? Lemme explain.
Okay, so we Apparated from that dreadful hallway and arrived at the dining room… or dining hall. Whatever you wanna call it. Needless, to say it was huge. All the girls were already sitting around a long table, chattering to each other. As soon as we arrived, they started giggling and batting their eyelashes at the guys, who immediately left us to join them. We were left standing and blushing our pores off because everyone was wearing robes and we were wearing pyjamas. Plus, I was holding Mr. Cuddles.
While we tried to make ourselves invisible, that girl from last night (found out her name is Natalie) spotted us and began whispering and pointing. Soon, the whole table was laughing at us. (I swear, I wanted to hide under the table.) Then this nice looking brunette (Bey) that was sitting next to me turned in her seat and told us to ignore them. She smiled and said they were all here last year and Natalie was being a bitch to her too because she saw her as a threat to her being the winner. Okay. So that made me feel better that she was just being jealous, but jealous of what I really don’t know. As much as I hate to admit it, she’s way prettier than me.
So Bey made friends with us quickly. She’s really sweet, she was the only one who thought the Marauders were too full of themselves, and she was forced to be in the competition by her parents because they were tight with Potter’s parents. Plus, she complimented our outfits and said Mr. Cuddles was super cute. So yeah…
We had to all introduce ourselves! I learnt all their names. Natalie, Gaby, Fria, Rosie, Celia, Danielle, Ashley, Stephanie and Titi. Apart from that, I still don’t know much about them. Like where they came from?? I always thought Hogwarts was the only wizarding school, but apparently it’s not. Bey’s from Beauxbatons…
When we were done eating, Sirius and Potter stood up (I think they’re in charge of the activities we do… Lord save us all…) and announced we were going for a picnic at a surprise location and we had two hours to get ready. I had groaned at this. The last time I went for a picnic, I was six. It was a disaster. Let’s just say the shape of Petunia’s head has always been slightly oblong since then.
By then, we had already withdrawn ourselves from the competition. Well… not officially, but we were going to act like we had. So we snuck to the kitchens (with Bey giggling about how she had never done anything so devious...) with the help of Millie and got some of our own snacks and Millie gave us an extra blanket. Then we cleaned up and changed into shorts and tees and flip flops (haha! I remember in the olden days, when wizards didn’t know how to dress like muggles) because it was burning outside. Luckily, that was what we were supposed to wear. But I couldn’t resist carrying my white handbag.
While we were getting ready, we told Bey who we really were. She squealed excitedly and said she thought Lily and Tami fitted us much more than Nicki and Desiree (she still had to call us that though). And she said that she was coming to Hogwarts so she would see us there. We also told her our relationship with the Marauders (she thought it would be an excellent idea for a story. Where does she get these things?) and the dilemma about our reputation at Hogwarts. Like us, she was stumped.
We met up with everyone in front of the entrance doors, ignoring the dirty looks and trying very hard to ignore the boys shirtless. The boys, whom I cannot believe Potter’s parents left in charge of a house full of girls, grinned at all of us (Sirius gave me an extra wink, earning me more dirty looks) and led us out.
At first, I was so glad to be breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun. Then after 30 minutes of walking, I began to curse at the damn sun and my stupidity for bringing a handbag. Then we got this huuggee red rock thingy that reminded me of the grand canyon, and I almost cried. Bey and I were in terrible shape. Even the other girls were snickering at us. After a while, we began to fall behind. What? Don’t look at me like that, I was terrified! I thought any second we were going to fall to our doom!
And flip flops are not exactly the best shoes to go rock climbing. Gotta remember that the next time I go rock climbing…
So, here we are. Trying to not to fall to our deaths, while everyone else has gone on, and I’m sweating my head off.
Yep. Doesn’t get any better than this.
“I can’t go on…” Bey gasped. “Go on… without me.”
“Okay,” I shrugged, still panting.
“Get back over here,” she gasped, catching up with us again. “You’re supposed to say ‘Bey, come on, you can do this!’”
I stumbled on even floor.
We made it. We were on something like a plateau, with a very beautiful landscape view. Everyone else had already sat down on their blanket and was eating happily. The view was super stunning, with a Quidditch field in the distance and the fields of grass and trees we had just come from…
Why the hell would you HAVE that in your house???!!! Honestly!! It wasn’t NECESSARY to have come all this way!!!
I was so exhausted, but we had to find a spot to place our blanket. Luckily, the ground was rock with some clumps of grass, so it wasn’t too hard or too mushy. Unfortunately, we had to walk past the other blanket. As tired as I was, I had to raise my head up high while stomping past them.
It’s a pride thing. Bad habit.
When we were well away from them (so far they couldn’t even hear us), Tami spread the blanket and dropped the basket. Dropping all pretenses, I dropped unto the blanket and cried “Land!” I felt Bey stumble down to my left, too.
Tami jumped on it and laughed, opening the picnic basket. “You two are so lazy, honestly. It wasn’t that much of a walk.”
“Screw you, Ray.” I said, as Bey said, “Speak for yourself.”
A burst of laughter came from the other blanket and I raised my head and glared at them. Natalie and Celia were giggling loudly, clearly trying to make us jealous. I straightened myself up with the remaining dignity I had, pulling Bey up with me.
“Nicki!” she yelped.
“Pull yourself together,” I said, pulling out some water from the basket and gulping it down to give me some energy. “They’re taking the mickey out of us.”
After we had eaten a bit (we weren’t that hungry, we just had breakfast), we got comfortable. Tami sat up and put her hands on the blanket away from her back and stretched her legs, I put my head on her laps and stretched one of my legs with one folded, and Bey lay on her front, folded her raised legs and rummaged through my bag…
“What are you doing, Bey?” I asked.
“I’m just bored,” she replied. “Why do you have so many of these things?”
I looked at her to see what she was talking about. She was holding four pairs of Baby Phat sunglasses in her hand.
I grabbed one and jammed them on, laying down back on. “I collect them. They’re called sunglasses. You can grab a pair.”
They put them cautiously, and I yawned. “Let’s talk about something random.”
There was a moment of silence.
“I heard one of Beyamme’s song!” Tami said excitedly.
“What?” Bey asked, confused.
“Beyamme is a Muggle singer,” Tami said proudly, no doubt excited that she knew a muggle song. She is so weird. “Lily told me she was amazing, and she gave me a CD to listen to! She is amazing!”
“Wait,” I said slowly. “Do you mean Beyoncé?”
“Oh,” Tami shrugged. “Yeah. Beyoncé.”
I adjusted my shades and sang aloud “Boy I try to catch myself but I'm outta control, your sexiness is so appealing I can’t let it go!”
I closed my eyes.
“Wow, Nicki. Didn’t know my sexiness had such an effect on you.”
I had started scowling before I even opened my eyes.
Sirius and James were sitting there, grinning at us.
“What do you want?” I scowled, determinedly looking at their faces, not their chests.
“Well it seemed like you were having fun so we decided to join you,” Potter smirked.
“We were,” Bey spat. “Before you came.”
James stared at her curiously. He didn’t know, but Bey believed it was his fault that she was brought here. Of course, it wasn’t really a fair accusation, but hey! Anything to hate Potter, right?
“Who are you?” he asked rudely.
My mouth dropped open.
“You little piece of -” Tami began furiously.
“Ah!” Sirius announced, rather randomly, and spreading out his arms. “What love I can feel radiating from you all!”
“Sirius,” I said through gritted teeth. “I'm not really in the mood right now, so if you could just take your friend with you…”
“We’ll leave,” Potter grinned lopsidedly back at me. “But first I wanna ask you something.”
“Actually,” I said standing up and carrying the basket. “We were just going back –“
“Will you go out with me?”
We all froze. Tami’s mouth dropped open though. Sirius’ eyes widened and I thought he was going to explode from the laughter he was holding.
“You don’t even know me,” I said incredulously, wondering what he would do if he found out who I really was.
He shrugged. “You’re h-cute.”
I narrowed my eyes. Hot, am I?
“You know what? No.”
“No, what?” he asked confused.
“No, I will not go out with you.” I said slowly.
Oh yeah. Potter: 0 Us: 1
“Huh?” he furrowed his eyebrows. “I don’t understand what you're trying to say.”
Sirius just started roaring with laughter. Meanwhile, I was contemplating whether to slap him or Potter.
“Look,” I muttered. “I’ll just go.”
I gripped the basket and walked away as fast as I could without running.
It took me around 20 minutes to get back to the Manor. It really wasn’t as long as I thought. Besides, the sun had gone down a bit, and it wasn’t scorching anymore. And I could go at my own pace, instead of trying to run a marathon.
By the time I got back, I was thoroughly depressed. First off, I didn’t know where I was. Again. I really have to ask Sirius for a map to this place.
I pushed open the door to the closest part of the house to me and entered a large living room with several plush chairs. I sighed and took a seat on the chair in front of the window and looked out at the scenery. Far off on the hills of grass, funny enough, I could see all that was happening. Sirius was flirting with Natalie, Gaby and Titi, Fria was talking/smiling with Remus, Rosie, Celia and Danielle were chasing Potter around (it didn’t even look like it bothered him at all!), Ashley and Stephanie were trying to climb a tree, and Tami and Bey were throwing rocks into the lake. It was the type of scene that would make a very pretty painting.
But it just made me sadder. Why couldn’t I have fun?
I didn’t even know WHY I was so sad. Why did Potter asking me out disturb me so much? Most girls in Hogwarts would chop off their left arms to be in my position.
For some strange reason, that thought made me slightly nauseous. I knew why. It wasn’t normal for boys like Potter to ask out girls like me! It made me feel too exposed. I was one of those girls who didn’t mind some attention, but too much was… just weird.
I couldn’t go back to Hogwarts with all the girls glaring their eyes off at me. Maybe I really shouldn’t have gotten this makeover. Really, this is getting worse every day.
But then I remembered that little girl. What was her name again? Angel… Aww, what a sweetie. She was just like me. Not a lot of self confidence… Actually maybe she does have some confidence now. I hope she does. We had given her advice.
I scowled at myself. How could someone follow my advice, if I couldn’t even follow it?
I spent a while just watching them have their fun, thinking of a solution to my dilemma. When the sun began to set, I got one. Not exactly the best, but at least it was something. I was just going to be civil to him. For Angel, mostly… and myself of course. Then at the end, we would tell him who we really were.
I got up and called for Millie. She gave me a map (thank the lord) and I used it to get to my room. Then I snuggled into my bed and took a nap.
“Lily, wake up!!”
I stirred groggily. So they do remember my name…
“Lily! Come on, wake up!”
“What?” I moaned.
“Come on, we’re going to play charades!” I heard Tami’s voice.
“I’ll pass thanks…” I mumbled into my pillow.
“Oh, no, you won’t!” Tami yanked the duvet off me. “You’re gonna get off your ass and come with me and Bey to play charades with the rest of them!!”
“No…” I moaned again, groping for something to cover myself. “Arghh!!”
I yelped as a jet off freezing cold water hit my back.
“I’m up, I’m up!” I scrambled off the bed. It was already dark. Gosh, I must have been asleep for awhile.
“Yay!” Tami grinned happily at me. She was looking so excited and her eyes were twinkling.
“Why are you so excited?” I asked curiously. Had some cute boys come over when I was asleep??
“Because I had fun!!!” she said, taking my hands and twirling me around.
“Stop!” I snapped, yanking my hands away from hers and trying to balance myself. “Why are you having fun in Potter’s Manor?”
Tami sighed. “Lily, you know I don’t like Potter too. But you have to stop being so… uptight sometimes.”
I stared at her. I wasn’t offended at her calling me uptight. Somehow, the way she said it… like she really meant it. Not like an insult or anything.
She continued. “Let go! I know it’s Potter’s manor, but that’s what Sirius was trying to say. You don’t have to talk to him or be bffs with him or anything. His house is probably around 10 acres!! Do you know what you can do in a 10 acre house?? Lily, this place was built for fun!! You can’t just slouch around in a 10 acre house just because it’s Potter’s!”
My smile was slowly widening as Tami was talking. She was so right. See, this is why she’s my best friend.
“You’re right,” I grinned. “I was being paranoid. I promise you, it won’t happen again.”
She grinned. “Great. Now change into your pj’s, let’s go eat dinner, then play charades.”
“Witch! Mr. Ollivander’s!”
“Filch! Ms. Norris!”
“Plastic Surgeon! Old man!”
Me and Tami were yelling at Bey who was gesturing frantically at her nose. I had abandoned all reasoning completely and just started yelling out random muggle words because we only had 20 seconds left, or we had lost.
“Dumbledore!” Tami yelled, desperately.
Bey squealed yes and ran back to us.
We sighed with relief and collapsed back unto the chair. Third round through and we were still in. I'm shocked. I thought we would have left in the first round, but that was Sirius, Fria, Gaby and Natalie. Not so shocked at that. There was no way they could win when Sirius was yelling out several inappropriate words that had nothing to do with the game, which obviously sent his teammates into another fit of giggles. Sigh…
It was Potter’s group’s turn to play. We had decided that none of the Marauders would be in the same group because, who knows what they have up their sleeves? So we divided ourselves into groups of four, with a Marauder in each team. In one team was me, Bey, Tami, and Remus, in the other team was Peter, Ashley, Rosie, and Celia, and in another team was Potter, Stephanie, Danielle and Titi. I already mentioned Sirius’ group…
So we were all the game room. It’s the first time I’ve ever been in it and it is awesome! It’s just like a muggle arcade except it’s magic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get time to look at the games because we had to do this stupid charades thing. But I quickly got into it. It wasn’t as boring as I thought. After the rules had been explained, we split into teams and started again. Sirius’ team went out first, then Peter’s team. It was only Potter’s and mine left. The only problem: we both want to win.
It’s not even a game anymore; it’s war. Potter has been smirking at me for the past five minutes as if he knows he’s going to win. And Remus is certainly not helping. He seems to think we’re being funny, and is rolling around in laughter. We’re trying to win here.
Potter’s group has more points because they’ve found the answers faster than us.
I collapsed back on the couch. Danielle was using her wand to create stars above her head, while Potter and Stephanie and Titi were staring, dumbfounded, at her. I snorted. It was so obvious. She meant the roof in the Great Hall at Hogwarts…
Well, now that I think about it, it might not be so obvious. I think Tami and I are the only girls that go to Hogwarts… oh wait. Danielle obviously goes to Hogwarts too. I wonder why I never noticed her.
Bored, I looked around, and grimaced at Sirius and Natalie who were doing some things I didn’t even know were allowed in this competition. Isn’t there supposed to be a rule like no mingling (or spit mingling) with the contestants?
Ah well. Sirius was never one for rules.
The others that had left the game were scattered all over the room, playing the other games. I really need to check those games out. They look like normal muggle games (like foosball, and all those arcade games) but I know they’re magic.
“The Great Hall Roof at Hogwarts!” Potter yelled.
I sighed. Our turn.
Tami sighed too, and went to the middle of the room. She took a minute to think, then began to do some kind of weird trot.
“Huh?” I said, confused.
She continued trotting. Well, trying to trot. She was half skipping, half jumping in the same spot. When she saw our confused faces, she began to flap her hands in the air and make caw-caw noises.
If the situation wasn’t so serious, I would have burst out laughing (I heard Remus snort beside me) because she looked so stupid. But this is serious. So I scrunched up my nose, and thought hard.
I jumped at the warning bell. 30 more seconds!! This was the time to start shouting out random words, but try as we might, Remus, Bey and I couldn’t think of anything that had to do with a half jumping/skipping/cawing/hand flapping thing.
Potter’s team jumped up and cheered.
I pouted and folded my arms as Tami shuffled her feet towards us.
“What were you trying to do?” Remus asked curiously.
“A hippogriff,” she said miserably, as she flopped on the couch beside me. “How did you not see that?”
I decided to ignore her and glanced at Potter. He gave me a very conceited smirk and I quickly turned away. Bastard.
Potter: 1 Us: 1
“You did your best,” Remus smiled, then walked over to Fria, who was smiling shyly at him. Fria isn’t so bad, honest. It’s just she’s really shy and tends to go with the crowd. But apart from that she’s actually pretty cool… well, that’s what Bey told me.
And good thing Remus didn’t say “We did our best.” Because he didn’t do shit.
This day was a total waste of makeup.
“Let’s go play some games,” I said to Tami and Bey. “I've never been to a wizard arcade before!”
I scrambled up dragging them with me.
“So how do I play this one…”
We all ended up falling asleep in the game room. Don’t ask me how all 16 of us fitted in there. I don’t know either.
But I woke up in the middle of the night and walked all the way to my room, using the map Millie gave me. I was going to wake Tami and Bey up, but they looked so peaceful. So I let them be.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise, Tami!”
“No, early to bed, early to rise makes people suspicious!” Tami scolded. “If you weren’t doing anything wrong, you should have just woken us up.”
I sighed tiredly. “Whatever. I'm sorry. Next time I’ll wake you up.”
“Good,” Tami grumbled.
I put my fork down and waited for Potter and Sirius to announce today’s event. If it was up to me, we would have slept all day. But nooo, James and Sirius found new whistles today, so yeah…
“Hey!” James bounced up in his seat. I really don’t understand how someone can be so cheerful all the time.
“Today, it’s a surprise.” He beamed. “You don’t need to wear anything fancy like robes-” he eyed Natalie “-you just need a like a tee and shorts or something. It’s hot outside.”
I groaned. We’re going outside again? I'm not really like an indoors type of person, but it is boiling outside!!
“I don’t feel like going,” I groaned. “I’m just gonna go sleep upstairs.”
“Aww, come on, Lily.” Tami cried. “Remember what we talked about yesterday. You promised you wouldn’t be uptight, and you said we were going to have fun. You’re going!”
I sighed heavily. “Is there any point in arguing?”
“None at all.”
“Okay, Tami. I’ll be there. And I’ll hate every minute of whatever it is. Promise.”
“That’s the spirit!”
“Ouch! You poked me in the eye!”
“You stepped on my foot!”
“Oh, I'm sorry! I’ll just put my foot in the other wide range of space we have.”
“Get out my way, for Merlin’s sake!”
“You get out of my way!”
“Calm down, people-“
“Shut up, okay?”
“For the last time, Celia, you’re on my foot!”
“No she’s not Nat!”
“Yeah! I'm not!”
"Yes, you are!”
“Are you blind or are you just stupid? It’s Nicki on your foot!”
“Oh, I am? My bad. Don’t poke me –“
“Can we all calm-“
“Shut up, Peter!”
“Don’t tell me to shut up, Sirius!”
“When are we going to get there??”
“Well maybe if you weren’t stepping on people’s feet, we would be there by now!”
“I said sorry!”
“Oh, yeah. Because sorry is going to ease the pain in my foot.”
“WE. ARE. THERE!” James bellowed.
We all fell silent and stopped.
I fumed silently at Natalie. I said sorry.
At least, we were finally there. I tell you, it’s not easy to walk in the forest with a barely visible path with 16 other people. Excuse me for not knowing I was on someone’s foot.
I grudgingly looked around. We had gotten to a huge clearing around the size of 4/6 of a Quidditch pitch with grass running along from left to right. There were huge trees surrounding every bit of the clearing that emitted a strangely sweet smell. It was so peaceful and quiet(well before we came it was), except for the occasional bird chirp.
I squinted. On each side of the clearing, far apart from each other, there were… archery boards? And bows and quivers of arrows? And, there was something big burned unto the grass… is that an X?
And then it clicked.
“No no no no,” I said loudly. “I am NOT doing that!”
All heads turned to me. I don’t know why the girls are looking at me like I'm crazy, do they not see what is going on?!
“Aw, come on, Nicki,” James groaned. “I didn’t suffer through all that, just so you quit on us.”
I shook my head. “I say this for your own safety. Archery is NOT my thing.”
Immediately I said the word ‘archery’, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE’s face brightened up.
Aww, come on. I know I’m a muggleborn and all that; and I don’t do a lot of wizarding activities, but this can NOT be what wizards do in their spare time.
“Oh,” Bey said brightly. “This is what me and my dad do in our spare time!”
You have GOT to be kidding me.
They started walking to the center of the field.
“Guys,” I whispered to Bey and Tami, panicked. “Guys, I know I promised you I wouldn’t be uptight, but I seriously suck at archery. In fact, I don’t even know how to do archery. The last time I tried archery, Tuney almost lost an eye, I’m NOT going.”
Huh. Funny how every time I try out something, Tuney is always in danger.
Tami and Bey just said “You promised.” And dragged me along with the group.
“Okay,” Sirius grinned. “I'm sure all of you are familiar with archery –”
“ – So we’ll just use a few minutes to sharpen our archery skills –“
What archery skills?!
“ – then we’ll have a little fun.”
I'm scared. I am really, really scared.
“So,” he continued loudly. “There are 20 bows and 20 quivers, each with 3 arrows in them. Grab one and stand on one of the X’s on the other side of the field. Then when you hear the whistle, shoot your arrows to the board on the opposite side of the field. We’ll do this once, then play a game.”
I think my dinner’s coming back up.
It was as if everything was going in fast forward. One minute we were all in the middle of the field. Next, Tami, Bey and I were standing on the first, second, and third X respectively, holding our bows.
I looked around, alarmed. How was I supposed to wear the quiver again? It looked so easy in the movies…
I glanced at Bey from the corner of my eye. She had slung the quiver and was twanging her bow for… twanginess. I felt sick to my stomach. She looked so calm and at home and professional. Like she really knew what she was doing.
And I was completely lost.
I craned my neck to look at Tami across from Bey, hoping she would look uncomfortable too. She is a half blood, after all.
My heart sank; she was doing that thing I usually see in movies like the Chronicles of Narnia. You know, that thing where you're looking forward and you grab and arrow from the quiver on your back and nock it under five seconds.
I feel so stupid, right now.
I jumped and rubbed my ear. “Get that thing away from my ear.” I snapped at Sirius with his stupid whistle.
“Lily, you’re meant to be in open stance,” Sirius said lowly, in a concerned voice. “Are you okay? You look a little tense.”
I looked around. Everyone was in some kind of position with their left legs forward and their bows strung and ready to shoot. They were setting their bows and nocking their arrows and whatnot.
“No,” I whispered, feeling sick. “Sirius, no I'm not okay. I don’t know how to shoot.”
Sirius’ mouth dropped open.
“No,” he said disbelievingly.
I nodded my head miserably.
“Ok, umm,” Sirius said, panicked. “Uh, it’s not that hard. I’ll er – teach you now.”
“Now, just listen to me.” he instructed. “Are you right or left handed?”
“Ok, put your left leg forward.”
Sirius came up behind me so he was breathing in my ear. Then he closed his hand around my hand on the bow, and raised it until it was inclined upwards.
“Ohh,” I said excitedly. “I wanna learn how to do that Narnia thing!”
“Relax your shoulders, or you’ll miss your shot.”
“Oh, sure. Let me relax. I mean, it’s not like someone’s eye is in danger or anything.”
“What are you on about?”
He sighed and placed his hand gently on my shoulder, pushing it down, while still holding my other hand on my bow hand. Haha. I could practically feel the pain of Natalie’s glare.
“Sirius, how am I supposed to get the arrow all the way over there?” I panicked. “It must be miles away.” I stared warily at the long distance between me and the board.
“All you need to relax,” he insisted. “And pull the arrow back as far as you can, like this.” He pulled my elbow, gently.
“Don’t make it look like you're teaching me!” I hissed. “Natalie already thinks I'm coordinately challenged.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” he whispered. “It probably looks like we’re flirting.”
“Gag me,” I laughed. “Why would you say that?”
“Because Jamesie is glaring at me,” Sirius chuckled.
I glanced at James; he really was glaring at Sirius. I restrained myself from sticking my tongue out at him. Hmph. Serves him right.
“Ok, are you ready now?” Sirius asked.
“Good enough.” He let go of my hand slowly and dropped the other hand from my shoulder.
“Thank you, Sirius.” I sighed, and turned my face to his. “I'm probably going to miss the shot, but thanks for the effort anyway.”
He ruffled my hair. “You're just a never-ending flow of positivity, you are.”
He coughed loudly.
“Is he still staring?” I rolled my eyes.
“Actually, he’s glaring daggers at me,” he shook his head, amused. “He never did like when I won girls from him.”
Deciding to ignore the sexist comment, I rolled my eyes again. “You're not winning anything. I wouldn’t date either of you in a hundred years.”
“I’ll take your word for that,” he muttered. “Good luck.”
He walked over to the X next to me, assumed his stance and saluted to James who huffed and blew his whistle a little harder than necessary.
I squeezed my eyes shut instinctively, pulled the arrow back and let it fly. I could hear the twangs of all the bows and the swishes of the arrows flying.
I opened my eyes, half expecting to see someone bleeding. But I saw my arrow, amazingly, flying along with the others. A little wobbly, but still in the air. Then, miraculously, it landed… well not on the center red. In fact, way off the red. But it still landed on the board!
I ignored the fact that everyone else’s had landed on the red (except Rosie. Hers landed on the edge of the red). I mean, this is my first try!
“Yeah!” I cheered alone (everyone else just looked smug).
James blew his whistle. “Time for the real archery!”
“There are sixteen of us. I won’t be playing because I’ve played it too many times. So I’ll be the judge that picks the best archer. Peter, Sirius and Remus are just in this to even things out. So, that’s fifteen of you. Split up into teams of three. You see the circular metal plate in the middle of the field? Yeah, when it’s your team’s turn, you all step on the plate and say loudly “Begin”
‘Immediately, you’ll find yourself in the woods (it’s actually virtual). There are three virtual bears hidden in those woods. You have twenty minutes to each find one and kill them with your arrow. You only get one arrow each, so use it wisely.”
He grinned and ruffled his hair. I snarled under my breath. That hair thing irritated me to no end.
“So,” James clapped his hands. “The best archer wins. One problem though,” he said nervously. “Er … the bears are only virtual in the sense that when an arrow goes through them, they fall and disappear. But – er… they still have claws and teeth and everything…”
I gasped silently. Hell no!
Everyone else was whispering excitedly again. Am I the only normal person here??!
Sirius saw my face and turned to me.
“I’ll be in your team, Nicki,” he said kindly.
I nodded sadly.
“And me,” Tami said quickly, walking up to us.
Bey pouted and flounced off to Remus and Fria’s team.
We drew numbers from the box. Number 5. Good. We were last. That gave me enough time to collect my wits.
The first team to go was Gaby, Rosie, and Peter. As soon as they stepped on the plate and said “Begin.”, they disappeared and the metal plate dissolved into clear liquid. Like a puddle. We all knelt down around it and looked into it.
It swirled and turned black for a second, then stilled and turned clear. In it, I could see Gaby, Peter and Rosie standing in a kind of spacey wood, looking amazed. They walked around for a while, then a terrifying roar that made me tremble slightly came from the puddle.
I saw them jump and they agreed to split up. As they split up, the puddle split into three, showing each of them separately.
Soon enough, all three found their bears; they weren’t that big. I sighed with relief, but was still shocked at how easily the bears were killed. They were all so calm, like a bear wasn’t towering and roaring over them. Sigh. I just know my turn is going to be very different.
Once they killed their bear, the archer would appear at the end of the field, still in the position in which they killed the bear.
“Well done!” James beamed, once all three had appeared. “That was amazing!”
We all clapped.
The next three groups went almost exactly like the first one. Except in the fourth group, when Bey stubbed her toe and swore so badly that even the bear faltered in its steps.
I was rolling in laughter. But then I stopped because it was our turn. I fired off a quick prayer. “Lord, I don’t mean to call on you only when I need you, I promise, I'm gonna start talking to you everyday if you let me live through this. Thank you.”
I walked nervously with the bow and quiver over my back, to the metal plate as soon as it solidified again.
“Begin,” Sirius said confidently.