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Chapter 8 : I Believe I Can Fly
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I Believe I Can Fly
The rest of September and November passed by in a blur. The detentions kept me busy. Thankfully, Filch made us clean the trophy room for most of the second month, so I didn’t have labor over the chamber pots like the boys did. As for Malfoy and I, McGonagall had sent Neville to drag me by the ear to patrol whenever I fancied skipping (which was every time). Holly B did the same thing to Malfoy. Stuck in each other’s company, we ignored the other with a cold, stony silence. By the way, Peeves was still terrorizing students with the gun. We’ve all learned to run away screaming when he comes near us with it.
In the beginning of October, James, Allison Hinton, and all the Prefects got together and voted for a Halloween Dance on the night of October 31st, a Sunday, and agreed on trips to Hogsmeade on both days in the weekend. Through the horrible detentions, the Crow, Holly B, and Malfoy, I was seriously looking forward to Halloween.
“But…” Al pensively chewed some bacon when I told him the brilliant news. He didn’t look too pleased
“But what?” I demanded. “We get TWO Hogsmeade days!”
“But Quidditch practice!” Al burst out in a fit of passion. His shining eyes locked onto mine. “James just announced the date for tryouts! It’s two weeks later! We’ll be busy practicing every evening after that! There won’t be any TIME for Hogsmeade trips!”
I rolled my eyes. “Stupid cousin. Stop being a fanatic.”
“Rose! We HAVE to make the team!”
“Thanks a lot, Albus. I know I don’t,” Xander said in a sulky voice. She hadn’t ever made the team before, so she always ended up as commentator.
“Well, not you, Xander. But Rose, you face it, James has to take you. You’re a brilliant Chaser!”
“Hey, guys!” Kai sang, skipping toward us. For some reason, he had a stick-on tattoo of a yellow smiley-face on his left cheek. “Did you see the Common Room bulletin? We’re going to have a Halloween Dance! What’re you guys being?”
“Go away, Evergreen,” Al said in a brusque voice. “We men are talking Quidditch.”
“Well, I’m not,” I retorted. I hated Al’s attitude sometimes. “Kai, come sit next to me. So, what’re you going to be for the dance? Personally, I don’t have a clue.”
He shrugged, and muttered, “I don’t know” in a rather absentminded way. He was staring at Al and Jag.
“Say, Rose,” Zelda said. “D’you want to get some practicing done later? I haven’t been on my broom in weeks.”
“Nah, it’s too cold today. And I’ve got that damn essay for the Crow to finish.” I chewed on some bacon. “And then, Holly B wants me to redo that potion. Then, I’ve got a detention—”
“Busy schedule, Rosie, m’dear,” Lysander Scamander’s voice said into my ear. He slipped into an empty spot on my right, and Lorcan somehow squeezed into the middle of me and Kai. “So, Quidditch tactics, eh? May we eavesdrop?”
“No,” I said playfully. “Al, the twins are trying to spy!”
“LOOORCAN!” Al roared, flames appearing in his eyes.
“Stop yellin’, man. It’s not me. Lysander’s behind it this time!”
The Scamanders were the two Beaters on the Ravenclaw team. And I must say they do a brill job.
“When’s Sir Jamie holding the blessed tryouts?” Lysander asked, smiling in a devilish way. “We must know.”
“Ha! Calm down! We’re not going to intrude, dear Albus!”
“Have we ever?” Lorcan asked, flipping his long hair obnoxiously.
“You turned my broomstick into lead!” protested Zelda.
“That was Lysander.”
“I assure you, milady, that it was a complete accident,” Lysander said, patting Zelda comfortingly on the arm.
“You grease the Quaffle with butter before our matches,” I said, sighing. “On Quidditch terms, nobody trusts you two at all.”
Their eyes widened dramatically in pain. “You don’t trust us, Rosie?”
“You know what?” Al said, puffing out his chest. “You two prats can watch whatever you want as long as you want! Because the Gryffindor team’s so brilliant that we’ll kick your nerdy Ravenclaw asses all the way!”
“WE LOVE YOU!” The twins got up and quashed Al and Jag in a whopping group manhug.
I choked on my omelet and exchanged wide-eyed glances with Xander and Zelda. Four handsome guys hugging like that…..
I noticed that Kai was watching them out of the corner of his eye.
I jogged up to my dorm to get the essay for the Crow. I knew I failed it; I did such a crappy job. Last night, I’d been finishing a chapter from Gone With the Wind. So, shoot me! I got hooked after the first couple pages…and the whole book’s pretty much a steamy, gushy, romantic mess… which I don’t normally read. But…yeah, whatever. I don’t need to testify to myself!
The next day, I got the results of the essay back.
“Troll-minus.” I stared at it.
“Rose, what did you do?” Zelda was bent-double laughing and reading my essay. “For human transfiguration, you said that someone has to sick their wand up their—”
“I’ll take that, thank you!” Bad-temperedly, I snatched the essay from her and stuffed it inside my bag.
Xander put an arm around my shoulder. “Awww, Rosie, don’t be grump!”
“So, Quidditch today?” Zelda asked me hopefully. “I want to practice without the boys leering at us.”
I shrugged. “All I have to do is brew that Happy potion and I’m free this evening.”
After classes, we went back to the Common Room. I had to brew a potion called the ‘Elixir of Happiness’ something I had completely failed when being stared down by Holly B during class. Actually, when I first read it, I thought it said ‘Hippieness’ and I asked Holly B why the hell we were making a potion to transform ourselves into hippies. That sealed my doom.
“Does this yellow gunk really make someone happy?” I asked, staring into my potion. Zelda shrugged. She was already wearing her Quidditch gear and was impatiently waiting for me to finish.
“Only love makes someone happy,” Xander said, mimicking a wise man’s voice. “That potion can make you feel happy.”
I grunted and checked the page in my textbook. Three chopped pig’s livers…eurgh… “So, talking about love, what’s going on between you and Kai?”
“Nothing,” she said, sounding glum. She flipped through several pages of her teen witch magazine without much enthusiasm.
“Hmm?” I kept my face down. “You like him a lot, don’t you? Are you going to ask him out?”
“Rose,” Zelda said in a testy voice, crossing her arms. I ignored her.
“I don’t know,” Xander muttered. “He’s friendly, but…I don’t think he likes me. You know what’s odd? He acts the same with all the girls.”
Zelda cleared her throat loudly.
I added the chopped livers and the mixture started to bubble with gusto. Wait, what’s going on? It’s not supposed to be bubbling!
I flew backward a second before it blew up all over the carpet, table and the spot where my face had been. “What happened? It said to add three pig’s livers!”
“I’m going outside,” Zelda announced, walking out the portrait hole. “See you, Rosie.”
“Let me help,” Xander sighed, tossed away the magazine, and knelt down, brushing her long orange hair out of her face. She pulled out her wand and performed a Vanishing Charm. “Want me to clean the rest of this up? You can go get dressed for Quidditch.”
“Hmm?” I was wondering about something else. “Hey, do you love him?”
“What? Kai? No way.” Xander answered immediately. “He’s just a crush. For the person I love, I could do anything, I would do anything. And, why are you asking me all this? Go practice Quidditch!” and she shooed me away.
I trooped out of the Common Rom, broom at hand. Zelda would be furious. I had kept her waiting for such a long time!
Then something big and pink appeared in front of my face. It was a plush teddy bear. The teddy spoke with Kai’s voice, “Psst! Rosie, come here!” He was standing in a corner behind a suit of armor and holding out the teddy bear, making it talk.
“What?” I asked, joining him. “So, Mr. Snuggle’s still alive? Didn’t Lorcan spill cranberry sauce on him?”
Kai grinned and hugged his teddy. “I got him washed.”
I couldn’t suppress a smile at him. “Is this what you wanted to tell me?”
“NO!” Kai fell to my feet. “PLEASE, ROSIE, PLEASE!”
I sighed. “I’m not being the nude model of your future designer clothing company.”
“Not THAT! I want something else! PLEASE!”
“You want me to do your make-up? Ask Xander, she’s better.”
“No, not make-up!”
“Well, what IS IT?” I was getting irritated. “Stand up and spit it out, man!”
Kai almost tripped over Mr. Snuggles in haste to stand up. He didn’t meet my eyes. “Ro-Rosie, I want to be m-more m-m-manlier…”
I backed away. “Like I said, ask Xander. She’s more than willing.”
Kai clenched his teeth. “No, not like that! I—!” He shut his eyes, and shouted, “Rosie, please teach me how to play Quidditch!”
I blinked. Kai Evergreen + physical labor? “Since when do YOU want play a SPORT?” I asked in an incredulous voice.
He looked at me with a defiant eye. “I don’t, but I want to! Teach me, please! I heard Al say that you’re a brilliant Chaser. I want to be a Chaser, too!”
I tried my best not to sound to aghast. “But WHY?”
“Does it matter, why? Doesn’t it matter that I WANT to do it?”
“Well, yeah, but…” I looked at him. “You… playing Quidditch…er…that’s…”
“What? I know you’re thinking that I’m not manly at all!”
“Well…” You’re not, I wanted to say. But that would hurt his feelings. “Do you really want to be Chaser?”
Kai brightened and nodded his head up and down fervently. “Rose, I will throw out all my facial creams, cleansers, lotions, sanitizers, everything! I’ll even lock away my designer suits and clothes! Just tell me what I have to do to play Quidditch.”
I exhaled. “That won’t be necessary. Come to the pitch after Zelda and I are finished. We’ll see what we can do with you.”
Kai stuffed Mr. Snuggles under one arm, and clapped his palms together, bowing low. “Thank you, Master.” Then he ran off.
I watched him go, and then trudged on toward the Quidditch pitch. Why the hell does Kai Evergreen want to play Quidditch? And then, another thought entered my brain: Do I have an apprentice now?
Zelda and I had a complete blast down at the pitch. To my general delight, Liam showed up too and insisted on practicing with us. He also brought along his friends Sean Delaney, the perpetually drunk Irish, and Chatty, the funny-in-the-head, rather quiet guy who sat around all day with his nose in a notebook. Liam and Sean were, like me, vying for the two remaining Chaser spots on the team. Sean wasn’t that brilliant with his broom, and Zelda kept flying circles around him upside down. Of course, moments later, she landed and ran off to the bathroom.
It was almost late evening when we were finishing up did I remember my promise to Kai. I hesitated against telling Zelda—I had a feeling that she would scoff at me.
“I’m going to do some more practicing on my own. Is that okay?”
Zelda’s eyebrows rose. “You’re starting to sound like Al.”
I shrugged. “I want to get on the team.”
“But you said that we would eat dinner together,” Liam said, looking confused.
“Er…I’m sorry. I really have to do this. How about tomorrow?” With a few more awkward words, I sent them packing. Thankfully, the pitch was clear now. The moment Zelda, Liam and the others left, Kai appeared out of the shadows of the storeroom. He was holding a PheonixFyre 2100 in one hand.
“Merlin, who’d you steal that offa?”
Kai stuck his tongue out. “I know you’re jealous. I told Alexandrina about everything, and she was so kind to lend me it.” We strode out onto the pitch. Kai was gazing at everything, the grass, the hoops, even his broomstick with some intimidation.
I mounted my broom. “C’mon, what’re you waiting for?”
Kai looked shifty. “Er…see, Rosie, I…”
Five seconds later…
“YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO FLY A DAMN BROOM? YOU WANT TO BE CHASER? ARE YOU CRAZY?”
Kai was on his knees again, begging in a pitiful voice, “Please, Master, please! Teach me!”
I exhaled heavily. “Kai, why are you doing this?”
“Teach me! I know I can learn!”
Oh, heck. Now what am I going to do? “Stop sniveling and get up!” I commanded. “You swing your leg over like this…”
Slowly, Kai got a hang of being in the air. The first few times, he screamed and fell off, but he had more nerve than I could have ever imagined. Twenty minutes later, Kai Evergreen was soaring in the air next to me like he had been born on a broomstick. The hard part came with the Quaffle. He was completely terrified of letting go of the broom handle with one hand. Every time I tossed the Quaffle to him, he would catch it, and then immediately lose balance and fall off his broom.
The tenth or eleventh time this happened, he didn’t get up.
I walked over to the puddle of mud he was languishing in. “Kai, tell me honestly. Do you really want to do this?”
He didn’t raise his head. “Yes.”
“Because…” he struggled with himself. “Because I have to.”
I thought it over for a second. “Is this about reclaiming self-respect?”
“NO!” he cried, tearing at his blond hair with muddy hands. “You wouldn’t know what it’s like! I could do anything; I would do anything for… Please, just don’t try to understand…”
For some reason, Xander’s words about love came to mind. I made up my decision. “If you want to continue doing this, come back tomorrow. Same time.” I turned on my heel and strode away, feeling rather dramatic.
I have to give the guy some credit. Evening after evening, we missed dinner and toiled away on the Quidditch field. Of course my friends noticed my odd schedule, but I just told them that I wanted to get some extra practicing done. Xander knew the truth, but she wasn’t telling anyone. Missing my evenings also meant missing Prefect patrol duties with Malfoy. And Neville, who wants Gryffindor to win the House Cup just as much as I do, had too much paperwork and ‘forgot’ to drag me down to the Entrance Hall on those days.
It was a few days before the tryouts, and Kai still had the worst aim of any bloke I knew. Outside the locker room, I told him so.
“I can’t do anything about my aim! Stop badgering!”
“Really? Then forget about becoming a Chaser!"
“Weasley, seriously? All this time you’ve been trying to teach her Quidditch?” Malfoy’s snide voice came from the opening of the locker room.
“What are you doing here?” I said sharply. “Get out!”
“It’s a free country, Weasel, and I’m perfectly welcome to watch your practice failures as much as I want.”
“M-MALFOY!” Kai stuttered. He stepped in front of me and pointed his wand in Mafloy’s face. “You’re poking your nose into MY business! I swear, if you don’t buzz off right now, I—I’ll turn you into a watermelon!”
Malfoy met my eyes and smirk. “Can’t you do better, Weasley?”
I pulled out my wand, but Kai was quicker. He shot a Hex at Malfoy’s head. Malfoy ducked and the spell collided with the beams over his head and exploded. “Don’t insult my master,” Kai said in a trembling voice, “She’s knows more and flies better than you ever will!”
Malfoy growled something and then stalked away.
I couldn’t help it: I gave Kai a bear hug. “Mate, that was AWESOME!”
“I’ll show everyone,” he said. I could feel him shaking in my embrace. “I’ll prove myself to them all.”
We got out onto the pitch. I saw Malfoy’s back in the distance, heading back to the school.
“Why was he here, anyway?” Kai asked, mounting his broom.
“He’s pissed at me, because I’m bailing out on patrol.” I shrugged. “I’d rather train with you than spend an evening with him.”
Kai was looking at me with great, big eyes of gratitude. I was afraid that he was going to start crying.
But still, despite everything, despite all the DAMN GRANDSTANDING, he still didn’t manage to get the damn Quaffle in the damn hoop!
“THIS IS NOT WORKING!” He collapsed onto the grass. “WAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!”
I stood over him, arms crossed. “Cut your hair.”
“You heard me. That great, big fringe of yours is blocking one eye. No wonder you’re so bad!”
“I can’t cut my hair! MY HAIR IS MY LIFE!”
I sighed. Sometimes I thought I was dealing with Xander. “Well, do something so it doesn’t cover half your face.”
“But I have mismatched eyes! You know that, Rosie! If don’t use my hair, people look at me weird and say weird things about my eyes!”
“I don’t. Xander doesn’t, Zelda doesn’t, Jag does, but he doesn’t mean it. And I’m pretty sure Al doesn’t care either way. Personally, I think having a green eye and blue eye is pretty cool. You look awesome.”
He perked up midway in my speech. “Really?”
“Yeah. Have you tried using a bandana or something?”
I wish I hadn’t said that. Mentioning anything about clothing accessories set off Kai like a firecracker. Soon, he had Accio-ed his entire collection of bandanas.
“I like the one with the neon hippos!”
“How about this one? It glows in the dark! And it has LLAMA on it!”
“How about cute, little Easter Rabbit?”
“This one’s in the shape of a hotdog!”
“How about the plain, red one?” I said in an exasperated tone.
“Oh, that. It’s by ELLE.”
“Whatever. Just wear it, okay?”
“NO! I can’t wear that! It was a prize I won in a modeling competition!”
“You model?” I admit I was taken back.
He looked shifty. “I live nearby this really famous modeling studio. During the summertime, the photographer puts up these contests, and few years ago, I convinced my mum to let me go— and I got second place.”
“Nice. Can I see the pictures some time?” I was pretty curious how Kai would look in model-like poses.
“Sure! But I’m NOT wearing that bandana.”
I stared at him. “You’re not wearing the bandana.”
He pouted. “No.”
I made sure my expression didn’t twitch. “You’re not wearing the bandana.”
“Are you sure?”
I drew my wand. “Very well, Kai, darling, come here. And please resist the urge to scream.”
Ten minutes later, after a lot of grimacing and wrestling on my part, and howling and squealing from Kai, I stepped back and surveyed my handiwork. I had (rather mercilessly) shaved off his fringe. I admit he looked very different with both mismatched eyes clearly visible. I felt myself melt. He looked so…so…
“ADORABLE!” I squealed girlishly and made a dash to hug him.
“Gah, Rosie, whatchu do to me? MY HAIR, MY GORGEOUS, LUSCIOUS HAIR!”
“You look cute,” I informed him. “So shut the hell up.”
“My FRINGE! Now, A— everybody’s going to think that I’m a freak!”
There was no consoling him. So, you can’t believe how damn relieved I was when Xander showed up on the pitch to call us in for dinner. Unfortunately, Xander took one look at his new hairstyle and nearly had a fit.
“What happened to your hair?”
He pointed at me dourly. “She happened.”
“Doesn’t it look cute?” I asked her desperately.
Xander put two hands on his shoulders and put her nose an inch away from his. “Actually…” she breathed
“Yes?” he said tentatively.
“…you look hotter than usual.”
“OH, I TOLD YOU!” I yelled, feeling pleased. With Xander’s reassurance (who he considered to be another reliable expert fashionista), he wouldn’t make a big fuss anymore. I noticed at the same time how Kai didn’t realize that Xander was flirting with him. It shows, Kai, it shows too much.
“Gelled or straightened?” I heard him ask Xander.
She considered it for a moment. “Gelled.”
I groaned. So much for not making a big fuss. “Guys, seriously, we don’t have time for gelling. Kai needs to get on his broom right now. We’re working on a tight schedule here, plus I have detention with Filch tonight. You can fix your hairstyle when we get off the pitch, okay Kai?”
“Fine,” he said reluctantly, mounting his broom. “See you, Xander.”
“Gotcha. I’ll get my salon kit ready.” With that, she headed back to the castle.
Salon kit? Silently, I wondered again how I had become friends with these two.
Like I had expected, Kai’s aim improved drastically. But, still, even then, he was very weak. Even I, a horrendous, atrocious third-rater at Keeping, could block some of the passes he threw at me. What I didn’t understand was that sometimes, he threw BRILLIANT shots that I was positive even Hugo couldn’t catch, but other times, his shots were just plain wimpy.
“You have no rhythm!” I yelled finally, braking by broom in midair. I impatiently brushed away the red hair that was being buffeted across my face by the wind. “You pass good shots, then crappy ones, then brilliant ones, then horrible ones. You need to find some rhythm!”
He flew in closer so we were hovering side-to-side. “Rhythm,” he mused to himself. “What kind of rhythm?”
“The pulse, the beat. Don’t you feel it?”
I hung my head. Whether Kai knew it or not, he was talented. And he was determined. With some effort, there was the possibility that he could get on the team. But he needed to become more focused.
I tried another tack. “Okay, when I say ‘rhythm’, what do you think of?”
His answer was immediate. He did a loop around me. “Music!”
I clapped my hands together. “What’re ya waitin’ for? Accio your radio.”
The evening before the tryouts, I was feeling quite optimistic. With a bucket-load of encouraging, Hugo subbing in for me as Keeper, and a stockpile of hip-hop songs, Kai’s turned out to be a quite a prize. I was a very proud master.
Zelda, meanwhile, had already figured out our secret. To my surprise, she didn’t scoff at me or anything.
“Is he good?” was all she asked.
“If a stork doesn’t go flying past his head carrying a Prada handbag, he’ll do brilliant.”
Zelda smirked, but nodded.
Al and Jag, the whole time, were in their little world. They were whispering, plotting, scheming over Quidditch stratagems. I left them to it. They were hopeless mental cases either way.
The day of the tryouts arrived, and I found Xander literally trying to shove a muffin down Kai’s throat during breakfast.
“You have to eat, moron!”
“Xander, don’t murder him,” I grinned. I wasn’t going to eat anything, either. My stomach was rolling around in a queasy way.
“Don’t tell me you’re fasting too,” said Zelda. Across from me, she was stuffing herself with chocolate.
“Why the chocolate?” I said, even though I already knew.
“Sugar rush,” explained Zelda. “I have to get on one before—HANDS OFF, BASTARD!”
Jag had arrived, along with Al, and he had made a direct beeline for her Hershey.
“C’mon, just a bit!”
Zelda smacked his face with a hot ladle.
“Zelda, I’ll have to report to James that you tried to put one of your fellow Beaters out of commission,” my cousin said in a rather pompous voice.
“Go stuff it up your ass, Albus.”
The tryouts were right after breakfast, so I couldn’t blame them for being high-strung. Then again, both Jag and Zelda were actors. They were always high-strung. After a bowl of meager porridge, I trooped down with everybody else to the pitch. Al looked surprised when Kai followed us. My cousin pulled me aside and whispered, “What’s EVERGREEN doing here?”
I looked at him a little coldly. “He’s going to try out for Chaser. And he’s going to make the team, if I might add.”
Al looked surprised. “Er…okay. Is that what you’ve been doing these past evenings? Training with him?”
I nodded curtly. “Stop looking so disbelieving, Al. He flies as well as you!”
“Okay, then.” Al’s face betrayed extreme skepticism.
Sighing I ran and caught up with everybody else. Al’s never going to learn. In the stands, were the Scamander twins (they waved furiously and grinned at me), Xander, Chatty, and to my complete surprise, Malfoy and his goonies.
“Can someone tell me,” I fumed, kicking the chest that held the Quidditch balls, “WHY SCORPIUS MALFOY IS HERE?”
“What?” Al caught a sight of Malfoy’s face. “James! Kick him out! They’re spying on us!”
“Sorry, bro, no can do,” James was shaking his head regretfully. “Hollingberry gave ’em a pass.”
I scowled and scuffed the turf with a foot. Great. Malfoy would do everything to try to put Kai down.
“Hey, Rose, everything alright?” It was Liam.
“Malfoy’ll ruin everything, you watch,” I muttered darkly.
Liam narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t say that. Those Ravenclaws, the Scamanders, are planning something. I heard them whispering in a corner. They’re your friends, aren’t they?”
“Lysander? Lorcan?” I said in alarm, remembering the conversation we had at breakfast weeks ago. I flew toward the stands. “Lysander! What the hell’re you trying to pull?”
Lysander grinned. “Nothing, milady.”
“OH, DON’T YOU ‘MILADY” ME! Seriously, guys, I have a friend who’s been working his butt off for hours every night for this one chance! Don’t mess it up for him!”
“Kai Evergreen?” Lorcan asked thoughtfully. “Odd bloke. I saw him mooning over a pair of polka-dotted bedroom socks.”
Bedroom socks? I thought with incredulity. I wouldn’t put it past Kai, though. “You’re missing the point, Lorcan.”
“Thing is,” Lysander put in, “we’re only targeting the Chasers. He’s not trying to be a Chaser, is he?”
“Yes, he is! SO AM I!”
“Yeah…” Lysander looked uneasy.
I crossed my arms. “I’ll get Penny to confiscate your Shakespeare volumes.”
His eyes widened. “Fine. If it means so much, you and Mr. Evergreen better go last.”
I gave him a quizzical look, but both the Scamanders had clammed up and were refusing to say anymore.
“KEEPERS!!” barked James. The chatter in the stands fell silent. “Any person who wants to be a Keeper, please come down to the pitch.”
I went and wished Hugo a hasty good luck, and then went and sat next to Kai, Zelda, and Xander. Our famed Keeper of five years, Freddie Weasley (my other cousin!), had such a reputation that only my little brother dared to challenge him. Every year had the same result. Right now, James had the Quaffle and he was acting as Chaser for both of them. Freddie saved one, two, three, four…all ten goals! And he was even smiling and waving at the crowd while he did so. I bit my lip.
“Your bro’s dead,” Zelda whispered. To my surprise, she looked rather fretful. “There’s no way he can beat Freddie this year.”
“Let’s see,” I said. Even if I never showed it, I always prayed for my brother. “Are you attracted toward Hugo or something? He’s…er… two years younger than us.”
“NO!” She looked at me like I was mad. “He gave me a lot of chocolate when I was at your house, remember? I owe him.”
Hugo, as it turned out, saved only nine. Like the year before, the last pass slipped through his fingers and through the hoop behind him. I think I saw him sniffling as he came back to the stands.
“Aren’t you going to comfort him?” Xander asked indignantly, seeing that I hadn’t moved at all.
“No. He would kill me if I did that.”
Next, the Seekers.
“Anybody?” asked James pleadingly. Nobody got up from the stands.
Al flew high above the pitch, pumping both arms in victory.
“I AM GOD, FEAAHHR MEEEE!!!!”
“By Merlin’s boxers, no.” I buried my head in my hands in embarrassment.
"Return of Albus the Quidditch Nazi," Xander muttered under her breath.
“You and your wonky relatives,” Zelda said in amazement.
“BOWW DOWWWN, I AM THE SEXIEST SEEKER EVAAA— “
Al fell sideways off his broom.
Xander and I stood up, screaming, “NICE HIT, JAG!”
Jag winked at us, spinning his Beater’s bat around.
James took the stage. “Okay then, Beaters. Anybody else other than Jag?”
Zelda ran down to the pitch screaming, “ME! ME! ME! MEEEEEE!!!”
“She has a sugar rush,” Xander observed.
“It’s gonna be ME!” Jag said. He swung his bat through the air, narrowly missing James’s face. “I CAN WHUP YOU CHOCOLATEY ASS, GURL!”
“Is he drunk?” Liam asked in perplexed voice.
“I think Al fed him something,” Xander said. “Or it’s just the sugar.”
Several aspiring Beaters in third year and fourth year were frankly looking scared to enter the pitch with Jag and Zelda holding their mad court. James wasn’t being too helpful either, since he told the them that they could be on the team if they managed to knock the other off his or her broom.
Chaos. We had to duck several times as the stray Bludger threatened to take our heads off. Jag’s aim was spot-on each time, and Zelda kept on taking a page out of a sloth’s book and had to keep on doing 360s around her broom to avoid his precise strokes. She practically went cartwheeling through the air with her Beater’s bat, laughing madly in a mentally insane way. Finally, Jag gave up and flew like a bullet past her with one arm outstretched and knocked her off the broom that way. Zelda landed in the grass on her bottom with her mouth in a perfect ‘O’.
James flew in next to Jag and considered it. “You’re in, man.”
Slowly, Zelda got up. Her head lowered, she mounted her broom and sped into the air. I felt frightened for Jag’s sake.
“DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, YOU WORTHLESS LOWLIFE!!!”
She dived toward him and brandished her bat and smacked the Bludger so hard that the head of her bat cracked cleanly in two. Jag, incredibly, managed to leap out of the way of the careering Bludger. Missing Jag’s head, it hit the side of the pitch with a sickening THWACK! It slowly dropped down to the grass, unmoving.
“You broke it!” I screamed happily. “ZELDA, YOU BROKE THE BLUDGER!”
Zelda alighted on the ground, her face pink and her chest heaving with the strain. James looked at her in admiration. “You’re on, girl, you’re ON!”
“How’d you do it?” Xander and I asked her when she got back.
“Sugar,” she was sill panting.
“I gotta try it,” I said immediately. The wonders of sugar…
“NO,” Xander and Zelda shouted at the same time.
“Why?” I blinked.
“YOU’LL KILL US!” they said together.
“All Chasers!” James shouted. “CALLING ALL CHASERS!”
“That’s us, Rosie,” Kai said suddenly. He had been quiet this whole time.
“Got the media player?” I asked, standing up.
“Media player?” the girls repeated with confused looks.
“Right here,” Kai reached under his chair and pulled out a cheap magical music player, bought from a store in Hogsmeade. Since Kai was Muggleborn, he had put Muggle songs on it.
“Are you going to listen to music?” Zelda asked in surprise.
Kai and I shared a grin. “You’ll see,” I told her.
There were quite a few number of people trying out for Chaser. Me, Kai, Liam, Sean, my cousin Lily, my other cousin Roxanne, and other, unknown kids. Half the fourth years, including Lily and Roxy, got out within the first couple minutes, due to the fact that the Quaffle exploded with a big BANG right in the middle of their group. They all passed out from something in the smoke.
“SCAMAAAAAAANDER!!” roared James.
Lysander and Lorcan slapped each other high-fives and scurried away. I gave them a thumbs up. Hey, I couldn’t say I wasn’t grateful to them for getting rid of the competition.
Muttering angrily, James got out another Quaffle and gave tossed it to Sean Delaney. Sean scored six out of ten goals. Failure. Well, then, again, it was Freddie Weasley he was going against, the best Keeper in a millennia. Liam went and mounted his broom for his turn. I really wished he was on the team, so then I could be with him more. But between him and Kai, I would have to vote for the blond.
Kai wasn’t paying attention to Liam’s goals. He was tugging at my sleeve. “Can I go last? Please?”
“I don’t care,” I said, averting my attention. “You sure you’re okay, Kai?”
He took a deep breath. “I’m good. You know the song, right?”
“Can I ask you something?”
“Why are you doing this?”
He shot a look toward where Al and Jag were lounging the stands. “Because…” he hesitated, as if debating with himself, “because I can do anything…”
I let it go. Six, seven, eight—
“Thanks for the help, Rosie, seriously, you’re the most brilliant girl ever,” he said in choked voice. “I know I won’t make it. It’s too much. I’m going to crack.”
Liam had scored eight goals. Oh well. I shouldered my broom and walked toward the pitch, and yelled over my shoulder, “You crack and I WILL STRANGLE YOU WITH YOUR OWN DESIGNER BANDANA!”
Let’s keep my part short. I, of course, never like to boast, but I was pretty happy when I got ten out of ten goals past Freddie. I’d done that only twice before. Xander and Zelda were screaming my name, and Al broke down in tears and ran out onto the pitch to give me a manly hug. James officially declared me “IN, BABY!!!” and I hurried back to Kai, because I was seriously afraid he would break down.
“Go for it,” I said encouragingly.
Kai gulped. “Don’t turn the music on.”
I was astonished. “No?”
“When I say so, okay?” He walked out onto the pitch.
James sidled up to me. “So, Rosie, my contacts tell me that you have your eye on this little boy.”
“I’ve been training him,” I said with some pride in my voice. Now was my chance. I had to put in a good word with the Captain. “He’s got a heart, and he’s bloody determined and talented to boot. He learned to fly as well as me in two days.”
“Really? We’ll see, then”
Kai flew up, took the Quaffle, and after zig-zagging blindingly through the air, put it clean through the left hoop.
“One!” I screamed. “Do it, man! REMEMBER, RHYTHM!!”
The next one was a bit of a battle, but somehow Kai managed to put it through the same hoop. Sweat was glinting on his face. Freddie was looking frustrated. The third one…. Freddie managed to block it with the tail of his broom. Kai looked emotionally drained. I fingered the media player. Should I turn it on? I didn’t. Kai shot a look at me. I smiled at him.
Grimacing in concentration, he dived and dunked the Quaffle through the middle hoop. Three! I skipped around happily, but he looked like he was going to collapse. I battled with myself for a second, and then yelled, “I’m turning it on!”
He glanced at me briefly. And grinned.
James was watching curiously but I didn’t care. I brought out the player and switched it on the right song. A catchy ‘dat da da dat da dat da da da dat’ beat echoed throughout the pitch. Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold”.
You! Change your mind,
Like a girl changes clothes—
Kai flew with a new exuberance. He cut through the air, following the rhythm of the music. Four! Five! Six! SEVEN! EIGHT! Along with everybody on the pitch who knew Muggle music, I was screaming out the lyrics, “’COS YOU’RE HOT ’N YOUR’RE COLD—”
Face flushed, Kai alighted on the ground and sprinted toward me, an ear-to-ear smile threatening to split his face. We caught each other in a tight hug. “You’re brilliant,” I muttered in his ear. “No person can do that in two weeks.” He sniffed.
Xander, Zelda, Jag, even Al (who was gaping in disbelief) all streamed onto the pitch. The girls hoisted Kai on their shoulders and brought him over to James.
“So?” I said, begging my older cousin with my eyes.
James deliberated it. “Can he score without the music?”
“Yes, he can!” I said passionately. “Mind you, he did all this in two weeks!”
James tried not to look impressed, and failed horribly. “He better be good.”
We had a big party, and as a sort of apology, Kai was admitted back into the boys’ dorm to sleep. In the beginning of September, Al and some of the others boys had a big fuss over having “the girly man” living in the same quarters as them. At the time, I didn’t understand it. Why didn’t they kick Jag out, too?
At the party, the Scamander twins showed up for some reason. I had no effin’ idea how they got the password for the Gryffindor Common Room. Lysander probably sweet-talked the Fat Lady or something. Once James found out that they were in the vicinity, he gave a roar of rage and began a wild goose chase trying to catch them. When James wasn’t looking, they grabbed my arms, and bundled me behind Kai’s Kouch.
“What the hell is it NOW?” I said loudly.
“Shhh,” they both put their fingers to their lips in gestures of silence. “Quiet down, Rosie!” Lysander whispered. “D’you want Lorcan and I, your dear knights in shining armor, to be assaulted by cousin Jamie?”
“Since when am I her knight?” Lorcan asked his twin in a mutter.
“More like knights in tarnished armor,” I said, half-grinning. “What do you want? Explosives? Al wasted all the firecrackers we have on Gay Vesuvius.”
Lorcan was staring at me. “I’m not going to ask.”
“No,” Lysander said delicately, “we want the photos.”
“Photos?” I asked. “I have a lot of photos. Which ones?”
“According to my sources,” Lysander continued in the same tone, “you were the one who gave Peeves the gun, no? And you snapped quite few photos of him shooting down half-naked Slytherin men.”
I recalled the incident with a little giggle. “Oh, hell yeah, Lys! I wish you’d been there to see it! All the Slytherin guys from our year in their underwear, screaming bloody murder with a paintball gun-firing devil poltergeist on their tails. I’m not going to forget that in a looong time.”
“So, can we have the photos of it?” Lysander asked with a big smile.
“Why?” I looked at him suspiciously. “You’re not gay, are you?”
Lysander shook his head. “I hope not.”
“THE QUIBBLER!” Lorcan finally said, in a rather irritable voice. “We’re going to put their photos in the Quibbler! Sheesh, woman.”
“Really?!” In delight, I gave Lorcan a big hug. “Your mum’ll let you do that?”
Lorcan looked away uncomfortably and straightened his hair. “No. We can sneak the pictures in, though.
“Don’t I get a hug, milady?” Lysander pouted.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and gave him a sound kiss on the cheek. “Lysander, I love you, do you get that? I LOVE YOU!”
He grinned and pinched my nose. “Thankies! Now, get the photos, will you?”
Literally jumping up and down in glee, I retrieved my scrapbook from my dorm, took out the photos of Avery, Gamp, and Malfoy, and all the other boxer-clad boys squealing in pain, and gave the extra copies to the twins. They laughed over the photos for a few seconds, and then carefully put them in an envelope.
“We’ll have the magazine out by December,” Lorcan said, smirking.
“We’ll mail you extra copies, don’t worry,” Lysander said to me immediately. He hugged me again, and then the two departed.
“What di’ they want?” Kai asked, coming over and swaying in a rather tipsy way.
“Oh, nothing,” I grinned to myself. “Are you drunk? We have classes tomorrow!”
Even as I said those words, I remembered something else with a jolt.
It was Sunday!
Right now, I was supposed to be patrolling the Astronomy Tower with Malfoy!
I grinned to myself. This would be fun.
“Wah, Rosie, where’re ya goin’?” Kai accidentally sloshed some firewhiskey on me. “Oh, sorry!”
I stepped back out of range. “Don’t worry, I won’t be gone long. I just need to give Malfoy a piece of my mind, that’s all.” Waving goodbye, I set off at a brisk pace toward the Entrance Hall. Malfoy wasn’t there. I groaned.
To the Astronomy Tower. Yippee.
The Astronomy Tower, as always, was the choice midnight meeting place for amorous couples. Usually it was on these days that I bailed out entirely. It would be too awkward to walk around a place like that for two hours straight with a guy like Malfoy.
I mounted the steps up the Tower and peered around the dark balcony. There wasn’t anyone in sight. Where was Malfoy, for Circe’s sake? The sun had fallen, everything was pitch-black. There weren’t any stars, and the moon had vanished. I leaned my whole body over the parapet, feeling the cool breeze tickle my cheek gently, blowing my long hair into my face. I closed my eyes. Hmm, maybe the Tower wasn’t such a bad place to be. Yeah, hanging like this was dangerous, but I could live with it…
“What are you doing?! Are you mental?!” said a rough voice. A hand grabbed my upper arm and jerked me off the parapet.
I gazed coolly up at him. “I thought you’d be happy if I fell off.”
Malfoy looked away. “Yeah, well, that’d mean a lot of paperwork.”
“Hey, that’s MY line!”
“Who’s there?” another voice called from the shadows.
Malfoy stepped in front of me. “Nott!” he groaned. “Don’t tell me…”
The guy who had spoken, a seventh year, by the looks of him, had come out of the shadows. He was shirtless. Behind him was a blushing, embarrassed-looking younger girl who was hastily buttoning up her shirt.
“Who’s that behind you, Scorpius?” smirked Nott. “Don’t tell me you’re cheating on Caprice.”
Malfoy tried to shield me even more with his back. “Caprice and I aren’t together. She’s under the impression that we are. Could you get a room? I’m supposed to be patrolling up here.”
“Really? Is that Weasley behind you? Come out, come out, Weasel, what’re you hiding for?”
I curled my hands into tight fists. It took all the self restraint I had not to go up to Nott and bash his ugy nose into his skull. Instead, I put my hoodie up over my head. It wouldn’t do for him to see my telltale red hair. He would guess the truth in an instant.
“Weasley bailed tonight, like usual.” I detected a sneer in Malfoy’s voice. “My friend and I would like some privacy, if you don’t mind.”
Nott’s tone was bored. “Whatever, Scor. I was going to back to my dorm, anyway. Let’s go, Adriana.” He put an arm around the girl and walked past us.
In an instant, Malfoy had snaked his arm around my waist and he pulled my face against his chest. I gasped loudly and felt my heartbeat go up; I heard a final snicker from Nott, and the door slammed shut.
“Hey—!” I put both hands on Malfoy’s chest and thrust him away from me. My face was burning, I tell you, burning. “W—WHAT WAS THAT?! YOU MADE ME —”
“Don’t complain!” I could only see a glimmer of his face. He seemed annoyed. “You know how dead we would’ve been if he’d seen us."
“YOU…” Angrily, I curled my hands into fists. My nose was stinging. I felt like screaming and raging at him, except my mouth didn’t open. A silence stretched between us, my heart still beating uncontrollably. I had to say something, I had to, or he would think that I liked him… I muttered, in a sulky, self-justifying voice, “This is why I’ve been skipping patrol.”
“Why’re you here tonight, then?” he sneered.
I jabbed a finger in his direction jubilantly. “To GLOAT IN YOUR FACE! You said that Kai couldn’t become a Chaser! Now, together, Kai, James and I will pound your asses in the House Cup!”
“Evergreen’s the sorriest excuse for a Chaser I’ve ever seen! Potter must be damn mental to take him in.”
“You’re the sorriest excuse for a Chaser.” I spat back. “But then again, your whole team’s so sorry, you lot go crying to your fat mummies whenever I score a goal.”
“Leave my mother out of this! And when did you score a goal against me? Slytherin beat Gryffindor last year!”
I cringed. He always liked to bring up that defeat. I half-heartedly threw a punch at his shoulder and muttered, “That was once.” He caught my wrist, gave me an intense look that I couldn’t read.
And then he was gone down the stairs. My heart still throbbed like drumbeats in my ear.
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