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Chapter 5 : Is Insanity Contagious?
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Chapter 5: Is Insanity Contagious?
A/N: Please leave a comment once you've finished reading, thankss!! I hope you enjoy this chapter!
“You know, Serena, you’re actually quite horrendous at this.” James told me bluntly two hours into my lesson.
I didn’t argue. So far my lesson had consisted of one long-winded “no” after another. “You’re doing it wrong” was no stranger to me and I knew it.
“Are you sure Tyler’s your biological brother?” He asked, crossing his arms and rubbing his brow with an air of frustration. “Because right now you’re sharing more DNA with a troll than the infamous Tyler Colton.”
I glared at him, rubbing my forearms which were sore from gripping my broomstick so tightly during the past couple of hours for fear of falling. “I wasn’t quite there at conception, James, but yes, I’m sure.”
“Well you need to loosen up nonetheless,” James pointed out. “If you keep holding that broomstick like it’s a hippogriff trying to buck you off, you’re going to get yourself killed.”
“Better safe than sorry.”
“Actually, no.” He said watching me. “The more tense and ‘safe’ you act, the less you’ll be able to compensate for changes once you’re in the air.” James prodded at my stomach and arms, trying to get me to relax my muscles. “If you would prefer I get Sirius over here, I’m sure he could teach you as well as I.”
I glared at him, gripping the broomstick with much more force as it began to hover over the ground.
“I didn’t think so,” he said pointedly. “But you do know that if you make the team that you will have to deal with him daily, right?”
I looked away from him, glaring down at the ground. “I’ll burn that bridge when I reach it, thanks.”
James snorted a laugh, smacking me in the stomach again. “Then you need to concentrate and let me teach you.”
I took a deep breath, loosening up my muscles and allowing him to push in on my stomach, forcing me to bend my back. “Get the board out of your shirt, Serena. Just relax.”
I took another breath as he adjusted my grip. Taking a moment to clear my mind, I rotated my neck, getting out all the kinks.
“There you go,” James told me. “Half the battle’s over. Just don’t think about it too much. If you’re meant to play quidditch, you have got to just let go and believe in it enough.”
“You have no idea…” I muttered, my brow furrowed with concentration.
James smacked my cheeks lightly in an attempt to get me to loosen up the muscles in my face. “Stop glaring off at nothing. You shouldn’t be fighting your broom. It’s not supposed to work like that.”
“Well maybe if I wasn’t dealing with constant nagging…” I muttered under my breath.
James hit the back of my head, catching me off guard. “I’m the team captain, Colton.” He told me sharply. “Think of this as an introduction to the Hell I’m going to put you through during the actual season.” He smacked my stomach again, making me flinch. “I’m doing you a huge favor; the least you could do is put in a little bit of effort!”
I grunted in reply, unmounting the broomstick and handing it to James. “I have to go to class.”
“Study Hall ends at five thirty, so I expect you here at five fifty sharp. Don’t be late or I’ll make you do laps.” James replied, walking over to the storage shed.
Care of Magical Creatures: 3pm to 4pm every Wednesday and Friday with Professor Silvanus Kettleburn. And, of course—because life hates me—, with one ever-so lovely Sirius Black.
“God afternoon, class, and welcome back to Care of Magical Creatures!” Professor Kettleburn greeted us with an overjoyed smile like we were on some sort of a muggle game show and he was the host. “And might I add that I am still quite happy that all of you decided to continue your study of magical creatures into your sixth year!”
Nobody said anything in return, but the buzz of side-conversations started up again when he took a moment to get his mind in order. I stood by myself at the edge of the group, as far away from Sirius as I could get without making it too obvious that I was avoiding him. Nervously, I bounced on the balls of my feet, pushing my hair out of my face as another warm breeze rolled by.
“I figured that today we would jump straight into an interactive lesson about,” he paused—for dramatic effect—as he looked around at us with a smile on his face. “Thestrals!”
More murmurs. Not very many of the students around me had heard of them, myself included. Everyone looked around, wondering where these creatures were housed.
“Thestrals,” Professor Kettleburn started again, “are not bad omens; no matter what you superstitious people may think. They’re actually quite intelligent creatures with an amazing sense of direction. Not to mention they are extremely fast.”
I looked to my right, trying not to make it obvious that I was keeping tabs on Sirius. For a moment I wondered where he had gone, but then I found him again and my eyes snapped back to a forward position, startled. Great, now he was staring at me. My favorite.
“So without further adieu…” Professor Kettleburn gave a loud whistle, watching the skies with a smile on his face.
Just like we had been trained, every student’s head snapped up to the skies, our hands shielding our eyes from the sun. The majority of the group stayed quiet, whispering how Kettleburn had finally lost it. The rest of us, however, had similar expressions of wonder on our faces.
“What in Merlin’s name are those?” Sirius exclaimed, turning to Remus who stared back at him blankly.
“What’s what?” Remus asked him, his brow furrowed in confusion at Sirius’s sudden outburst.
“That!” Sirius persisted, pointing one of his muscular fingers in the direction of one of the black creatures.
There were four that I could see, but as I stood, mouth gaping, two more landed, causing me to take an involuntary step backward.
“Those are Thestrals, Mr. Black.” Professor Kettleburn giggled, clapping his hands together. “Take note of the dragon-like hide and the horse-like structure. And wuh-who, those wings!”
Lily Evans stepped forward, her hand in the air. “What are you talking about, professor?”
“Ah, yes, Miss Evans, I almost forgot. Those of you who haven’t witnessed death firsthand, can’t see them.” Everyone looked at each other, curious who could and could not see the mysterious creatures. I quickly glanced at Remus and Sirius, who both stood with wide eyes, watching Professor Kettleburn pace back and forth as he continued. “I would lie if I said I wasn’t curious…” he stopped pacing, turning and facing the class, his hands clasped together behind his back. “How many of you can see these creatures?”
The class seemed to hesitate, but slowly hands began to rise up from the group. I watched the others for a moment, seeing Sirius’s hand raise with the others. Taking a breath, I raised my hand as well. It was almost like I was admitting to myself that one terrible day did in fact happen and that yes, Tyler wasn’t coming back. I took another deep breath, stubbornly fighting away the tears by focusing my attention on the mystical beasts prancing around before me.
Kettleburn nodded for a moment. “About a fourth of you? Not surprising, really. Turn to page 178 in your textbooks and we’ll get started on today’s subject: Thestrals.”
By the end of class I was more than ready to shut out the world and plop my bottom down on the Astronomy tower’s staircase reading books about Thestrals until I puked. But with Study Hall just a half hour away, I figured that wasn’t really the practical thing to do, so I went back to my dormitory, packed up my books, and huffed my way down to the library.
The walk through the corridors was lonely for about a minute until I was joined by my favorite group of annoyances.
“Serena!” James greeted me, rubbing his knuckles against the top of my head.
“Hey Serena,” Remus chimed in, waving in my direction.
I waved to Remus, not wanting to be rude, but I ignored the rest of the Titanic Trio (don’t ask me where the fourth one is, I had no idea). In response to my response, James leaned over, wrapping his arms around my waist and tugging me closer to him. Since this action resulted in my face turning a very unflattering shade of red, I turned my head away from him as he began to whisper in my ear.
“You really shouldn’t ignore me,” he whispered, sending chills down my spine. “If you’re planning on getting anywhere on the quidditch team, I would practice being nice to me if I was you.”
Sirius eyed the two of us warily, quickly turning his head away to examine the corridor walls. Remus did a similar act, watching his feet. It was odd how nobody wanted to comment on how familiarly James was acting with me even though he never really knew me before the Hogwarts Express ride this year.
I pushed James’s hand off my waist, keeping my head tilted away from him. “Like I said. Bridges. Burning. Later.”
“Five Fifty.” James reminded me, brushing against my arm as he and his group started walking faster, regrouping in front of me and talking about their next great prank.
Why was it that a year ago I was completely invisible and this year I couldn’t get the most sought-after boys in the school to let me be for five minutes? And why did they get so much pleasure out of making me feel uncomfortable?
Shaking my head, I tried to get my thoughts off the group as I walked into the library, making my way through the room to Study Hall. Most of the sixth years were sitting in their groups already, chatting away in hushed whispers, but there were plenty of benches free still, allowing me to pick the spot farthest away from my annoyances. The best thing about James and his crew? They always had enough fawning-followers that it was once again possible for me to become invisible when in a group of people.
Plopping down on one of the wooden benches, I pulled out my Charms textbook, opening it to the first chapter. I then proceeded to dig in my bag for a roll of parchment, ink and my lucky quill (which has been with me since my first year and hasn’t failed me yet! …With the exception of Divination… But we don’t speak of that).
Five minutes later I found myself, head in my arms, falling to sleep on top of my Charms outline.
“Serena, come on!” Tyler called, his voice bouncing in and out over the sea-salt air. “It’s not going to stay light very much longer! It’s now or never!”
I cupped my hands around my mouth, “I’m coming!”
I splashed through the water, my feet sinking into the mud at the bottom. Soon my feet didn’t touch the bottom anymore, and I spread my arms out in wide strokes to stay above the water as the waves crashed over my head.
I looked around, not spotting my brother anymore. “Tyler!” I hollered, spitting out an involuntary mouth-full of salt water. “Tyler!!”
Getting no response, I soon became frantic, splashing even more as I tried to stay afloat. “TYLER!”
Something cold and slimy grabbed onto my ankle, pulling me under the surface as I screamed out for help. My mouth and throat filled with the freezing water, quickly being pumped to my lungs. I was choking, I couldn’t breathe. It felt like my lungs were collapsing as I began to realize that this time it wasn’t me losing Tyler. It was Tyler losing me. It was my fault that he would be in pain. It was all my fault…
After what could have been a lifetime, I felt myself being yanked out of the water and pulled onto shore. The water rushed up, nipping and pulling at my feet, but who ever my savoir was pulled me further up, away from the sea.
It took me a moment, but I began to open my eyes; slow, tentative blinks as I shielded my eyes from the warm, summer sun. Above me stood, hair drooping down, a prince. He wore the Gryffindor scarlet and gold with pride, and pushed his glasses further up his nose as he looked down at me.
“Serena?” he called softly, brushing the wet hair out of my face. “Serena, wake up.”
I tried to roll onto my stomach, but I couldn’t quite make it work. “I am awake,” I tried to tell him, but water came out of my mouth so my words sounded illogical.
“Wake up, he’s waiting for you,” another voice said, pulling at something in my memory.
I tried to look around, but it gave me a headache. “Who are you? Who’s waiting for me?”
Talk about a rude awakening. I jolted up, teetering on the edge of the bench for about a second before I fell backwards, landing hard on the wooden floorboards. And what was the sight I was greeted with? The ever-so lovely faces of my annoyances, snickering and laughing at my current situation.
“Thanks.” I snapped, my voice dripping with sarcasm as I glared at James.
“Study Hall’s over.” He told me, smirking.
“Obviously…” I muttered, flipping my legs off the bench and standing up. I shoved my face in his, narrowing my eyes. “I’m doing you a favor, Potter.”
James waved at his friends, raising his voice. “I’ll meet you guys back at the common room after dinner, I’ve got some studying to do.”
Remus cocked an eyebrow and Sirius scoffed, both unbelieving. “Right,” Remus replied. “And I’m going to get drunk in Professor Slughorn’s office.”
James rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “I’ll see you,” he told them again.
Getting enough of the picture to know James obviously wanted to be left alone, the two of them grabbed their bags, making their way out of the library. As I took a step back, gathering my belongings, I could overhear them taking about how James was acting strange before the library doors slammed shut.
“You’re not doing me a favor.” He hissed, staring me down. “I’m doing you a favor.” He hissed, staring me down.
“You need a keeper,” I told him pointedly, shooting him a look over my shoulder. I grabbed the last of my paraphernalia, shoving it into my bag, which I hiked up onto my shoulder. “You want me because of Tyler, I don’t need you.”
Trying to walk past him, James grabbed my arm. “You do need me; you just can’t admit it to yourself, can you?” Noticing that my stubbornness wouldn’t allow me to budge on the matter, he decided to change his tactic. “Alright, how about we make a deal?”
I stared back at him, my face blank as a new sheet of parchment.
“If you go through training with me tonight, I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you come to try-outs tomorrow.”
I mulled it over in my head, biting down on my bottom lip. I wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he was right. Maybe I did need this. “Okay.”
“Okay?” He looked confused.
“Okay.” I repeated.
“Okay.” James replied, his mouth twitching into a knowing smirk.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this new chapter!! Comment please and feel free to rush over to read the next one! :)
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