Chapter 6: This Is Your Pompous, Egocentric Captain Speaking
It took everything in me not to punch James straight in the nose. I mean everything. Even my little toe wanted to punch him in the face, if that was even possible. And maybe not punch…more like punch repeatedly. Like box with his nose. Box repeatedly.
“Stop glaring at me like that, it isn’t my fault you can’t stay on your broom.”
I pushed myself off the ground, rubbing my sore bum. “You hit a Bludger at my head.”
James sounded offended, putting a hand to his fantastically built chest. “Don’t make it sound like more than it was, Colton. I was just preparing you for the Real World of Quidditch.”
I whacked him over top the head before grabbing my broom off the ground. “I was just getting the hang of guarding those hoops from a Quaffle without falling off my broom, and you hit a Bludger at my head. How am I making it sound like more than it was, captain?”
“If it could happen during an actual game, I want you to be prepared for it,” he soothed, hovering over the ground, throwing a Quaffle up and down in the air. “Plus, you dodged it so I don’t see what the problem is.”
“But what if I didn’t?”
“You would have been fine; it was only a fifty foot drop.”
“Only…” I muttered, glaring in his direction. “You better be glad that I dodged and then fell and that I didn’t just fall.”
“Oh I am!” James chuckled, flying up to normal playing height. “This way I don’t have to start all over again training some other sorry sap to guard the rings.” He winked, driving me near insanity. Noting my anger, James threw the Quaffle through one of the rings. “You missed it,” he smirked.
I frowned for a second, then stooped down, grabbing a bat and a Bludger. I threw the Bludger up, swinging my bat which hit it with a satisfying thunk. James only nearly dodged it, making him drop the Quaffle. Once he leveled himself out again, he glared at me without mercy.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He snapped.
“Helping you prepare. How can you call yourself the best Chaser Hogwarts has ever seen if you get distracted and drop the Quaffle so easily?” I mocked him, sticking out my tongue.
James dropped down, coming to stand only inches away from my face. “Don’t stick that thing out if you don’t intend on using it,” he told me, drawing even closer to me.
My face once again flushed red, but this time I couldn’t move. Everything in my body was screaming (in little giddy schoolgirl screams, but no one needs to know that), but it was like he put a spell on me that kept me from doing anything but breathing as the chills rolled up and down my spine.
James smirked and took a step back. “Well come on, then. It’s going to start getting dark soon and I don’t know how much longer I can keep you a secret with the rest of the team.”
“Why do me want you to keep a secret?” I asked, finally being able to speak again. Unfortunately I didn’t have full-control of my brain again when I started speaking, so as James started to chuckle, I tried again. “Why do you want to keep me a secret?”
“Don’t you want me to?”
He had a point. I had been invisible all my life and it was hard enough having him and his friends now follow me around everywhere I went. I didn’t quite know how in the world I could be ready to show myself to the entire Hogwarts World of Quidditch. Which was pretty much everybody.
I wanted to ask him why he was doing something like that for my benefit, but for some reason I was too nervous to. Stubborn me was nervous? I never had a problem saying my mind around him before…
“Good, now that we’ve got that over with. Up. Let’s go.” He waved in an upward motion, nodding to me.
How was it that one minute I could have sworn he was flirting with me and a second later he has turned into a drill sergeant?
I did as he said, getting back up onto my broom and taking off. I flew up to the goal posts, bracing myself for whatever James had in store for me. James watched me carefully for a second, and then threw the Quaffle with all his might at the bottom right hoop.
I dove, the tips of my fingers nipping the edge of the Quaffle enough to send it tumbling downward. However this act of mine, throwing my body all the way in one direction, probably wasn’t the best idea. I flipped over and found myself hanging upside down on my broom, clinging on for dear life. Blood started rushing to my head, turning my entire face deep red again.
James laughed. He laughed. I was nearly strangling my broom trying not to fall off, and he was laughing. I could have dealt him one good for that…if I wasn’t hanging off the bottom of my broomstick fifty feet from the hard ground.
“James!” I screeched, quickly losing feeling in my fingers as they turned white from the stress. I wrapped my arms around the broom, my cheek squished up against the wood. “Stop flying there doing nothing! Help me you pompous arse!”
James watched me for a second, still chuckling. “Now that’s not very nice,” he scolded, wagging a finger at me.
“I hate you!” I yelled in response.
James put a hand to his chest. “Now that’s really not very nice. Why should I help you when you’re calling me names?”
“Because if you bloody don’t get me bloody down from here I’m going to snap this bloody broomstick in half and you’re going to be stuck with a murder charge and no Keeper this season!” I screeched, shutting my eyes and clinging tighter to the broomstick.
“Fair enough,” he shrugged as he flew over to me. He stopped a fair distance away, however, and watched me for a second longer. “Alright so here’s what you do—“
“I don’t want a bloody lesson, Potter! Just get me down!”
“Seriously, Serena.” He said in the most serious voice I had heard him use in the past hour. “This probably will happen during a game. You need to know how to flip back over again. So listen to me carefully. I want you to try a basic roll.”
“I’d like to roll your body up and shove it up your—“
“Okkkaayyy…” James cut in, chuckling at my colorful use of words in my anger. “Normally what you would have wanted to do is a Sloth Grip Roll, which takes you all the way around. Chasers use this to dodge Bludgers, but it would work just the same if you’re losing your balance.”
He paused, taking a good look at me. If blood rushing to my head hadn’t already turned my face as red as it could go, I probably would have blushed.
“Alright well…you’re going to have to loosen up that death grip you’ve got going on.” He told me bluntly.
“How in Merlin’s name do you think I’m going to do that?” I snapped, starting to get a migraine.
“Down kitty,” he teased. “Just slowly go from that full-arm thing you’re doing to just holding the broom in your hands.”
I did what he asked slowly, finding it to be a miracle that I didn’t just fall off and die right then and there.
“Good job, Serena.” James praised, nodding. “Now watch me.” He flipped upside down on his broom, causing me to squeak in alarm. He chuckled. “Don’t worry; I’ve been doing this for years.” He adjusted his grip a bit. “Now you need to throw your weight back and forth until you gain enough momentum to flip back over.” He began swinging back and forth, making me nauseous watching his movements. “Got it?” he asked once he had flipped back over.
“Easy for you to say…” I muttered, beginning to shift my weight from side to side. After a bit I had gained enough swing-power (as I liked to call it) to flip back over. Just my luck, it seemed, that I had swung back over too hard and ended up right back where I started…
James almost collapsed in a fit of laughter at my expense, causing my stubborn self to shoot daggers in his direction even though I knew it was kind of funny.
“Shut up,” I told him, beginning to swing again. This time I closed my eyes before I tried to flip up, afraid I would just land right back where my broom apparently preferred I be. When I opened my eyes, however, everything was right back where it was supposed to be. I punched the air. “Yes!”
“Congrats.” James smiled at me.
“Oh, shut up.”
“I wonder what James is up to…” Remus thought out loud, taking another bite of his dinner.
Sirius glared at his pumpkin juice as he took another swig. “Probably back at the dorms by now. Or, more likely, the Room of Requirements.”
“Oh come off it, mate,” Remus sighed. “Serena would never do that.”
Sirius shrugged. “We don’t really know her.”
“No,” Remus corrected. “We do know her. You just choose to think we don’t because you don’t want to believe that she’s with James right now. And she’s not that kind of girl, Sirius.”
“That girl you ran into on the first day?” Peter piped up, tapping Sirius on the shoulder.
“Yes, her,” Remus replied, keeping his eyes on Sirius. “Let it go, mate. You don’t know what they’re doing and you don’t even know if they’re together right now! Stop making assumptions.”
Peter was completely lost, not having any real idea about what was going on. He sat, eating his sandwich with a confused expression painted on his face.
“But we know James.” Sirius pointed out.
“But James doesn’t like her.” Remus replied.
Sirius stared at him, slowly raising an eyebrow. “Yeah?”
Remus faltered, remembering how James had put his arm around Serena in the hallway going to Study Hall and how he was making a habit of whispering in her ear whenever they were together.
“Why do you care what James thinks about some girl?” Peter chimed in, shoving a forkful of key lime pie in his mouth. His face was now painted with curiosity as he listened keenly into their conversation.
Now it was Sirius’s turn to falter, his mouth opening, shutting, and then opening again. “I don’t,” he finally settled on, looking down at his plate and taking a bite out of a butter roll.
“Flacking,” James repeated, grabbing my hand and shoving it through one of the rings. “Flacking causes a penalty.”
“Flacking,” I repeated. “I remember that.”
“Good,” James nodded. “Okay now let’s try a Double Eight Loop.”
“That sounds semi-painful.” I commented, but didn’t ditch the idea. Sometime in the last hour or so he and I had come to a sort of mutual understanding of sorts. Not spoken, though, it was just kind of known.
“All you have to do is cover all three hoops by flying in a figure-eight. Really fast.”
“Oh is that all?” I cocked an eyebrow, a smirk tugging at the sides of my lips.
Catching onto my sarcasm, James chuckled. “You really are the most insufferable person I have ever had to train.”
I looked at him in an “oh really?” sort of way. Deciding it was better to just do what he says now and fight him later, I readied myself for the new trick.
“Fly in a figure-8, that’s it.”
I stared to fly, realizing how incredibly difficult it was now after a day of nauseating training. After two spins in the Double Eight Loop formation, I began feeling more and more dizzy, and I couldn’t figure out which way was up so I could level out.
“Oh Merlin,” I huffed before my eyes rolled back, the world fading out as I heard James call my name.
“Oh she’ll be quite alright,” I heard a female voice say. “She only fainted. I don’t know how I haven’t had more quidditch players in here already. She’s the first all year. It’s a good thing you caught her before she hit the ground, though…”
A familiar deep chuckle rang out around wherever I was. “I have your word?”
“Of course!” the woman relied. Jars opened and closed, along with the sound of a door being shut. “I wouldn’t want to ruin such a great surprise. It’s been a while since Gryffindor has had such a female prodigy on their team. Good luck, Mr. Potter. And I don’t want to see her in here again, you got that?”
James laughed again. “Of course, thank you Madam Pomfrey.”
I blinked my eyes against the bright white of the room, noting that somehow I had gotten to the Hospital Wing. I took a deep breath and pushed myself up into a sitting position. Somehow I seemed to be completely unharmed after my fall.
James looked back at me, smiling when he noticed I was awake. “You gave me a right good scare there, mate.”
“Don’t worry,” James replied. “I caught you before you hit the ground.”
“How comforting,” I muttered. I paused, adding, “Thanks.”
“No problem,” he said with a smile. After a second he added, “It’s my job to make sure you don’t die playing quidditch.” He paused again. “So, you know, I don’t have to find another Keeper.”
Way to turn a good thing bad, I thought, frowning in my head. You just had to go and add that, didn’t you?
“Anyway, we better get you out of here before people figure things out.” James said after a moment.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
I swung my legs over the side of the bed, pushing myself tentatively up from the mattress. James looked like he wanted to step forward, but he kept both feet firmly planted with an odd look on his face, like he was regretful.
Regrets: Something the Gryffindor quidditch captain wasn’t supposed to have or even know the definition of.
Once I got used to my land-legs, I grabbed my bag off the end table, throwing the strap over my shoulder. “Let’s go,” I told him, starting off toward the hospital wing’s double-doors. “Or,” I added. “I could give you a two minute head start if you would rather nobody saw us walking together.”
James gave me a funny look. “No, I think I’ll live.” He chuckled. “My reputation won’t be damaged by taking on a charity case.”
I balled my hand up into a fist, slugging him in the shoulder. “I just hope mine won’t be damaged by walking with someone as pompous and egocentric as you.”
James smirked. “No, I think you’ll be okay.”
“Really?” I probed, my lips twitching into a smile. “Because you know how much I care about my reputation.”
“Oh, yes,” James replied. “And don’t you worry, Serena, I would never do anything to damage it.”
“Likewise,” I chuckled.
A/N: Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this chapter :) PLEASE RATE/REVIEW!! :D I love you all! And thanks to all of my new, and amazing, readers!! Thanks everyone!
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