Chapter 19 : chapter.nineteen - Catch.
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Recently, I have come to realize that I am a rather shit bs-er. In fact, I can’t bs even if my well-being, general sanity, and pride calls for it, so usually I just end up making a complete and total fool of myself.
Funny I should bring this up now, actually…
“Next week?” I repeated again, in a state of incomprehension and shock as I stared at the messy-haired, green-eyed, absolutely gorgeous boy in front of me.
He let out a solemn nod, a slight grimace marring aforementioned gorgeous features. “Our first match is next week, against Hufflepuff.”
Can you please kill me? I want to die. I WANT TO DIE.
“You’re…you’re kidding, right?” I said faintly, still staring at him in a lost, bemused sort of way.
He shook his head. “I think you’ll be ready if you just practice a bit.” But the doubt was evident in his voice.
“Al,” I said in that same tone of voice, “just yesterday, I finally figured out how to fly in a halfway decent manner. And that was only because I was furious and frozen, and really wasn’t thinking about anything.”
He winced slightly. “Yeah…but you just need to practice a bit. You can do it.”
I stared at him some more.
“No. No, Al, I really can’t do it.”
He shoved a hand through his head, and I watched as his gaze travelled around the Common Room as though looking for inspiration. It finally landed on my face and he snapped forward, grabbing me by the shoulders and taking me completely by surprise.
“You can do it,” he said in a low voice, looking at me intently.
I let out a squeaking sound. Bloody hell, he is much too close for me to be entirely coherent right now.
“No,” he shook me slightly, misunderstanding my squeak of attraction for a squeak of denial. Though I don’t really know how anyone would distinguish between the two. They sound rather alike. All…squeaky-ish. “Ariadne, you can do it. We’ll all make it happen. Somehow, we’re going to turn you into a Seeker by next Friday, and you are going to win our match for us, and we’re going to keep pushing forward. Because we’ve all worked really hard for this, and you just need to know you can do it. You’re capable of anything.”
I nodded faintly. Can I please just snog you now? Yeah? Snogging? Sounds like a plan.
“Are you willing to work really hard for this, Ariadne? Please say yes, and I know we’ll do anything to get you to a good position,” He was speaking all earnestly now, staring at me as though his life was in my clumsy hands.
I nodded again. “Yes,” I rasped out. “Yes, of course I’ll do it.”
I’ll also marry you, have your children, and raise your children if you’d like. Anything for you, O Beautiful, Lovely, Caringly Fantastic Bloke.
His face broke into a dazzling grin. “Thank you.” And then – oh my god, stop freaking out, breathe you moron, breathe – he pulled me into a hug.
…and that was promptly when all of my neural synapses completely conked out on me.
CLOSE. PERSONAL. INTIMATE. BODY. CONTACT.
HOLY. SHIT. MUSCLES.
HOLY. SHIT. MANLY. SMELL.
HOLY. BLEEDING. SHIT.
He pulled away before I could continue to mentally freak out, and stepped back from me, holding his palm up. I stared blankly at him, still trying to recover from the major brain fart his hug had initiated.
Shaking his head and laughing, he grabbed my wrist and smacked my palm against his.
I grinned and did it again.
“We got this,” he said, nodding decisively.
Note to self: You are an idiot. Work on fixing that.
My head snapped around towards the sound of my name, then promptly snapped back as something hit my face.
“Bloody hell, ow!” I moaned, grabbing my throbbing nose. I glared at Burly through watering eyes. “What the fuck, you little plonker?!”
“Next time, catch it before it hits your face,” were his kind words in response. I shot him a lovely hand gesture, but he merely ruffled my hair and sauntered away.
No, I don’t understand either.
But I am not pleased.
He will suffer for this.
Grumbling to myself, I stomped off towards Transfiguration – Hello, dearest favorite class! How I have missed you from yesterday, when I had dreadfully boring Potions instead! – and sailed through the door, sure that my nose was Rudolph-Red.
Al grinned at me and I grinned back brightly. Just seeing that smile makes me feel better.
Then he gestured to my nose and I wanted to shoot myself. Actually, I think I’ll shoot Burly. He throws things at me, and besides, I like myself better.
“Hey Ariadne,” Rose said from somewhere to my left.
“Hmm?” I turned towards her just as she threw a rolled-up ball of parchment at my face. It bounced off my already sore nose and fell pathetically to the ground.
I stared at her stonily.
She grinned cheekily. “Catch!”
I am going to kill whoever decided that today was ‘throw-various-objects-at-Ariadne-day’. Honestly, who even comes up with something like that? Bloody sadist.
I ducked wildly as I heard someone come up behind me. And sure enough, a shoe went sailing over my head and hit Danny Hockleburst on the back of his head. Ignoring his yell of indignation, I turned around with a triumphant “HA!”…and the other shoe promptly hit me in the face.
Fucking hell, someone is definitely going to die by the end of the day.
I really hope it’s not me.
Actually, it’d be pretty awesome if it were Sleazy…
“You’re supposed to catch these things!” Al called from across the room. I turned around to send him a disbelieving look – I cannot believe this! He set it up! MY VERY OWN FUTURE HUSBAND WANTS TO KILL ME! OR AT LEAST SERIOUSLY MAUL MY FACIAL STRUCTURE! What is the world coming to?! Doesn’t he realize that if he destroys my face, I will no longer be pretty? How could he be doing this to me? Your true love, Al! YOUR TRUE LOVE.
Just break my heart, why don’t you?
Snap it in half.
This is so upsetting.
“Oi, Ariadne –”
“No!” I screamed, whirling around and hitting the textbook out of my way before it could further injure my face. It landed with a thump on the desk, and Blue Eyes grinned innocently at me before summoning it back to his desk. Blondie was sitting next to him, doing up his trainers and thoroughly ignoring Danny Hockleburst.
“Next time, catch it,” Rose advised from next to me. I shot her a glare. I swear to Merlin I don’t understand these creatures I call friends. They’re absolutely batty, they are. I feel like this could somehow be linked back to me and my own batty-ness, and the fact that insanity spreads.
I’ve caused a rampant disease, it seems.
This is what they get for unleashing me onto the population. Everyone starts going barmy.
I sent her a deadly glare instead of responding, but then promptly stopped to face the front of the classroom as McGonagall sailed in with a loud, “Quiet, please!”
Ah, transfiguration. Something I understand. Something I excel at. I swear to Merlin, if it weren’t for this class, Charms class and Defense, I would seriously start to consider having a brain problem. Alas, my innate stupidity comes from my complete lack of social conduct rather than something school-related.
“How do you do that?” Al asked in frustration from behind me as I turned my needle into a quill, then turned the quill into a little bird, then turned the little bird into a larger bird…and then turned it into a toaster.
I love magic.
I turned around to see that his quill was hooting in a desolate sort of way, and winced. “Er…why is your quill making bird sounds?”
He glared at it. “Because my quill is stupid.”
I took another look at his frazzled expression and allowed myself a brief congratulatory moment in my head (I’m better than Al at something!). “Let me guess, you’re really good at Charms and hate everything about Transfiguration.”
He sighed. “Something like that, yes.”
“Well, Albus,” I said cheerfully, “luckily for you, I happen to be the beastliest Transfig student of the year, excluding the increasingly nerdy Rose Weasley of course,” we both turned to look at her, and she crossed her eyes and made a face when she saw us staring. Meet the Valedictorian of our class, the lovely, poised and mature Rose Luna Weasley. “So I’ll help you out in exchange for your soul and eternal servitude.”
He considered it for a brief moment, stroking his chin deliberately. “Hmm…well, I’d like you to reconsider and possibly take a large box of assorted chocolates and my firstborn.”
Too bad that’ll also be my firstborn. What a bum deal.
“I don’t want your snotty child,” I said haughtily. “The Assorted Chocolates it is!”
“Done!” he exclaimed, grabbing my hand and pumping it up and down.
“Seriously though,” I said flatly, the cheerful grin slipping off of my face and getting replaced by a businesslike expression, “you really have to give me a box of assorted chocolates.”
He grinned cheekily at me. “Catch.”
This time my hand snapped out of his grip and shielded my face just in time to grab whatever he threw at me right out of the air. I gaped at the freakish limb for a solid three minutes.
“Knew you could do it,” Al said proudly.
I grinned. “Yes, yes, we all know how wonderful this all is. I’m holding you to those chocolates.”
He rolled his eyes, “Okay, Ariadne, I’ll get you your bloody chocolates.”
I patted his shoulder. “That is all I ask of you.” (along with your heart, love, hand in marriage, and gamete. We’ll work on those baby steps though). “Now come on, I’ll show you how to do this shit.”
Over the next couple days, I became a catching sensation. I’m serious – I caught things left and right, behind my back and with my mouth, and bounced off my forehead and into my palm…I’d literally turned into some sort of beastly catching master ninja.
It got to the point that whenever something flew near me, my hand would just snap out and snatch it out of the air. It was all rather exciting; I’ve never seen the Quidditch Team look more ecstatic.
(Though, in all honesty, the possessed limbs really sort of freak me out.)
And it was all one step closer to winning the match, getting Al to fall in love with me, and making tons of gorgeous babies to spoil and love.
I’ve always wanted a family like that.
“Hey, Ree!” Scorpius said excitedly, sliding in next to me on the bench. I looked up from the food I was stuffing in my mouth at top speed and nodded at him.
“Attractive,” he complimented, looking at my bulging face. I stretched my mouth into the closest thing to a grotesque smile I could manage. He looked even more disgusted.
Ah well. We can’t all be bursting with feminine wiles. Don’t judge.
“Er, anyway,” Scorpius said, shooting me another look as I swallowed noisily, “Your match is on Saturday.”
“I’m aware,” I said flippantly, reaching over him to snag some mashed potatoes.
“So…are you ready?” He asked, taking my spoon out of my hand and digging in. I glared at him, but he didn’t seem fazed.
“I’m getting there,” I told him elusively. Ha! You’re not getting any Gryffindor Secrets out of me, you…rotten Slytherin! I know what’s going on here. I’m in the loop now.
Look at me, I’m such a ninja.
Double win. Of awesomeness. With nutella on top.
“That’s really great,” Scorpius said genuinely, smiling at me before stuffing another spoonful of mashed potatoes in his mouth. “Get me some of that chicken, will you?”
I sighed and piled my plate with chicken. He immediately started eating it enthusiastically.
“Hi there,” Rose said, dropping a kiss onto Scorpius’ hair and climbing onto the bench at his other side. Scorp grunted into his chicken, which Rose took as a greeting.
She’s always had low expectations and demands.
I mean, seriously, my cousin? Of all the people in this school dying to get into her pants, she chooses Scorpius?
That’s just sad.
“Hey everyone,” Al greeted, climbing onto the bench next to me. Blue, Burly and Blondie took the other side, watching Scorpius with a renewed interest.
“Merlin, that boy sure can eat,” Emma remarked, snagging the seat in between Burly and Blondie, leaving Blue Eyes glaring at his goblet as though willing it to burst into flames and then launch itself at Emma until she snogs him.
“Guilty,” I smiled sheepishly and raised my hand.
Scorpius swallowed his food to flash a grin at the general vicinity of people before stuffing his face again. Well, at least he has some semblance of manners. Kind of. Ish.
“But what I don’t understand,” Rose said, prodding Scorpius’ arm so that he would surface for air again, “is why he can’t seem to eat from his own damn plate.”
Wait for it…
“Food tastes better when it’s not mine,” Scorpius said seriously.
Yes, I actually advertise the fact that I’m related to this person.
Everyone turned to me, as though his weirdness was somehow my fault.
“Don’t look at me,” I said defensively, putting my hands up, “Blame Rose, she’s the one who chose to date him.”
Rose blushed. “It was the nargles. They took over my brain.”
Scorpius huffed and wiped his mouth daintily with my napkin. “You were saying something completely different in that broom closet, when I –”
Rose squealed and stuffed a chicken leg in his mouth, her face now a deep, dark red color.
“When he what?” Burly asked in a seemingly innocent voice, though the huge smirk on his face said otherwise. “Gave you that whopping hickey?”
She was reduced to a little squeaking noise as she slapped her hands over her neck, but not before I caught sight of the bruise.
I groaned and banged my head against the table to dispel the scarring image from my brain forever – as far as I’d like to know, Rose and Scorpius hold hands and exchange chaste kisses on the cheek. AND THAT’S IT SO SHUT UP – as Scorpius laughed loudly and exchanged high fives with the Quidditch boys, including Al and Hugo. Those traitors.
I think it’s kind of sad that all it took was a hickey to create a friendship between these guys, who, up until about three minutes ago, hated each other’s guts.
I will never understand them.
“What are you doing out here yourself?”
I didn’t bother turning around, but saw Al step up next to me from the corner of my eye.
“Just…nothing,” I said softly, closing my eyes and drinking in the pure serenity of the Quidditch Pitch. I’d never really realized how comforting this place was, even in the darkness with its huge, eerie stands and guard-like hoops on either side.
Somehow, the whole place felt regal. Majestic.
And suddenly, I realized why everyone who played Quidditch loved it so much. Everything about the game was about freedom and agility and speed. It was an adrenaline rush, packed into a questionable set of rules and a bunch of nasty cheating teenagers.
“Sometimes it feels good to do just nothing,” Al agreed in a quiet voice from next to me. I smiled into the night air, and shuffled over slightly so that I was standing right next to him. I could feel the wind against my face and the warmth of his body from the right side of me, and nothing could have felt more perfect in the stillness of the dark.
I opened my eyes, turning to look at Al, who had his face tilted up to the stars, a wondrous expression in his star-sprinkled green eyes.
“I never took Astronomy, but I’ve always loved the stars,” he explained, noticing my gaze.
“Me too,” I said, “they make you feel like there’s an entire universe of mysteries and magic.”
“Beautiful,” he agreed in a murmur.
“Can I tell you a story?” I asked, a rush of bravery spreading through me. He looked down at me, his face clear even in the night. A small smile brushed against his mouth.
“It’s…it’s not a really happy story,” I explained, looking down and away from him, fingering a lock of my hair, “but it makes me happy.”
“Why’s that?” he asked.
I smiled to myself, feeling bittersweet. “It comes with a good memory.”
There was a second of silence, then –
“Come fly with me.”
My head snapped up just in time to see Al throwing my broomstick at me – I caught it with a playful scowl – and jumping onto his own, soaring into the night.
“This was supposed to be sentimental, not a bloody flying lesson!” I yelled after him.
“Just get in the air!” he called back.
Stupid attractive bloody little –
I wrapped my legs around the broom and shot off towards him, stopping with a slight wobble of my broom right next to him.
“You’re getting better,” he grinned.
“I’ve been practicing,” I shrugged, a pleased smile spreading over my mouth despite my efforts to remain outwardly unfazed.
“Now, watch this,” he commanded, letting go of the broom and inching forward slightly. His legs dangled free of the supports, and just as I was about to open my mouth and let him know that if he was going to commit suicide, could I please just get inside first because my karma record is bad enough as it is – he lay down.
On his broomstick.
Merlin knows how high up in the air.
Christ, I was joking before, but it turns out this kid really does have a death wish.
“Cool trick,” I said flatly, “how about you get up now, yeah? Before you fall and kill yourself, preferably.”
“I’m not going to fall.”
“Funny, that’s what everyone says before they fall.”
He rolled his eyes. “Just trust me.”
“…and that is what someone would say if they were actually crazy and –”
“Do you trust me?” he cut across, his face serious.
I huffed. He is so unfair. “Of course I trust you,” I muttered.
“Then lie down. I’ll catch you if you fall.”
I hesitated. “Promise?”
Well, good enough for me.
Mimicking his action, I scooted forward carefully until I could properly lay across the handle of my broomstick, the narrow strip of wood cutting uncomfortably into my back for a brief moment – and then, suddenly, the odd, cushion-like support that I usually had under my butt when I sat down spread so that it supported my whole back. And there was no way, really, that I was going to fall unless I physically tried doing so.
I grinned despite myself.
“Told you it’d be okay,” Al said smugly from next to me.
“Shut up,” I told him.
“Can I hear your story now?” He asked. I took a deep breath and looked up at the stars.
“Somewhere in that mass of twinkling lights there’s a constellation that tells a story about a girl, a boy, and a creature that’s some wonky cross between a human and a bull,” I said, searching for the picture that my dad could always find for me whenever I asked.
“Sounds like a heart-touching love story,” Al remarked.
“It’s a real tearjerker,” I quipped, grinning.
“Is the girl hot?”
“Her name is Ariadne.”
“So I guess not.”
I scowled at him. “If I wasn’t afraid of plummeting to my death right now, I would have totally kicked you in the shins.”
He just grinned at me. “Good thing you’re afraid of plummeting to your death right now.”
I pouted. “Now I don’t want to tell you my story anymore.”
“Aw, come on,” he reached his hand out to prod my shoulder, “I was just playing. I really do want to hear it, even if this Ariadne character isn’t hot.”
I laughed. “Actually, she’s a princess. A really hot princess.”
“Really,” he sounded amused.
“It’s Greek Mythology,” I explained, turning my head to look at him. My hair slipped off of my shoulder and swung towards the ground. “It’s supposed to tell a lesson, I think.”
“What’s the lesson?” Al asked me, his face alight with a tender sort of curiosity.
I half-smiled. “I still haven’t figured it out yet. It might not even have a lesson. It might just be a story.”
“My dad used to tell it to me, before he realized I was magical,” I cut across. Al fell silent. For a little while, all we could hear was the cocoon of the night, with its chirping crickets and light wind and that sort of weird croaky sound you get from the frogs by the Lake. I almost didn’t want to break the noisy silence. It was serene, peaceful.
I felt something lightly brush against my hand, and glanced down to see that Al had reached across our brooms to offer me some sort of comfort.
So I did what anyone would do in this predicament. I milked it for all it was worth, reaching out so that I could twine my hand into his. He didn’t let go. Probably thought I was distraught and didn’t want to further break my already fragile heart.
Once again, good enough for me.
“Just so you know,” he said quietly, “they missed out on a really amazing person.”
My lips spread into a stupid grin. Merlin, I love this boy so much it actually hurts.
“A really long time ago,” I started in a voice barely above a whisper, turning my face back up to the stars, “there was this King, and he had a beautiful queen…”
And if someone were to come out onto the Quidditch Field right now, and look up into the circle of the moon, they would see two people on broomsticks – a boy and a girl – lying down, stargazing and murmuring between themselves, connected by their intertwined fingers. That person would probably smile to themselves, thinking that these two people were in love.
Even if we’re not in love, even if this is just friendship and comfort to him, even if he sees me like a little sister just like every other boy in this team – I don’t mind.
Because even though I’ll probably never get him to love me as much as I love him, I’ll have this memory to keep with me like every other good memory I’ve had in my life.
Right here, right now, in this moment.
I have this.
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