Chapter 20 : chapter.twenty – Adrenaline.
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I don’t care what I said before – I love Quidditch. Standing here, in the middle of the Quidditch Pitch, with all of the screaming students and frantic energy and determination…it’s intoxicating. Exhilarating. It kind of makes me want to jump on my broom and just…go. Fly. Because right now, in an atmosphere like this, flying is the only thing that could even come close to the feeling.
My head snapped around towards the words, and I grinned at Blondie, who was flexing his beater’s bat like a pro.
“Actually, no,” I yelled over to him truthfully.
He raised an eyebrow, but grinned at me anyway. “Exciting, isn’t it?” He asked, now moving on to neck exercises.
I couldn’t help the huge beam that spread over my face. “Incredibly.”
He sighed and dropped his arms to his sides, looking out over the wave of students with an awed expression on his face. “One thing I promise you,” he called, “is that you’ll never get used to this!”
I laughed incredulously, drunk with the pure adrenaline throbbing through the air. “I hope I never do!”
“Alright bud,” Burly said from behind me, patting my shoulder to get my attention away from Blondie and to him, “listen up. The Hufflepuff team’s beaters are clearly going to target you. You’re the lightest, newest at flying, and the Seeker. So just don’t do anything crazy, and I’ll stick by you to whack these things away. Got it?”
…and reality comes crashing down.
“What?” I squeaked.
“Will you stop scaring her?” Blue Eyes snapped, appearing next to Burly and hitting him over the back of the head. “Don’t listen to him, Ree, just do your thing, alright?”
I stared between them, eyes wide and apprehensive. “They’re going to target me?!”
“’Course they are,” Hugo stepped into the ever-expanding circle of thoroughly unhelpful Quidditch Boys, shrugging nonchalantly as though it was no big freaking deal that I was being bloody targeted by Quidditch-driven blokes with bleeding bats. “You’re the Seeker,” he said easily, as an explanation.
“What?” I squeaked again, though at a higher pitch. “I did not sign up for this! This situation does not float my boat, mister! I refuse to fly around like some bleeding target sign, waiting for testosterone-driven freaks to swing huge balls at me –”
“I love it when she gets like this,” Burly said gleefully, “It’s always so entertaining.”
I wrenched the bat out of his hand and smacked his arm with it. Almost immediately, a wave of laughter shot through the spectators, and I flushed when I realized that the entire school was watching me right now.
“Shut it,” I muttered when Burly smirked at me, completely unaffected by my hit.
“Hey guys, you ready?”
My heart jumped as Al stepped into the circle next to him, his hand placed almost nonchalantly on my shoulder. I gulped down the immediate response to blush, stutter, or do something equally embarrassing in front of him.
Instead, I managed a very charming, “Blergh.”
I’m so sexy it should be made illegal, seriously.
“Well, we were all doing fine until these idiots came along and freaked out the Seeker,” Blondie said, shooting dark looks at the boys.
Al turned to me, and I tried to force my terrified deer-in-the-headlights expression into a charming smile.
Once again, why do I even try? I look like bloody Bambi’s demented long-lost cousin in the face of a hunter’s rifle.
Oh yeah, I belong in Gryffindor. Where brave dwell at heart. Definitely.
“Hey,” Al nudged my shoulder a bit. “You’ll be brilliant. You know exactly what you’re doing. And honestly, I didn’t want to say this before just in case you slacked off, but you’re loads better than their Seeker.”
I turned to him. “I’d have believed you about ten minutes ago. Before I found out that they’re targeting me with their bludgers.”
Al muttered something under his breath that sounded like a curse. “You’ll be fine, you have Scottie and Nicky.”
“Actually,” Blondie piped up, “we’ve assigned Scottie to Ree, and I’m gonna be all over the place. So the rest of you lot, dodge as best as you can, yeah?”
“Yeah!” Al chirped out enthusiastically before anyone could agree, “you have Scottie, Ariadne.”
I looked at Burly. He gave me a creepy grin and wink, twiddling his fingers at me in a way that reminded me of every single villainous character in the cartoons that I used to watch as a little girl. This association did not reassure me in the slightest.
Dear Merlin, just kill me now and save me from the pain.
“You trust him, right?” Al asked uncertainly, after catching sight of Burly’s face.
“You’re kidding, right?” I responded numbly. “He looks like he’s going to hand me a poisoned apple in about three seconds!”
Hugo, Al and Blondie laughed appreciatively at this. Everyone else looked distinctly lost.
“I don’t get it,” Burly said stupidly.
Ah, muggle humor.
Madame Hooch blew her whistle. “Teams, get into place!”
My stomach fluttered again, and I gulped down what felt horrifying like vomit. Bloody hell, if I throw up in front of the entire school, I’ll never live it down. I took a deep, steadying breath.
“Hey,” Al said, swiveling me to face him. He squeezed my shoulder and then – and then, oh my bleeding God – he placed a kiss at my hairline. “Kill ‘em, Chase,” he murmured, winking at me once and walking over to Madame Hooch and the Hufflepuff Captain.
I swear my heart just exploded out of my chest.
“Hey, you got this,” Blondie said next, kissing me smack in the middle of the forehead and following Al to stand behind him in line.
“Kick their bloody arses, Ree,” Burly commanded, scooping me into a hug and also kissing my forehead. I was giggling by this point.
“Cheers!” It was Blue Eyes, with another forehead-kiss and wink.
“Make me proud, pseudo-sis,” Hugo said. His forehead kiss was accompanied by a smack to the arse. Somewhere in the stands, both Rose and Scorpius probably just blew a vessel.
So I pinched his cheek and placed a huge, sloppy one on his other one in retaliation. He grumbled and wiped his face off as he took his spot and I grinned victoriously – I’m your big sister, bitch. Show some respect.
“I think you’ll do well,” Dreamy said, shaking my hand politely and taking his spot. I was sporting a huge grin as I took my place, last in line behind him. This was nothing, really – I was going flying with all of my brothers (and Al, my definitely not-brother), and nothing was going to happen to me.
I got this. I can do this. I’m Ariadne Megara-Freaking Chase. I could run away from home at eleven. I could stand up to anyone who’s ever given me crap. I grew up with Scorpius Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake. I’m best friends with Rose Weasley. I laugh in the face of danger!
In short, I can catch a measly little snitch. I eat snitches for breakfast.
Let’s do this shit.
“GOOD MORNING, STUDENTS OF HOGWARTS!” Freddie Weasley called into the microphone. “Today we have a thrilling match, between the Mighty House of Gryffindor!” – the stands went wild. – “And-the-Puffers,” he muttered in at the end. Minnie smacked the back of his head with a stoic expression on her face.
Al and the Hufflepuff captain shook hands at the command of The Hoochster.
“On the Gryffindor side, we have Potter, Royce, Droverly, Cowen, Weasley, Scamander, and… our newest player, first-time Seeker with a fantastic arse from what I can see over here – CHASE!”
My face bloomed red as everyone cheered. It might have been from the arse comment, or maybe it was just the fact that people were cheering for me.
“And then, we have the Hufflepuffs,” Fred said in a vastly disinterested voice. “I haven’t bothered to learn their names. But introducing…the Puff – ow! Minnie!”
McGonagall grabbed the microphone out of his hands after a well-placed slap to the back of the head. “Playing for the Huffepuff team, we have Reese, Barlow, Bautista, Coulter, Anderson, DelRocco, and Dobossy.”
I glanced at Dobossy. He seemed to be trying to intimidate me with a death glare. Mostly he just looked like he was going through severe constipation pains, so I twiddled my fingers at him with a cheery grin and a wink. His eyes narrowed. I blew a kiss. The crowd reacted with amusement, and I remind myself, again, that whatever I did, it was in front of the entire school so I might want to tone down the crazy a bit.
But then I remembered how much effort that takes and decided I didn’t really care anyway.
“Alright, so, the Captains have already participated in the customary boring ritual of squishing each other’s fingers. Hooch seems to be reminding Gryffindor Beater Scott Droverly to play nice once again…personally, if the Puffers aren’t man enough to deal with the bludgers then they really shouldn’t be playing at all – ouch, Minnie! This has to be considered some form of abuse, woman!”
I forgot how funny Fred was, and momentarily grinned up at the vague direction of his voice before realizing that he wouldn’t be able to see me anyway. I’m playing in a Quidditch Game. Right. Of course.
“And Hooch seems to finally be ready…”
I swung my leg over the broom and dug my heels into the ground.
A rush of air, and I was soaring through the air and overflowing with pure adrenaline. It was incredible…it was a miracle how I’d stayed away from this for so long.
Then again, I did very recently learn how to fly. Playing, on the other hand…that might be a bit different.
I glanced over to see that Dobossy was hovering next to me, a big fat smirk on his face.
I sniffed disdainfully, wracking my brains for a suitable comeback.
What a brilliant testament to my outstanding wit.
“You know,” he said, swooping closer. “Part of the game is the manipulation…” he started making small laps around me. “Intimidation.”
“I hope you get dizzy and fall,” I said sweetly.
“I don’t get dizzy, darling. I heard this is your first game,” he continued.
My eyes darted around the pitch as I answered him. “Obviously. Have you ever seen me play up here before?”
“Nervous?” he hissed, leaving my scathing question hanging unanswered.
I glanced over just in time to see Burly whack away a bludger with a loud grunt. It seemed as though the bludger had been aimed at me.
“No,” I lied.
Damnit. First cousins with Scorpius Malfoy and I can’t even bloody lie.
The bludger zoomed towards the Hufflepuff Beater, and I saw a huge, shit-eating grin on his face as he glanced over at me.
“Are you nervous?” I asked Dobossy.
“No, love, I’m not nervous.” He sounded amused, like I’d said something particularly adorable and I reminded him of his puppy back at home.
I grinned. “Well, you should be.”
“And why’s that?”
“You’re about to get beaten by a noob.”
And with that, I swooped towards Burly, Dobossy following suit without a second thought. I sincerely hoped that Burly realized that I was doing in that moment…and just as I flew past him once, the Puffer Beater went apeshit with his bat and the Bludger came hurtling towards me. Or, rather, Burly since he’d jumped in at the perfect opportunity. My eyes narrowed in concentration; I had to time this just right…
I shot in front of him right as the bludger got within a foot of Burly with Dobossy hot on my trail…Burly’s bat swung…and there was a loud, sickening crack!
I glanced behind me. Dobossy looked fifty times beyond pissed as he clutched his arm in pain. Oh, I love when people underestimate me and then I get to prove them wrong in violent ways. I exchanged high-fives with Burly as I swung past him, my broom still slightly wobbly but not noticeable.
“ – I’ve never seen this before! Have you ever seen this before, Minnie?! The Seeker and the Beater did a play together? Is that even normal? Is that even allowed?!” Fred’s voice screamed into focus.
“Mr. Weasley, I can assure you that I neither know, nor do I care. Please continue with your commentary.”
“Aw Minnie, it’s so adorable how you pretend to hate Quidditch. But I saw you betting with Slughorn –”
“If you aren’t going to commentate on the game, rest assured I will take over,” Minnie said primly, and Fred hastily resumed talking about all things Quidditch-related before she carried through with her threat.
Dobossy seemed to be trying to shoot lasers through his eyes to burn me alive at this point, but I merely gave him a vague smile and fly around almost lazily, my eyes sharp on the lookout for the little golden ball. Somewhere in the background, I heard more screams as Hugo saved another shot.
100-80 to Gryffindor. We were winning, but only barely.
And that’s when I saw it. I was shocked at first; the game hadn’t even lasted all of fifteen minutes and I can already see the Snitch? Isn’t this little bugger supposed to be hard to find or something?
But there it was, the little golden ball, hovering anxiously by someone’s foot…Al’s foot…bloody hell, the Snitch is right by Al Potter and I’m still here, staring like an idiot.
I glanced at Dobossy. He was staring off towards the stands.
Okay. Deep breath. Start moving before the Snitch leaves.
I glanced towards Al again. The snitch was making little circles around his foot, almost as though it was attracted to the son of the Boy-Who-Caught-Snitches-Like-A-Beast.
And then I started moving, hoping that Fred wouldn’t yell out and alert Dobossy. My eyes were trained on the little ball as I shot forward, willing Al to stay put, willing the Snitch to stay put, willing Dobossy to continue staring off into the distance…and just as I reached out towards it, the snitch shot upwards. It was now somewhere near Al’s ear.
“Ariadne, what the hell are you doing?” Al asked anxiously, staring down at me.
“Don’t move,” I told him.
“And The Gryffindor Seeker seems to be doing some sort of ritual mating dance around her Captain…I’m not quite sure what…wait! WAIT! BLOODY HELL! I take it back, the Seeker really isn’t a wacko! She’s found the snitch!”
“You’ve found the –” Al asked in bewilderment. I lurched forward and shot my hand out towards his ear, my fingers closing around the smooth metal snitch just as my face stopped inches in front of his.
“Actually, I caught it,” I said with a huge, shit-eating grin on my face.
“You – BLOODY HELL!” And then Al jumped on me. Midair. On my broom.
“SHE CAUGHT THE SNITCH! SWEET MERLIN – I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE CAUGHT THE SNITCH! Well, actually I can, the Hufflepuff Seeker is a bit of an idiot…”
“Gryffindor Wins!” McGonagall screamed into the mike, completely beside herself with glee. “250 to 80, Gryffindor wins!”
“And Minnie seems to have gone off to collect her earnings…”
“You caught the snitch! You caught it!”
“Yes, Al, I caught the snitch,” I laughed.
“I could kiss you right now!” He cried, still refusing to relinquish his death-grip on me.
My mouth fell open. You could kiss me right now? DO IT. DO IT. DO IT.
“I won’t though, don’t worry,” he continued, laughing.
I WAS SO CLOSE. SO BLEEDING CLOSE!
“Ariadne!” Burly screamed, untangling me from Al and picking me up so that he could spin me around a couple of times. “You did it! We won!”
And then Blondie hoisted me onto his shoulders…and the Gryffindors were streaming onto the field and I was smiling and Al looked as though he’d just discovered that the world was created out of candy…and bloody hell, I caught a snitch.
I won a Quidditch Match.
Take that, fates.
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