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Chapter 4 : Chapter 4
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It was early October when I walked outside and noticed Gryffindor Quidditch try-outs going on. I strolled over and sat in the stands, watching as Albus tried desperately to quiet the queue of people lined up.
“People, please!” He seemed to be pleading. I grinned, and watched as Dominique took over. She conjured a megaphone and managed to order the potential players into groups according to which position they were trying out for, and then handed the megaphone to Albus.
He made the Chaser-wannabes circle the pitch first. I frowned as a couple of first years fell off their brooms, and a second year ducked to avoid them. One falling first year boy caught the second year on the shoulder and they both went down. The second year should have used a roll instead of a duck. He would have avoided the fall.
Next the Chasers took turns trying to score on the Keepers. This method got him a Keeper, Nathan, and three Chasers, Dominique, Aidan, and a fifth year named Sam.
After that, the Chasers and Keepers staged a game, and the Beaters took turns trying to hit them with Bludgers. Albus picked two girl Beaters, Rae Anderson and Marianna Matthews. Seeker tryouts weren’t needed, since Albus was Seeker.
After everybody cleared off the pitch, Albus noticed me in the stands, and trekked up to my seat. “Hey,” He greeted, looking a bit out of breath. The tip of his nose was red, as was mine, I was sure. It was October in Scotland, after all, and quite nippy.
“Hi,” I responded. “Good job today, out there.”
“Thanks,” He said, smiling at me. “I think it went pretty well. I found everyone alright, anyways.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Except for—” I hesitated, not quite sure how to put what I was about to say. “When Rae hit that Bludger at you—you could have dodged it with a sloth grip roll or a dive. Ducking or dropping on a broom is slower, and that’s why it hit you.”
Albus stared at me with raised eyebrows. “How do you know that?” He asked.
I shrugged. “I used to be the strategist for the Salem team. It was no big deal. I like Quidditch, just not playing it, so that seemed to be the perfect job for me. I was good at it—er, at least, I think I was.” I laughed.
“Well, then,” Albus said, a grin spreading across his face. “Delilah Miller, how would you like to be Gryffindor’s new strategist?”
“Seriously?” I asked. It was one of the few things I actually like doing, being a Quidditch strategist. I was even thinking about it being a career after school. “I would love to! Thanks, Albus!”
“No problem,” He said, grinning at me. “And, Delilah?”
“Yeah?” I asked.
“Just call me Al, okay?”
“I just don’t think putting a first year out on the field is a good idea, even if she is a reserve, Al.” Rae said.
Albus—Al—turned to me. “Delilah? What do you think?”
The Gryffindor Quidditch team and I were sitting at the back table in the library, deciding on the reserves. Well, Scorpius was there too, but nobody seemed to really care. We had shoved two tables together. Al was at the head, and we were all sitting on the sides, so we could better see the list.
“I think she flew well,” I said. “Maybe you could put her as third reserve. That way there’s a small chance she plays.”
“Sounds good to me.” Nathan said, sitting back in his chair.
“Everyone okay with making Elizabeth our Chaser reserve #3?” Al asked. None of us disagreed, although Rae looked a bit put out. Al penned in her name on the list, and then focused on the Beaters.
I heard laughter that wasn’t coming from our table, and glanced up. Rose was chatting with a boy while picking out a book from the shelves. I glanced around the table to see if anyone had noticed. Only Scorpius and Marianna seemed to have. Scorpius’s face was tight and his fist was clenched on the table. Nobody but Marianna and I seemed to have noticed that, either.
Curiosity outweighed the team meeting in importance, and I stood suddenly. “I have to go to the bathroom.” I said. “Scorpius, come with me?”
“I—what? Why would I go to the loo with you?” Scorpius asked.
“I’ll go too,” Marianna said, standing.
“Come on, Scorpius,” I said, grabbing his arm and dragging him out of the library.
“What are you two on about?” Scorpius asked, trying to wriggle out of my grasp. “Why would you want me to take a loo break with you?”
“We need to talk to you.” Marianna said, dragging him into the second floor girls’ bathroom, better known as Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom.
“Another boy?” Myrtle asked glumly. “In my bathroom? Who is it this time?”
“Myrtle, meet Scorpius.” Marianna said brightly. “We just needed to talk to him for a moment. Care to join us?”
I glanced at Marianna in surprise. Nobody like Myrtle. It was like, a rule. Why was Marianna close to her?
“It’s not like I have anything better to do.” Myrtle said gloomily, although she seemed happy to be invited to interrogate Scorpius with us.
“So, Scorpius,” I said, taking my eyes off Myrtle. “You like Rose.”
“Wha—no!” Scorpius blustered.
“Ooh, Rose Weasley?” Myrtle asked in a gossipy tone. “Ron Weasley’s daughter? I knew him, he was Harry Potter’s redhead friend. A mean little boy, he was.”
“Yes, her.” Marianna answered. Then she added to Scorpius, “It’s really obvious, Scorp, you should just admit it now. We’ll get it out of you sooner or later anyway, but we’re trying to help you.”
Scorpius hesitated. I raised my eyebrow threateningly. “Oh, alright. Fine, I like her. But not a lot!” He insisted. “Just—just a bit. It’s not even a crush, really, it’s just—”
“How many freckles does she have?” I asked, cutting him off.
“Twenty one,” Scorpius answered immediately.
“He likes her,” I said, turning to Myrtle and Marianna.
Marianna squealed. “Oh, Scorpius! That’s adorable! You guys are such a great match!”
Myrtle huffed. “Yet another girl who gets a guy. Nobody liked me when I was in school. No—don’t try and comfort me! I know why. Fat Myrtle, ugly Myrtle—I’ve heard them all.”
I felt a little bad for her. “You know, Myrtle, I heard that Peeves has a little thing for you.” I said.
Her cheeks turned opaque and her nose wrinkled in disgust. “Peeves? Ew!” She floated to her toilet and plunged into it headfirst.
“That was really nice of you, Delilah.” Marianna said. “She doesn’t have very many friends.”
I shrugged. “I just felt a little bad for her.”
“Uh, guys?” Scorpius asked. “Can I go now?”
October continued, and Gryffindor’s first Quidditch match was coming up. I continued as Gryffindor’s strategist, and to my dismay, was the target of as many hexes and curses as the rest of the team. It didn’t matter, I dodged them all. But it was scary when you were walking down the corridor and a hex came at you out of nowhere. One time Al had to knock me out of the way to make me avoid sprouting boils for a week, which I found incredibly ironic, since in fourth year, he sent the exact same hex my way and laughed.
At the last practice before the match, I was sitting in the stands with my megaphone, pointing out mistakes and correcting plays. The reserves were playing against the team, which was a wee bit unfair, but they were pretty much evenly matched.
“No, not a roll, you idiot—that was supposed to go to Sam, Dominique, you have to learn to share—Al! Don’t focus on your teammates! Focus on finding the Snitch! That’s what I’m here for! Aidan! Play, for goodness’ sake, don’t just sit around. Do something!” I yelled.
We could be in better shape. But we were still pretty good, and it was Hufflepuff after all. Although, Cinda was an exceptional Seeker. But I wasn’t worried about Gryffindor.
“Wow, Del. You’re like a Quidditch nazi.” Arianna had chosen to come to practice with me, instead of do her homework like Cinda urged her to. At first I didn’t mind—Arianna was usually a good laugh. But sometimes she just got on my nerves. Like now.
“Arianna, if you don’t learn to keep your fat mouth shut, I swear I’ll—”
“You’ll what? Duct tape it shut for me? Good luck with finding the duct tape in a magic school, Del.”
I growled. “Arianna.” And then yelled, “Rae! What was that? If you can’t control a Bludger, then why are you here?”
Rae glared at me. “I’d like to see you try this, Miss Oh-High-and-Mighty-Quidditch-Strategist!”
“If I wanted to play, I’d’ve tried out!” I called back.
Arianna laughed. “I like Rae. She’s the only one that seems willing to stand up to you.”
I glared at her. “Well, as of right now, she’s also the worst Beater on the team. She doesn’t follow plays. She’s too spontaneous. Most of the time she won’t work with Marianna, and when she does, Marianna has to work more than her share to keep up with Rae.”
“You sound like my Elementary school teacher.” Arianna laughed. “‘No imagination, children, for it is the bane of humankind. We must walk in straight lines down the hallway. It is the only way.’”
I snorted. “No wonder you’re such a messed up person.”
Arianna saluted me. “Proud of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me… I’m going to go eat dinner while you’re busy commandeering a team. Slytherin’s going to beat you when they play you. Goodbye.”
“We’ll flatten Slytherin!” I called after her, not taking my eyes off the match.
“Whatever you say, darling!” Arianna called back. I smiled to myself. Even if Arianna was a bit annoying at times, she could be funny.
I glanced to where Al was. I hadn’t watched him in a while. I opened my mouth to correct a roll he just performed, when I heard shouts from Aidan and Dominique on the other end of the pitch.
I looked their way, ready to tell them off, when my eyes widened. I saw the Bludger zooming toward me, but I have off reflexes, and instead of diving away like I should have, I stood there like a deer in headlights, and the Bludger crashed into my right arm.
I stumbled back, letting out a cry of pain, and sinking into a seat in the stands. My right arm hung uselessly at my side. I bit my lip and blinked away the tears of pain that were forming in my eyes.
“Delilah!” Everybody on the pitch was flying over to me, except Rae, who was wrestling the Bludgers back into the chest.
“Are you okay?” Al asked, leaning over me. His face had a worried expression on it.
“No I’m not bloody okay!” I hissed at him. “My arm is broken. Take me to Pomfrey, you idiots, don’t just stand there!”
No, I’m never in the best of moods when I get injured. Why do you ask?
Aidan and Sam accompanied me up to the Hospital Wing. Through one of the open windows on the way, I heard Al interrogating Rae and Marianna about the rogue Bludger.
When we got to Pomfrey, she mended my arm in a minute after we explained what happened. “Quidditch!” She muttered angrily. “It’s a danger even to the spectators! Why they play the sport, I’ll never understand.”
Sam, Aidan and I exchanged shifty grins at this.
After I was allowed to leave, we traversed to the Great Hall and joined the team for lunch.
“How are you?” Al asked.
“I’m fine,” I said dismissively. He looked relieved that I wasn’t yelling at him again. “Madam Pomfrey mended my arm in about a second.”
“Yeah, well.” Molly said. “Magic.” We all snorted into our food at this.
I didn’t ask Marianna or Rae who’s Bludger it was, but I suspected Rae. Marianna was a better aimer than Rae, while Rae had the strength to make the Bludger go far. That’s why Marianna was offence and Rae defense. I think it was an accident on Rae’s part, but it didn’t hurt that I had just yelled at her, either.
“So, Delilah,” Dominique said, finishing up her soup and wiping her mouth daintily. “Any advice for us? Criticism? Critiquing?”
“You know those all mean the same thing, right? You could have just said criticism.” Sam said.
“Shut it, you.” Dominique ordered, cuffing him over the head. “Cheeky little fifth year.”
“Yes, I do have some criticism.” I interrupted. “Dom, you need to share the Quaffle. Your fellow Chasers can make shots too. Sam, be more aggressive about it. If you don’t communicate with Dom, she won’t know to pass it to you. Aidan, I’ve told you a million times, do something. Don’t just fly around like an idiot.” I took a deep breath. The Chasers, of the whole team, caused me the most problems.
“Rae, you need to focus on defense. I know you want to hit Bludgers at people, but Marianna has better aim than you do, so she’s on offence. I mean, if you see an opportunity, go for it, but you are defending people from getting hit off their brooms. You’re stronger than Marianna is; defense is where your skill sets are landing you. Marianna, not bad. You need to focus on the game, not just the Bludgers, though. You almost ran into Aidan when he was trying to score. That could cost us ten points.”
I turned to Al and Nathan. “Nathan, you tend to hover to your right too much. Either stay at the center hoop or fly around the hoops, I don’t care which. Also, when you’re in possession of the Quaffle and need to throw it back to the Chasers, try to throw it at a Gryffindor. I know you’re not meant to aim, but that could really give us an advantage. Al, you’re pretty good, just know that it’s obvious to the rest of us when somebody is shadowing you, but you never notice. Either feint a lot or be more observant.”
I took a deep breath. “That’s it.”
It wasn’t as bad as a couple weeks ago, when our team was just beginning. We were all over the place, flying left and right with no purpose. Now we only have a few weak links, and even those links aren’t that weak.
I personally thought we were in pretty good shape for the match.
“Okay, guys. Just—er—go out there and do your best—and uh—win—”
I rolled my eyes at Al’s failed attempt at a pep talk. I pushed him out of the way and faced the team.
“Look, guys. We’ve been training for this. We’re better than Hufflepuff. They’re good, but we’re better. We have three amazing Chasers—” Aidan wolf-whistled and Dominique hit him. “—two extraordinary Beaters—” Rae rolled her eyes. “—one Keeper who’s never let us down yet—” Nathan blushed. It was true; he’d not missed a save since we started practicing. “—and an awesome—and that fact that he’s famous doesn’t hurt either—Seeker.” Al glared at me, and I smiled and waved in his direction. “How could we not win?”
There was a few minutes of silence, before Aidan stood up and stretched. “That was good, Del, but I’m still not moved. Try again.”
I glared at him. “Get on the pitch, you. I’ll be watching from the stands. Good luck.”
I trooped out to the Gryffindor side of the stands. I found Rose, Athena, and Molly at the very top, saving me a seat.
“Thanks!” I yelled over the cheering.
“No problem!” Rose yelled back. “How are they?”
“They’re fine!” I shouted. “Not even nervous!”
Then we stopped talking, because the teams were in the center of the pitch and the commentator—Hugo Weasley—was announcing the teams.
“And on the left-hand side of the field—that’s my left, for whoever was about to contradict me—we have the Gryffindor Lions! Captain Albus Potter, playing Seeker, is trying to live up to his older brother’s legacy—take it from me, Al, that’s pretty impossible—” Hugo laughed and Al glared up at the commentator’s box.
“For the Chasers we have fifth year Sam Fogarty—hi, Sam—and seventh years Dominique Weasley—hi, Dom!—and Aidan Clarke. For the Beaters we have two girls—that’s quite unusual—sixth year Rae Anderson and seventh year Marianna Matthews, and last but not least, we have the Keeper, Nathan Jones! Give it up for the Gryffindor team!”
I laughed and cheered, while Rose glared up at where her brother was sitting. “I swear I’m going to kill him.” She muttered. “I hate the way he commentates. He’s not impartial at all.”
“Like you could do any better, Rosie.” Molly laughed, elbowing Rose.
I turned my attention back to Hugo.
“And, on the right-hand side of the field, we have the Hufflepuff Bumblebees! Ouch—sorry, Professor, I’m sorry! On the right-hand side of the field we have the Hufflepuff Badgers—which is a whole lot worse than bumblebees if you ask me—with team Captain Alyssa Hoffman, playing Chaser. She hasn’t achieved anything worth saying so far—ouch, Professor—are you sure that isn’t some form of abuse?”
I laughed when I saw that McGonagall was holding a rolled up newspaper that she was hitting Hugo with repeatedly.
“Anyway, the team Captain Alyssa Hoffman, is playing Chaser, and is also captain of the gobstones club, which I didn’t even know existed anymore. Her fellow Chasers are Greg Iven and Belladonna Smitt. The Beaters are Teagon Wilkes and Quinton Grigsby. Playing Keeper we have Addison DeLancey and playing Seeker we have Lucy Weasley—I didn’t know you could fly, Luce!”
“I didn’t either,” Molly said, marveling at her little sister.
“The Captains are shaking hands—Hooch is throwing the Quaffle—aand Gryffindor in possession! Dominique Weasley flying toward the Hufflepuff end of the field—passes to Sam Kinzel to dodge that nasty Bludger hit by Teagon Wilkes—Kinzel passes to Aidan Clarke—Clarke to Dominique—aand Dominique scores! Ten-nil Gryffindor!”
I sighed. Dominique had ended up scoring in the end, but at least she hadn’t monopolized the Quaffle.
“Hufflepuff in possession—Hoffman dodges a Bludger sent by Matthews—passes to Iven—who passes to Smitt—Smitt to Iven and—OH, Dominique stole that one right from under his nose, good job Dominique!”
“Go!” I screamed. “Score! Go!”
“Delilah, calm yourself!” Rose said, glancing at me. I turned red.
“Gryffindor in possession—Dominique dodges a Bludger sent by Quinton Grigsby—aand Grigsby doesn’t see a Bludger sent by his own teammate—Grigsby is out of the match, folks—thank you, Wilkes!”
Wilkes was turning red up in the sky, and Hoffman was shouting herself hoarse. DeLancey didn’t even notice Aidan score a goal, she was so furious with Wilkes.
“Twenty-nil Gryffindor—Gryffindor in possession, Kinzel is zooming down the pitch—he’s riding a Firebolt360, no wonder—he shoots, HE—ah, he gets hit with a Bludger. Ah, well. Next match, Sam.”
Rose was covering her eyes as Sam fell to the ground. Molly gasped, and even Athena, who had been fairy unresponsive the entire match, blanched when he hit the ground. Madam Pomfrey rushed out with a stretcher and waved her wand. Sam was levitated to the Hospital Wing, where Pomfrey would attend to him after the match.
The next hour was good and bad for Hufflepuff and Gryffindor. We were both a player down. Wilkes suddenly found himself having to zoom across the pitch to protect his teammates from Marianna’s Bludgers. Aidan and Dominique found themselves having to work extra hard to keep the Quaffle in possession after Sam was out of the game. In the end, when Hugo announced that Albus had found the Snitch, it was 120-80 Gryffindor.
Lucy really didn’t stand a chance. Albus had clearly inherited skills from his father, and he was closer to the Snitch when it was spotted. Lucy tried, but Albus dove easily and caught it, which resulted in the final score being 270-80, Gryffindor.
Albus dismounted his broom and held up the Snitch triumphantly. Rose, Molly, and I were cheering loudly in the stands. Athena was clapping stoically and smiling, but I got the feeling Quidditch matches weren’t really her scene. The team ran towards Albus, hoisted him on their shoulders, and made for the Gryffindor Tower.
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