Chapter 6 : In which the Claws play the Puffs
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Coraline Darcy: secretly crushing on a certain Weasley we all know and love.
‘It’s come!’ I say, rushing into the Ravenclaw change room, presenting my new broom to my teammates.
I gave in and finally wrote my parents about me being on the quidditch team. As it turns out, my little brother, Hugo, had already written and my dad had gone ahead and bought me a brand new broom. A Starclimber to be exact, best broom on the market.
Amelie is the only one who is enthusiastic about this though, everyone else is moping about, slightly catatonic, all mentally preparing for our first match of the season. The sight of the Starclimber resting in my arms gives our captain the strength to give us a pep-talk.
‘This is it, ladies. The defining moment in our quidditch careers. Today is the day where we step out on that pitch and show those blokes what we’re made of! We’re girls, dammit! We can do anything!’ She cries, slamming her fist into her open palm. ‘Let’s go out there and kick some Hufflepuff tail!’ She kicks open the door to the change room and marches out onto the grassy field, raising her arms in acceptance of the cheers and shouts thrown her way. The others follow after her warily.
I quickly change into my quidditch kit, forcing myself to focus on what I’m doing rather than the impending quidditch match. The blue of the jersey is faded and the bronze lettering (which spells Denth, the name of a past Ravenclaw, and not Weasley) is peeling. The padding for my arms and legs is beginning to fall apart, currently held together by spello-tape. I plan to ask Amelie if we can get new some new team kits. Running my hand down the length of my broom, I breathe deeply for a moment, pushing all thoughts of losing out of my head. This is it.
The Ravenclaw house is known for their brains and their respectability, but there is something else that they’re rather proud of: their spirit. It seems that the entire house has turned up to see us play.
My teammates are flying around, battling for airspace with the Hufflepuffs. Amelie is doing laps around the pitch with Ruth and Ida, and Coraline is on the ground stretching her arms. Mariah is hovering close by, talking to a boy I know to be Rhet Davies, and near them Nell appears to be pretending to hit the Hufflepuff captain with a beaters bat while his attention is on his seeker.
I gulp nervously. I hope that Amelie’s tactic isn’t a failure.
I throw my leg over my broom and grip the handle tightly, the only thought on my mind being: speed. The only thing I can hear is the wind wailing in my ears and pulling at my clothes. In a matter of seconds I'm already flying high above the stands. There is a thunderous roar from the Ravenclaw crowd when they see me take off, all of them wondering how talented I am at quidditch. I dive and roll to please them, then spot my cousins sitting in the stands. James is sitting with his feet propped up on the seat in front of him, note-pad resting in his lap and quill scribbling furiously. He looks up for a second and I blow him a kiss. He scowls and jabs his quill into the ink bottle that Fred is holding.
Coach Wood steps out onto the field and waves for us to come down.
‘It’s the first match of the season, let’s make it a good one.’ He says, staring each of us in the eye. ‘No playing dirty – I don’t want anyone in the infirmary after this.
Captains, shake hands.’ Amelie and Klause McLaggen step forwards, locking hands and eyes. Neither wants to be the one to look away and in the end Wood breaks them apart, sending Amelie to her goal posts and McLaggen to the sky. The rest of the players join them. Wood waits a moment for everyone to be settled, then throws the quaffle up and blows his whistle.
The chasers jump into action, Coraline catching the quaffle first and heading into a steep incline, dodging Davies as he flies about, looking for the snitch. My friend levels out with the opposing goal posts and faces off with the Hufflepuff keeper.
‘Darcy takes a shot!’ The announcer, some young Gryffindor, cries. ‘Misses! The quaffle rebounds and now Clark has it! Hufflepuff in possession, heading into Ravenclaw territory. Clark passes to McLaggen – intercepted by a bludger from Affey! McLaggen drops the quaffle and Dortan has it now, passing to Darcy – she takes another shot – it's good! Twenty points to Ravenclaw!’
I reach out for a high-five from Coraline as she passes me and continue scanning the area for the snitch, while keeping an eye on Davies. Forty points to us and twenty to them later, I’m still nowhere closer to catching the snitch.
‘Hey, Weasley.’ Davies calls out to me, speeding up to keep pace with my broom.
‘What do you know about Mar-Affey? What kind of a girl is she?’
‘I wouldn’t know, why do you ask?’ I raise a brow at the fifth year, watching as the light skin of his cheek reddens a little.
‘No reason.’ He says, then contradicts himself. ‘I’m curious about her. She’s different from the other girls in my year.’
‘Different... how?’ I ask. What has our little Mariah done to attract the attention of this Hufflepuff?
‘Different... good. I guess.’ He replies. ‘Nevermind. It doesn't matter.’ He tilts his broom upwards and speeds away, his gaze resting on one of the blue and bronze beaters below.
Interesting. It seems that Amelie’s tactic worked. Well, for one of them at least. As I fly by McLaggen, I hear him instructing his beater to ‘take down Dortan by all means possible’. But Nell is an amazing flyer and manages to avoid every bludger hit her way.
At one hundred to eighty, for us, Coraline soars past me.
‘Amelie wants you to take out Davies – trick him or something. I think that she’s getting worried that the Puffs are catching up.’ She tells me. ‘Try the feint she showed you.’
I slow down and allow everyone in the stands to get an eye of what I’m doing, then suddenly plunge downwards.
‘It seems that the Ravenclaw seeker has spotted the snitch!’ The announcer yells. ‘Davies follows close behind, but Weasley’s broom is too fast for him – Merlins pants! Is that a Starclimber?’
Diving, diving, diving down – the wind whips at my jersey and hair as it slips from its ponytail. Just a few feet from the ground I pull to the left and up into the sky.
‘Davies’s down!’ Is heard amplified through the stadium. ‘Excellent feint performed by Weasley of Ravenclaw. But the Hufflepuff seeker isn’t out yet, he’s getting back on his broom! Bloody hell – he must have broken a bone at the speeds he was going!’
A crack sounds at the other end of the feild, echoing ominously.
‘Bludger by Hufflepuff beater Boot, and Affey is down!’
There are gasps and boos from the spectators, but before I can turn to see what has happened to our youngest player, a glint of gold catches my eye. The snitch! I lean forwards and speed in the direction of the Hufflepuff goal posts, where the golden orb is circling aimlessly. It senses me approaching and spirals upwards with me in hot persuit. As I’m chasing after it, I lose touch with the outside world. It's just me and my broom and the snitch, locked in a battle of speed and agility. I hear the blood rushing in my ears, feel the wind pulling at my clothes, smell the sweat leaking from my body, see the small gold ball, always an inch out of my reach.
My fingers finally curl around it, my skin crawling from the tiny wings brushing against my palm, and I taste victory.
For a moment I don’t even realise that I’ve caught it. It’s just a little metal orb trying to escape my grasp, and then it hits me.
‘Weasley has caught the snitch! 150 points, and the game, to Ravenclaw!
We did it. We won.
‘Mariah!’ Someone is calling. The noise echoes around in my head, worsening my headache. I want to tell them to shut up, but my mouth is dry and my lips seem stuck together. I part them after much effort, revelling in the cold, musky air that rushes down my parched throat and into my lungs.
‘Mariah!’ They cry again, and there is more than one voice calling this time.
‘Bloody hell.’ Is all I say as I open my eyes to find a jumbling group of girls surrounding me. I blink a few times to be sure that I’m seeing straight, then recognise my quidditch team.
‘Bloody hell is right!’ Amelie sighs, seeming relieved. ‘You were out cold!’
‘Hit with a bludger in the head.’ Nell tells me, helping me to sit upright on the hospital bed. ‘Really nasty. Good thing that you were only twenty feet above the ground.’
I scoff. Twenty feet? No wonder my body aches so much.
‘But we still won the match! Rosie caught the snitch just after you went down.’ She continues. Our seeker smiles in an embarrassed manner and I smile back.
‘Anyways, we’ve got a raging party going on in the common room to get to–’ I give Nell a look and she waves her hand at me. ‘Well, as raging as a Ravenclaw party can get. But Pomphrey says that you can't come!’
‘And for a good reason!’ Rose argues. ‘Mariah cracked her skull and broke several other bones from her fall! She's in no state to celebrate.’
‘Well put Miss Weasley,’ The school nurse says, appearing behind my teammates. ‘Miss Affey needs her rest. I allowed you to stay until she awoke, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave.’
The girls grumble for a moment, then wave goodbye, promising to come by the next morning to pick me up.
Mme Pomphrey returns to her office and the person in the cot next to me stirs.
‘Is she gone?’ They ask, and I turn to see Rhet Davies peering out from under the covers.
‘Yes, what are you doing here?’ I ask, looking around quickly.
‘Weasley pulled a feint. I fell for it.’ He scowls. ‘Do you remember this, or where you out by this point?’
‘That’s actually what put me out. You distracted me and Boot took his chance.’ I say, trying to move my pillow into a more comfortable position.
‘Oh?’ Rhet asks in an odd voice. ‘And do you find this–’ He whips back the starchy sheet and strikes a ridiculously provocative pose. ‘Distracting?’
He’s only wearing his underwear.
Yes. It's incredibly distracting.
‘What on earth are you doing Mr Davies?’ Mme Pomphrey saves me, interrupting and keeping me from replying. ‘Stop bothering Miss Affey, she needs her rest.’ The ageing woman doesn't bat an eye as Rhet’s rather undressed state comes into her view, she simply pushes him down on the bed and proceeds to try and tuck in the sheets so tight that he can’t move. He fights her with every tuck, and in the end, she lets him have his way and he rolls on his side to look at me under the mediwitch’s arm.
He quirks his eyebrow at me and I crinkle my nose in reply.
‘Alright, Miss Affey, as long as you take these two potions, I’ll let you leave tomorrow morning without a fight. One is a speed growth elixir that will quicken your recovery. The other is a pain reliever is needed due to the fact that effects of the elixir are quite painful.’ She holds up a small bottle with blue liquid inside, and another with brown. ‘A side effect of the pain reliever is memory loss, but it's only temporary.’
I crinkle my nose again, but allow her to uncork the bottles and pour the foul liquids down my throat. The elixir burns its way down and the reliever numbs everything. The ache subsides and exhaustion takes over.
The witch says something to Rhet and then returns to her office, closing the door with a loud click.
I'm just about to give into my exhaustion when I hear the cot next to me creak and a pair of feet hitting the floor.
‘Hey Mariah?’ Rhet asks, whispering in my ear. It registers in the back of my mind that he's not wearing any clothes, but I don't really notice.
I make a grunting noise back at him. Attractive.
‘Good, you’re still awake. I just figured that since, you know, you’re not going to remember this for a while, I could tell you–’ There’s the sound of him running his hands through his hair. ‘Well, I have to do it now – I’m not a bloody gryffindor, I don’t have courage sweating off me in buckets–’ His sigh tickles the skin on my neck and I vaguely wonder how close he is. ‘Eh, bad mental image. Don’t – what I mean is: I like you Mariah Affey. A lot.'
Mallory comes to pick me up the next morning, throwing her arms around my neck and declaring how terribly worried she was. Rhet watches the exchange with a crooked smile before parting with one of his teammates.
Throughout the day I can’t shake the feeling that I’m forgetting something.
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