Chapter 5 : i know you're wearing thin down to the core
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“Avril, wake up,” I said to my friend as Dom and I stood over the young brunette’s body, which was currently curled up in a little ball, under the covers. I couldn’t believe that Avril, of all people, would still be in bed on what could possibly be one of the most important days of my entire life…
Well, that’s a lie; this was totally something that Avril would’ve totally done, no surprise there, but still, the Hufflepuff vs. Gryffindor had been the most anticipated game since the beginning of the year. And then there was the fact that the value of my entire year depended on the outcome of the game (I still hadn’t told them about the whole ordeal with James and that stupid bet.) But that was beside the point; there was a Quidditch Game today, and Avril still hadn’t gotten out of bed.
“Avril,” Dom said with a stern voice (which meant she really meant business, because she hardly uses that tone), “get you’re arse out of bed right now!”
Avril jumped a little at these words, letting out a soft moan. Dom and I just rolled our eyes.
“Wha,” Avril sleepily said, looking up at the two of us, “What’s going on?”
“What’s going on,” Dom said with her hands on her hips, “is that we’re going to miss breakfast if you don’t hurry up and get going to the Great Hall.”
Avril looked at Dom with a small frown. Her stare was so intense, but you could easily see her mind churning the information. It was quite evident when her facial expression went from confused to shocked. She quickly jumped out of bed, and rushed over to her trunk. Dom and I looked over at each other, sharing our ‘oh Avril’ look as our friend dug to the bottom of her chest, pulling out a simple yellow t-shirt, and jeans. She quickly rushed to the bathroom, and you could hear the faucet going as Avril jumped around, trying to do to many things at once.
We didn’t have to wait long, before Avril came bouncing into the room: her hair was curled, her make-up done perfectly, and her cloths in neat condition. I was amazed at how fast she could get ready; that was always a skill I wished I had possessed.
“Hey, where are Minnie and Ari,” She asked, looking around.
“Minnie said she wanted to go to the library to get some books before the game,” Dom said.
“And Ari said she had some prefect thing to do this morning,” I added.
“Oh,” was all that Avril said as she shrugged and headed towards the door.
“Come on guys,” she said with a quirky smile, “we don’t have all day.”
Dom and I silently followed. Eventually, though, we started talking about the game – strategies that we needed to remember, things to avoid doing, the like. We made our way though the common room and through the entrance to the hallways of the school. We kept going, talking about Quidditch, until we made it to The Great Hall.
“I'm starving,” Dom said as she looked around at all the plates of food. To emphasize it, her stomach gave a loud growl. We couldn’t help but laugh at that, which caused most of the people in the room to stare at us.
We made our way to the Hufflepuff table – my face bright red from embarrassment. However, my embarrassment was completely forgotten when I sat down and saw all the food. I looked at I all, and I didn’t care that I was probably drooling. I always got that like before a game. It was like my body knew I was going to need the extra energy, and so I just over compensated with food.
“God, Sarah,” Dom said with a laugh as she watched me pile all sorts of food onto my plate, “Don’t want you puking all over the Quidditch Pitch, you know.”
I gave her a small glare, but continued to stack.
“Wow Cap’; you must be eating your weight in food, there.”
I looked up, and gave a small smile when I saw the newest Hufflepuff Beater, fourth year Xander Hayes, standing across from me.
“You know,” Dom said as he sat down and reached for the pancakes, “You shouldn’t say that stuff to her; she’ll probably kick you off the team, now.”
Of course, Avril and I knew she was joking, but Dom had said it with such a straight face, I noticed a small frown appear on Xander’s face.
“Oh come on, Dom,” Avril said with a smile, “Don’t joke like that; you’ll scare the poor boy to death!”
Dom turned towards Xander and gave a small smile: instantly the younger boy relaxed, and we all had a nice round of laughs.
The rest of breakfast went on as normally as one would expect; the other two Hufflepuff Quidditch players – Anita Grove and Damien Bennett – eventually came down to breakfast, and well all talked about the day.
Both Anita and Damien were Chasers, and they were actually pretty good; Anita, a fellow fifth year student, was the granddaughter of the famous Chudley Cannons Chaser, Desmond Grove. She had unbelievable talent that had gone in years past. Damien, who was a sixth year exchange student from America, had apparently been a Chaser on his local team back in America, and was well on his way to becoming a professional player – at least, that’s what he tells us. But, he’s actually a good player, and I wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of him being on the team.
Finally, breakfast was over, and we made our way to the Quidditch Pitch. We had about forty minutes until the game started, but I wanted to go through some last minute things before the game.
“So, Fred is the stronger of the two,” I said about the two Gryffindor Chasers, “and he favors the right side. So, try to stay on the left side as much as possible.”
The others only nodded as I talked, coaching them through all the things we had gone over within the past couple of weeks.
“Alright, well, I think that’s it,” I said, looking at the rest of my team, “Now, let’s get changed, get onto that field, and win us a game!”
I let the others go into the respective changing rooms, but I didn’t head in with them. I know I needed to change, but I couldn’t help but be curious as to how many people were out there, waiting. All of a sudden, I felt my stomach churn – I wanted to get out of there, and fast.
Damn it, I had really hoped that my nerves wouldn’t get the best of me. I had been trying to think about anything and everything else in this world, just so my mind wouldn’t hype everything up so much to the point that I would get nervous. Clearly though, that didn’t work.
I took a deep breath, heading out of the locker room and into the entrance of the stadium. I looked through the cracks of the wood, to try get a better idea of how many people were there; I didn’t know why I had done it – I knew it would just make me more nervous – but I did it. I took a large breath in when saw that the stadium was already crowded, even though we still had twenty minutes until the game actually started.
I jumped as the soft whisper hit my ears, catching me by surprise. I turned around, and saw James standing behind me; he wasn’t dressed in his Quidditch attire yet, but he held his broom tightly in his hand.
“Come here to gloat,” I asked as I glared up at him. He gave a small smile – something in between his goofy, trademark grin, and an actual sincere smile – and stuck out his broomless hand.
“I just wanted to say good luck out there today,” he said, “you know, before the game started, and all.”
I looked down at his hand – knowing full well he wanted me to shake it (though I certainly wasn’t planning on doing just so). Something inside of me was just screaming at me to run away, and this was all part of some big joke that he and his friends were going to pull on me at any second. But, for some reason, my brain wasn’t registering any of this. Eventually, after a few moments of silence, he put his hand down, and for some
“So,” he said, “I'm curious; why haven’t you told Dom about the little bet we made?”
“How would you know if I have, or have not, told Dom about our bet,” I rudely responded. He just chuckled.
“She may not like me,” he replied, “but I do know her, after all, she is my cousin. If you had told her about the bet, she’d have tried to kill me by now. Or at least send a dozen hexes my way.”
And, despite all my anger towards him, and everything he and his friends had done to me for the past four years, I couldn’t help but chuckle at that. Dom was fiercely protective over her friends, and something as simple as the bet that James and I had made certainly would’ve sent her off to the deep end. I let out a small, soft chuckle as I imagined Dom hexing James with all sorts of bad curses, giving him things like a donkey tail, and jackrabbit ears.
“See,” he said with a smile on his face, “I'm really not as bad as you think I am, if I can get you to laugh.”
“Don’t flatter yourself, Potter,” I responded rather quickly, yet again surprised by my rapid, and witty remark, “I was only laughing at your expense.”
“Still, I made you laugh,” He replied with a cheeky smile, “I can’t be all that bad.”
And with that, he left without saying a word – he simply gave a small wave over his shoulder as he headed back to the Gryffindor locker room. I stood there for a moment, just taking in what had just happened; in all honestly, not all of it had made complete sense. He must’ve just been messing with my head, trying to psyche me out before the game. Well, I was going to let that happen. I took a deep breath in and out, trying to calm my nerves. Another deep breath in. Another deep breath out.
“Come on, Sarah,” I heard Avril call from the locker room, “We don’t have much time till the game starts, and you still need to get dressed!”
I tried to push my nerves to the bottom of my mind as I headed into the locker rooms to change. They didn’t resurface until later, when the game had started. Lysander Scamander had announced the Hufflepuff team, and as we headed out, we were met with loud cheers from the crowd.
I looked across the pitch, and stared intently at James as he returned the stare. I barely even registered when the referee had announced to us to mount our brooms. But, our eyes never lost contact – not as we mounted our brooms, or even as the referee let out the snitch, and threw the bludgers in the air. The whistle blew, and then suddenly, I was snapped back into reality. I pushed my feet as hard as I could, and suddenly I was off. I looked down at Dom and Avril, who simply nodded, and then made my way into the air, looking for the snitch. I saw Albus Potter flying around on the other side of the pitch looking for the snitch just as I was. Although, it looked like he was having about the same luck as I was having actually finding the damn thing.
It had been fifty-five minutes into the game, before anything interesting happened, at least with the Seekers. Hufflepuff was in the lead, ninety to sixty points, and it was looking to be a good game. None of the players (on my team or James’s) had been extremely injured by the bludger (though Anita was going to have a nasty bruise the next day), and the snitch was nowhere to be found.
That was, until I saw a small, golden glint up in the sky. I was a few meters away, but I started towards it at full speed. I glanced over at Albus, who was flying towards the same thing I was; he must’ve noticed the snitch, too. Though, I could tell, I was a few seconds ahead of him, and were about the same distance away, so I was sure to get it, and win the game for Hufflepuff. And then James would never mess with me again. I could barely hold my excitement as I flew up into the sky.
I could see out of the corner of my eye that Albus was catching up quickly, and so I leaned in, willing my broom to go just a bit faster. I could feel the wind whip against my face as I flew up into the sky. This was it; I could see the snitch clearly as I flew up towards the clouds – we were just lucky that today had been a beautiful day.
But, as I squinted my eyes to get a better view of the snitch, something happened. I could feel my foot loose it’s position. My left shoe slipped, and my broom started to loose it’s speed.
In that moment, I knew exactly what was going to happen. It was now or never; as Albus had a sudden burst of speed, we both reached out for the snitch. My fingers grazed his glove as his hand wrapped around the snitch.
“ALBUS POTTER HAS JUST CAUGHT THE SNITCH! GRYFFINDOR WINS THE GAME! GRYFFINDOR WINS THE GAME!”
Lysander’s voice echoed through my mind as the crowds went wild – despite what team they were cheering for, I knew most of the cheers were just because that had been such a close game. It was a close match, and I was proud of that – really, I was. But still, everything had been riding on Hufflepuff winning this game.
“Sarah,” Briscoe called to me from the field of the pitch. I looked down, and hadn’t even realized that I was the only one still in the air. I made my way down to the field, and embraced my team as I dismounted my broom.
“You all did well, today,” I said to everyone as we made our way to the locker rooms, “I couldn’t have asked you to play any better; it was my fault we lost, and as a captain, I should’ve been playing better…”
As I talked, the words were just flooding out of me; I really wasn’t focused on that at all. All I could think about while changing, while going back up to the common room, while taking a shower, was that Hufflepuff had lost the game. Gryffindor had won. James had won.
James had won the bet.
I sat down on my bed as fatigue started to hit me. This was like a terrible nightmare, but one I couldn’t wake up from, no matter how hard I tried.
“Hey,” Dom asked as she sat next to me on my bed, “what’s wrong, Sarah?”
I looked up at her, and finally, after everything that I had been through, I started to cry. Despite the fact that suddenly, I had found my courage, I was still that scared little girl that James picked on in first year.
“Hey now,” Dom said, pulling me into her arms as she embraced me in a hug, “it’s okay. It’s okay.”
I just cried into Dom’s chest as she slowly rubbed circles on my back. I sat there for a few minutes; the only words coming out of Dom’s mouth were calming, soothing words. Finally though, the tears stopped flowing, and my breath became even again.
“You wanna tell me what’s wrong,” Dom asked once I had calmed down. I just looked down at my hands.
“I…” I couldn’t bring myself to say it.
“I made a bet with James; if Hufflepuff won the Quidditch game, then he’d leave me alone for the rest of the year!”
I just sort of blurted it all out, and it sounded more like one, big, long word then an actual coherent sentence. But, it was enough for Dom to understand.
“And what would happen if Gryffindor won,” she asked.
“I bet James that if Gryffindor won, I would … go on a date with him.”
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