Chapter 9 : Chapter nine – Wrong in every single way
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything else that you might recognize.
Chapter nine – Wrong in every single way
He never came back.
I waited for four hours before I forced myself to go to bed, I couldn’t afford to be tired in the next day’s game; the Tornados would payback every single mistake immediately.
I don’t even know why I stayed up so long. James had just seemed so different last night, like there was something going on, like he wanted to be with me. But once again, I was left disappointed.
What the hell was I expecting anyways?
That he’d rush to my flat, sweep me off my feet and confess that he was in love with me? Yeah right. Honestly, Gwen, get it in your head already; he does not feel that way about you! It’s just all in your head!
But still, why didn’t he drop by and say something, or even send a note? He always did at least that, never before has he just left me hanging like that. The skanks were never more important than me.
Well, maybe there was another explanation.
I decided to just ignore all the distressing thoughts and start getting ready. Pushing my coffee mug aside, I went to put on my clothes that I was going to wear under the Quidditch robes and my other gear. The task of untangling my hair took a bit longer than normally as it was still messy from last night – I hadn’t bothered to do anything about it when I came back – but still I was left with quite a lot time to spend. Throwing myself on the couch, I stared at the clock worm forwards for a few minutes. Surely he’d show up eventually.
There wasn’t really anything else I could do. My gear and my broom were already at the pitch, being validated by the referee, to check there wasn’t any illegal spells or hexes on them. I’d have to put them on there.
I was also too stubborn to go to James’s flat; I wanted him to come to me, to apologize and explain. And I was curious. What could Kat have possibly said to make him forget all about me?
Distracting myself with another cup of coffee and the most recent Quidditch magazine, I tried to keep my thoughts from wondering too much. It wouldn’t help me in any way to get angry with him as it’d only reflect in my flying later and that wouldn’t do us any good.
But as the clock dawdled closer and closer to the point when we had to leave, I started to get impatient. James still hadn’t showed up; what was holding him this long? This wasn’t normal behaviour from him at all; he was always here, usually hours earlier before we had to leave, psyching me into a great mood.
So why wasn’t he here now?
When ten to nine arrived and passed I couldn’t take it anymore, I got up and marched out of my apartment, towards his. We were going to be late, and I for one didn’t want to hear another one of Coach McGormack’s shouting feasts.
“Oi, Potter! What the hell is taking you so… long?” I shouted as I entered his flat, but my voice faltered before I managed to finish my sentence as the movement on the couch caught my attention.
The bitch was still here…
So that was the reason he didn’t show up. He was too busy fucking her, so I wasn’t important enough.
I really have to stop fooling myself.
“He’s in the shower,” the blonde girl flashed her smug smirk towards me, stretching her long bare legs on the sofa.
I ignored her completely, but knew she wasn’t lying. I could hear the water running in the bathroom. I stomped towards the door and beat my fist into it several times.
“Are you mental, Potter?” I yelled through the door.
“Gwen?” his voice echoed silently back.
“Who else? In case you’ve lost your memory completely, we have a game today, and a team meeting is about to start any minute! Why the hell are you still in the shower?” I snapped angrily.
“Oh, right… I lost the track of time,” he mumbled through and I could hear the sounds of the water shutting down.
“Right, well I’m not waiting or covering your arse, you show up when you’re ready!”
And with that I marched out of the apartment, still ignoring Kat, who was practically rubbing it to my face that she had spent the last night sleeping with James. Slamming the door shut, I Apparated immediately away to Scotland.
As I materialised at the edge of the stadium, I felt the hurtful tears start to burn my eyes. I held them back, refusing to let the sadness take over me; even the anger sounded a better choice now. There were too many witnesses.
The screams filled my ears as the first people started to realise I was nearby. I rushed forwards, not even glancing towards the long line of loyal fans who had showed up early to get the best seats in the skyboxes. Because if there were fans, there were…
“Miss Miller! One word, please!” the reporters were shouting somewhere behind me.
I upped my pace, hurrying towards the barrier which would allow me to enter the arena, but force the group that was following me to be left behind. Our teammembers were the only ones allowed into that area.
Only a few feet away...
I practically ran the final steps.
The disappointed groan of the reporters accompanied me forwards the narrow corridor that led to our locker room; the place where our team meeting would take its place. I kept prepping myself mentally for the moment I stepped inside, knowing that the flood of questions would probably suffocate me during the first minutes. Never before had I showed up without James, we always arrived together. And I’m sure the media had noticed that too.
Oh, I could already picture the next day’s headlines.
I let out a sigh while I rested my hand on the door knob for a few seconds, before pushing it open and walking into the war zone.
“Miller! I’m surprised! You still had forty two seconds left! A new personal record I think. Did Potter –“ Coach McGormack halted in the middle of his sentence as he noticed me pulling the door shut after me. “Where’s Potter?”
“He’s coming,” I muttered as an answer.
“He’s coming? What kind of an answer is that? When is he coming? During these next twenty seven seconds? Well he’d better because if he doesn’t he’s going to be suffering a long and painful torture during next month!” The coach was rampaging. I just shrugged, slumping on the bench in front of the small locker that was branded with my name.
“Don’t you shrug your shoulders at me, Miller! I want to know where he is, and I want to know it now!”
“He’s coming!” I replied, my voice snapping a bit.
“You’re doing laps again, first thing after the game, it doesn’t matter if we win or lose!” Coach informed.
“Why? I didn’t do anything!” I protested.
“You’re withholding important information from me! I’m your coach, I need to know everything!”
“Look, I don’t know, okay! He was running late when I went to pick him up before. I decided I wasn’t going to risk my own arse, so I came earlier, simple as that!” I groaned.
“Have you fought?”
“No! Of course not!”
“Well good! The last thing I need is my star players feeling all uptight, like they have broomsticks showed in their arses – sideways!” the man was roaming.
I just rolled my eyes, sinking deeper in my spot and hoping the coach would start ignoring me for once and pick a fight with somebody else. He was such a lovely person every single game day.
Thommo and Stefan were sniggering at me, enjoying the scene as always. They loved it when coach was having a go at me, maybe because they were never brave enough to say anything back at him.
Matthew Lynch, the third chaser of our team, was holding a brow up as he stared at me; a look that gestured his eagerness to know if something was going on. I just shook my head at him, turning my gaze back towards Coach and listened to his monologue.
“What the hell is keeping him? We cannot start a meeting without him, he should bloody well be aware of that! You do not arrive at team meeting if you’re the bloody captain of the team. I’m stripping his rank from him, that’s what I’ll do! I’ll name someone else as a captain, let’s see what he likes about that! Yeah, he should –“ the rest of the sentence was filled with angry grunts and weird sounds that I couldn’t possibly repeat even if I wanted to.
I think I need to work on my cursing skills. Maybe Coach can give me lessons…
Our seeker, Andrew Lee, was staring at him too, eyes wide as Quaffles, looking quite scared. He was the newest addition in our team, a twenty year old shy boy, who had joined us only a few months earlier when our old seeker had decided that he was too old for this sport.
I never could understand that decision. I’d play as long as people allowed me, I could never just quit voluntarily. Quidditch was my lifeline, without it I was nothing.
John Cooper patted Andy’s back, muttering something to the short boy in his low, raspy tone. Andy let out a small laugh that he quickly turned into a cough, and dropped his stare on the ground, forcing the rest of his amusement to stay in. His quivering form showed that he wasn’t succeeding in it that well.
I didn’t even want to know what Coop had said. Knowing him, it was something extremely perverted and rude. Always managed to lighten or disgust the mood, that keeper of ours.
Coach was still shouting meaningless threats up in the air, when there was a knock on the door that momentarily interrupted him. He fell silent, turning his head towards the wooden door. The knocking echoed in our ears again.
"Unless you have Potter there I’m not interested, go away!" He shouted through the closed door. But the person behind it didn't give up, we heard the knocking again, sounding more firm this time.
"Oh for Merlin's sake!" Coach sighed, walking to the entrance and pulling it open with force, revealing a thin, tall woman from the other side. "What?" he shouted.
She didn't seem to mind. The woman just pushed her hand forwards, giving Coach a sealed envelope, and then marching away. He muttered something foul after her and slammed the door back shut. Ripping the envelope practically in half, he pulled out a parchment and started to read.
The silence fell into the room for a few moments, only to be broken by the sudden laughter that escaped Coach's lips. I glanced at my team mates, to reassure I wasn't hallucinating, but the bewildered expressions on their faces told me they had heard the same thing.
"Here, read it!" Coach eventually said, trying to fight his amusement as he pushed the parchment in my hands. "You’re going to love it!"
"What is it?" I asked as I straightened the letter, my eyes finding the first words on it.
Due to recent happenings we’ve decided to organize a press tour to improve the team image. Make sure Miss Miller will be on her best behaviour, because she'll be our new spokesperson. She’s in desperate need of an image alteration, just like the team is. You know what's on the line if you can’t make it happen.
The letter rambled on about more specific details about the events that would be included on the press tour, eventually ending with the signature that I recognized to be the same that was on the letter framed on top of my bookshelf, the one that informed I was the new chaser of Pride of Portree. It was the signature of one of the team owners, Ashcroft Burke.
I just stared at the parchments blankly for a few moments. Were they really serious? They should know that I’m the worst person there is to handle situations like this. I couldn't do it, I simply didn't get along with the reporters at all!
"Is this a joke?" I questioned.
"Hah, yeah right! Have you ever heard the owners joke about something? Just get used to it quickly, because if you don't do it, you can kiss your career here goodbye!" coach laughed.
"They wouldn't throw me out just because of that!" I protested.
"You’re very welcome to try. I on the other hand know perfectly well how replaceable I am. And besides, do you think some other coach out there would make things this easy for you? Newsflash sweetie, nobody wants to work with a bitchy and a stubborn player. You're lucky I’m such a nice person and can work your annoyance into energy on the field."
"I’m not that difficult!" I protested.
"Yeah, you are! You always complain about everything! Thank Merlin you're an awesome player, because you wouldn't have made it this far if you weren't!”
I opened my mouth to retort something, but decided to close it on the last moment.
Hah, let that teach him a lesson!
“Trying to prove me wrong, are you, Miller? Quite pointless since everybody in this room knows perfectly well how you can be like!” McGormack laughed mockingly.
“Whatever… Fine, I’ll do it. I’ll sit through every one of these events, sporting a pretty smile on my face and answering ‘No comments!’ to every single one of their stupid questions! Is that what they want from me?” I questioned.
“Think again, sweetheart!”
“I’m not going to let them have their chance to pry every single detail of my personal life!”
“Well of course you don't have to do that! It’ll only be Quidditch based questions, I can promise you that much! And if somebody asks something else, then you can say your precious little trademark answer!”
I folded my arms and bit my lower lip to show my irritation towards the stupid plan. Seriously, they had to be mental for making me do this. This would end up so badly, I’d probably ruin even what they thought was left of PoP’s image nowadays.
And what recent situations were they talking about anyways? Me breaking cameras every chance I got? Or James or either one of our Beaters sleeping with half the girls in this whole planet? Or maybe the six months long ban Coop had gotten last season, when he had gotten caught from drinking some unprescribed potion before game?
Well, at least we managed to win the games, didn’t that count at all?
My ponderings were interrupted as the door of our locker room opened, and in walked my best friend, hair still dripping wet from his shower as he apparently hadn’t even bothered to dry it up.
Maybe he had been busy fucking Kat once more for good luck?
Stop torturing yourself, Gwen, immediately.
No more thoughts like that!
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?” Coach exploded on his face.
“Sorry I’m late, won’t happen again,” he muttered, slipping past McGormack and taking his spot on my right side. He didn’t even glance at my direction, which made me feel quite uneasy and forget all about the disturbing news I had gotten from the team management.
Was he angry with me?
No, that couldn’t be it. I mean, why would he be? It’s not like I’d done anything.
“Do you think I’m just going to let this pass with a simple apology?” Coach yelled.
“No, but you can shout to me about it later, shouldn’t we get this meeting started now? We’re already late from schedule,” James sighed.
“Don’t you go all smartass on me! It’s your fault we’re late! But you’re right! I’ll shout to you after the game, we really do need to start now!”
Coach McGormack pulled his wand out, flipped it once and levitated the small figures that were representing us in the middle of the room; it was time for last minutes tactics planning. Coach always changed our whole play-plan on this meeting, in case somebody had been spying on our practises.
Yep, I’m not the only paranoid person in this room.
“Hey, you okay?” I whispered to James when Coach was so caught with his explanations that he didn’t notice.
“Yeah, fine,” he responded instantly, staring impassively at the flying figures.
“Oh, okay. You just seem a bit… off?” I continued.
“It’s nothing,” was his reply.
“You’re not mad at me, are you?” I asked, hoping he would deny it.
That did make him turn to eyes at me, looking all bewildered and… painful? Now that was odd.
“Of course not! Why would you think something like that?” he questioned.
“I don’t know. I just got the feeling you were avoiding me, or something.” I shrugged.
“Well, no. Stop worrying about something like that! I’m not angry at you!” he said, pronouncing the last word weirdly, leaving me with the assumption that he was angry with somebody.
Let’s hope it’s Kat.
“Well good then!” I smiled. He didn’t reply it, just turned his gaze on to the floor.
I was just about to say something more, when the cough from Coach’s direction made me turn my head back into him.
“Miller! I swear to Merlin I will make your life even more difficult and horrid if you don’t fucking listen!” he shouted to me.
Okay, shutting up now.
We could hear them stomping everywhere above us, hundreds of people climbing up to the stands to find themselves some good seats.
I was shivering with excitement. This was always my favourite part, waiting anxiously to be called to the field, the most perfect moment to symbolize the thrill of the game. While on the pitch, you didn’t have time to observe your feelings, but during this moment they were almost touchable.
The adrenaline that was making blood bump through veins, the energy that was bubbling from every part of my body and the heath was emitting from my heart, indicating my love for this game.
This was the moment that set the mood for the whole game. And thanks to all those fans out there, we never lost a game on our home field.
We could hear the people above us, shouting our names and their support for us. I closed my eyes, trying to picture all the familiar faces of the people who were most important to me, punching the air victoriously and waving their banners.
At least Freddy would do that, he always had something funny with him to surprise us and light our passion for triumph even more.
Oh Godric, make this game start already so I can get in the air and complete this magnificent feeling.
“Ladies and Gentlemen! It is time to bring out the amazing, the invincible, the best team in whole Quidditch history! Our own home team! PRIDE OF PORTREE! Here they are folks!” the familiar voice of our commentator, Max Reynolds, echoed in my ears immediately after my last thought.
“The sensational seeker, Mister ANDREW LEE! Aren’t we all glad to have him on our side, folks?”
Andy pushed from the ground, soaring towards the clear sky and the screaming crowd.
“The unbeatable beaters, let’s hear it for THOMAS ANDERSON and STEFAN WARD! Ladies, be careful with these two rascals, they’ll knock you off your feet in no time!”
Thommo and Stefan followed Andy to the pitch, sporting huge grins on their faces.
“And where would we be without the killer keeper who’ll never let anything past his defence line, JOHN COOPER!”
The crowd burst out to laughter as Coop entered the field, and a smile rose to my lips. I could only imagine what sign he had signalled towards Max. It wasn’t a pretty one, that much I could tell. He hated that he wasn’t able to retort in any way, so he always had to do something.
“Thank you, Cooper, for that lovely greeting! But now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen! It’s the courageous chain of chasers that I’m sure has captivated the hearts of all you Stargazers up here in the stands!”
The stomping above us grew even louder. The enchantment of playing on the home pitch was always the one thing that made my heart beat million miles an hour and all my troubles seem so far away. I glanced at James’s direction, expecting to see the excited smile that was always present on his face on a moment like this. But it wasn’t there. Instead he was staring at the ground, numbness visible on his expression. It was like he didn’t even realise where he was.
The commentator called Matthew’s name and he soared towards the skies to join the other members. I figured I had a few seconds before it was my turn.
“Hey, everything alright?” I asked, placing my hand on James’s shoulder. That seemed to spark him up a bit and he snapped out of his trance-like state.
“Hm? Oh, yeah, yeah…” he hurried to say.
“You know you don’t have to lie to me, I can see something is bothering you,” I frowned a bit.
“I – I’m sorry I didn’t come last night,” he whispered, pressing his gaze back to the ground.
“That’s why you’re worried? That I’m mad because of that? Don’t be silly. I admit, I was a bit surprised to see Kat back, and I’m expecting a full explanation on that situation later!” I chuckled, trying not to let my disappointment show. My stomach twisted uncomfortably even from the thought about the bitch.
Why, James, why?
“No, it’s just that –“ he started but Max cut him short.
“Next, the one, the only, Miss GWEN MILLER! Don’t let her size fool you, she has a mean throwing arm. And I suggest hiding your cameras, guys!”
“We’ll talk later,” I smiled, jumping on my broom and kicking off from the ground.
The cool wind brushed my skin, and I tried to let my upset feelings wash away with it. So what if she was back? I didn’t have any chances to start with; it was his own business who he wanted to be with and my opinion didn’t matter.
It still didn’t make it hurt any less.
I forced the feelings aside. This moment was about Quidditch, I had time to wallow in my stupid emotions after we had won this game.
“And last, but definitely not least! Hold on to your seats, ladies, he’s single again! The star player of the team, the ruler of the chart board, the captain of the team, Mister JAMES POTTER!”
A huge part of the crowd was standing now, girls screaming his name as James emerged from under the stands. I watched him approach us, once again expecting to see something that wasn’t there. Normally his moves were so energetic and joyous, you could see his passion for his favourite sport from every single motion he made. But now, now he just… flew. Dully gripping his broom hard, he soared to his place and then just lingered there.
I glanced at my other team mates, to see if they noticed anything, but they were too busy waving at cheering crowd. They didn’t even bother to look when I flew a bit closer to James, feeling really worried now.
“Something else is bothering you too, what is it?” I said in a hushed voice.
Once again he jerked his head into my direction, like just realising I was there too.
“It’s nothing,” he mumbled again.
“Please don’t lie. I’ve known you forever, I can see it even from the way you’re holding your broom. You, my friend, do not grasp the handle that tight normally.”
James let out a small hem, loosening his grip a bit and relaxing his whitened knuckles.
“Tell me, please,” I pleaded.
“I can’t… at least not now, too many people listening,” he said, glancing at the surrounding crowd, which was now booing as the members of the Tornados team were flying on the pitch.
“Should I be worried?” I raised a brow.
James just shook his head.
“Okay, well, try to concentrate on the game then and for Merlin’s sake wave to the people, that’s what they’re expecting,” I smiled.
“Oh, right,” he said, raising his hand and waving it a few times. The crowd practically exploded.
A whistling sound filled out ears as the referee flew closer to us.
“Players, take places!”
James soared forwards to go and shake hands with the other team captain and I took my place in the middle. Right field was my position normally, but I always handled the first throw situation. The acceleration speed of my Dragonstar gave me the best edge, and I never failed to catch the red ball.
Adam Spencer took the place on the opponent’s side, flashing me a smile. “Always a pleasure, Jinx.”
“Oh, I’m sure it is. I’ll try to let you hold the Quaffle once,” I chuckled.
“On the contrary, this’ll be the only time you’ll get your fingers on it.”
“At least you admit that I’m going to win the ball now.”
“You always do, Jinx, thanks to your stupendous broom. I have to give you credit for that though, DS is too much for me to handle. But it won’t help you more than that this time.”
“Keep dreaming,” I smiled and he let out an amused laugh.
The character with black and white robes appeared next to us. “Miller, Spencer,” the familiar referee nodded to us as a greeting.
“Going to lecture us about keeping the game clean?” Adam grinned at him.
“Oh, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before,” he laughed.
“Sure have,” we both responded in unison.
“Great! Now let’s get this show rolling, shall we?” he smiled, glancing around him to see everybody was in their places.
My eyes locked on the scarlet ball on referee’s hands. I watched him stretch his hand forwards, holding the ball firmly on his grip. For a moment there everything was still, his hand stiffened, the crowd fell dead silent and every single thought disappeared from my head. All I could see was my goal, the Quaffle, that would soon be safely tucked under my arm.
And then it was off, soaring upwards through the air as the referee had tossed it. The ball sped up and up, speed slowing down in every passing moment.
I didn’t even blink, I just stared after it, anxiously waiting for the signal that meant I could follow it. I knew Adam was doing the same; even though he knew I’d beat him, he’d still make me fight for it.
The moment the red ball reached its highest point, the sound of the referee’s whistle filled our ears again. Slamming my feet on the broom pedals, I sped forwards in an incredible speed, cool wind beating harshly on my face again. I knew Adam was on my trail, flying close by, but not able to gain the same pace.
My right hand fingers brushed the rough leathery skin of the Quaffle as I snatched it from the air, tugging in under my arm for a few seconds. I made a quick loop in the air, turning towards the direction where James was and tossing the ball towards him before my opponent reached my side.
The scarlet ball flew through the air, nearing my best friend, who… wasn’t even looking?! What the hell?
“Potter!” I shouted. His head snapped in my direction, eyes widening momentarily just before the Quaffle smacked right against his face.
The crowd gasped. Hell, even I did. James never failed to catch a Quaffle and I mean never! Not even when I threw badly, he was always in the right place, waiting to catch the ball.
While I was staring bewilderedly at the blood dripping from his nose, Spencer took advantage of the opportunity and dashed towards the falling ball. He managed to get a hold of it and wheel towards our keeper before I finally realised what was going on. A series of curse words left my lips as I flew after him.
“What’s the matter with you?” I screamed to James on the way.
“Sorry, sorry! Won’t happen again!” he apologized immediately, joining me on my quest to get the hold of the Quaffle again.
“Well, it better not!” I snapped back, locking my eyes on the red ball again.
Even with my speed, I could not catch Spencer. It was all up to Coop now. I watched the Tornados do their diversions and Coop’s figure standing on its ground, calculating carefully which hoop he should be defending. He made his decision, stretching towards the left goal hoop, while Roberts threw the Quaffle through the middle one.
The majority of the crowd groaned disappointedly.
“Tornados make the first goal of the game after an unfortunate misjudgement from PoP’s captain. Though I have to say, I do pity him, look at the state of his nose! Miller sure can throw!” Max’s voice reached my ears. “Let’s hope the next one hits one of the rivals.”
I twirled my broom around as I saw Matt catch the Quaffle. We organized into the formation that had supposed to happen previously, if only James had managed to catch my throw. Matt passed me the ball as he flew past me. I sped forwards, waiting for James to get on his place, my eyes searching for the other teams Beaters to keep an eye on them.
The other one of them smacked a fast Bludger on my way. I let the Quaffle drop from my hands and sighed in relief as I saw James catch it, before dodging the black ball that was fired towards me. Speeding forwards towards my next position, I still kept my gaze on James. He was flying towards the right direction, glancing around for Matt and waiting for him to be in a throwing distance.
James bend his arm back, just about to throw the ball forwards when Linda Elliott, the other teams seeker, sped past him, followed by Andy. They managed to startle James and make him drop the Quaffle.
“Fuck!” left my mouth as I dived towards the falling ball. But Lawrence was faster, he grabbed the Quaffle on its way and sped towards the opposite end, the two other chasers following right after him. I prayed to Merlin our Beaters would stop them from scoring again.
“And Ryan Roberts scores! The Tornados have clearly been practising all our Keeper’s moves!” Max was shouting. “Let’s hope our chasers will get their game back together and fast! Otherwise this isn’t going to be a pretty sight!”
I shot a nasty look at James as I flew past him, but he didn’t even glance at my direction, just stared forwards quite dispassionately.
Elliott sniggered to him as she flew by. It had all been just a diversion. She hadn’t really seen the Snitch.
I grabbed the Quaffle as Matt threw it in my direction, swirling once again towards the other way. I sped forwards, the others taking their places on our formation. James was waiting for the ball again, this time flying a little bit on my left, signalling me to pass the ball to him.
But I wasn’t going to, not now. We needed a goal; maybe that’d help James to get in the right mood. I sped towards the hoops, ignoring James’s shouts to throw the Quaffle to him.
Smith was there waiting for me, trying to figure out which way I’d throw the ball. I diverted left, making him follow my moves, then again to the right. After three more, he finally made his stretch to the right, and I threw the ball towards the other side with all my irritation.
The Quaffle soared forwards, smacking against the rim of the hoop, bouncing back and falling downwards.
“Ooh, so close! First attempt to goal for the Stars but Miller’s throw fails!”
“Why didn’t you pass it to me, I was open?” James yelled from some feet away.
“Open to what? Drop it again?” I snapped as I flew after the Quaffle, which Spencer was now carrying towards our end.
Things didn't get any better; during the next half an hour the Tornados scored five more times while we were still supporting the big, fat, round zero on the scoreboard.
Every hint of my good mood had disappeared and replaced by anger. James kept messing up all the time; either he dropped the ball, or he wasn’t on his spot when me or Matt hurled the Quaffle towards him, or something else. This most definitely wasn't our day.
“Time to switch formation!” I shouted, taking James’s role as the leader since he was too distracted to make any decisions, he didn’t even notice I’d finally got the Quaffle again. “Take your pla-“
That was all I managed to say, because at that moment my whole vision was filled it red as the Bludger smashed against my mouth, making blood fly everywhere. A series of curses left my lips as I spat some blood out. The Quaffle had already slipped from under my arm and Roberts was speeding towards Coop.
“Are you alright?” James was by my side instantly.
“Oh, now you’re paying attention? What the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted back, making him startle and wince a bit.
“Nothing! Sorry! I’ll concentrate better!” he replied.
“Yeah right,” I rolled my eyes as I sped towards the Quaffle again, ignoring the waves of McGormack, who was signalling me to go get my broken teeth fixed straight away so the pain wouldn’t distract my concentration.
He should’ve realised that a little soreness wouldn’t do much difference, we were already down seventy – no, scratch that – eighty points as the Tornados had just scored again.
Coop seemed to be losing it. Every direction he went was the wrong choice, the rivals threw the ball through a different hoop every time. He had managed to block two balls during the whole game, both of which had seemed to be complete accidents.
Thommo and Stefan seemed to be the only ones doing their jobs properly, at least their Bludgers were accurate. Matt would probably be playing great too, but he didn’t have the chance when James was lousy with everything he did, and I was losing every bit of my skills while my annoyance kept growing. We had no chance in scoring if we kept playing like this.
Andy was our only hope.
But the boy seemed to be panicking too, furiously swiping the field as fast as he could while Elliott was hovering on her ground, looking very relaxed. She had a much better tactic, this way she’d end up catching the little golden ball they both were chasing.
And surprise, surprise, our captain didn’t seem to notice a thing.
“Andy, relax! Panic isn’t going to help you catch the snitch!” I shouted to our seeker.
He snapped his head towards me, eyes filled with alarm.
“Just breathe, and you’ll do fine!” I continued, catching the Quaffle which Matt had thrown my way. “Honestly, Potter, are you going to make me do all the work here?” I turned to face James again.
“Right! Formation, the one we practised the last time.” He shook his head, taking his duties back again.
“You’re not going to be able to do it if you keep slacking like that. You need to be fast to keep up with me!” I protested.
“I’ll do it! I’m fine!” he snapped back, gesturing me to take my place.
This was not going to end up well.
But I followed his plan anyways, because now would be the perfect time for him to prove me wrong and start playing like he normally did, this was after all a good diversion plan.
We sped forwards side by side, Tornados on our tail.
“You’d better pull this off then, you’re going to crash if you can’t do it!” I hissed at James
“I can do it!” he said firmly, avoiding my threatening look.
“Let’s hope so!”
“I will! Four turns?” he questioned.
“Whatever,” I muttered, still planning on obeying the plan.
We kept flying forwards, inviting the chasers to pursuit us. About halfway through, we suddenly dropped into a suicide dive. The Tornados followed, just like they were supposed to. The plan was to drop down as low as we could, flying side by side, make four diversions and then one additional where we’d speed into opposite directions, subtly changing the Quaffle between us so the rivals wouldn’t know who was holding it. Ideally the plan would make them go after the wrong one, hopefully somebody would even crash on the ground. That would up our chances tremendously if we could get one of their top chasers away from the game.
We sped downwards, making the first turn to left. James was holding it up this time, keeping up the same pace as me, looking really concentrated for the first time today. Maybe this would work after all.
Matt was lingering high above us, waiting to join the one of us who would end up holding the Quaffle in the final attack. I passed the ball to James on the second turn and he returned it immediately on the third. The ground was nearing us fast, only one more turn and then we’d do the last diversion and spurt into different ends of the pitch. That would be Matt’s cue. The one with the Quaffle would always go right.
I made the last turn right to see James still acting as fast as I, only to the wrong direction this time. He miscalculated, he was doing the last move already, when I was still doing the fourth turn!
Grasping the handle of my broom I tried to steer myself out of his way, but it was too late. We smashed straight against each other, the red ball flying from his hands as he had been holding it loosely, just about to pass it to me.
We both crashed on the ground, brooms escaping our grips as we rolled through the dirt and snow. I could hear the audience gasping and the commentator shouting something pointless.
I jumped back up from the ground immediately, letting out a groan as my ribs ached from the fall, but pushing the pain aside from my anger. I turned to look at James who was slowly getting up too, grasping his stomach and head.
“That was just three turns! Did Kat fuck your brains out and you suddenly forgot how to count?” I rampaged.
“Are you okay?” he ignored my shouting.
“What the hell is wrong with you? You’re slower, get lost in your thoughts all the time and seem to be in pain!” I yelled at him.
“It’s nothing!” he mumbled for the umpteenth time today.
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re hangover!” I snapped.
That made James lower his gaze down and a small flush rise on his cheeks.
“You are?!” I gasped. “Please tell me you’re joking!”
“No, you’re right,” he muttered.
“Oh for Merlin’s sake! You could’ve warned me a bit earlier! I wouldn’t have passed you the Quaffle at all! I could’ve made plans with Matt!” I rampaged. “And what on earth made you drink on the night before the most important game of the season?”
“It’s…” he started.
“Don’t you dare say it’s nothing! Because you’re playing like shit, and that’s making me play dreadfully too! We’re losing here because of it, so if you don’t speak up now I’m going to knock you down so we can get a replacement for you and at least have a chance!” I interrupted him.
James stared at his feet for a moment, silence falling between us. If you could call it that. There was still the sounds of the protesting crowd and enchanted voice of Max echoing in our ears. But we didn’t say anything. I just stared at his sluggish appearance, not understanding why he was acting this way.
I was just about to open my mouth again, to shout something else at him, when he finally responded. The two words were spoken so silently that I wasn’t even sure if I had actually heard him. Maybe it was my imaginary doing tricks, maybe somebody in the audience had just shouted that, or maybe I had just heard him incorrectly. Because surely that couldn’t be it!
“What?” I gasped, feeling my mind blur out of the shock his words were making me go through.
I was begging with every bone in my body that he’d say something else.
“You heard me. Could we please just stop talking about this now?” he sighed.
“But… but… how?” I managed to murmur.
“I don’t know, okay? I was drunk, I can’t remember anything I did that night!” he defended.
So it was just lack of self-control? That was the reason Kat was… I couldn’t even bring myself to say it out loud in my mind. It was just wrong in every single way possible.
The fury started to pile up inside of me. How could he have been so stupid? He knew every single spell there was to prevent… it from happening! Why would he suddenly forget to use them?
“When the hell have you been so…” I started with a hushed up tone but my voice trailed off as I remembered something he had said to me about a month ago. “Oh, your birthday party, right?”
He just nodded as a response, eying at his right. A quick glance in the same direction told me that Coach McGormack was running towards us.
“If you don’t remember, how do you even know she’s not just lying to get you back or something?” I questioned.
“I just do alright! I really don’t want to discuss this right now!” he said, gesturing around the field.
“Well then get your game together for Godric’s sake! We don’t have even a chance to beat them if you’re sulking! We’ll talk about it after the game then, okay?” I said, forcing my tone a notch down.
“Yeah, yeah…” he nodded fanatically.
“Good then… I -” I started but Coach’s voice interrupted me.
“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? WE’RE A HUNDRED POINTS AT A LOSS OUT THERE AND YOU DECIDE IT’S TIME TO HAVE A NICE FRIENDLY CONVERSATION HERE?!?”
“We’re going, alright! Stop yelling, it’s not like we’ve lost yet!” I rolled my eyes at him and threw my leg over my broom, kicking violently from the ground. James followed close by, a crestfallen look on his face. My shouting hadn’t helped his state at all, it had only made him feel worse. He needed my support now, not my anger. I wasn’t even allowed to be feeling this way; it was just my own stupid emotions blinding me again.
“Look, don’t worry. Everything is going to be alright, James,” I said glancing at his direction as we flew towards the other end of the pitch where Coop was suffering, trying to stop the Tornados of scoring any more goals.
James let out an incredulous laugh, not believing a word I was saying.
“I mean it! It’ll all work out somehow. You don’t have anything to worry about. I – I’ll help you in every way I can,” I continued, swallowing all the irritated feelings I had.
“You really mean it?” he whispered.
“Of course I do! You’ll be a great… yeah, maybe best if I don’t say that out loud here.”
He let out a small, awkward chuckle.
“Now let’s win this game okay?” I smiled.
“Yeah, let’s!” he nodded, eyes lighting up a bit. “And thanks!”
“For saying the right things. I don’t know why I didn’t tell you immediately, I should’ve known you could cheer me up in no time.”
I just rolled my eyes at him as a response.
“So glad you could join us!” Matt yelled a few feet away.
“Yeah, yeah, we’re here now! Let’s beat the shit out of them!” James shouted back, soaring forwards to catch the Quaffle Coop had just thrown towards us. The Tornado chasers let out a groan as he grabbed the ball this time and did a full turn, speeding towards the other end.
Yearn for victory was filling me up again. James passed me the ball and I zigzagged past the opposite team members, avoiding a close Bludger on the way. I passed the Quaffle back to James who immediately directed it to Matt.
Smith didn’t even have a chance. He circled in front of his hoops already sure we weren’t going to succeed again. Getting the hold of the scarlet ball again, I pretended to throw it through the right hoop. When Smith threw himself at that direction, I quickly changed the direction of my throw, aiming the Quaffle at James who caught it easily, serving it through the middle hoop instantly.
And the crowd cheered again.
We were back.
“Finally! Our trusted captain has seemed to find his talent again! Maybe the fall beat the sense back in him, or maybe it was Miller’s shouting! Either way, it’s glad to have him back! Let’s hope they can pull themselves out from the fumbling streak. As Pride of Portree scores for the first time, the situation is still 100-10 for the Tornados!”
It did get better, after fifteen more minutes we had scored three more goals and the Tornados were starting to lose their cool, which made them panic and make rash moves.
James was clearly on a better mood and eager to win this game, but it was still clear from his face that his problem was troubling him all the time.
I tried to keep all of my concentration on the game too, but the disturbing thoughts in the back of my mind kept popping back all the time. The sore feelings kept spinning, refusing to settle down.
It just couldn’t be possible, it couldn’t! Because if it was, well, that would mean it was the end of everything. Everything for us… Kat just couldn’t be… pregnant. Not to him.
Honestly, what could’ve been going through his head that night? How could he just forget everything like –?
That’s when the realisation hit me and the churning in my stomach grew unbearable.
This was entirely my fault.
I was the one who annoyed him that night, and he ended up drinking more than he should have and that way losing all control of himself. I’m the one to blame for that. If I hadn’t been so stupid, if I had just said no to Alex, or just rushed back to James when I wanted to, none of this would be happening right now.
I should’ve known this. Hell, I did know. I knew I would end up hurting him too if I didn’t let go of my feelings, but I had no idea I would end up screwing things this badly.
Oh lord, somebody punch me for my stupidity. Somebody just –
A/N: Dun dun dun... *ducks down under the table to avoid all the hexes* Please don't kill me because of the cliffie d:
I know, I know, I'm such a horrible person to end the chapter like that when you've been so amazing and supportive! I mean wow, 3000+ reads and 140 reviews? That's more than I even dared to imagine the whole story to reach and we've only just started! Thank you so much! I can't even describe how much all your support means to me!
Thank you again!
Let me still know what you think of the chapter, and remember, I can't post a new one if you curse me too badly d:
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