Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
A/N: I feel like I'm about to get yelled at.
Hi guys. How's it going?
All real ladies understand the importance of Quidditch. Quidditch. Is. Life.
“And our favorite female warrior, the Captain of all Captains, the Beater of all Beaters, our vicious, wonderful future Harpy – DOMINIQUE WEASLEY!”
I take a deep breath, push off the ground, and plunge upwards through the sharp air to join my teammates, who seem to be pacing the air on their broomsticks like they’re anxious. The introduction of our Quidditch announcer, my cousin Roxanne, usually warms my heart and amps my team up, preparing us all to win our match against whomever happens to be our opponent. Today, I can tell that hearing Roxanne’s biased voice – somehow not as biased as Remy was, but biased nonetheless – is only making everything worse.
My stomach is roaring – I didn’t eat anything this morning or last night. In fact… I can’t remember the last time or the last thing that I did eat. And for some strange reason, even though it’s growling and is making it very clear that it has yet to be fed in quite some time, I also feel like I’m about to vomit all over the place. Fabulous – just fabulous.
We aren’t ready for this.
I’m not ready for this.
Stupidly, even though I know it is only going to worsen the feeling in the pit of my stomach, I look up into the stands. Somehow, even though the stands are packed with spectators, students and professors and parents and scouts alike, I can pick out the one person that I have been so desperate and so afraid to see.
Dark-skinned and muscular, round-faced and pixie-like, with dark hair winded into a tight braid and haunting eyes… so petite and short that one can hardly see her from where she stands, surrounding me all of the other Quidditch scouts and important visitors…
Yet, of course I can see her. I couldn’t miss her if I tried.
Gwenog is really here.
I lean over the handle of my broom, clutching my stomach and opening my mouth to hopefully bring in enough air to calm me and my stomach down. Everyone’s eyes are on me, but I don’t care – she’s here. Gwenog Jones, the owner of the only team I’ve ever really wanted to play for, is here to watch me play and put me on her team, the team she once played for herself – how I’m supposed to keep my stomach inside of my body, I’ll never know.
All of a sudden, I feel a presence next to me – James.
I look over at him, wide-eyed, ignoring my surroundings as the opposing team is announced. Through the way I look at him, I know he understands in an instant how afraid I am, and I can see in his own eyes that he’s just as afraid – what am I going to do if I mess up or don’t play well enough to impress Jones? What if my team loses? What if something happens? What if I get hurt or can’t finish the game? My future depends on this match – there’s nothing left after this match. Yeah, there’s more matches to be played, but if I fuck up once under pressure, there’s nothing in the world reassuring any scout that I won’t do it again.
Suddenly, everything else that I have to worry about and have been worrying about floods my mind – getting rid of Delilah; finding a way to shove Fred in Jones’ direction; helping Rose; helping Penelope with wedding plans; keeping James calm; P.H.S.A.H.J.; Albus and Blair; this enigmatic thing that has popped up with Holden; pleasing and surprising Gwenog; keeping up my grades; and… Lorcan.
There it is. I have avoided the name for a few days. I’ve avoided him for a few days, outside of class and practices – and I found that it kept me together, kept my pain and craziness glued into a tiny ball that would hopefully wait to explode until this match was over.
But now, it’s here – it’s in my head. He’s in my head.
His grey eyes. His messy locks. His mismatched socks. His scar. His smile. His laugh. His smell.
It surrounds me. His face becomes all that I can see. Everything about him that I love, everything about him that I hate, becomes the only thing my mind will process – the only thing that it accepts exists in this moment.
I take a hand from its tight grip on my broomstick and press it to my face. In this instant, I know that I’m showing weakness – showing it to Gwenog Jones, showing it to my competitors, showing it to Lorcan – but I don’t care. I can’t care. Because my mind doesn’t care about anything that isn’t him.
Suddenly, there is a hand on my shoulder. And another. And another… and another… and another…
When I look up, there’s James, who has been in his own bubble for weeks; Fred, who is still furious with me for what I did to Delilah, the bitch; Holden, who gives me meaningful looks every time he sees me but hasn’t actually talked to me in days; Owen, who is delightfully oblivious; and, of course, sweet Albus, who has kept his eye on me more recently than I’m willing to admit.
I force myself to push him down, to push him away, to get the thoughts out of my head – his image out of my mind. This is my team. They’re surrounding me, because they need me. I can’t reject them in a time like this – I can’t let myself worry about Lorcan, who is hovering on his broom a few feet away, when I need to worry about them.
This match isn’t just about me; maybe my future will be determined, but this match is important to my team. This is one of their passions, just as it is mine. If I let myself down, I’ll be letting them down too; I can’t live with that.
I look James in the eye again. “I’m sorry,” I whisper to him – to all of them. “Merlin, I am so sorry.”
No one says a word.
No one needs to.
“Dommie? Flower? Nicky?”
“Oh, shit. Thomas said she’d be awake by now.”
“Fred, will you shut up?”
“Hey, did she just move?”
“No, James. She’s breathing.”
“That’s new, isn’t it?”
“Are we seriously related?”
“Am I really marrying you?”
I want to keep ignoring the voices around me, voices I can’t distinguish the owners of, but I can’t. I have to see what’s going on. Where I am. What’s happening. When my eyelids flutter open for an instant, I see a blur of red and black. The rush of light and color is instantly painful, however, so I squeeze my eyes closed again and cover them with the back of my hand, letting out a loud groan.
“Oh my Merlin, she’s awake!”
“James, you astound me.”
And there’s Lily.
“Madame Thomas, she’s awake,” Penelope calls out, more gentle and quiet than her fiancé and his sister – surely she understands my pain, but she is, luckily for me, always so soft-spoken. “Do you have something for the headache?”
I hear footsteps on the ground, and, guessing from the quiet chaos that surrounds only me, I take a shot at guessing where I am – the Hospital Wing, surrounded by my team and friends. When I feel a vial being pressed to my lips, I know exactly where I am – in my usual bed as well, I suspect.
When the liquid pours down my throat, it takes effect; I open my eyes with less pain this time, and I affirm my guess and take a look at the people who surround me. There are, of course, the usual suspects at my sickbed: Penelope, James, Fred, Holden, Owen, Lily, and Albus. I don’t see Lorcan, but I won’t tell anyone that I was looking. The rest of my cousins aren’t around either; I don’t doubt that Madame Thomas shooed them away.
However, there are three people standing near the next bed to my left that I’m not used to seeing whenever I’m lounging in my bed in the Hospital Wing: Professor Longbottom, Honor Jones, and… Gwenog Jones.
I take in a deep, sudden breath, and I look up at James with pleading eyes. In a hushed, hurried whisper, I hiss to him, “You need to tell me what happened, right this second.”
James glances at the dark-haired, petite, powerful woman standing behind all of us and then down at the floor. He bites his lip. “You fell.”
I fell? What?
I never fall.
Dominique Weasley does not fall off of her broom.
“Are you serious?”
Penelope sighs and sits down on the foot of my bed, resting a hand on her nonexistent baby bump. “I knew she wouldn’t take this well, James.”
He flares his nostrils but says nothing to her. “There was a Bludger coming straight for you – and it got you right in the stomach. You lost your balance and tipped instantly – ”
“I was toppled by a Bludger!?”
I am a bloody Beater – Beaters do not get taken down by a measly Bludger!
“And on your way down, you swung your arm – ”
“You’re telling me a Bludger took me down.”
“And you still had the bat, so you whacked the Bludger and – ”
“I can’t believe this.”
“Are you bloody listening to me?”
“Internal bleeding?” I interrupt, refusing to answer him.
I can’t answer him. I’m so… angry. Furious. Upset. Hurt. Confused. How did I, Dominique the Magnificent, get taken down by a Bludger? I was brought to my knees by the one thing I can actually control.
“A little bit,” Penelope answers for me.
“You bruised the fuck out of your tailbone,” Fred interjects, “And the collision cracked a rib. You have a concussion, but nothing else. Feeling sore?”
“Thomas has a potion for that,” Penelope comforts me, patting my hand.
James is starting to turn red with agitation; he sighs at us, shaking his head like he can’t believe we’re ignoring him. His patience is running thin today, which is far from the usual for him – he will be such a great father with that attitude.
“Anything else?” I ask, expecting for James to finish his story. He hates when he can’t finish his story.
“You knocked out Ravenclaw’s Seeker with one of the most dramatic and inspiring hits I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” comments my one and only idol in life – Gwenog Jones. She stands at the foot of my bed now, Longbottom and her daughter hovering behind her, with a wickedly frightening smile on her face – a smile I have seen all too often on her posters and photographs, which is much more frightening to see on the real Gwenog herself. “You were plummeting to what could have been your death, yourself in serious danger, and you swung the bat with more power than many players have on a broomstick.”
I raise my eyebrows. Maybe emotions are out of my reach right now; maybe they’ve been altered by my pain potions that I have been supplied with since my fall; all I know is, I should be shocked and all I am is numb.
This was James’ story – hence how put out he looks, now that Gwenog Jones stole his spotlight.
“Did we… did we win?”
An even more wicked smirk replaces Gwenog’s smile as she announces, “Craven won’t be awake for hours, with all of the pain potions he’s taken today. The other team didn’t stand a chance without a Seeker, especially with the Misters Potter here, doing the jobs that they both do. You broke bones, Miss Weasley. I was impressed.”
Then, it sinks in.
I was impressed.
Mission accomplished, Dom. Mission accomplished.
A/N: Quick update in the life of Paige: I will be a freshman at UNC in the fall, I am graduating first in my class, and I am really horrible at calculus. Also, I have found my real life James to my Penelope, minus the pregnancy. We've been together for 6 months and he loves Harry Potter as much as I do. More chapters soon. When I write one.