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Staying Afloat by nednedned
Chapter 3 : Quidditch Tryouts, Hormones, and Perfect Sunsets
 
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Amazing chapter image from onlyInevitability@TDA!
  
 “Alright, let’s get started! Gryffie Quidditch team tryouts! Wow, you lot are eager, aren’t you?” James trailed off as he looked at the mounds of assembled students willing to try out for the one open spot on the team.
 

I snorted. James was at a bit of a loss at what to do. Of course, he failed to notice that another year brought new nutters who only came to ogle the male members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

 

Dominique Weasley and I shared a glance from our position behind our captain. I mimed yawning, and she snickered. Unsurprisingly, however, it quickly turned into a real yawn. It was six a.m. Yup, six. Normally, on a Saturday morning, I would be blissfully asleep until after noon at least, dreaming about dragons and treacle tart and rainbows. But alas, here I was at nearly the crack of dawn, waiting to start tryouts. Bleh.

 

James, however, was still spluttering. Dom and I needed to do something quick; as it would take James ages to control such a large crowd alone.


“So, shall we intercede, my dear Dom?” I inquired, wiggling my eyebrows.

“Yes, I believe so, Lia darling!” She grinned.

 

Dom and I were pretty close, as she was the only other girl on the Quidditch team – a chaser. We bonded often over tiring Quidditch practices and electrifying games.

 

 James was still trying in vain to get everyone’s attention, so we marched up to him and pushed him out of the way to face the crowd. The field on the Quidditch pitch was almost full, along with people watching the spectacle from the stands.

 

Not many of them could actually play Quidditch, though.

 

“OI! YOU LOT!” I yelled in their general direction. Hundreds of heads spun towards me. I nodded towards Dom.

 

“Alright, first of all, anyone under second year and anyone who is not a member of the house of Gryffindor must leave NOW.” She began menacingly.

 

Scrawny little eleven year olds left dejectedly, followed by girls from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, giving Dom and me dirty looks. Why shouldn’t they be allowed to stay if we were?

 

Because we’re here to do more than stare and giggle, bints.

 

I raised my voice as well. “Alright, what’s left of you all, if you're not trying out for chaser, adios!” Prospective keepers, beaters, and seekers left grumbling; their hopes of taking over our place on the team dashed.


Now, there was a sizeable amount of people left to work with. I turned towards Dom and grinned. We high-fived and moved to give James the floor, who still looked thoroughly bewildered. However, it didn’t take long for his manic captain tendencies to take over. 
 
“Team! Start by running 10 laps then go practice the Prokokieff play. I’ll call you if I need you.” He then turned towards the prospects, of which a large portion visibly gulped.
  

We all groaned and protested. Practices hadn’t even started yet, and he was making us train at the tryouts?

 

“Jaaaames!”

 

“WHY? Why would you ask such a horrible thing of us?”

 

“But Jamsie, I’m your favourite cousin!”

 

“GO!”

 

We grumbled but started our laps.

 

Five minutes later we were all tired out, finishing the last lap. We were all at varying levels of exhaustion. I watched interestedly as Caleb turned a gruesome shade of puce. He was our keeper, and didn’t get around much during a game, aside from occasional lunges to protect the hoops. Fred and Albus were trying to race each other to the end. Dom and I weren’t so tired, as we both practiced over the summer and kept our endurance up. We easily coasted and finished the last lap, slightly panting.

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

“Oi – Lia, Fred, and Dom! Come here!” James was up in the air with a group of potential chasers.

 

We looked up from the play we were practicing. We zoomed up to a bit higher than the goalposts and saw Caleb there as well, in front of the hoops.

 

The number of potentials had been whittled down to five. One was a giant seventh year with biceps the width of a book, another hippie-looking seventh year had long dreadlocks. Hmm. There was a pair of twin third year girls, who looked like they were going to whip out lip gloss any moment. The last candidate had fiery red hair and was, unmistakably, a Potter. Lily, the fourth year sister of Albus and James, had indeed come to try out.

 

“Alright, you lot –” He gestured to us. “This is Dom, the second chaser, and these two are Lia and Fred, the beaters. You will, one by one, come up and pass with us and have five shots on Caleb with the quaffle. Fred and Lia will shoot bludgers at you – you better avoid them if you want to stay fully limbed!” James had an evil look on his face.

 

That wasn’t a good sign. This usually meant James would go into crazy-villain mode on the prospects.

 

“Er, James?” I started timidly. “Don’t kill them today, yeah?”

 

James just gave me a maniacal cackle. Ah well, what can you do?

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

One hour, countless attempted shots by the prospects, and lots of extreme pain later, James had finally picked a chaser out of the exhausted and sweaty group. To the surprise of no one (except the other prospects, of course) it was Lily! She sauntered over to the rest of the team with a satisfied look on her face while we clapped. Cheesy, I know, but the fourth-year beat many people at least twice her size. James ruffled her hair good-naturedly while the rest of us proceeded to give endless amounts of high-fives.

 

The rest of the candidates grumbled and grouched as they trudged across the field and back to the castle. However, they wouldn’t be able to argue their case anyway. Lily had gotten four out of five shots in the hoops (the highest amount – Caleb was a bloody good keeper), had dodged the bludgers with intense precision, and could practically read James’ and Dom’s minds when they were passing back and forth. The little fourth year could now be designated as a boss.

 

Only cool people could be bosses.

 

I decided to tell her so. “Hey little Potter, that was amazing! You're officially a boss now.”

She raised her eyebrows at me. “A boss?”

 

Yes, a boss. Keep up. This means you're officially super awesome and basically better than everyone else – except me, of course.” I conjured a pair of aviators and put them on.

 

The rest of the team started protesting this proclamation. I ignored them (except to conjure more sunglasses to shut them up), linked arms with Lily, and started skipping back to the castle for breakfast.

 

Pancakes, eggs, and bacon – about time.

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

It was the afternoon.

 

He kissed me intensely, with ferociousness not present when we dated last year. His mouth moved from my own to my collarbone, bringing a line of kisses up to my ear.


My hands buried in his hair. He wrapped one hand around my waist and the other behind my neck. When I brought his lips back up to mine, he responded eagerly.
 

Around fifteen minutes had passed since Cole and I entered the hidden passageway. It was after lunch, and we found each other in passing and had ended up inside.

 

The last-name-basis thing dropped after we ended up snogging so quickly.

 

With Cole, things moved fast because we had already done this before. We had been through the awkward first few days, followed by weeks and months of dating – we didn’t need to relive those scenarios.

 

So why was I rendezvousing (heh) with Cole when I didn’t even feel anything?

 

It was just the same as before. No fireworks. Sure he was hot, and made me weak in the knees. Though it wasn’t like the boy set my insides on fire or anything.


Besides, I already knew which boy could do that by just looking at me.

I was snogging Cole fiercely so that I wouldn’t think about Albus. At least this way, I had someone.

It wasn’t bad, really. I could feel his abs through his shirt (I wonder how he got them – he’s not on the team, maybe there’s a secret Hogwarts gym…) and his muscled arms.

 

His hands were straying near the edge of my t-shirt. He pushed me against the wall, one hand moving through my hair, while the other proceeded to graze the skin on my stomach.

 

Okay, the wandering hands were going too far. Apparently, the lets-forget-Albus-by-snogging-someone-else wasn’t working.

 

I pushed Cole off and crossed my arms. He groaned and ran a hand through his hair. “Damn it Lia, why do you always do this to me?”

 

I sighed. “Sorry Cole. Maybe next time.” I kissed him underneath his jawbone and started to walk away from him. At the end of the passage, while fixing my hair and my clothes, I heard him moan and flop against the wall.

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

“Is it just me, or has James Potter gotten way cuter this summer?”

 

We all groaned. Maya cheekily grinned at us. She had been exhausting the topic of James for days. At the moment, the two were in their “flirting” phase, though not quite yet at the “now lets finally hook up” phase. I honestly didn’t understand those two.

 

We were walking on the grounds by the lake. Various students were out and about, enjoying the weather before winter grabbed the landscape. The ace gang was having a life chat, as it was long overdue since the start of school. This time was to just talk about everything, from boys to personal thoughts.


We'd already grilled Rosie about Scorpius, who she vehemently put down (all the more reason to bet on when they would get together), and inquired about Fred from Grace, who just gave us a look. It looked like we would get it out of them another day.

Though at the moment, Maya was way exceeding her boy-talk quota about James.

 

Grace had seemed to realize this too. She tucked her hair behind her ear and turned towards me. “Lia. I believe you haven’t had the chance to explain the McLaggen situation?”

 

No excuse for this one, I didn’t. We were all bustling about in the first few days, trying to get used to the Hogwarts routine once more. Today was the first chance that we actually got together to recount everything.


I played with the rings on my fingers nervously. “Oh, y’know, he is pretty cute.”

Rose gave me a look. “One’s appearance isn’t everything, you know. Besides, your relationship already fizzled last year – you guys were going in different directions.”

I shrugged. “Yeah, I know, but maybe our directions have straightened out this year. I’ll never know unless I try.”

 

I decided to continue the Cole-phase. It would help distract me from thinking about Albus too much.

 

Besides, wandering hands can be dealt with by way of ninja moves.


I should have known, though, that I could never have fooled my friends. They started circling me like vultures. Creepy.

“Amelia Finnegan, this is very much unlike you.” Grace began the speech.

 

Maya continued. “And if you do stuff like this usually, it means you have another motive you want to reach.” She flicked me on the back of my head.

 

"So, as your best buds and ace gang members, we demand to know exactly what you are trying to achieve here.” Rose finished the threat.

They didn’t give me a chance to talk before subjecting me to the lowest form of duress – tickling. Complete torture! It didn’t help that I was possibly one of the most ticklish people on the planet.

 

“Ah – you guys – stop that!” I panted, giggling like a mad person. “I’ll tell you” – giggle, giggle – “everything!”


They released me at once, their eager faces waiting for my explanation.

Pricks.

 

I sighed and proceeded to recount the first few days on the boy front for them. Their faces showcased sympathy to bewilderment to confusion. It had been funny when they squeed when I confirmed I liked Albus, though.


Maya sighed and pulled us all down to sit on the grass. “Oh Lia, you have really outdone yourself this time. So let me get this straight. You’re going out with Cole again-
 

“Yep.”


“but you don’t really like him-“

“Yep.”


 “his octopus hands creep you out-“

“Yep.”

“but he’s still hot-“

 

“Yep.”

 

and you’re doing this to stop liking Al.”

 

"Yep.”

 

They stared at me with varying expressions of disbelief.

 

Grace responded first. “My dear, I have no words. No words at all.”

 

“You’ll have an interesting time getting out of this mess.” Rose smirked at me. “Besides, now we can place bets on how long it’ll take for you and Albus to get together.”

 

I sighed. What sweet, advice-giving, best pallies I had.

 

                                                                                                                                               

 

It was nearing nightfall. I was sitting in a little nook in the astronomy tower which overlooked the castle and the grounds. The sun was setting, and various hues of pink, purple, and orange were cast on the looming castle walls.

 

I sighed contentedly. Nighttime was my favourite part of the day. While I was the last to get up in the morning, I could stay up all night long if I wanted, even without a purpose. On weekends, when I didn’t have to get up early, I would end up exploring the castle. Over the years I had learned which corridors and passages were safe to go through at specific times without getting caught. A lot of the times, I would end up in the astronomy tower.

 

No matter if it was evening or midnight, the view was always beautiful. At midnight, the sky was lit up with what felt like a million stars. Not having bright city lights to interfere with starlight made the sky seem magical. In the evening, with the first touch of darkness, the sunset illuminated the entire tower. Various shadows and hues contrasted to make surfaces seem like warm rainbows.

 

I had just finished my homework in the library (Rose’s influence, I swear), and had stolen away to the highest point in the castle. A glassless window was the perfect seat to watch the sun go down. It was also the perfect place to let my thoughts flow away from me, and forget about troubles for a bit.

 

I took out my sketchbook and pastels, and started to draw. I worked quickly, as the ever-changing sky got dark in just moments. Swirling colours filled the page, added to dark shadows and sunlit stones. I was lost in the moment, completely absorbed in my art.

 

My intense focus caused a delayed reaction to someone calling my name. “Amelia! Earth to Amelia?”

 

I nearly fell out of the window. “AHH!”

 

A strong pair of hands caught me from doing so. “Easy there!” I looked up and saw Albus Potter’s green eyes smiling into mine.

 

“Oh, hi Albus.” I attempted a smile, though it was weak, as I had just been saved from certain death.

 

“How did you stow yourself away up here?” He asked, curious. “The astronomy tower isn’t a popular place to lounge unless you have class.”


“Well, sometimes I come here just to get away. From my roommates’ craziness, my own, Quidditch, school, the same old. I don’t know… sometimes just to think about stuff.” I blushed. Surprise, surprise! No crazy-talk yet.

His face lifted at this new revelation. “You serious? I come here as well! Not in the evenings though, usually in the mornings. I like to watch the sun rise. I came here because I left my sweater.” He picked up a maroon sweater which I hadn’t noticed before from a corner and put it on. He was about to continue when he noticed the artwork on my lap. “Merlin, Amelia, that’s amazing! Did you really draw that?” He shifted some of the art supplies around me and took a seat beside me on the window ledge.

 

I blushed once more. Blimey. “Yeah, it’s a bit of a hobby of mine. It’s kind of peaceful for me, just sitting and immersing myself in a drawing.” He was still staring at it, so I passed him my book, and blushed even further when our hands grazed.

 

By the name of Merlin’s polka dotted clown pants, I was having a real conversation with Albus! Definitely something to report back to the troops (otherwise known as Maya, Rosie, and Grace).

 

I felt as though I wasn’t even a blithering mess around Albus anymore, almost as if my brain was focusing more on him rather than his image. It was nice.

 

 

It didn’t stop my heart from beating like crazy, though.

 

Albus was still flipping through my book. It had many, many sunsets, but also the lake, the Quidditch pitch, and even the Great Hall. It had pictures of our group, smiling and laughing – recreated from fun memories. Finally, he flipped to a picture I drew at home. I had attempted to replicate a family photo of my dad, Ryan, and me. It wasn’t moving like normal pictures, but it still looked like us.

 

“Is that your dad?” Albus asked, gawking at the picture. “You drew this so realistically!”

 

My cheeks burned and I smiled inwardly. I realized that Albus was the first person other than Dad to see my sketchbook. For some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable showing it to people. It was surprisingly easy to hand it to Albus, though. Almost as if I knew in my gut that he could be trusted and wouldn’t judge me.

 

The sun was almost past the horizon by now, letting off saturated hints of reds. Nighttime was near. An autumn wind blew past us and into the tower, causing me to shiver. I was dressed lightly as I hadn’t anticipated staying in the tower for too long. Like most of my drawings, the new sunset art was spontaneous.

 

Albus noticed my momentary coldness and promptly took off his sweater. I started to half-heartedly protest, but I didn’t really try. I mean, it was Albus’ sweater! He put it around my shoulders and smiled.

 

I think I’m melting.

 

“Albus, you don’t have to…” I began.

 

“Yes I do. Besides, wouldn’t want you to catch a cold during Quidditch season, yeah?” He winked at me and we both grinned.

 

We ended up staying on the window ledge for at least an hour more, talking about random things. It was a wonder that we didn’t get caught by a wheezing, sputtering Filch. When it was completely dark and only cricket chirps could be heard, he turned to me.

 

“Hey, Amelia?” He started, looking at me earnestly.

 

“Yeah, Albus?” I looked at him, curious. We had spent ages out here. I had a few rambling hiccups, and he only looked at me funny a few times – we laughed it off. It was an evening well spent. I wondered what he had to say next.

 

“Call me Al.” He looked at me with piercing eyes and a smile. A genuine smile. I grinned, thrilled. We were friends now, possibly.

 

“Call me Lia.”

 

                                                                                                                                               


Well, there's chapter three then! I hope you liked it, and tell me your thoughts in a review!

Oh, and the “ace gang” title is actually from the Georgia Nicolson books by Louise Rennison.

 

Though I never got the whole thing of saying that all Harry Potter stuff belongs to J.K Rowling, I mean, isn’t this whole site devoted to Harry Potter fan fiction? Eh. Someone let me know the answer :)

 

Anyway, thanks so much for reading!


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