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Chapter 11 : The Match
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1. The language is going to be a little bit worse.
2. The violence is also going to be a bit more graphic. So, if you don't like that stuff, you don't have to read it. It will (probably) be explained after. If not, just shoot me a review and I'll fill you in without being *too* graphic.
3. This is currently unbetad.
Okay, that's all I've got. I don't own H.P., and enjoy!
Edit = to fix issues with chapter fourteen.
More amazing work by Camila @ TDA.
The two weeks after Halloween passed in a sheer Quidditch frenzy. I honestly didn’t remember half of what happened, I was so focused on the match. We had our normal, excruciatingly long practices, but then we also snuck out to the pitch every night at midnight for another one. I really liked the midnight ones, though, because of how many stars were out. Being in the middle of the country, there were so many stars. It was just ... beautiful. (until practice started, that was)
I also knew that I had gotten horrible marks those two weeks, and felt like falling over and sleeping for fourteen hours. Sadly, that would never happen, as all of our Quidditch practices are either less time than that apart, or were separated by classes. (Piper would murder me if I skipped class, whereas otherwise I wouldn’t care. And she was already quite pissed off about my steadily dropping marks as it was …) But there was an upside to this past fortnight.
I hadn’t had time to worry about B-17, or the comments from Stebbins and his gang. I was too tired to cause ‘trouble’ during class, and I quietly served my detentions (apparently being on probation meant they never ended). Plus, I couldn’t wonder about what would happen if I did snap, or how long I would have to watch my back. And most of all, I didn’t have time to worry about summer. My last time in a home; I would turn seventeen in exactly eighteen days, but the because of the law I was still a ward of the Ministry until I graduated. But then there was the issue of my rather lacking vault in Gringotts, and flats were expensive ...
Anyways, after two weeks of enduring our classifiably insane captain, the day of the match was upon us. Albus had made us go to bed at bloody seven o’clock, but sadly I had passed out immediately. And finally got my fourteen hours of sleep … actually, it was twelve. Al had ordered us to go directly to the pitch at seven after changing into our robes. I knew why; he wanted us to avoid the chaos of the Great Hall, and stop us from getting nervous. But, honestly, I wasn’t nearly nervous. We had practiced our arses off, and would win today. Indefinitely. But Ravenclaw was good …
And so I was sitting in the changing rooms, watching Paige plait her long brown hair like Piper did, before tieing green and silver hair ties around the braid. Kenzie and Jasper were tossing rolls back and forth, Albus having provided food for us, and Al, Alyssa and Rhys were talking strategy in a corner. Antisocial worry-warts, if you asked me. Matches were supposed to be fun.
“Hey, Nick! Do you want me to plait yours, too? It’ll keep it out of your face better,” Paige offered, but I felt wary.
“Fine,” I answered, shrugging. If it didn’t keep my hair out of my face as well as promised, though, I would have to seek revenge. She looked mildly surprised, but grinned and walked over. Before I knew it, my hair was back in two tight plaits. I had to admit, it did keep even my untamable hair out of the way.
“All right, you lot,” Al said, walking over from his private discussion. “Grab something to eat, sit down, and shut it.” I did as he said, but tuned out most of his lecture. I honestly didn’t care about x’s and o’s on a blackboard; I just wanted to hit bludgers at the pricks known as the Ravenclaw Quidditch team. “Oh, and here’s earplugs for you lot. They’re enchanted so we can only hear each other and no one or anything else. I asked Professor McLaggen, and he said it was legal, and it’ll block out whatever they’re … it’ll help us focus,” Al finished, before smiling. It was strained, though. “Now let’s win a match!”
Great plan, Al. It wasn’t like the captains had been saying that before every match since the war. Still, it rarely happened. I think the last time Slytherin won the cup was 2006, but even then the team had been made up of mostly first years.*
So I took a pair of earplugs and found my broom (I had somehow lost it while I was dozing through the pep talk). Immediately, I heard Al’s voice in my ear. That was a little creepy.
“Ready?” it asked quietly, and I saw Al looking at me. I just nodded, trying to look confident. Honestly, though, I wasn’t. We hadn’t won a match the entire time I’ve been at Hogwarts. It was usually interesting to listen to Owen commentate, though, but I guessed I wouldn’t even be able to hear his subtle jabs at the Ravenclaws and Gryffindors, with the earplugs and whatnot. He usually steered clear of Slytherin jokes, though. Why?
“Oi, Aldemort?” I called into the earpiece, realizing something. “When they announce our names, how will we know which one is ours?” With satisfaction, I heard Al swear.
“Take out one until the beginning of the match. Then, when everyone’s in position, put the other one back,” he ordered after a while. “That should work,” he added, but shot me a glance for the ‘Aldemort’. I ignored it, though, and just smiled. The newbies looked like they were going to wet themselves, I noted to myself, but Al must have heard my slight snicker.
“Listen, I’m not going to lie to you lot. It’s going to be bloody rough out there, from the match to the stands. This way, you won’t have to hear most of it. You’ve heard some of it, from the stands, but it’s not as bad as when you’re on the pitch. It gets personal; believe me, I know. All the other captains have said ‘don’t let it get to you, just focus on the match’. But sometimes, you can’t. Which is why you need these,” Al admitted, and everyone looked a little more grim. He was right, though, and I knew he was ... from experience. I had been on the team since fourth year, and sometimes the spectators were cruel. Very cruel. You should have heard some of the things the Gryffindors had on Al last year. I almost walked over to James during a time out and punched him. Sadly, the combined force of Rhys and Al scampered that idea, so I had to settle for a nice little hit to the elbow that made Chasing a little more difficult for him.
“So, to sum it up, just wear the bloody earplugs and let’s win a match! The other houses are catching up, so we need the points,” I said in a chipper tone, and Rhys nodded. Al was too busy surveying the team; Paige looked a little nauseated. (It’s not nauseous; that would be grammatically incorrect. Bloody hell .... what was happening to me?)
“I think it’s time,” Al said, a little too gravely.
“Oh, lighten up. It’s not like we’re going to die or anything. The last time that happened at a Hogwarts match was in 1868,” I inputted, and Rhys smiled slightly.
“So you know the date the last of a death at of a Quidditch match at Hogwarts, but you don’t know anything about the Goblin Rebellions you’ve been learning about for the past year?” he asked, and I just nodded. Rhys, Al, and Kenzie (little smart-arse) all groaned.
“Are we going to play Quidditch, or are we just going to debate Nick’s less than studious tendencies?” Alyssa asked in a bored tone. I just smiled.
“She’s right. I really need to update history. Let’s kill some ‘claws!” I exclaimed, before running out of the changing rooms. I heard a mixture of chuckles and sighs behind me, with Kenzie asking Al if I was actually going to kill someone, and Al harping on about ‘legal hits’.
I didn’t care, though. I just wanted to play some Quidditch.
“Annnnnd welcome to the rather belated first Quidditch Match of the year! Normally it’d be almost a month ago, but I have a feeling that Gryffindor was scared of Slytherin. I don’t see why, though, I don’t think there are any future Dark Lords playing today.” Everyone chuckled a little at that, glancing at Lottie and Thomas, who had amplified their voices and screamed ‘DAMN RIGHT! ‘CAUSE THEY’RE HERE!’
“So, today Ravenclaw and Slytherin will be facing off, in this lovely weather,” Owen announced, looking at the already drizzling skies. Even though I wished Piper had gotten the position, Owen really did a brilliant job. He had just the right mix of humor and taunting; enough to make the students laugh, but not enough to warrant Professor Chang to take away the microphone.
“And here comes Slytherin!” Owen continued, and called off each one of our names. We soared to our positions, grinning slightly demonically. We were testing out a ‘fear’ tactic. After that, he read off Ravenclaws, adding in a rather amusing bit about someone he obviously knew well, who mimed throwing his beater’s bat at Owen.
Then after the whole ‘play nice, don’t try to murder each other, and whatnot’ by Professor McLaggen, the match began.
Ravenclaw wouldn’t know what hit them.
“OPEN! ALYSSA ON YOUR RIGHT!”
“DAMMIT, GET BACK! RAVENCLAW HAS THE QUAFFLE!”
“RHYS! PAIGE; DUCK!”
“GOOD ONE, JASPER!”
“DUCK! ALYSSA, DUCK!”
“BLOODY F ... RHYS!”
“AL, GET THE DAMN SNITCH NOW!”
“NICK! TO THE LEFT ... BY KENZIE!” Rhys shouted, but because of the ear devices it was literally right in my ear. I immediately shot off to the left, though, and just managed to block the hit. It had been heading straight for Kenzie’s head, and the impact jarred my arm. Ravenclaw was playing dirty.
It had been almost three hours since the match started. From the moment the Quaffle entered the air, it had been a bloodbath. Rhys and I had been zooming around like crazy trying to protect everyone. I had to admit, though, the ear devices were really helpful. Not only did it block out all the taunts from the stands, it also helped me ignore the Ravenclaw pigs, who loved to make cocky and sexist comments towards the girls on the other team.
Despite our antics, though, it was within twenty points, and we were looking a little worse for the wear. Okay, that was an understatement. I didn’t think there was one person on our team who would be able to walk after the match. All three Chasers had been hit in the stomach multiple times, either by bludgers, fists, elbows, or, in Alyssa’s case, bats. Kenzie had been run into the side of the stadium, and his leg was covered in red. Jasper was catching the Ravenclaw’s normally painful shots with broken hands; he couldn’t even keep his gloves on, they were so swollen. And Al, he had taken many illegal hits, just because the Ravenclaws felt like it. Rhys had taken a bludger to the face for Paige, and one to his elbow for Alyssa, and it was slowing him down, though he didn’t admit it.
I, however, was in pretty good shape. I’d had a lot worse.
“KENZIE TO YOUR LEFT! DUCK, NOW!” I screamed, accelerating my broom as fast as it could go (which wasn’t very as it was very, very old) towards Kenzie. I had just seen the little twerp of a Ravenclaw, one who had targeting Kenzie the entire match, raise his beater’s bat with a simply scary face. Somehow, I had known it wouldn’t end well.
But as I was trying to stop the first Bludger from hitting Kenzie, I had completely neglected the other damned one.
“NICK!” I heard someone bellow, a split second before I felt the crunch at the back of my right shoulder. I screamed, not expecting the hit, and watched helplessly as Kenzie, who had turned at the sound of my scream, get hit in the head, and topple down towards the earth.
My mind blanked, and I just rushed towards the ground, trying to catch Kenzie. I ignored my shoulder, my only thought of saving him before he hit the ground.
“NICK, NO!” Al roared in my ear, and I saw he was just below me, trying to catch Kenzie, too. Then I saw the little black ball heading towards Al’s back, just a little above and to the right of me.
So I did the only natural thing. I flung my bat out to where the Bludger was, ignoring the jolt as my shoulder protested, and felt the impact of the bludger. I bit my lip so I wouldn’t scream and distract Al; an agonizing shock spread up my arm. My vision blurred a bit with the pain, and when it cleared I saw Albus on the ground, holding Kenzie. He looked up, and raised his wand, sending a signal to McLaggen, who had (finally) blown his whistle, signaling a foul.
“Time out,” he growled. Madam Bones rushed down and took Kenzie away, conjuring a stretcher, and everyone looked at Al. McLaggen blew his whistle again, and we all trudged into a corner of the pitch.
“Slytherin has fallen to forty points behind Ravenclaw, who happens to be playing a very dirty game. Not that McLaggen noticed, though. So at the time out, the score is 150-110 ... Ravenclaw,” Owen announced, sounding very ... peeved. I hadn’t heard his commentary, but I had taken an earpiece out to hear the score, and Owen’s thoughts; were the fouls really that obvious? We all knew that McLaggen was a bigot, but he was really okay with watching kids get beat up? What a great teacher.
“Okay. I’m not that great with healing spells, so I don’t know how much I can help. Nick?” Al said immediately, and I was surprised. His eyes were practically burning with rage when he called the time out.
“Bruises and minor scrapes ... not on this scale,” I admitted quietly. Then that Potter rage resurfaced.
“Great. Just ... bloody .... great. One of our Chasers just got hit in the head with a Bludger, Nick just crushed her shoulder, and our Keeper can’t straighten his fingers. Ravenclaw is playing dirty, and the Snitch is nowhere to be seen,” Al ranted, and I shot Rhys a worried look. He didn’t notice; he was too busy supporting his sister, who couldn’t stand on her own.
“Okay, so what’s the brilliant plan?” I asked Al heatedly. This was out of character. “Yes, Ravenclaws are dirty little cheaters, and yes, Kenzie’s in bad shape, but why tell us the obvious? You didn’t call the time out just to give us a break, if you’re the same Albus Potter who ran our practices. You’re not your brother, are you?”
“Obviously not, you nitwit. Look at him,” Rhys said, after he saw the look on Al’s face. It was positively demonic.
We were back in business.
“All right, mates. Listen up; we have a match to win,” he said, a smile on his blood encrusted face. He spat the blood out of his mouth, and we all listened as Al explained his brilliant plan. He had found Ravenclaw’s weakness. FINALLY! (Or maybe Piper had one of these earpiece things ...)
“You ready?” Rhys whispered into my ear as we waited for Alyssa to take the penalty shot. I nodded, smiling slightly evilly. “Don’t try to kill yourself.”
“I make no promises,” I muttered. “If we win the match, though, it’ll be worth it. And I’ll have my name in a history book ...”
“Yes, I can see it already. Nicole Warrington; first girl to die in a Hogwarts’ Quidditch match since 1868,” Rhys replied sarcastically.
“Oi! You realize we can all hear you?” Alyssa exclaimed. “Earpieces, remember?” Rhys and I swore under our breaths. “Eejits,” Alyssa muttered, before lining up for the penalty shot.
“Just play Quidditch,” Al cut in, sounding exasperated. “We’re starting ... oh bloody hell! NOW! Good shot, Lyssa! Now let’s go!”
So I grinned one more time at Rhys, before taking off down the pitch. Paige was just about to take a shot when Rhys passed me a Bludger, before I slammed it at the Ravenclaw Keeper. It was a legal shot, and it hit the Keeper in the side, but the eejit didn’t hold onto his broom, so he was officially out of the game.
You see, the Ravenclaw Chasers were horrible at defense. So, if we took out their Keeper and kept control of the Quaffle, we would regain our lead. If only Al could find the bloody Snitch ....
So for the next ten minutes or so the Chasers simply floored Ravenclaw. It didn’t matter if there were two of them; Paige and Alyssa passed with a seamless rhythm. Rhys and I kept the Bludgers away, and Al resumed his hunt for the Snitch.
Then, out of nowhere, I felt the slam of a body. The next thing I knew, I was spitting wood out of my mouth as I tried to regain my location. But in those five seconds it took, both of the Bludgers disappeared. Until they were both headed straight for Al, who was in the middle of a dive, the Snitch hovering just above the ground.
“RHYS!” I screamed, but it was too late. From what must have been fifty feet up, Al was knocked off his broom. I watched him fall, and saw Rhys chase after him, but Albus was too far ahead of him.
Albus hit the ground.
I heard Piper’s scream, but it didn’t register until later. I grabbed my bat and went after one of the Bludgers, and flung it at the Ravenclaw Seeker. Sadly, she avoided it, but the Snitch had seemingly disappeared. I didn’t stop, though, I just kept flinging Bludgers at any person in blue robes I could. After I heard the whistle, having finally gotten McLaggen’s attention, my blood stopped pounding in my ears, letting the voices reappear.
“NICK!” I heard Jasper roar. “STOP; NOW!”
“OH MY GOD, AL!” Paige screamed, finally seeing his unmoving form, already being levitated away by Professor Zabini.
“WE NEED A TIME-OUT!” Alyssa yelled. I, however, was looking at Rhys. He was standing calmly on the field, something in his hand.
“Rhys?” I asked, my voice a hoarse whisper. I didn’t want to believe it. “What’s in your hand?”
“No ...” Alyssa whispered. “You couldn’t have ... Albus ...”
“PROFESSOR!” I yelled. McLaggen flew over, looking peeved.
“What is it now?” he asked. “Did another one of you pass out?” I ignored his comment, and gestured to Rhys, who had flown up.
“No. I have the Snitch,” Rhys said calmly.
“What?” McLaggen spluttered. “Let me see!” So Rhys opened his hand calmly, and, sure enough, there was a little golden ball inside.
We had won.
“What? ... that’s against the rules! Only a Seeker can catch the Snitch!” McLaggen continued, and I shot Rhys a panicked look. He wasn’t fazed, though.
“I didn’t say I caught it; I said I had it. Albus caught it as he fell to the ground. He didn’t lose consciousness until after he hit. Ask Professor Zabini, or examine the Snitch,” Rhys reasoned, and we all smirked. Ravenclaw looked positively murderous.
“Fine ...” McLaggen conceded, and flew up to the match to inform Owen of the result of the match.
“SLYTHERIN HAS WON ITS FIRST MATCH IN OVER FIFTEEN YEARS!” Owen announced, before going on about the score, and the match in general. He never swore on air; that was one of the reasons he had actually maintained the position.
We, however, didn’t care. The adrenaline was fading, and the pain was setting in. Alyssa was being supported by both Rhys and Jasper, while Paige and I limped alongside them; me trying not to move my right arm, Paige wheezing for breath.
It wasn’t anything Madam Bones couldn’t heal in an instant, though, so it wasn’t that bad. Albus and Kenzie, though; a hit to the head could be deadly, and I’d heard about people who were paralyzed after hits to the back. (which one of the bludgers had done to Albus)
“Are you lot okay? Lottie and Thomas just went to go nick food and such; there’s going to be a party in the CR!” Lydia, one of Jasper’s mates, called as she ran past us. “Brilliant job!” Piper suddenly materialized next to me, as the rest of our house ran past in excitement. She was accompanied by Arabella, one of Kenzie’s mates.
“Are you lot going to the Hospital Wing?” Piper asked quietly. I just nodded, and she surveyed us. “Good.”
“Piper, he’ll be fine. It’s nothing that Madam Bones can’t handle,” I told her, and she just nodded. Arabella was still biting her nails nervously. “Kenzie, too, Bella. Merlin knows his skull is thick enough.” Bella laughed slightly, but she still looked worried.
And, just like that, I was sobered. I was worried about them; were they really all right? And then, another thought struck.
Was this how Piper and Al felt before seeing me at the beginning of each year? Did they have to wonder if I would even come back every summer? If I were them, I wouldn’t have been able to take it. I would have screamed, or gone insane with worry. Hurt me all you want, but go anywhere near my friends and I’ll curse you so that you won’t be able to form a coherent sentence again.
“Brilliant match, though. I haven’t seen Slytherin play like that since, well, ever,” Bella said, grinning. It was strained, though. Just then, I felt something cold and sticky hit the back of my head. I whirled around. But no one was there.
“You lot go on ahead. I need to check something,” I told them all, trying to look collected and calm. Whoever it was that was baiting me could bait me, but I wasn’t letting anyone else get caught in the middle of it.
“What is it?” Piper asked, reading past my emotionless face. “What’s on the back of your head?”
“Probably leftover blood. It’s fine; I’ll meet up with you. I’m sure it’s nothing,” I dismissed. Piper looked reluctant, and Rhys looked skeptical. They left, though, and then I turned around again. I waited until the rest of the stragglers were out of sight, before glaring.
“Who was it?” I asked, and five Hufflepuffs appeared out of nowhere. “You,” I spat, recognizing one of them.
“Yes,” he responded cockily. Oh. Two could play at that game.
“Wow, I can see why you’re not a Gryffindor. Do you really have to attack one little snake girl with four people for back-up?” I retorted. To my glee, he looked a little startled. Time to seal the deal. “And invisibility charms? That’s antics almost worthy of a Slytherin.”
He didn’t have a reply. I didn’t think he would. His face was turning a lovely shade of red, though.
“So, are we actually going to duel? One on one?” I drawled, trying to look bored. “I have many other places I’d rather be, so make up your mind quickly.”
“Fine,” he said confidently, before swallowing. “Go on, I’ll catch up. This won’t take long.” I merely raised an eyebrow.
As he watched them go, I hit him with a silent bat-bogey hex.
“That’s not fair! We hadn’t started yet!” he exclaimed, quickly casting the counter charm.
“I’m a Slytherin, Stebbins. I don’t play fair,” I said coldly, as he drew his wand.
“Fine. I can see you’re the same stupid little bitch that you were when you leeched off my parents,” he retorted. I felt my blood boil.
“What did you say?” I asked, fighting to keep my voice calm.
“I said you’re a stupid little bitch. You leeched off my parents for a year, because your parents were probably hitting the bottle or something. I bet they didn’t even have jobs. Good for nothing people.” He paused. “I can see where you got it from. Tell me, how do you support yourself now? Working the corner? Are you a-”
I snapped. I didn’t care if I had the major disadvantage; (my wand arm was basically useless) I attacked. I sent spell after spell, and I could see that he was struggling. The duel had begun. Spell after spell, sending and parrying, time slowing down to almost a standstill. I swore I saw a few flashes of green, but I didn’t care. I was filled with white-hot rage, so intense I was starting to see red. And then, just when I thought I had him cornered, I was knocked flat on my back. My shoulder screamed in agony, and then Stebbins was standing over me. He stepped on my right arm, sending another jolt of pain up through my shoulder. I didn’t cry out, though.
“You’re nothing,” he panted. “Nothing more than a dirty ... little ...”
The next thing I knew, he was on the ground, and I was standing over him, his wand broken in half. Mine was somewhere in the grass. So I pulled back my fist, and punched him in the face. Screw wizard duelling; muggle brawling was so much more effective for anger release.
“You dirty ...” Stebbins started, before moving to punch me in the face. He was sluggish and weak, though, and my guess he thought the pain in his (probably broken) nose was agonizing. It was no competition.
Sick of the insults, and laughing maniacally about his low pain tolerance, I initiated the fight. I didn’t care; I had put up with comments from him for too long. Plus, I needed an outlet. I was murderous. I wanted to kill the Ministry, I wanted to kill goddamn Social Services, and I wanted to kill every single abusive foster parent I’d ever had. I wanted to kill Him. Screw the consequences; everyone knew this was going to happen eventually, it had only been a matter of time.
When I was done, Stebbins was unconscious. The satisfaction, however, was slowly fading. Madam Bones would be able to heal him in less than five minutes. He wouldn’t even scar. Swearing, and realizing what I had done, I started to limp up to the castle.
What had I done?
There was nothing I could do to undo anything. And, to be honest, I didn’t care what happened. I just needed to see Al, to know that he was alright. That something was still alright.
What was going to happen to me?
Suddenly, what I guessed was four sets of hands grabbed me and started to haul me off.. I tried to fight, but they were too strong. I screamed; one covered my mouth. The worst part was that I knew exactly who they were. Of course I shouldn’t have thought I could just win and walk away. He’d rigged it from the beginning.
As they started punching and hexing me, taking turns, I knew what I had to do. It usually ended sooner this way. I remained silent. I didn’t scream, I didn’t fight. I didn’t cry. I shut myself down, soaking in the pain. I deserved every bit, and I wasn’t going to fight it. Everything was over ... let them kill me. It was over, anyways. There was nothing left to fight for.
It continued for ages, until they slammed my head into the wall, pushing me into a corner I couldn’t get out of, and I started to see stars. I swore I heard someone, miles away, shout my name before everything turned to black.
“Where is Nick?” Piper asked worriedly, pacing the Hospital Wing. Albus was still unconscious, as was Kenzie, so the rest of the team was there, waiting to tell them the result of the match.
“I dunno,” Alyssa asked, trying to appear calm. “I’m sure it’s fine, though, Piper. Nick tends to wander off sometimes ...”
“It’s been almost an hour, though,” Piper replied, looking towards the door. “She was acting odd, too. Something’s wrong.”
“If you’ll calm down, I’ll go look for her,” Rhys volunteered, sounding slightly peeved. “Merlin knows you need to stop stressing out over these little things,” he muttered. Piper’s face visibly relaxed, and she seemed to not notice Rhys’s comment.
“Thanks, Rhys,” she said gratefully, before glancing at Albus. As Rhys turned to leave, he saw a tear in her eye. “What would I do if they both got hurt? I’d have no one,” she whispered to herself. There was a lot more to Piper Longbottom than Rhys had thought. She wasn’t just little miss worry-wart with good marks and a cheery little smile.
Rhys’s face immediately softened, and he set off to look for Nick. He wandered the corridors down towards the Entrance Hall, but on the second floor he heard what sounded like a scuffle. Then he heard taunts, derogatory words, and immediately ran towards the noises.
“No,” he whispered, as he tried to see who the Hufflepuffs were torturing. Then he saw the color of the person’s robes. “NICK!” he yelled, and immediately the Hufflepuffs scampered. Cowardly little gits, Rhys thought to himself, as he rushed towards her. She was almost unrecognizable, and Rhys was glad she was unconscious. Merlin knew the pain she was in ...
Oh, god. Piper. What was Rhys going to tell her? She couldn’t see Nick like this ... she couldn’t. But what could Rhys do?
“Oh my god,” a voice said next to him. “Nick?” it asked quietly. Rhys didn’t recognize the boy, but he recognized his voice. The Quidditch announcer. ... a Hufflepuff. Just like them. “What happened?”
“Ask your friends,” Rhys growled. For all he knew the boy had been a part of it, too.
“What?” he replied. “What can I do?” he asked softly. “I swear to God I didn’t do this. She’s my friend.” Rhys thought back to his conversation with Nick about Hufflepuffs, and realized this was probably who Nick was talking about. ‘Some of them are decent’. He decided to trust Nick, and turned to the Hufflepuff.
“Run up to the Hospital Wing. Get Piper out of there. Tell ‘Lyssa, the red-head, what happened. Tell her to get Professor Zabini, and to clear everyone else out,” Rhys ordered, and the Hufflepuff nodded, before running away. Rhys scooped Nick into his arms, not looking at her, and followed. He knew what was going on with her, and the Ministry, and knew this was bad. Their parents were mates, and his dad knew things ... so he had found out.
When he reached the Hospital Wing, he found the Hufflepuff had actually kept his word. Alyssa and Professor Zabini were there, and Madam Bones immediately rushed over from the person she had been treating to the bed Rhys had placed Nick on. It was then Rhys realized the Hufflepuff was there.
“Rhys?” Professor Zabini asked, but Rhys just shook his head. He was pretty sure he looked close to tears. What would happen to Nick? “What happened?”
“I’ll tell you what happened. The crazy bint attacked me!” the other patient exclaimed. “Got what she deserved, in my opinion.”
“Shut it, Tyler,” the Hufflepuff growled.
“Turning into a snake-lover, are we, Owen?” ‘Tyler’ sneered. Professor Zabini waved his wand, and Tyler’s bloody nose disappeared.
“There. I think you’re ready to leave, Mr. Stebbins,” the professor said coldly, and Madam Bones nodded her consent.
“Fine. I have a meeting with the headmaster, anyways,” Stebbins said snobbishly before leaving. Owen just glared at his housemate as he left. Rhys’s face creased even further. This wasn’t good.
“He was a hell of a lot worse when he walked in,” Owen said with relish. “Whatever Nick did, she got him good.” The Hufflepuff didn’t know. Yet again, Rhys was pretty sure the only people who she had told were Al and Piper, maybe Scorpius.
“Where’s Piper?” Rhys asked him.
“In your lot’s common room. I told her they needed help with something for the party,” Owen replied.
“Good,” Rhys said stiffly, before relaxing a bit. “Thanks,” he added.
“Now that that’s taken care of ... what happened? Because if what Stebbins said is true ...” Professor Zabini trailed off, looking at Nick. She was still motionless, save for the slight rise and fall of her chest as she breathed.
So Rhys and Owen explained what they saw, and watched Professor Zabini’s face grow darker and more worried. When they reached the end of the story, there was a long silence. Madam Bones was done healing Nick, but there were still cuts and bruises. From the hexes, marks that would scar. Adding to the many others; Rhys could see them, as Madam Bones healed her broken ribs.
“She didn’t even fight back,” Rhys added, his voice hollow. There was another pregnant pause.
“Nick?” a voice said hoarsely. “What’s going to happen ...” It was Albus, and his eyes were filled with worry.
“Ah, Mr. Potter. You’re awake,” Madam Bones said, before checking him over to see if he could go. And with a warning about his back, she released him, going back to Nick. But Al just joined the group.
“Owen?” he asked. Owen just looked away, and Albus saw Nick.
“She was a lot worse before,” Al stated calmly, but his eyes showed his worry. “Professor?” he asked pleadingly, but Professor Zabini held up a hand.
“What’s done is done,” he said, his eyes full of sorrow. He left, muttering about talking to the headmaster. As he slipped out, Piper walked back in.
“What were you talking about, Owen? Everything’s fine ....” Piper trailed off, seeing Al. She smiled. “You’re all right.” Then she saw Rhys. “Did you find ...” And finally, she saw Nick.
“Piper,” Owen started, but she cut him off.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she screamed, before rounding on Rhys. “You sent him, didn’t you? To steer me away!”
“Pipes, calm down. You didn’t want to see her when Rhys brought her in. Trust me,” Al said, trying to calm her down. Even though he hadn’t, everyone got the idea he knew exactly how bad it was.
“I won’t calm down! My best friend is like that! And you all just sent me away!” Piper shouted, before crying. “What happened to her? What’s going to happen to her? I saw Stebbins ...”
Al put his arms around Piper, pulling her into a hug. He just held her, rubbing her back and murmuring nonsense.
“The Mating Ritual ...” Owen muttered under his breath, thinking of Nick. If Al and Piper could make it through this, maybe Nick would be okay, whatever it was that was going on with her.
Everyone just stood there for a while, watching silently as Nick started to stir. To each their own thoughts and worries. Until Professor Zabini walked in, looking extremely grave.
“They need Nick in the Headmaster’s office. Now.”
*: A reference to the simply amazing Lion, Eagle, Badger, Snake by Sheriff. Hope you don't mind.
A/N: Okay, mates. That was a major turning point of the story. Things are going to start to change for Nick.
So what do you think will happen to her?
What do you think is up with Piper?
Anyways, I have two announcements. One, if you see a bunch of updates, it's because the amazing CAMILA (@TDA) has been making just ... beautiful images for the story. Two, since summer is here, updates = sooner. I also have a short story Alphius that I'm working on for a challenge that'll probably get posted, too. :)
That's all I can think of right now. Please tell me what you think, and thanks for reading!
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