When I got up the next morning, I couldn’t find the door. I prodded the annoying bit of purple wall that had hijacked the space to the left of my bed- the space that my door had happily lived in for sixteen and a half years- before concluding that the door was now gone. I felt a pang of sorrow; it had been a friendly old door covered in magical stickers and mysterious blue stains.
Then I turned and saw a new door stuck on the opposite side of the wall. It seemed so wrong and unfamiliar- black instead of white, shiny instead of dull. It opened inwards instead of outwards, too, with a loud creak that reminded me painfully of Albus’s singing (not a good thing. Seriously). After I’d opened this new, intrusive door and walked into my colourful little kitchen, I sat on the sofa and yawned, expecting a cup of coffee to materialise on the table in front of me like it always did every morning. Then I realised with a gulp of foreboding that I was going to have to make my own coffee now…without magic or a mother to help me.
I fumbled around with some milk- heating it up in the ancient old microwave before tipping a load of coffee beans in and piling sugar on top. I couldn’t find any spoons, so I stirred it with my finger, wincing at the heat. Then, when my sorry excuse of a coffee seemed to have reached the appropriate, coffee-like colour, I glugged the entire mug down without pausing for breath. The only other thing I could find for breakfast (I had forgotten to buy bread or cereal yesterday) was a bag of popcorn.
So yes, I sat in an eerie silence on my squishy sofa eating popcorn and contemplating my mess of a life. I was sort of questioning my sanity by this point; had I really chosen this for myself? Why in the name of yoga was I here, in Wales, eating popcorn on my own, when I could be at home in bed with proper coffee and hot, buttered toast that was oozing fat and scrumptiousness of divine levels (my mum’s toast was the best)?
But I had to admit it, this popcorn was pretty darn good. In fact, it was probably the best popcorn I’d had in a long time. It might just have been the sheer novelty of eating popcorn at nine in the morning that made it taste so good- but who cared?! Before I knew it, I’d finished the bag, had thrown the window open to invite in the morning birdsong and was wiping down the sugar-covered kitchen surfaces feeling like Snow White, and half expecting a bird or two to start flapping round my head when I started to hum to myself.
I squeezed into the tiny shower, my nose almost pressing against the opposite wall as I attempted to wash my hair. My hair had become long, straggly and untameable over the past year or so- and I’d mostly given up on trying any sort of shape with it. But it took an age to dry on its own, and I didn’t have a hairdryer with me. So I sat in front of the mirror, sighed once, and picked up a pair of scissors. I was sure that my life would become much simpler if I just had less hair (honestly, all the bald people are the successful ones). I grabbed a clump in one hand and clumsily began hacking at it until it was shoulder length. I was no expert at this, but I rather liked the rough, unsophisticated result- a tangled mop that suited me quite well. I pondered how this was so very symbolic of my personality.
And then…and then what? What was I supposed to do now? What was I supposed to do for the rest of my life? The years ahead of me seemed to stretch out into shadowy, scary looking futures that I really did not want. I had a little bit of a self-doubting, freak-out moment with a lot of hyperventilating and flapping. You know, flapping? That cool thing you do with your arms that makes you look like a parrot. I do that a lot, and when the flapping begins I know that I am in serious need of yoga to calm down. But unfortunately, a full yoga session takes about an hour or longer and, truth be told, I couldn’t be bothered right then. Everything was still so new and strange and unsettling; I didn’t think I’d be able to concentrate properly.
I was also heinously tired.
After calming down and sorting my thoughts out a little, I half-heartedly pulled on a coat and wandered outside with the vague idea of finding a job/exploring/getting to know people better. Once again, there didn’t seem to be anyone around despite the sort of ok-ish weather. I mean, it was quite nice weather really. For Wales.
Just then, I heard a loud, earth-shattering yell of,
“AAAAHH NOOOOO!!” I jumped out of my skin with a squeak of shock, and glanced around to check that someone hadn’t just been murdered or whatnot.
Nope, not a dead body in sight. So what in the name of acupuncture was going on?
I followed my ears (which were about to fall off from the muddling cacophony of shouts) and found myself in a field behind the village hall, watching some kind of furious sporting match take place. The whole village was there, eating and drinking and talking. I spotted Ocean Winner standing on a chair and shaking her fist at the players, whilst screaming abuse in a rather profane manner if you asked me. I winced and cautiously walked over to get a closer look (not that I really wanted to, but what else was I going to do today? Sit in my flat and watch paint dry?) Daryl spotted me and beamed, shoving a warm drink into my hand.
“Lily, honey! How are you? How did you sleep? You’re just in time! The match has only just started.”
“Um,” I rubbed my eyes blearily. “I’m fine. What’s going on here? What match?”
“The MRM of course!” gabbled Daryl. “The March Rugby Match! It’s a tradition- there’s a big match at the end of every month.”
“Oh, okay.” I eyed the crowds with interest and sipped the drink, spluttering as I realised it was warm beer. I mean, I liked beer. I really did; the amount of times Hugo and I had smuggled it into Hogwarts was uncountable. But warm beer? At nine-thirty in the morning? This was a crime against beer! BEER WAS NOT WARM! I had to control my arms before the flapping began again.
“Oh, do you not like beer? Sorry! I forgot you were underage.” Daryl chuckled to herself a little creepily.
“Oh, I do like beer…but why is it warm?”
“Hot beer will warm you up and cold beer will warm you down o’ course!” I nodded in fake understanding, and took another ghastly sip just so I didn’t seem rude or anything.
“Oh, look!” Daryl gestured towards a player, “Someone just got trampled by the looks of things. Isn’t that funny?” I didn’t think it was particularly funny myself- the player was clutching their leg in pain and writhing on the muddy ground. Rugby looked…violent. But I was a Quidditch player, and I knew about sporting injuries, so I inched closer to get a better look.
Scorpius however beat me to it, sprinting past in hilariously baggy rugby shorts and t-shirt, holding a strange thing in his hand that whistled when he blew into it and looking thoroughly fed up. He ran towards the area of injury, shirt flying out like a parachute behind him, and skirted around the person on the floor who was, I now saw, Gareth.
“You okay?” Scorpius asked, dropping the whistle into the mud. Gareth groaned and writhed in a writhey groaney smop. Ocean and another girl, Gwen, popped up on either side of me.
“What a wimpy shit you are Gareth!” bellowed Ocean, “Get up and play some real rugby! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE DAMN YOU!” I raised my eyebrows, which Gwen saw and chuckled at.
“Ocean’s from a sailing family; she has the temper of a sailor, and the language of one too.” I grinned,
“That would make sense.”
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE GOING TO LET THE TEAM DOWN LIKE THIS!”
“I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE DYING- I’VE BET 10 POUNDS ON YOU LOT! SO GET UP AND SCORE A TRY!”
“She also loves rugby,” Gwen added as an afterthought, blowing on her hands to warm them up.
“I gathered,” I wryly smiled. “So are those two…together?” I indicated towards Gareth and Ocean, but Gwen shook her head.
“Nah- Ocean hates relationships. She’s vowed to stay single forever.”
“I had a friend who swore that, then went on a date the next weekend.”
“Well, I’m guessing she swore that to you in a fit of angst against the opposite sex without any real conviction.”
“Yeah, that’s true,” I admitted with a laugh. Ocean stomped over to us, steam pouring out of her ears. She looked a lot like a teapot actually, we should swap surnames. Her’s was pretty groovy, after all.
“I GAH- I just… ARGH! NO!” she fumed, grabbing Gwen’s beer and draining it. She then turned to me and beamed, “Lily! I’ve missed you! Enjoying yourself? Good!” And then began throwing grass in the general direction of the poor, abused rugby players.
I glanced at Scorpius, who seemed to be attempting to drag Gareth off the pitch. Gareth was wincing with pain from the cut on his leg, and Scorpius was puffing and panting from the effort of dragging him. I jogged over to help, and we managed to get Gareth sitting in a chair and being fussed over by Daryl and Marigold.
“Cheers, Lily!” Scorpius grimaced, walking over to grab some warm beer from a long trestle table covered in cups of every shape and size, and large bowls of biscuits. I stifled a shriek of laughter as he took a swig out of a particularly interesting cup in the shape of a woman’s bare boob.
Yes, you heard right. There were cups in the shape of breasts. Kill me now.
Scorpius looked at me curiously, and then noticed what he was drinking out of, spluttered, turned red and promptly dropped the cup, soaking my foot in warm beer. I looked at his expression, and burst out laughing. This wasn’t just puny, weak laughter mind- this was hearty, side-splitting, snorting, guffawing laughter of the rarest variety. Soon Scorpius was joining me uttering short, sharp barks of mirth. What can I say? Laughter is an infectious disease.
“What’s so funny Scorpy?” simpered a sickening voice that belonged to an equally sickeningly gorgeous person. I never trusted gorgeous people. Literally, never.
“OH, um, hey Caris.” Scorpius tried to shuffle away, but was grabbed by a pair of blood red talons/claws/fingernails. Long, dyed blonde hair cascaded over Scorpius’s shoulder as Caris rested her head on his arm and made pathetic eyes at him.
I was of the firm belief that someone who had black hair should never, ever dye it blonde. And Caris hadn’t just dyed it any old blonde- it was Essex blonde. Coupled with the orange foundation, purple lipstick and teeny dress, she looked like she’d stepped out of The Only Way Is Essex. I tried not to be sick. Sure, I liked to look good on special occasions, but at least I had class! Wait... I hope I do have class and I'm not just a pretentious snob, judging people left right and centre... Oh no! I need to go and re-evaluate my principals!
“Who’s your little friend, Scorpo?” She glared at me, and I got the message. Scorpius was hers. Well, whatever, you saddo. I was backing off to go and rejoin Gwen/Ocean/nicer people, when Scorpius yelled my name.
“That’s LILY! And she loves meeting new people I think you’ll be great friends she’s just moved here from England and she’s a vegetarian,” He gabbled incoherently. Wow, he was obviously scared of this Caris person. But still Scorpius, now would be a good time to shut the hell up.
“Are you the person who’s just moved into one of my flats?” asked Caris lightly, examining her nails.
“Wait, one of your flats?” I asked with incredulity.
“Oh, sure. I own half the flats round here. Bought this one a few months ago after the thing with Birdy’s mum made her sell it to me-“ Scorpius clamped his hand over Caris’s mouth, effectively stopping her from finishing the sentence.
“What was that about Birdy?” I asked, looking at Scorpius. He shook his head at me urgently, panic glazing his eyes. I thought he was being highly irritating, but reluctantly let the matter drop so I could get out of there.
“So what do you think of Caris then?” smirked Ocean as I rejoined them. “Enjoyed your first meeting with WonderBitch?”
“She’s a Nasty,” I shuddered. “And I have to pay rent to her!?”
“Yeah, it sucks. She inherited a goldmine or something and’s totally loaded.”
“Then why’d she choose to live here?” I asked, raising my eyebrows. “No offence or anything…” Gwen grinned,
“She stalks Scorpius- literally, she’s obsessed with him.”
“Plus the dyed hair…” Gwen gingerly fingered her own ginger locks. “Very distasteful.” I nodded solemnly.
The match seemed to have ground to a standstill, with Gareth’s team arguing about the fact they were one man down and that it was unfair, and the opposite team telling them to go and hang themselves with a sock. Scorpius ran a hand over his brow looking stressed; as referee, he was meant to be sorting the whole thing out.
Then it started to rain, just as a large ice cream van trundled onto the field. I pinched myself to make sure this wasn’t a dream or something, but yes the ice cream van was real. And the brave man inside it was opening the window and putting up a wonky sign that said ‘Rusty Hobbes’s Scrumptious Ice Cream Shenanigan’. The rain water was beating down upon the canopy of the van making it all soggy and limp, but everyone seemed completely oblivious to the rain and were queuing up eagerly, umbrellas up, and rummaging around in their purses for money.
“Wahey! It’s Rusty time!” whooped Ocean, galloping off to the van, her tracksuit top slipping off her shoulders a little more with every leap.
“Isn’t it a little cold for ice cream?” I asked Birdy who was sort of staring off into the distance now. She blinked, startled, when I spoke to her and span round quickly in a full circle as if she couldn’t find where I was, before finally meeting my eyes.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“It’s just funny… having ice cream in this weather.”
“Oh, yeah! Well, it’s warm ice cream isn’t it?”
Warm beer, warm ice cream… Blimey O’Riley, this village really was nuts. Nuts and berries. Scorpius waddled over to me just then, looking grumpy as usual, his hair completely drenched and water trickling into his ear.
“Lily! Would you mind helping me out a bit?” I raised my eyebrows in a hipster ‘you gotta be kidding me dude’ look, but Scorpius did this panda face impression thingy that just made me feel all mean for not jumping out from under my umbrella. Gah. Pandas should just die.
Actually, no, I never said that okay? All creatures in this world are beautiful and have a right to live.
“What with?” I asked, drumming my fingers against the umbrella handle.
“Um, well, I know you’re awesome at Quidditch and… I thought you could referee the last quarter of the game?”
I laughed, “I have no idea how to play rugby Scorpius! Why can’t you do it?”
“I’m subbing for Gareth,” he shrugged, irritated. “And everyone else wanted to watch me get beaten up by Ocean for not joining the team, instead of offering to take my place…so…please?” I twisted my lips. “Gee, come on! It’s not that hard. I’ll buy you an ice cream!”
“A warm ice cream?” I asked suspiciously.
“No, a cold one. From… the cold ice cream shop.”
“Okay. I’ll do it. But I’ll be a pretty crap referee. Just saying.”
“Gah, thanks a billion.” He handed me the thing he’d been blowing in earlier and ran off onto the pitch. I inspected the object worriedly, and tried to blow through it like he had just done. The ensuing loud, piercing whistle was a little ghoulish and weird. I had no idea why such a muggle device was needed- Eglentine was a magical village, after all- but oh well. Perhaps it was some sort of tacky tradition. I didn’t want to be remembered as Tacky Tradition Terminator when I died. I walked out onto the pitch, blew the whistle, and the game began.
I don’t know if any of you have ever played rugby before, but I think you have to be Welsh to understand the, ah, finesse of the sport. To me, it was bloody terrifying!
I was surrounded by charging, yelling, cheering people covered in mud and ice cream and beer, and I was meant to be somehow controlling the whole thing? I looked helplessly at the whistle which couldn’t even be heard over the rain and noise pollution and sound of trampling feet. I started hopping up and down with frustration, picking leaves out of my hair and imitating a louder whistling sound because I hadn’t the faintest clue about rugby, whistles or my life at the moment.
Then all the players started sort of stuffing their heads under each others’ armpits, Scorpius getting squished in the middle of course, and the odd-shaped ball was buried underneath them all like their beloved egg or something. They looked like squawking chickens. Or maybe pigs.
I wasn’t even sure if this was legal…
People were running across the pitch now, and I frantically tried to follow their flailing hands. I thought it was weird the way they passed the ball backwards because really they weren’t achieving much by doing that. Not proactive in the slightest.
Then I heard Ocean screaming something in the background, some people let out the loudest cheer yet and began waving giant blow-up daffodil things that were the most frightening and garish objects I’d ever seen in my life, and then it was all over. I didn’t even know who’d won, but Ocean thumped me on the back as she walked over, a beam spread across her face.
“You did a groovy job, Lily! AND WE WON! WE BLOODY WON! Isn’t this great? Now we just have to win the ARM and the MayRM to get into the Eglentine championship, so that means-” I allowed my brain to shut down as Scorpius staggered over, looking weary.
“Hullo,” he groaned. Then he opened his mouth to say something else, but I think he may have fallen asleep while standing up because his eyes fluttered closed and then he sort of just stood there. I flicked his arm,
“Let’s go somewhere warm and dry and… anywhere but here.”
“Everyone’s decamping to the café,” Ocean grabbed my arm and led the way, and I grabbed Scorpius’s arm so that he didn’t topple over, so we looked like an odd conga line of tired human beings edging towards the café, wherever that was. If it was warm and dry, it was basically in heaven.
Author’s note: So yeah, not much happened in this chapter, sorry!! I hope you’re sort of getting to know all the characters better. And ho de hum, what else would a welsh girl put in a welsh story as a filler but a rugby match? Rugby is actually awesome, by the way, and I own one of those blow-up daffodil things. My brother called it Bill. Yeah. Oh, and I’m going to Germany this week, so next update might be slow! (GERMANY! I KNOW! I should make Lily move to Germany after this :P). Plus I had this idea of re-styling myself as a german-hipster-punk for the trip, but decided that all the german-hipster-punk clothes were too expensive *cries*. Thanks for being so lovely everyone, and love to Lottie, my brand new fangirl ♥ Next up: Lily gets a job! Letters, yoga lessons and motorbikes.