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Chapter 32 : Of Hearts and Bludgers
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“WE WON! WE WON! WE WON!”
“Shut up, Hartley! We were all there!”
“BUT WE WON!”
Lily’s voice swam into my conscious from… somewhere. “Will you two stop bickering? My best friend almost died out there, and all you lot care about is some stupid trophy!”
That shut them up.
But what was this about me almost dying? That didn’t sound right.
“Mills?” I heard a voice ask softly from somewhere near my left ear.
I tried to open my eyes. I managed to crack them open, before they shut instantly at the searing light, a groan of pain escaping.
The whole dying thing was sounding more and more plausible by the minute.
“Millie!” Lily cried.
I groaned in pain again, the noise too loud for my poor head.
“Will you keep it down, Evans?” Sirius snapped.
“Sorry,” Lily said in a more moderate tone.
I tried to open my eyes again, this time meeting with more success. It took a moment for the blurs to take shape as six sweaty Quidditch players, three concerned-looking friends and one (probably) boyfriend who seemed about ready to pass out with relief.
So. It must have been a good game then.
“What happened?” I croaked, as I tried to sit up.
Sirius promptly, yet gently, pushed me down again.
I shot him a glare.
He gave me a grin, but the concern in his eyes was still evident.
The guy was too just too damn sweet for his own good sometimes.
It was now sometime in April, I was quite sure Gryffindor had just won the Quidditch Cup, and I think I was in love with Sirius Orion Black.
And I still didn’t know if we were official.
And my head really hurt.
“What happened?” I asked again, my voice sounding a little stronger.
“Well, after Hartley sent that Bludger hurtling towards Cartwright, the last thing I saw was you dive for the Snitch,” James said.
“And might I add, just how callous and dangerous that was,” Lily interjected.
“Lily, it’s called Quidditch!” Sarah cried.
“No, it’s called madness!”
No one had the guts to tell her that she really shouldn’t bag Quidditch in front of seven Quidditch players. Not that they’d hurt her – everyone was terrified of Lily Evans.
“So I dived for the Snitch, and…?” I prompted.
“Then you caught the Snitch –” Sarah said.
“Which meant that we’d won!” Hartley added, just in case I’d missed that part for the past six years.
“– and then as you were pulling out of that spectacular dive, this Bludger came out of absolutely nowhere and knocked you right out of the air!” Sarah finished, a little breathless.
“And then I’m assuming that I fell about ten feet to the ground and passed out?” I asked.
“Brilliant.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. My final Quidditch match at Hogwarts ever and like always, I end up in the Hospital Wing. At least you can call me predictable.
I was saved from making further conversation with the bustling entrance of Madam Pomfrey.
“Oh, good. You’re awake Miss White,” she said in a business-like tone. “Now you lot can leave so I can look after my patient.”
“But we can’t leave! She’s our star Seeker!” the Bull cried out. A lot of emphatic nodding was followed by this statement.
“Your star Seeker who is in need of some peace and quiet! I will not have a loud raucous party in here when my patient requires rest!”
With quite a lot of grumbling the Quidditch team filed out, leaving behind James, Lily, Sarah, Remus and Sirius.
“We should stay,” Sarah said quietly.
“All of you?” I asked, squirming to reach a more comfortable position in the pillows. “Only if you want Pomfrey to bite off your head.”
“She has a point,” Remus said, every the pragmatist.
“Well, one of us should stay,” Lily said with some concern.
“There’s really no need for that. It’s not as if I’ll be doing anything exciting. I’ll just take my medicine and have a little nap, that’s all.”
“But you’ll get lonely!” James cried.
“James, this isn’t the first time that I’ve been in the Hospital Wing! You should go and enjoy the victory party.”
I closed my eyes but felt no one move.
I sighed. “That meant all of you.”
There was a moment of silence where I felt all four of them silently arguing. I didn’t bother opening my eyes to see what all the fuss was about. My head hurt and all I wanted was to take some of that lovely purple liquid that Madam Pomfrey was about to put on my bedside, so I could get some rest without fear of dying because I fell asleep for too long with a concussion.
Finally, I felt the lot of them traipse out.
All except one.
I opened my eyes to see who it was.
“What are you still doing here, Black?” I asked, as I eased up the pillows so I could drink the potion that Madam Pomfrey had just left on the table. I was still in my sweaty Quidditch gear, but I hurt too much to really care. Ten feet didn’t sound like a lot, but at the speed that I was going at, I really was lucky to have escaped with just a few bumps and bruises.
“Keeping you company,” he replied, as he adjusted the pillows around me. It still surprised me when he did stuff like this, even after all this time.
“Well, I’m not going to be much company,” I said, after I swallowed the contents of the goblet and settled back down into my little pillow fort.
“I don’t mind,” he replied, settling into a chair next to me.
I turned on my side to look at him. His grey eyes regarded me with a mixture of patience, concern and something inscrutable.
His lips twitched into a faint smile and my heart fluttered. “You gave us all quite a scare.”
I shrugged, or at least tried to, before realising that shrugging hurt. “It happens all the time.”
“It doesn’t make it any less scary.” He leant forward and took my hand.
“You get used to it, after a while.” His fingers were absently playing with mine and it was very distracting.
“No. You don’t.” His eyes looked into mine with such intensity that I had to look away.
“But I guess this is the last time ever something like this is going to happen.”
“Yeah. I’m going to miss this team. This place. Aren’t you?”
He shrugged. “Yes. But I’m excited about going out there. Finally being able to do something.”
We both knew what that something meant. The war had escalated rapidly over the past two years, and I knew that many of us were chafing to help. To fight. I couldn’t help the flutter of fear in the pit of my stomach, thinking about my friends fighting.
They were all the family I had left.
“You should go, Sirius,” I said softly, after a while.
“I really don’t mind staying with you,” he said.
“I know, but there’s a party going on, and I’d hate for you to miss it because of me.”
“It won’t really be any fun without you.”
I rolled my eyes at that. Sometimes, he said things that were just a little too unbelievable. “Yes, because I really am the life of the party, aren’t I?”
“You are for me,” he said, kissing the back of my hand and grinning.
I shot him a look. “Oh, I think you’ll manage to have a good time without me,” I said dryly.
He laughed. “That’s what you think.”
I smiled at him. “I mean it, Sirius. Go. This’ll be one of your last chances to spike the punch.”
He looked at me for a moment. “Will you be alright here alone?”
“Of course I will. It’s the Hospital Wing for Merlin’s sake!”
Before he could say something else, I added, “If it makes you feel any better, I’ll be out soon enough anyways. Just a couple more hours and I’ll be back.”
He looked at me some more.
This was starting to get a little uncomfortable.
I couldn’t say that I was used to people fussing all over me like this.
I also couldn’t say that I wasn’t pleased that it was Sirius who was doing the fussing.
It felt… nice.
“Get some rest, darling,” he whispered as he stood up and kissed me lightly.
I hadn’t been kidding when I’d said it wouldn’t be fun without her.
But for some reason, even after all this time, she just didn’t take me seriously.
It was as if she was incapable of believing that someone would actually want to spend time with her.
It was utterly frustrating, this insecurity of hers.
But it was utterly charming at the same time as well.
It made me feel like I should just keep on piling it on, until she believed that I really cared for her, and wanted to spend time with her and lov – no wait. Maybe not that far.
Because whatever this weird feeling of wanting to be close to her, and protect her, and make her laugh, and keep her company, and hold her hand – it wasn’t love.
It couldn’t be.
“Mate! There you are!” Prongs called.
I’d just come back from the second alcohol run of the night. The entire Tower was going through the stuff like it was water.
I think I’d gone through the stuff like it was water. I couldn’t remember how many bottles of some cheap Muggle beer I’d had.
“And you’ve brought more alcohol!” he cried, grabbing me in a bear hug. Drunk Prongs was weird. Funny, but weird.
“Gerrof!” I laughed, prying him away. “Have you seen Millie?” I was getting desperate to see her. It had been, what, three, four hours, since I’d left her? She must’ve left the Hospital Wing by now.
“No, I haven’t.” He must have noticed my confusion because he gave me a sly grin and said, “Worried you’ll lose her to some other guy, eh Padfoot?”
“Shut up, Prongs. Don’t you have a girlfriend to snog or something?”
“Indeed I do!” he turned around and entered the fray again, leaving me alone to wonder about my missing girlfriend.
What if she’d taken a wrong turn?
What if she’d fallen down the stairs?
What if she’d been kidnapped by some guy and was currently being ravished in a broom closet?
What if she hadn’t been kidnapped by some guy and was currently being ravished in a broom closet?
The last one kicked my alcohol-marinated brain into action and out the portrait hole.
I was hurrying down the fourth-floor corridor, on my way to the Hospital Wing, when I bumped into something warm.
I instinctively reached out. My hands came into contact with a pair of slender arms.
If I’d been in my right mind, I’d have known instantly that it wasn’t her.
“Hello, Sirius,” a sultry voice came out of the shadows. “I’ve been looking for you.”
I frowned in confusion. Definitely not Millie.
I pulled my unknown assailant into the nearest patch of torchlight.
My grip instantly went slack as I realised who it was.
“Marissa?” I asked. “What the hell are you doing here?”
She laughed. There was once a time when I’d found that laugh actually kind of sexy. Now it was just annoying. “Like I said, looking for you.”
She edged closer. If I hadn’t been drunk, alarm bells should’ve instantly gone off.
Unfortunately, I was drunk.
“Can’t you guess?” she whispered, in what I could only assume she thought was a seductive manner. It sounded like she had something stuck in her throat.
“No.” My frown deepened. Could she just leave already, so I could go rescue my girlfriend from impending ravishment?
She laughed again. “Oh, Sirius. You always did like to play games.” She was closer than before.
“Er, right. Listen, I’ve got to go…”
“What? To collect your girlfriend from the Hospital Wing?” she snickered.
“Oh, come on. As if you were actually ever interested in her!” she wrapped her arms around my neck.
“Um…” Was there a polite way to pry a girl off from around your neck?
“I know you’re only pretending to date her just to make me jealous.” She tightened her grip. The scent of her perfume was cloying. And to think that I’d once snogged her. Now I couldn’t even stand to be within three feet of her.
“Marissa, listen – whatever you’re doing, you should stop –”
“Because you’re spoken for now? You can’t seriously expect me to believe that someone like you could be interested in someone like her.”
There was once a time when those words would have been true, but that was a long time ago. I was beginning to wish that I hadn’t had so much to drink, because I couldn’t think of anything to get myself away.
“Aren’t you with my brother?” I asked, grasping at anything to make her go away.
“Only to make you jealous.”
I blinked down at her in surprise.
Had she expected that to work?
“Now come here,” she purred.
“Wha –?” Before I could even finish my question, she’d pulled me down and sealed her lips over mine.
I could barely breathe from the shock of it.
And that wasn’t good shock either.
So I stood there and let the chit snog me for goodness knows how long.
Only the sound of Millie’s voice snapped me out of it.
“Sirius?” I heard her ask, from not so far away.
I wrenched my lips away from Marissa’s and dragged in a deep breath. “Millie!” I said, or tried to, what with the lack of oxygen and everything.
“Oops!” Marissa giggled. “Looks like we’ve been found out!”
It was only then that I noticed the look on Millie’s face.
It was as if she’d been hit in the stomach with a Bludger.
She blinked once, twice, before turning on her heel and walking swiftly back down the corridor.
“Millie! Wait!” I called. As I tried to take a step towards her, I realised that Marissa the Leach was still latched onto me. “Let go!” I snapped.
She was surprised enough at my tone to let go and move a step back instantly, but apparently not surprised enough to stop talking. “Are you just going to leave me here?” she asked incredulously.
I didn’t bother with a reply as I rushed down the corridor after Millie.
I saw her about to turn the corner, and called out again. “Millie! Wait! It’s not what it looked like!” It sounded pathetic even to my ears.
She didn’t even slow down.
But as she turned the corner, I caught a fleeting look at her expression and it was my turn to be hit in the gut with a Bludger.
Because it looked as if her heart was broken.
And for some strange reason, it felt like mine was too.
I took the corner at breakneck speed, practically banging into the opposite wall, but she was gone.
AN: I know, I know. It was short. But it was a quick update. And there was plot development! Yay! So what do you reckon just happened? Did anyone see this coming? Did you LIKE it? Did you HATE it? Do you think that they're gonna survive this? Is anyone excited that Regulus is going to make a return very very soon? (I AM!) Let me know what you guys think!
And as always, adios amigos! And keep smiling! :D
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