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Beating the Odds by Deltaris
Chapter 3 : Tryouts and Bloody Showers
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1

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 Saturday, 10 September 2022

The first week of classes flew by under the anticipation of tryouts.  Before any of us knew it, it was Saturday and nearly time for tryouts.  The five of us were in the locker rooms waiting, having already changed into our uniforms.  Fred insisted, said it showed unity.

He and Darren were huddled in a corner, discussing how they would go about choosing the remaining chaser.  Connor and Fannie were on the benches gossiping about something I couldn’t care less about.  I was sitting on the floor, sorting through the beating bats that had been collected over the years.

Beaters who didn’t go on to play professionally, or just didn’t want them, left their bats behind for future use on the Hufflepuff team.  For the last three years, they had been in possession of Seamus Ingram.  He had been the senior beater, and passed the collection onto me after the last game.

These bats were near holy to the beaters of Hufflepuff.

There was a knock on the doors.  “Hey, guys, it’s Albus -”

“NO,” I screamed as he began opening the door.  Fred’s eyes widened as he threw himself against the door, blocking Albus out.

The bats were also secret.  No one outside of the team, not even our fellow Hufflepuffs, were allowed to lay eyes on them outside of a game.

“Sorry, mate,” Fred called through the doors.  “Wait out there, yeah?”

I heard Albus call his cousin a git, but he didn’t try to open the door again.  We all let out a sigh of relief.  Fannie glared at me from the bench.  When I’d told the team I was bringing in Albus at our meeting on Tuesday, she’d freaked out.  I had expected that from Fred, but he was surprisingly alright with it.  I'd like to think it was because he trusted my judgement.

“Alright, team,” said Fred loudly.  I made sure the bats were all in their proper places before closing and locking the large trunk they were stored in.  “We’ve got three hours to find the rest of our team.  You ready?”

“Connor,” I waved the blond third year over.  “Help me carry this out.”

We picked up the trunk and followed the others out.  It was still heavy, even with the help of charms.  Albus stood in the corridor, arms crossed.

“That door almost took my head off,” he glowered.

“Exaggeration isn’t flattering, Potter,” I scoffed.  Shaking his head, he attempted to help Connor and I with the trunk.  Connor kicked him in the shin.  Hard.

“Oi!”  he yelped.  “Are you all trying to kill me?”

“Sorry, Albus,” I shot him a smile.  The rest of the team was already on the pitch.  “You can’t touch this case.  Rules and all.”

When we got onto the pitch, Fred had already sent a group of kids off and separated the others by the position they’d be trying out for.  He and Darren were talking with the larger of the groups.  I steered us over to the other group, where Connor and I carefully set the trunk down.

“Guard this with your life,” I hissed at Connor.  He rolled his eyes, but sat on top of the case, wand drawn.  Albus and I stood in front of a group of Hufflepuffs.  There wasn’t a girl among them.  There hadn't been a female competitor for beater since I tried out.

“What’s he doing here?”  a gruff voice called from the back of the group.  “He’s a Gryffindor.”

I thought I heard Albus growl.  Fannie brought me a clipboard with a list of names and the school’s beating bats she’d carried out.  She went to sit by Connor; there wouldn’t be anything for her to do for a while.

“What’s your name?”  I pointed to the boy.  He stepped to the front of the group.

“Alton Moors,” he said proudly, pulling himself up a little taller.

“Moors,” I repeated softly, my eyes scanning the list.  I crossed his name out.  I looked him straight in the eye, which was rather difficult as he stood a good foot taller than me, and I was rather tall for a girl.  I squared my shoulders and demanded loudly, “Get off my pitch.”

He, and the boys behind him, laughed.  I narrowed my eyes.  I could tell they thought they were better than me, because I was a girl.  It was a sentiment I heard often.

This was going to be fun.

“NOW, MOORS,” I commanded.  He looked shocked, turned to the others with a confused look on his face, but left anyway.  Albus’s eyes were wide.  Once he was out of sight, I continued, “Rule one of Quidditch:  if you don’t respect the opponent, you will get your ass handed to you.  Does anyone else have a problem with Potter being here?”

They all shook their heads immediately.  I smirked, this was good.  “Anyone have a problem with my gender?”

Slight hesitation in their response that time.

“I made this team in my second year,” I smirked.  I was rather proud of that fact.  “I’ve played for this house for the past three years.  You are all standing here today, hoping to get a chance to play on this team.  You’ve all watched the games; you’ve all seen me play.  Yes, I’m a girl.  Yes, I have more skill than any of you.  I’m a damn good beater, and if you think otherwise, I suggest you leave now.”

No one moved.  Albus let out a whistle.  I watched as Fred set the chasers to laps for a moment.

“Good, now that we’re clear,” I tossed the clipboard to the grass and picked up my bat and broom.  “I asked Albus here to show you how real partners work together.  When you’re playing a game, you have to rely on your beating partner as much as you would yourself.  Watch carefully.  If, for any reason, you feel like you can’t do so, there’s no shame in pulling out.”

Conjuring a moving target, Albus and I mounted our brooms, let out the bludgers and took off.  We didn’t say a word to each other as we flew through the sky.  We didn’t have to; he and I had played together enough to recognize the physical signals of the other.

Once I felt we’d showed off enough, I waved Albus back down to the pitch.  Wrestling the bludgers back into their holdings, one of the group asked to leave.  Devon Bateson, a second year, said he just didn’t think he was mature enough yet.  I was tempted to keep him just for that, but smiled and told him to come back in a few years.  I brought the others over to the trunk that Connor guarded.

“This, this is something grand,” I grinned.  “Inside  this trunk is the history of Hufflepuff beaters throughout the ages.  If you make it through this tryout, you will become a part of this history.  Being a Hufflepuff beater is an honor.  If chosen, I expect you to hold this  honor higher than your own.  Let’s do this, boys.”

As they set about doing the tests I laid out for them, Albus leaned over me.  “I thought that beater thing was a legend.”

“Why, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I looked up at him.

He laughed and pushed me lightly.  “That trunk, do you really have the bats of all the greatest Hufflepuff players?”

“What trunk?”  I asked innocently.  He started to point over to the trunk, but there wasn’t anything there.  There wasn’t even an indentation in the grass.  I laughed at the confusion on his face.  Connor and Fannie sure knew how to play up the theatrics.

Almost two hours later, I had it narrowed down to three participants.  Anderson North, a fourth year; Callum O’Conner, a sixth year and Zane Wyndham, another sixth year.  I sent the others away and watched as the remaining three volleyed the bludger.

“Hey, Bucks,” Fred called out as he jogged over.  Darren and a willowy blonde girl followed close behind.  “Meet Aleta Wilson, our new chaser.  Aleta, this is Katie.”

I shook Aleta’s hand.  It was calloused and her grip firm, betraying her otherwise delicate appearance.  We both smiled at each other.

“What’re you still doing here, Al?”  Fred turned to his cousin.  The raven haired boy shrugged his shoulders, hands in the pockets of his robes.  “You almost made a choice yet, Bucks?”

I nodded, motioning to the three boys still in the air.  Fred raised a critical eye, watching them for a few moments.  “Cut that one,” he motioned to Zane, “he hits too far left, like you.  We can’t afford any gaps in our beating.  I like the other two.”

Nodding my head again, I crossed Zane’s name off the list.  Fred had an amazing eye for Quidditch, it was like a seventh sense for him.  His sixth was knowing when someone was flirting with his younger sister, Roxanne.

I swear, he knew when it was happening, even from the other side of the castle.  I called Zane down to dismiss him before joining Anderson and Callum in the air.  It didn’t take long to tell that Callum would be our new beater.

In just under three hours, we’d found the missing pieces to the puzzle that was a Quidditch team.  We called it a successful day and hit the showers.  I had my robes and padding off before we made it to the locker rooms and was the first of the girls in the showers.

I heard the door to the girl’s showers creak open and then a loud gasp.

“Katie!”  I couldn’t tell which one it was, the water was too loud.  “You’re bleeding.”

I looked down and, sure enough, I was.  I watched, silent, as blood trickled from a mass of scarring on my right thigh and joined the water on the tiles, circling to the drain in the middle of the room.  The curtain of the stall I was in was ripped open.  My head snapped up, not even thinking of covering myself, and I met the stares of Fannie and Aleta.

“Oh shit.”  That was Fannie.  Mouth of an angel, that one.  “Fuck, Katie.  What’s that?”

Told you so. 

I continued to stare.  The water was still pouring from the shower head.  Aleta moved around me to turn it off.  I winced as I finally felt the stinging in my leg.

“Should we get the Captain?”  Aleta asked.  She sounded genuinely worried.

“No,” I spat out between clenched teeth.  Fred would not be finding out about this.  “There’s a salve in my locker.  Go get that.”

Aleta nodded and rushed out of the shower room.  Fannie was staring at my leg with mild curiosity.  She handed me my towel.  That seemed to finally get me out of shock, and I could feel a blush spreading across my body at being seen naked by two of my teammates.

At least they were both girls.

That’s a very small silver lining.

It felt like eons had passed by the time Aleta arrives with the salve.  Fannie had found the tiles on the far wall suddenly incredibly interesting.  I bet she felt super awkward.

We may be roommates and teammates, but we weren’t the best of friends.

I mumble a thanks as I take the small jar from Aleta and begin applying it to my leg.  It was thick, orange and smelled like fish.

“What happened to your leg?”  Aleta asks hesitantly.  I feel the need to ignore her.

Maybe, by doing so, I can pretend this isn’t happening.

“She got in a automobile accident over the summer.”

Damn you to hell, Fannie.  Aleta lets out a small ‘oh.’  I stare at the jar in my hands.

Fannie turns to look at me again.  “I overheard Anna and Lynn talking...”

“Fannie,” I bark.  She stops talking immediately.  Grabbing my wand from the counter along the wall, I conjure a length of bandage and wrap it around my leg carefully.

“Don’t ever mention this again,” I say quietly before leaving the shower room.  I grab my cloak and throw it over myself and leave the lockers before anyone else can see me.

By the time I make it back to the Hufflepuff common room, my hands are shaking badly enough that I nearly messed up the tapping pattern to gain entrance.  I heave a sigh of relief when I get it correct, and hurry through the tunnel into the common room.  It’s dinner time, so the common room is blessedly empty.

I throw open the door to the fifth year girl’s dormitory.  The sudden noise startled the only occupant of the room.  I look up as I hear Anna’s voice.

“Oh, Katie,” she whispers.  She pulls my cloak off my shoulders, and that’s when I break.

It must be a lovely sight as I stand in the middle of our room, wearing only a blood stained towel, hair wet and tangled from the shower, and tears streaming down my face.  Anna pulls me over to my bed and tucks me under the covers.  How can I resist?  I can barely think.

“I miss him,” I manage to croak out.

I feel her slide in next to me and wrap her arms around me.  She’s murmuring something, but I can’t make it out.  I drift into sleep.

Author's Notes:
I'm so sorry this has taken so long.  Thank you for being patient with me, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Character list for 'Tryouts and Bloody Showers
Katie Buckley - Fifth year Hufflepuff, Beater - see:  Torrie Albini (USA Field Hockey)
Fred II Weasley - Seventh year Hufflepuff, Chaser, Captain - see:  Shad Gregory Moss
Albus Potter - Sixth year Gryffindor, Beater - see:  Nicholas Hoult
Connor Emmitt - Third year Hufflepuff, Seeker - see:  Cole Sprouse
Fannie Masterson - Fifth year Hufflepuff, Keeper - see:  Nicole Fiscella
Darren Rier - Sixth year Hufflepuff, Chaser - see:  Mathias Laurdisen
Anna McCue - Fifth year Hufflepuff - see:  Eva Green
Aleta Wilson - Fourth year Hufflepuff -see:  Kim Noorda
Callum O'Conner - Sixth year Hufflepuff - see:  William Moseley

Chapter Word Count:  2,233

Coming Up:  Bad dreams and a midnight snack.

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