empyreal. @ TDA
Chapter XI - Game. Set. Match.
When we finished breakfast, James rounded up the rest of the team and began to usher us all down to the pitch. I was halfway to the door before the thought crossed my mind.
“Give me a second, yeah, Potter? I’ll be right down I swear, just want to have a quick word with Henry.”
“What?” He looked back at me over his shoulder. “Uhm, alright. But make it quick will you, Nyx? I still need to fill you in on the meeting last night.”
I nodded earnestly and dashed over to the Ravenclaw table, surprised to find people already empting their chairs to get good seats for the game.
“Hi,” I breathed as I approached the Seventh Year boys.
“Hey, hey! Our golden girl. Your going to catch the Snitch before the game even starts, aren’t you sweetheart?” Anthony cried as he jumped out of his seat and put his arm around me. Reginald rolled his eyes but grinned, and I gave him a small smile before chuckling at Anthony’s words.
“Can’t promise anything, but I have it on good authority…”
“Excellent, because I’ve got twenty Galleons on it.”
“Twenty?” I stared up at him. He was obviously mad, must have taken a Bludger to the head last training or something. “Are you sure that’s wise?”
“’Course I’m sure! You’re my golden girl!”
“My girl first, your golden girl second, though. Right, Andy?”
“If you say so, Watts, if you say so; but I’m warning you now, one day I’m going to keep her and not give her back.”
Forcing myself to ignore the knot that was growing in my stomach at all the talk of Quidditch, I laughed at Anthony’s teasing and smiled at Reyna who was sitting next to where King had been moments before. She grinned back at me, and I knew the girls and I would all be getting the run down later of everything that had happened.
“I just thought I’d come and say hi before I head down to the pitch.”
“I’m still not sure about this you playing Quidditch business,” Henry stated as he rose out of his chair and pulled me into a hug.
“Why? Because we’ll whip your arses in the final? I’d be worried too,” I teased, winking at him as he drew away.
“Ha! Don’t worry Keir, we’ll go easy on you if you make it that far!” Anthony grinned at me, taking his position next to Rae again.
“You mean we’ll go easy on you,” I retorted, laughing.
I was about to tease Henry some more, but when I looked up at his face, I found him frowning down at me.
“What?” I murmured, hoping the others wouldn’t hear.
“Nothing… just – well I meant what I said. I’m not sure about you playing Quidditch.”
“I’ve been on the team since September, and only now you say something?"
“You didn’t tell me till after you were on the team that you even had any interest in playing, remember? And Andrews getting injured during training proves my point. It’s a dangerous sport, and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“What? You just want me to quit the team then? Right before the first match of the season, is that it?” I stared at him with disbelief. I’m sorry, but this was stupid.
“Well if they found a replacement as good as Black for Andrews at such short notice, then I’m sure they could find one –"
I stepped away from him, staring up into his eyes, wondering where on earth this was coming from. “I actually cannot believe you. You’d never do that to your team, but you’re more than happy for me to do it to mine? That shows great loyalty, that does.” I shook my head as I walked away from him, out the main doors and across the dew covered lawns to the Pitch.
Barging into the locker room and finding it empty, bar Melody, I opened my locker and quickly began to change.
“You alright?” Mel frowned, walking over to where I was in the corner.
“What? Yeah. Fine,” I replied bluntly, deliberately avoiding her gaze.
Bloody Henry Watts just wanted me to drop out? Did he have any idea how much I would let down the team doing that? Mel would kill me, plus James and I were just starting to become friends – and I would be more than dead if I suddenly left him Seeker-less. There was no way in hell Henry would ever just desert his team like that, yet he expected me to do that to mine? Yeah, not likely, Watts. Bleeding git. He was as dumb as a concussed troll if he thought I’d just bat my eyelashes and agree with him completely, before running off to tell James moments before the match that he didn’t have a Seeker.
Safety, my arse. He had been playing for years and was absolutely fine, what made me different? That I was a girl? Girl I may be, but that didn’t mean I would live in a padded room my whole life. Dear Godric, I needed to hit something.
I grunted as I rested my head against the wall, my eyes screwed shut, trying to block out all of the tiny little things about Henry that bugged me. All of the little things I had noticed throughout our relationship but I had overlooked were creeping into my mind now that I was angry. I was breathing heavily when I jumped at a hand on my shoulder.
“You want to talk about it now or later?”
“Later. We’ve got a Quidditch match to win.”
“Alright then. Lets go,” Mel murmured with finality and we both left the Gryffindor girls locker rooms, joining the large group of players outside, all dressed in scarlet and gold.
“There you are, Nyx!” James grinned at me, “Running a bit behind schedule, but that’s alright. I have a really good feeling about today.”
I just couldn’t help smiling back. I wasn’t going to let Henry’s stupid comments wreck havoc in my head and ruin our chances of beating Slytherin. I was going to catch that Snitch and not end up in the Hospital Wing and Henry Watts could just watch me do it.
Besides, Anthony had twenty Galleons riding on me.
“Now, Nyx –“ James turned to me, but right as he did so, Professor McGonagall came into sight.
“Potter, we’re hoping to start the match shortly. Are you and your teammates prepared?”
“Ah, forget it. Just catch the Snitch, that’s all I ask, love,” he murmured, smiling earnestly, before he turned to McGonagall. “Yep, I think so, Professor. Andrews, you off to the stands? Or are you going to watch Pitch-side?”
“Stands. I asked Alice to save me a seat.”
“Fair enough. Wish us luck then!” James grinned, before following McGonagall over to the field, his black hair sticking up at the back like always.
“Pfft. He of little faith,” she mumbled, shaking her head after Potter. “I would wish you luck, but I know you don’t need it. Sirius is probably better than I am anyway.”
“Ha, unlikely,” Sirius snorted.
I turned and looked at him properly for the first time in his Quidditch robes. They fitted him well, slightly tight across the chest, but I couldn’t see any girl in the school complaining about that. He had pads across his knees and elbows, and was sporting the same brown, fingerless leather gloves favoured by Chasers.
“Not bad, Black. You clean up well.” I laughed.
He grinned at me, “Look! They’ve even got my name on the back!”
And sure enough there it was, under a large golden number three on a scarlet background, ‘Black’ was written in big capital letters.
“Well there you are. Same as the rest of us and at such short notice, too.”
“Yeah, I don’t know how Minnie managed it, but she got me a uniform. Bit small, but it’s only one game.”
“Oh, come on you lot,” cried Benjy, twirling his Beater bat around. “Lets go get some Slytherins.”
We all cheered, Melody included, before she ran back off towards the crowd. I followed the team towards the pitch, trailing behind Heath Chapman.
I stared at the back of his robes where a large gold number one was displayed beneath his mop of sandy hair. He had only started playing last season and was in the year below me, but was rather tall.
Just ahead of him, I spied Archie Holloway chitchatting away with Caradoc Dearborn while his hair kept falling in his eyes.
I looked around for Sirius, the knot I’d forgotten about in my anger at Henry coming back. So much pressure was riding on this match. I needed to catch the Snitch before Slytherin scored enough points to ruin any chance we had at winning, and I highly doubted my own abilities.
I spotted his long black hair behind the rest of the team. I stopped and waited for him to near me, all the while attempting to calm the sickening feeling in my gut.
“Hey, you alright?” I murmured when he looked up at me.
He nodded, but I knew he was lying. His brows were drawn together and he was scowling at his feet. Something was playing around in his mind. Something bad.
“It’s your brother, isn’t it?”
He glanced at me for a moment before nodding again, the scowl gone now, replaced by a look of utter defeat, which was so frightening that I completely forgot about my churning stomach. Because I staring up at the school playboy remembering his smile from the night before, the smile that had been so full of love and sincerity. I knew that for something to faze him this badly, it must be terrible. I wanted nothing more and nothing less than to be able to dive into his mind and know exactly what brought on these phenomenal mood swings at such rapid pace.
“Sirius,” I automatically stretched out a hand to comfort him, only realising at the last second what I was doing. He didn’t pull away however and so I proceeded to place my hand on his chest, “It’ll be alright you know. No matter how much we fret and worry, it won’t change anything. We’ll win or we’ll lose, and all that matters is that you and I do the best we can, because he will too. I don’t know Regulus, but he’s your brother, Black. Whatever the outcome, he’ll respect you if he knows you tried.”
“You really are one for soppy speeches aren’t you, Nyx?” he gave me a half smile, looking up from his shoes.
“COME ON YOU TWO! Merlin, what is this rubbish? We’re about to start!” Fenwick called back at us from the opening to the pitch.
I could hear chanting in the background and the knot swelled up again. Turning back to Sirius, I shoved him slightly for his comment, before walking over to my broom.
I nodded towards where the team was waiting for us, ignoring the overwhelming urge to vomit. “Come on. Let’s play Quidditch.”
“Holloway drops the Quaffle – Slytherin take possession – Higgs passes to Stokes – Potter intercepts the pass and races down the field – Black takes possession – oh, there are two Blacks in this game aren’t there? – Well, Sirius makes his way towards the goal posts – spectacular roll to avoid Wilks – Oh! That was a close call with the Bludger – C’mon Black, take the shot – TEN POINTS FOR GRYFFINDOR!”
I cheered from where I was high above them, as Katie Lawson– a Hufflepuff – announced our lead. Merlin. I breathed a sigh as my eyes followed Sirius down the pitch, thankful that he had been the one to score first. Hopefully it would improve his mood.
“An angry Barton throws the Quaffle back into the game and play resumes with Slytherin taking possession – Wilkes takes a nice Bludger to the head – well done Dearborn, I’m fairly sure that was you – but Wilkes appears to keep the Quaffle – probably because he has a head as thick as a brick – right, sorry, Professor – Anyway, Wilkes continues down the Pitch, flanked by Stokes and Higgs – where’s another good Bludger when you need one? – Holloway manages to intercept a pass and Gryffindor regains possession –“
I let my eyes roam the stadium for the tiny gold ball, distantly still listening to the commentary. The sky was overcast and the air was cold, especially at this altitude. I wouldn’t be surprised it if rained, although that was probably the last thing I needed. Then there was no way I’d find the Snitch.
“Potter looks gorgeous as he races down the Pitch with the Quaffle – what, Professor? He does! – The Gryffindor Captain passes to Holloway – who passes to Black – who dodges an attack from Stokes – wait, Stokes can’t do that, can he? – Apparently he can – Black has just passed back to Holloway – who re-passes to Black, dodging a Bludger from Mulciber – Black passes to Potter – Potter goes to score! – He missed, but don’t worry, Potter, we still think you’re gorgeous – play resumes as Slytherin –”
I grunted, loosing interest. Looking away from the Slytherins raging down the field below me, I spied Mel sitting front row on the Gryffindor stands, her eyes flicking back and forth between the game and me. Alice and Frank were on her left, both wrapped up in red and gold, cheering loudly, while Peter Pettigrew, Lily Evans and Remus Lupin were on her right.
I smiled to myself when I saw Remus nibbling on a bar of chocolate, a large coat shielding him from the most unpleasant of the worsening weather. Peter was sitting huddled up in his seat, not talking to anyone. Merlin, he looked cold.
Even from my tremendous height, I could see Lily on the edge of her seat and a chuckle escaped me. Her beanie kept slipping off her head, but she never noticed until Lupin handed it back to her, she was watching the game so intently. Every move, I could see her fidget. Every close call and she’d be on her feet with Mel.
The two of them, honestly.
I spotted Reyna next to Lupin, wrapped up warmly, and Anthony appeared to have joined her in the Gryffindor stands. He was leaning into Reyna, and appeared to be whispering in her ear, as I saw her laugh. They were damned perfect for each other, though trust the brilliant Ravenclaw to be the only one not to realise.
Anthony saw me looking his way and waved, giving me a thumbs up. I grinned back at him, when he gestured to the last person in the row. Henry was sitting there, his brows slightly furrowed. From what I could see, he was watching me intently. When he was aware I was staring at him, he began to rise out of his seat, but I spun my broom around and sped to the other side of the pitch.
A huge cry erupted from the stands and I startled, wondering what had happened. I saw James pumping his fist in the air and Sirius speeding down the length of the field, away from the Slytherin Beaters. “GO, GO GRYFFINDOR! GO, GO GRYFFINDOR!
” was all I could hear, the cry filling the stadium.
I smiled, guessing Sirius had been the one to score and momentarily forget about Henry. The last thing I needed was to get so mad at him that I forgot about my current purpose.
“That’s Gryffindor, 60 points; Slytherin, 30 – with no sign yet of the Snitch, it’s still anyone’s game – brilliant save by the Gryffindor Keeper, Heath Chapman – and Potter speeds away with the Quaffle –”
I circled high above the game, scanning the pitch below. Finally locating Regulus Black near the Slytherin goal hoops, I continued my search, keeping an eye on him.
Anything gold, anything tiny, anything moving at high speeds.
I noticed Archie Holloway speed below me, Higgs and Stokes tailing him. James came up on Higgs’ right and attempted to manoeuvre the Slytherin out of the way so Archie could take a shot at the goals. Sirius quickly appeared on the other side, working on Stokes, while Caradoc and Benjy were battering Bludgers towards Angus Barton.
“I’m so glad that I commentate and don’t actually play Quidditch, because how Barton managed to avoid that, I’ll never know – that can’t be allowed!
Professor! Surely he can’t just ram him like that!”
Like hell that was allowed! Wilkes had just shot out of nowhere and collided with James, causing the captain to lurch sideways. Anyone less skilled on a broom would have fallen, but James Potter, being James Potter, had just used the momentum to roll right over, before continuing after Archie’s assailants.
No wonder his ego was so big.
“Oh, and that was a nice shot from Fenwick – Higgs is still a blur of spinning green from that Bludger – I hope he falls – Only joking! – Kind of – Sorry, Profess – Look at James Potter go!”
I squinted, raising my hand to block out the midday sun, only to have a brief glance of black hair and the glint of glasses as they passed below me, Quaffle under his arm.
Feeling uncomfortable, I glanced around and saw that Regulus Black was still watching me, circling the pitch. Wasn’t he going to try and find the Snitch? Wasn’t that his job as a Seeker? To seek out
that damned ball? Or had I been misinformed somewhere about what position he and I were playing?
“And that’s another 10 points for Slytherin, which leaves Gryffindor only 10 points ahead…”
Damned Snakes. Determined to find it before they had an opportunity to score again, I dropped down, closer to the game. Now, if I were a Snitch, where would I hide?
Regulus Black was still watching me, but he stayed where he was, slowly circling high above the Slytherin hoops. I drifted over towards the Gryffindor crowd and heard Lily’s voice screaming along with Mel’s as Archie Holloway flew past, passing to Sirius.
“Black has possession – Wilkes is gaining on him – passes to Potter – who dodges a Bludger sent his way by Mulciber before passing to Holloway – Holloway rolls, narrowly avoiding Higgs – HOLLOWAY SCORES! ANOTHER TEN POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR.”
Grinning, I looked over at the Fifth Year high-fiving James as he did a victory lap around the Slytherin hoops. That kid was good. With the rest of the season ahead of him, and with Potter as Captain, he’d end up as a damn fine Chaser.
Watching three emerald robes pass below me, racing towards the Gryffindor hoops with scarlet blurs in fast pursuit, I started to panic a little. We were only twenty points ahead, and while yes, we were still in the lead, we might not be for much longer. I didn’t know how long Archie would be able to go before tiring out and he started to make mistakes either.
I needed to catch that Snitch.
I glanced over at Regulus again to find he wasn’t there. Frowning, I looked around until I saw him lazily making his way towards me, searching for the Snitch as he did so. He caught my eye and smirked at me. It made me uncomfortable.
I was distracted, however, as Sirius flew past, laughing at the angry Slytherins on his tail. Regulus scowled at his brother, who flipped him off as he passed, and it was my turn to smirk.
“What are you so happy about, Nyx?” he sneered when he was within earshot and I winced slightly, increasingly uncomfortable with this whole set up. “You aren’t going to catch the Snitch. It’s your first game, and I’ve been playing for years. Quidditch is a Wizarding sport. A Muggleborn like yourself wouldn’t have the talent to play.”
“Black scores again and Barton looks pretty pissed – I meant annoyed, Professor!– Slytherin has position of the – Scratch that, Potter just intercepted their pass – He’s heading back up towards the Slytherin goals – Still no sign of the Snitch as Potter passes to Holloway – He makes to score! – Damn. Slytherin saves the shot – Higgs has the Quaffle and is making his way –“
Katie Lawson was right. There was no sign of the Snitch, and, happy to cut my charming
conversation short with Regulus Black, I sped off towards the Gryffindor goal posts, quickly realising that he was following me at his own pace.
“No luck yet, Nyx?” Heath called when he saw me approach, still keeping an eye on the Chasers fighting it out at the other end of the Pitch.
“None whatsoever. I don’t suppose you’ve seen anything, have you?” I laughed, trying to ignore the fact that Regulus was hovering above me a few meters away.
“Can’t say I have…” he trailed off, as a Slytherin broke free of Sirius’ attempts to intersect his pass and began making their way towards the Gryffindor goal posts at high speed.
“I’m going to leave you to it,” I said with false cheer, pulling my broom up and getting out of there as soon as I could.
I watched Heath perform a close save from my position above before I saw it – a suspicious looking gold glint in the sand below the hoops.
I stared at it, wondering if I was imagining things, but then it moved.
And I dived.
And Heath swore at me as I shot past, nearly knocking him into the hoops.
And Regulus was next to me far sooner than I would have liked.
And the ground was coming up to meet me as I stared down the little gold ball.
And everything seemed to happen at once, because I blinked and realised I was going to collide with the ground right when the Snitch flitted off along the pitch, Regulus swearing loudly.
My eyes watched the Snitch make it’s way along the grass before I realised I was still going in the wrong direction, making a beeline to what would surely result in another trip to the Matron.
I pulled my broom up, too close to breaking my own nose for comfort, and to the left as I began racing after the ball that was only inches above the grass.
I bet it was having a lovely time, the bloody thing.
It scooted along as I began to pull up along side it, ready to chase after it if it flew off to the side. But it decided to shoot up above me instead, and, if I hadn’t been prepared for it to make a sudden movement like it had during my try-outs, then I probably wouldn’t have caught it.
But, as it was, my hand shot up, grabbing it, while I clamped my legs tighter around my broom so the thing didn’t pull me off.
I slowed, throwing my legs off the side of my broom and dropping the few inches onto the grass below, admiring the golden ball in my hand before I realised where I was.
” came from the commentator’s booth, and I started, looking up from where I was standing in the middle of the pitch.
The entire school was watching me, chants of ‘Go, Go, Gryffindor!
’ pounding in my ears, and I was just standing there on the grass, looking like I’d gone for a leisurely stroll.
I spun on the spot, taking in the scene of screaming students above me, green and red clad Quidditch players slowly making their way back down towards me.
I gulped nervously as I looked around to see where Regulus had ended up, and saw him sitting in the sand by the goal hoops, completely covered in the stuff, his broom handle buried deep in the ground and a livid expression on his face as he stared me down.
The whole school was watching me.
The whole school was cheering for me.
The whole school knew who I was as I stood there by myself in the middle of the pitch.
I looked down at the tiny golden ball in my hands as it curled in its wings, and I couldn’t help myself – I grinned.
Another quick update! Hooray! The next one will take a few weeks, unfortunately, as I've only had four days of this term, and I'm drowning in work. I don't think I'll have a free moment all year, but I'm going to force myself to write. I think I'll need the break. That said, updates will be few and far between at least until April, when I get my next set of holidays. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this (I know I head loads of fun writing it), and again, let me know what you thought with a review. You guys have no idea how much they make me smile, even if I take weeks to reply to them. :/
Hope you're all well,
- A. :)