Chapter 7 : The Quidditch Trials
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Who is he?
I wake with a warm feeling and for a delicious moment I forget why. Then I remember: dark hair hanging in his eyes, a cheeky blue wink, a carefree laugh. The boy who is afraid of heights.
Why have I never noticed him before?
I pull myself out of bed in a sleepy daze, switching off my alarm clock. I throw a pillow at Amaris’ head: at the beginning of each year we pull our beds closer together to create a safe sanctuary from the other side of the room, where Demetria, Griz and their assortment of dark and creepy objects reside. Currently, we’ve set up a kind of curtain which Levitates permanently between our two sides. Waking up to Griz’s shrunken head, “Xavier,” grinning at me is never a great start to the day.
After having a quick shower, I give Amaris her second warning. She drags herself up, glares at me through bleary eyes and slowly puts on some makeup while her hair straightener smoothes over her long, strawberry blond locks.
I feel the urge to look extra nice today, so I put on my favorite emerald earrings – last year’s Christmas present – and a little more blush and eyeliner than I’d usually bother with. I’m filled with that wonderful sense of anticipation and eagerness to get down to the Great Hall: will he be there? Which table will he be sitting at? Will we speak? My thoughts are overwhelmed with fantasies: chatting together over toast, the jealous looks on my year mates’ faces as they watch us laugh animatedly: his hand taking my own: even some slightly embarrassing but engrossing mental images of him pressing me against the wall, touching his lips to my own, smiling against them.
These are the kind of secret thoughts I usually reserve for Theo Nott, but today, the strange boy takes center stage in my mind.
By the time Amaris has woken up to look at me properly, we’re halfway down the dungeon corridor to breakfast. She glances over and wolf-whistles appreciatively.
“What’s the special occasion, Miss Greengrass? Huntin’ for some booty?” She smirks.
I snort at her and self-consciously run my hands over my hips, which instead of my usual leggings are dressed in a rather short skirt under my robes. I feel the sudden urge to spill my guts to Amaris as the warm memories from yesterday’s encounter replay themselves over and over.
“I met someone yesterday,” I explain to her in a hushed voice, looking around fervently to make sure there’s nobody around who could somehow, possibly, know who I was talking about. I fill her in on bursting into the secret room, the secret-telling game, how he called me ‘Feisty,’ how comfortable I immediately felt.
“I don’t want to jinx it,” I finished, “but I can’t stop thinking about him! It was strange… like although we’d just met, we were totally at ease. It was… nice,” I conclude lamely.
Amaris is gleeful. “What’s his name?”
“I don’t know, I forgot to ask. For some reason it didn’t seem important.”
“What year is he in?”
“I don’t know. Not ours, I think he’s older.”
“What does he look like?”
This I can answer. “Skinny, but muscular, bigger than I am but not a giant, you know? Dark hair, nice eyes, sweet smile… tall I guess. He’s pretty cute.”
“But he’s not a Slytherin?”
“I don’t think so… at least, I’ve never noticed him before, and I think if he was in Slytherin then I would. Are you jealous, lady?” I grin.
“I’m extremely jealous!” She cried. “You’re always the lucky one, why do you get to stumble into the dark-haired quick-witted man of your dreams-”
“Shush!” I whisper, glancing around behind us. Maybe I’m being over-paranoid, but I physically cringe at the idea of the strange boy over-hearing me talking about him. A chill passes over me. What if he doesn’t like me? What if he was just bored when we talked, and this imagined connection is all in my head? What if I’ve jinxed any future we could have together by over-thinking and fantasizing about him?
At breakfast, I scour the Great Hall for the boy, but with Amaris constantly asking if I’ve found him yet its quite difficult. My search is also interrupted by the arrival of Taurus, Pyxis and Phin, who can’t keep quiet about the Quidditch trials scheduled for that evening. This only contributes to my nerves.
“So we’re essentially re-vamping the team,” Taurus explains to anyone who will listen. “New Seeker, new Beaters, and a new Chaser. Then of course Theo’s been bumped up to Keeper, now that Franklin’s left. So we’re ready for some new blood.”
The Great Hall isn’t full as it once was. So many students are missing, even at the Slytherin table. Parents from all four houses are keeping their children close, going into hiding, some even going abroad to leave the political upheaval which is coming in England. I suspect that some of the seventh year Slytherins have left to join their parents as Death Eaters themselves, knowing that NEWTs can’t be important within the new order, where power and might are everything.
Fleetingly, I think ahead to my own future. I’m nearly fifteen now, but when I’m older, will You-Know-Who want me? What about Daphne? I feel a thread of excitement. Surely, we are the purest of purebloods, and great witches in our own right. Theo and Pyxis, too. Theo and Daphne will be of age this year: will they leave Hogwarts forever in the pursuit of something greater?
I feel a slight hesitation. What would I do without Theo at school? And even Daphne-she might frustrate me, but a realm without my sister is too foreign to contemplate.
The Dark Mark burning on his arm where its just been inscribed into his flesh, my father hides his pain. He glances over at Evan, walking beside him and looking strong and fierce. Since Evan was the year ahead at Hogwarts, he’s been a Death Eater for longer than my father. Yaxley remembers the thrilling letters Evan would send, about his favored new place with the Death Eaters, his new comrades, the instruction in the Dark Arts they could only imagine, the fierce loyalty they all felt for each other and for their Lord.
As the black turrets of Hogwarts come into view, my father clenches his fingers around his wand. Already he has cast aside that other life, that life of a student taking his NEWTs, seems so long ago. His eyes are stuck on the back of his Master, who is flanked by Rodolphus Lestrange and the shining white head of Lucius Malfoy. He doesn’t have to see Lucius’ face to sense his typical smirk.
My father will usurp them: he will become the Dark Lord’s most trusted confidant, and he will gain the might of the magical world behind him. This test, this first venture with the Death Eaters, this attack on his school and his classmates, is only a necessary first step.
I rip my mind away from the future and back to the present, in which Quidditch is the most important thing in everybody’s minds.
“Tor. Tor. Tor,” Taurus says, snapping his fingers rudely at me.
“What?” I say coldly, slapping his hand away from my face.
“I was just asking, what time are you coming down to the pitch? Because if you like I can help warm you up before the trials begin…”
I arrange my features in a smile of gratitude. “Sure, that’d be great. I’ll bring my broom down around half six…”
The day passes quickly in a furious haze of stressing about Quidditch, scouring the corridors for any sign of the boy from yesterday, listening to Pyxis and Taurus’ whispered pep talks and advice, trying to stay awake through an Ancient Runes lecture, preventing Phin from hexing the back of a Ravenclaw’s head during Defense against the Dark Arts when Snape’s back is turned, cheering as he succeeds in hexing the Ravenclaw after class and running for cover as the kid’s ears take on a life of their own and belt out Mudblood, Mudblood, successfully turning several Flobberworms into pencils during Transfiguration, and comforting a rattled Amaris when she accidentally walks through the Bloody Baron and can’t keep her teeth from chattering for an hour after.
By the time dinner rolls around, I am both mentally exhausted and physically annoyed.
“Now remember to keep your eyesight sharp, he’s going to want to test you, so you never know when the Snitch is going to turn up-“
“Lean forward on your broom, and visualize lightness, the Nimbus Two Thousand and One responds to that, its all about visualization-“
“Pyxis, its my broom,” I hiss, “I think I know how to fly it by now-“
“The Beaters are going to be pretty green, so keep a sharp eye, especially for the chicks, female Beaters are always exceptionally vicious-”
Even Theo starts to get on my nerves.
“Christian Skin’s got a sharp eye,” he warns me, stopping behind Pyxis and Taurus and swinging an arm around each of their shoulders. “So he’s going to notice if you screw up. It’s what makes him such a great Chaser, but he’s a tough critic and he’s going to be a hardass Captain-”
This is the breaking point for me and I excuse myself, trying to keep the sarcasm from my voice as I tell Taurus that I’ll meet him on the pitch. Fuming, I retrieve my broom, my flying gloves and a warm jumper from the dormitory and head outside. The cool air is refreshing after all the tense interactions in the castle, and I inhale deeply. The air at Hogwarts is always so fresh. I’m not usually this moody: maybe I need to take up wizard yoga or something, and yes, that is a thing.
I’m so busy thinking about how I need to calm down that, for the second time in two days, I walk headfirst into a warm body.
And to my surprise and delight, it’s the elusive stranger of the day before.
“So sorry,” he says quickly, taking my shoulders with his hands and shifting me backwards ever so slightly. Then he startles, and a slow grin spreads across his face.
“Well, well, if it isn’t Feisty,” he says. “Out for an evening stroll, are we?”
I lift up my broom pointedly.
“Quidditch trials. I’m going for Seeker, since our old one quit.”
He nods. His hands are still on my shoulders, and I feel a strange warmth spreading across my body from the point where his hands are.
“And a great little Seeker I’m sure you’ll be. Did you manage to avoid whoever you were hiding from when you so rudely burst in on my refuge yesterday?”
“Yeah, he seemed to lose his nerve today,” I reply, “Thank Merlin, because I might have had to move in.”
The boy smiles, finally releasing me. I wish he hadn’t. “For you, Feisty, that room is always available. But, heads up, the password is getting changed to Greensleeves tomorrow.”
“Who decides the password?” I ask. “How did you discover the place? Really, I think I deserve an explanation after yesterday, which was quite possibly the worst day ever.”
He laughs again. His voice is nothing less than magical, and that’s coming from a girl who was magical before being born.
“All will be explained in time, that is, if you come barging in on me again-”
“Oi! Boot!” He looks around at this call, which came from a group of boys who are approaching us. “Did you nab those Nocturne Shrub Seeds yet? Because Sluggy won’t wait forever, and we’ve all got an essay to write-”
I turn away quickly.
“I should get going,” I murmur, and let myself slip into the darkness.
“I’ll catch you later, Feisty,” he calls after me, and I break into a little jog towards the Quidditch pitch, my anger from earlier dissipated but my nerves stronger than ever. How can I concentrate on Quidditch after he touches me? How can I search for the Snitch when he calls me Feisty?
And now I know his name.
There are two other prospective Seekers who make it into the semi-finals: Cousin Zelda and a thin fifth year with a face like a rat.
“Alright, Seekers,” Christian Skin, the Slytherin team captain, orders as he paces in front of us importantly with the Captain badge pinned to his chest. “This is it. I’m releasing five practice Snitches onto the pitch. Meanwhile, the Beaters” – he gestures to the newly appointed Beaters, Griz Goyle and a seventh year boy – will be hitting Bludgers at you like there’s no tomorrow. I’ll be watching you carefully, and whoever exhibits the best flying skill and captures the most Snitches is our new Seeker, capiche?”
While Skin is annoying, he is slightly intimidating, with his pale, pale skin which glimmers in the dusk and slightly manic glint in his face as he surveys us greedily. I smile apologetically at Zelda and wish her and the other kid good luck.
Kicking off from the ground, I relish the freedom and lightness of flight and turn a couple of pirouettes in the air. My new broom, a gift from Father this past year, is sleek and pristine and perfect, without a straw out of place. Engraved on the handle are my initials, AGY.
I circle the pitch, but start to notice that all of the Bludgers Griz hitting are aimed at me alone. There’s a bunch of Bludgers circling the field right now, and I catch a glimpse of Theo and Taurus’ worried faces from the ground. That cow Griz has got it out for me, as per usual.
As I dodge a particular forceful hit from Griz, I see it. A snitch, hovering by the blue and silver stands. I lean forward and urge on my broom, seizing it and doing a neat flip in the air to avoid colliding with the boards. The sound of my friends cheering travels past me on the evening wind.
The second snitch is a near steal from my rat-faced competition. We spot it, stare at each other for a brief second, then race into a nosedive as the traitorous little ball shines along the grass. The twat shoves me, hard, but I grit my teeth and keep on course, seizing it seconds before his grasping little claw.
That’s it. Two Snitches. One more and I’m Seeker. I do a little victory lap around the pitch, while Theo and Taurus cheer and jump up and down in appreciation and Zelda and rat-face grimace. I settle my broom and stuff the second snitch inside my jumper, beginning to peer around for the third. I’m on top of the pack, on top of the pitch, on top of the world.
Then the Bludger hits me square in the back of the head.
A/N: Ouch. A bit of a rough chapter, but I wanted to update. Any review, no matter how long or short, would be immensely appreciated :D
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