see a/n at the beginning of ch1 for basics that apply to all chapters!
As soon as I reached my dorm Dominique pounced on me.
“Spill it,” she ordered. “How was practice? Were my cousins obnoxious? Who else is on the team? Are the Evans twins really telepathic? Does—“
“Slow down, Sherlock!” I laughed.
Another Dom thing: Gossip, rumors and questions. That girl knows all. I bet she has a list of rumors that she wants to prove. Note to self: Ask Dominique if she has a rumor list. Or figure out the organization system used in her filing cabinet and... scratch that. That’s way to hard. Just ask her if she has a rumor list.
I kicked off my shoes, sat down on my bed and pulled my wavy brown hair out of its high ponytail. “Practice was fine. They weren’t that obnoxious. It’s Al, Freddy, the Evans twins, Finn McClintock, Ryan Gallagher, and me. And Finn thinks so but I—“
“Wait. Rewind. Did you say that you’re the only girl on the team?”
“Uh, yeah.But I’m not intimidated by it that much. I think that they’re all pretty friendly, but I can’t be sure since I only spent time with Finn and Al. I see it as an opportunity to prove myself as a girl and Quidditch player. Show them that I can do it, you know?”
“Yeah sure,” Dom said impatiently. “But do you realize how lucky you are?”
“Yes. I’m glad I made the team. But why—“
“Ugh, don’t be an idiot!” Dom teased. “I mean do you realize how lucky you are to be surrounded by six hot and athletic boys 24/7? Members of the Quidditch teams spend all of their time together. The six of them are going to be fawning over you! Do you know how many girls would kill to be in your place?”
“I never thought of it like that…” I said thoughtfully.
“That much is obvious,” Dominique huffed.
I threw my pillow at her.
“But, Dom, I doubt that they’ll be ‘fawning over me’. We’re going to be sweaty, muddy, and generally disgusting most of the time. There’s nothing attractive about that.”
“Sure. There’s nothing attractive about a pretty, talented, athletic, hard-working girl.” Dom said sarcastically, ticking off the qualities on her fingers as she went.
“Shut up.” I moaned, chucking my other pillow at her. “Let’s go eat lunch.”
Fast-forward about two weeks to a lovely sunny Friday. I was bored out of my mind in Transfiguration (and it’s my favorite and best subject, so that’s saying something), tuning out the O.W.L. speech that our headmistress/Transfiguration teacher, Professor McGonagall, was giving for the millionth time.
Suddenly I felt a short stab of pain in my right foot. What? I spun to the right as inconspicuously as humanly possible in a classroom that was completely silent except McGonagall’s boring monologue. It was Finn. He was smirking, triumphant in his attempt to silently get my attention. He angled his notebook towards me so I could read. it said:
Hell Week begins Sunday. Al told me just before class started. Get there at 9. Prepare to die. Also the first team... gathering of sorts is on Saturday after the completion of Hell Week. If you survive, you are invited to spend the night in a tent at a secret location with all of the team. And the invitation part is only to be polite. You have to come. Whether or not we drag you there by your ponytail is your choice. We will meet in the Entrance Hall at 4.
Ooh, yay. Secret notes, secret gatherings, and excruciatingly painful daily workouts. This week was going to be fun. I scribbled back my response.
Hooray for Hell Week! Since I plan on surviving and I like my ponytail, I will meet you in the Entrance Hall at four. Also, thanks so much for stamping on my foot-- I’ve always wanted some broken toes.
Finn read it and smiled. You’re Welcome, he mouthed.
Ponytail? Tied up tight. Holyhead Harpies pinnie? Holyheadilicious. Ooh fun word! Mint green polka-dotted socks? Feeling lucky. And to all of you people who think I wear the same socks every day, I don’t. I just wear my lucky socks on days that I need luck. Like the day of a big test. Or Quidditch tryouts. Or the first day of a week christened “Hell Week.” Yeah, that’s right. Today is the day.
I walked down to the pitch feeling really apprehensive. What if I can’t do all the workouts? asked a voice in my head.
Shut up stupid conscience thing. I told it. You never have anything helpful to say. I’d been fine the past two weeks. I could do this. Scratch that. I will do this.
A familiar voice interrupted my thoughts. “Hey, princess! Are you ready for this?”
I turned around. It was Al, a smirk-ish smile on his face, walking down the hill behind me. I stopped long enough for him to catch up.
I put on my brave, Ella-is-about-to-dominate-the-world face. “I was born ready, Al!”
We reached the pitch and I stopped short. My rule-the-world attitude vanished. The field was covered in exercise equipment. Finn, Sam, and Nick were running- scratch that- sprinting laps, Ryan was lifting weights with an expression of pure pain on his face, and Freddy was doing so many sit-ups that my abs hurt just looking at him. I gulped.
“Welcome to hell, princess,” Al grinned.
“Oh, Al Potter, why do you torture us so?” I moaned on the third day of Hell Week. I was in the middle of 200 pushups. Yes, you read that right. Two bloody hundred. No stopping or breaks or anything.
‘Tweet!' screeched Al’s obnoxious whistle. I’m beginning to hate that dumb thing (by thing I mean the whistle… mostly).
“Ten laps! Now!” Al barked. I sighed and sat up, my arms shaking from the painful pushups. My body felt like it was made of lead. I really didn’t want to run. But I can’t give up now! My brain protested.
“You comin’, princess?” Ryan teased. “Or is Hell Week proving to be too much for you?” Nick and Sam snickered.
I glowered at them. If there’s one thing I can’t stand being called, it’s weak. I hate weakness. It makes me feel so vulnerable and helpless, like I can’t do anything. And for someone to think that being a girl automatically makes me weak is not okay. There is no freaking way that Ryan would call me weak and get away with it. Energy surged into my exhausted body.
“Never.” I said, gritting my teeth and standing up. I marched over to the starting line, ready to leave ‘em in the dust.
“Readysetgo—tweet!” Al rushed and whistled, and he sprinted off before the rest of us could register that he’d said anything.
“Cheater!” Freddy hollered, and the six of us ran after him.
Nine laps to go. I was behind the rest of them, I won’t deny it, but I was perfectly okay with that. I’ll just let them get comfortable.
Five laps to go. I’d caught up by now, and was beginning to work my way up to the front of the pack. I focused on the rhythm of my feet pounding the bright green grass. Thump, thump, thump.
Three laps to go. I was towards the front, only Finn, Ryan, and Al separating me from victory. They were fast. Good thing I like challenges.
Two laps to go. I whizzed by Finn in a green-pinnied flurry, my ponytail whipping his face. At last, revenge for the mashed up toes.
Last lap. I passed Ryan about halfway through. I smiled and waved my carefully practiced princess-wave. I’ll deal with his princess comment later, I thought. Focus on beating Al.
Al was losing steam. I lengthened my strides and pumped my arms. In. Out. In. Out. I commanded my lungs. We rounded the final stretch, stride for stride.
“See you at the finish line, princess!” he taunted as he pulled ahead.
Hell to the no, I thought. Not happening. I’m not sprinting my legs off just to be beaten. I redoubled my efforts, ignoring my protesting legs and burning lungs. I ran faster and faster, overtaking Al. I ran until I thought my lungs would explode, and I crossed the finish just before him.
Hell yeah. Sweet Victory.
I sat down on the ground, trying to catch my breath.
“You beat—me,” Al panted, collapsing onto the grass next to me. “Respect—earned.”
I grinned. Two down, four to go. Sweet Victory.
“Hey, prin—I mean, Ella,” Ryan said, joining us on the ground. “Sorry for thinking that you couldn’t handle this. As far as I’m concerned, you just trampled Hell Week in the dust. Truce?”
“Truce.” I agreed, barely able to hide my smile this time. Make that three. Sweet Victory.
Over the course of the next four days, I earned the respect of the other three team members. Basically, the way to earn the respect of a Quidditch jock is to kick butt at some physical activity. Don’t believe my theory? Take the Evans twins for example. I beat Sam in a cross-lake swim, and I had to fend off the Giant Squid halfway. I took Nick down in a sit-up contest. As for Freddy, he witnessed Nick’s defeat, held up his hands in surrender, and cried, “All hail Ella’s abs of steel!” However, even though I earned the respect of my male teammates, I couldn’t get them to stop calling me princess. Sigh. Some things just don’t go away.
“3..2..1..DONE!” Al exclaimed, dropping his weights to the ground and wiping sweat off of his forehead. The rest of us mimicked him. “And that concludes Hell Week!”
“Praise Merlin! Hallelujah!” Finn cheered, sending red and gold sparks out of the tip of his wand in celebration. I laughed and joined him. It felt so good to be done!
We went back to the locker rooms to gather our things.
“See you in the Entrance Hall at four for our campout!” Al reminded us. I thought I saw some of my teammates exchange glances and smirks. Hmm. I was concerned for about a split second, but didn’t think much of it after that.
I checked my watch for the billionth time. Ugh! Where were they? I thought. I’d been waiting in the Entrance Hall for almost ten minutes.
I heard someone cough behind me. I spun around. “Who’s the—ARGHHH!” I screamed as someone clapped their callused hands over my eyes. I screeched and went into full-out-ninja-warrior mode, kicking and punching my attackers while they blindfolded me, fastened my wrists together, and pulled my wand out of my back pocket. I tried to run away but ended up smacking into one of them.
“Oof!” a familiar voice grunted. Finn.
“LET ME GO RIGHT NOW, FINN MCCLINTOCK!” I hollered, kicking him (hopefully) in the shins. “When I get these off I swear I’ll—“
“Whoa, princess, calm down.” said another familiar voice.
“Not you too, Sam!” I shrieked, attempting to kick his shins too. “Who else is here?” I demanded.
“The whole team, actually,” Freddy piped up.
“Welcome to your hazing, Ella Levine,” Al announced.
I thought I had earned their respect. I really did. But if I had, I certainly wouldn’t be covered in whipped cream, paint (from paintball guns—how did they get those in the castle?), toilet paper (“Let’s turn Ella into a mummy!”) and French onion soup (my least favorite food. Ever.) I certainly wouldn’t have a princess tiara, raw eggs, and bits of Cockroach Cluster (disgusting) in my hair. I certainly wouldn’t be marching blindfolded and barefoot towards the Black Lake after curfew, being forced to kiss the Giant Squid. And to think I almost liked my Quidditch team.
“C’mon, Ella, this is the last thing and then we get to go roast marshmallows!” Nick promised as my teammates pushed me onto the dock.
“I hate you all!” I grumbled for the millionth time. Al guided me towards the very edge of the dock. The rest of the team followed, but kept their distance.
“Ready for a swim?” Al teased. “3..2..1!”
He tried to push me in. I ducked. The blindfold slipped from my eyes. I stamped on the rope connecting my wrists with my foot, freeing my hands. I snatch my wand from Al’s hand before he completely registered what was happening.
“Hey!” Al protested. “That’s not—“ Splash! I pushed him off the dock. I turned towards the rest of the team, pointing my wand threateningly at them. I must’ve looked especially scary with egg yolks oozing down my cheeks and a puddle of French onion soup and whipped cream forming at my feet.
“Teapot or late night swim,” I growled. “Your choice.”
They didn’t need telling twice.
I tried to look as dignified as possible (despite being wrapped in toilet paper) while watching them struggle back onto the dock.
“Respect for you = doubled.” Nick said, shivering.
I smiled. “And that, my friends, is why you don’t underestimate the vicious ninja-warrior skills of Ella Levine. Now let’s go roast those marshmallows.”
(I love the race scene... but i guess that's bc i run competitively. anyway ella's thoughts in that scene are exactly what goes through my head during a race... just in case any of you wanted to know what goes on in my weird brain...)
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