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Chapter 6 : Trouble Sleeping
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Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to JKR! I also don't own the rights to the song Trouble Sleeping by the Perishers. Enjoy!
Going to Charms that morning was horrible. I’d managed a smile when Madame Bones proclaimed me healthy and sent me on my way, but as I took one step after another, I found my breathing becoming shallow and labored. I was terrified. I knew that Ivan had wanted me killed. And Kevin had been more than happy to do it.
Was this reality? Was I dreaming? These people I’d stuck with for six years now wanted me…dead? I’d known that they tortured others,
beat them…but murder was just unfathomable, at least until now.
I didn’t know what I would find when I opened the door. I didn’t know if I was still “dating” Ivan or if he was done with me. I was so nervous that the insides of my thighs were quivering and I had difficulty supporting myself. I hadn’t felt this alone in a long time.
As I entered, the first person I saw was James. His head was down, but I saw his body tense and I knew he knew I was there. Then I saw Fred and Alex and Rose. They looked at me sadly. For a crazy moment I thought about sitting down next to them, but if there was still a chance that I could protect James, I had to take it.
That’s when I looked over at Ivan. He smiled, although the fury behind his eyes was obvious. I’d seen that look before, on the quidditch pitch before he had Ross and Carl pulling illegal plays to brutally injure the other players. I’d seen it when he’d beaten up a Slytherin so badly he’d been put into a coma for five days. And now, he was looking at me.
“Hey beautiful, glad to see you’re okay. I was so worried about you!”
Subtext: Hey Pure-loving skank, I hate the fact that you’re still alive. Why couldn’t you just die like you were supposed to?
Swallowing, I forced myself to take my seat next to him. “It’s so good to be back, and to see you handsome.”
Subtext: Choke on your tongue and snuff it, you bastard.
I made the mistake of glancing over at Daley. The sinister look on his face made my heart skip a beat. I felt the crunch of my ribs, the river of blood flowing from my nose and ears, the sudden pressure that took my breath away, forcing the blackness to take over. Quickly I faced front and buried my face in my bag under the pretense of searching for something.
The entire lesson I couldn’t focus. I had no idea of the words coming out of Peridon’s mouth. Ivan’s hand was a vice around my shoulders, reminding me that I was still under lock and key. Kevin’s eyes stayed trained on the back of my head, as though he were trying to physically get into my thoughts.
I wanted to flee. I wanted to leave the castle, the grounds, the school. I’d rather take my chances on the streets than remain here. But Ivan's arm was wrapped around me, his grip like iron. I could feel the bruises on my shoulder forming already. His message was clear: stay under my arm, or someone gets hurt. That weight was heavy.
The rest of my classes, where I sat next to Maggie, were even more terrifying. She was silent. I felt like she was planning something, like she would be the next one to make a murder attempt. Despite her muteness, she gave me glares so cold it was like I could feel the frost taking over my lungs. The looks were so effective because all I could see was the pure evil behind her dark eyes.
I needed to talk to James. I wanted to know why he had saved me, how he had known where I was. I wanted to know how it was so easy for him to abandon me. If I was really such a terrible person. I had so many questions but I couldn’t get so much as a passing glance from him.
As the day wore on and my fear became more prominent, I devised a plan. I would make him talk to me, somehow. Focusing on the plan kept my hands from jittering, and kept my mouth shut. It kept me sane as I constantly checked over my shoulder, wand in a steadfast grip inside of my robe sleeve.
That night when Ivan and his cronies were off somewhere smoking and drinking, I took myself to an unused classroom and waited. Somehow James had known where I was when Daley was beating me, and if he had some sort of tracking charm on me, he would think I was in trouble. I wouldn’t be wandering the castle by myself this late.
I sat and I waited, the anxiety building up a pressure in my chest. I counted the number of tiles in the ceiling, and picked at my nails. I counted to one hundred in English and Spanish. I thought about what I would say to him, what he would say to me.
He kept me waiting for a long time, so long that I was nearly ready to give up. But he did come. He walked in and looked right at me. A glorious smile spread across my face.
“If you wanted to speak with me, you just could’ve asked. Sent a note or something,” he remarked, his voice dripping with disdain.
I leapt off of the desk I was perched on. “Stop being so cold with me James! I know you still care,” I said, stepping as close to him as I dared. The scent of his aftershave wafted over and I allowed myself one selfish moment to breathe it in. This was the closest I’d been to him in a month.
He was silent.
“You saved me. You didn’t have to.” I tried not to let my voice sound too hopeful.
“So? You think I was just going to watch you die? You think that’s what I want?” His voice started to rise and he furiously slashed his wand around, most likely silencing and locking up the room.
Because I was upset, and confused, and tired, I asked. “What do you want James?”
His amber eyes turned molten, filled with too many emotions to discern. “I want to live in a world where I can sit with my friends and family without having to put up wards so that we don’t get cursed while we’re eating or sleeping. I don’t want to be tortured, or beaten, or watch my friends get tortured and beaten just because of who our families are. I want peace, because frankly, I’m exhausted. I want to tell my parents the truth of it all, so I don’t have to lie to them. But most of all, Clara, I don’t want you to be hurt.”
“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, taking another step, reaching out my hand.
Seemingly of their own accord, his own hand reached out and clasped mine briefly.
The close proximity was torturous. I was so close, but so far away. I could stretch forward and claim him for my own, but the threat looming over our heads held me back.
“James,” I spoke, unsure of if I was asking him to stop, pleading with him to keep going, or just saying his name because I wasn’t sure if this was real or not. He blinked and withdrew, and I physically had to stop myself from reaching out for him again.
He shook his head. “I can’t. Clara, I can’t watch you get dragged up to his dormitory. I can’t watch you wince while you walk because of freshly healed wounds. I can’t bear to see the hurt in your eyes because of me. I can’t – I can’t walk in on you broken and bloody and…” James stopped for a moment to turn away, his voice raw. “You deserve better. So I’m telling you: get away from Turner. Let him come after me.”
“You can’t watch me in pain, but I can watch you? I don’t think so,” I replied, shaking my head vehemently.
His eyes turned dark. “How about this? You stop looking out for me, I stop looking out for you. We become strangers. It’s better for the both of us. Just keep your head down for a while and you’ll be fine.”
“Have they come after you at all since I gave myself over to him? Answer me that, James!” My eyes flashed furiously and he scoffed.
“You can’t even protect yourself but you’ll protect me. I don’t need nor want you to Clara, don’t you get that? Just save yourself the trouble,” James muttered. “I’m going, and I don’t want you to come after me.”
“Don’t leave again James!” I shouted after him as he turned his back on me. He kept walking, and the door shut behind him heavily. “DAMNIT!”
I held both my hands out in front of me and stared into my palms. They started shaking, and suddenly, all of the desks in the room floated several feet into the air. I could feel my energy waning, and quickly. As I dropped my hands to my sides, the desks fell back to the ground, and I slumped over onto one, taking slow, steadying breaths.
There would not be a repeat of last time. I had to learn how to control my wandless magic. Perhaps it would give me some semblance of control over my own life.
I went to bed angry that night. He was done looking out for me? I was the one who had been suffering, all so he would be left alone. The boys hadn’t touched him, just like they’d promised. I’d taken it all. So really, who was protecting who?
The girls didn’t come near me, which was suspicious, but I figured whatever they were planning, I didn’t care. I was done letting them hurt me. I was done being Ivan’s plaything and punching bag. I wasn’t going to protect James anymore, not if he didn’t care enough to protect me.
That was it. One little conversation and the past six years of friendship with him were over. Maybe it was immature, but saying I'd had the worst month of my life was an understatement.
I didn’t understand James in the slightest. We were friends who played quidditch together. That was it. We hardly talked. Everything we wanted to say went into our flying, our throws, our maneuvers. But suddenly he was tossing me aside to “protect” me. I didn’t need protecting, he did. Sure I had Ivan and co after me, but he had an entire school. Probably people outside of Hogwarts even, considering who his father is. People who he helped put in prison, or whose loved ones were killed or locked up during the war.
James really didn’t see that he needed someone looking out for him. He couldn’t always be the one to take care of everyone, he shouldn’t always be left to fend for himself. Protecting him from Ivan was the least I could do, I knew that. But I guess now that was over too. Breaking things off with him wouldn’t improve anything for me, though. It would only make things worse. I knew it was coming.
I was pleased to find Fred waiting for me on the pitch the next morning. Let Daley come after me again. He would never get close enough to hurt me, because even his intelligence was no match for Fred Weasley.
I beat him twice that morning, which marked the first time I’d been able to best him since the day we’d started playing together.
When the sun started to come up, we landed and he leaned over his knees, panting hard. “What’s gotten into you Sullivan?”
As I picked up the quaffle, I tested the weight of it in my hands. “Life,” I responded. As I dropped the quaffle, I sighed and walked over to the locker room.
The hot water from the shower pounded over me, but all I could feel was the furious pumping of the blood rushing to my veins. I was still so angry. I wondered when it would stop. Then I thought about James yelling at me, leaving me alone twice. About Ivan and his power over me. About Ross and Carl, and Kevin and those steel-toed boots. About Maggie, a girl who had once proclaimed us ‘friends till the end,’ a girl who spat in my face and kicked me in the ribs. All of this because of who I was friends with.
I got furious all over again.
I don’t know how long I stayed in the shower, but by the time I got out, the rest of the team was assembled, and the spectators were arriving.
It was time to play the first quidditch match of the season, Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw. I joined the rest of the team just as Ivan was about to give his pep talk. I hardly listened while he spoke, instead looking over to the Ravenclaw team.
We called their captain Grizz. He was big, he was mean, and he was built like a tank. He could smack bludgers at speeds up to 80 kilometers per hour and accurately, too. His fellow beater was Hank Monroe, a short but stocky redhead who could knock you off your broom in 2 seconds flat. Keeper Logan Jacobs was six feet and four inches, with limbs that could practically stretch the length of the hoops. In his Hogwarts career he had let in less than 40 goals.
Jamie Kelly was the seeker. She was small, but she was one of the fastest flyers in her school. She’d only missed the snitch in two games since joining the team four years ago. Then, there were the chasers. The two males, Kenneth Jones and Harvey Fitzgerald were average at best. Couldn’t fly particularly fast, couldn’t score a lot of goals, but could hurl the quaffle halfway down the pitch. It was Meredith you had to watch out for.
Meredith Scozzafava was one of the most agile and skilled chasers that had been on Ravenclaw for a long time. Off the pitch she was a model student, Prefect and head of the Gobstones club. On the pitch, she was a force to be reckoned with. She could foul a player without a second thought. She could out-maneuver anyone, and out-fly them, too. Though only a fifth year, she held one of the top three scoring records of all time. She was number three. Number two was held by Angelina Johnson-Weasley.
I wasn’t worried. We had beaten Ravenclaw out for the cup last year, and I was Hogwarts’ all-time top scorer. Meredith could choke on my dust. And as much as I hated to admit it, my team was good.
“Break!” Ivan yelled out, and the players all separated to get dressed and start their pre-game rituals. He wandered over to me. “You ready for this sugartits?”
As he made to put his tongue in my mouth, I braced against his chest, hard. “I’m done, Turner. Leave me the hell alone. I’m not your ‘girlfriend’ or plaything or punching bag anymore. Keep your hands off me. You’ll never touch me again,” I said evenly, measuring his stare.
Ivan moved closer, his lips right by my ear. “You’d better say your goodbyes to Potter then.”
“I don’t give a damn about him!” I yelled, breaking free from him. “This is about me! I’m here to play quidditch, that’s all. I’ll win for you, but other than that, we’re done. From now on you’re my captain, and I’m your player. If you try to hurt me again, I’ll retaliate. You’ve been warned.”
I spit on the ground at his feet and kicked off harshly, taking a few laps around the pitch to warm up. It felt good to be back in control of my own life.
Meredith was giving the other Ravenclaw chasers a pep talk. She got my eye and glared.
I watched as Grizz walked towards Ivan. Grizz smirked. Ivan nodded while they shook hands. Meredith growled at me as we stood face to face, straddling our brooms.
Professor Higgs flew into the air and released the snitch. My eye never left him as he tossed the quaffle up in the air. Meredith and I both shot straight for it, but I cut her off and got to it first.
Not a second later I was slammed with a bludger and I fumbled, just managing to hold onto the ball as I flew towards Jacobs. That’s when the second bludger got me in the arm, just below my shoulder. It burned like a bitch but I didn’t hear a crack and the quaffle was still in my possession, so I kept flying.
I dodged Jones to my left, Fitzgerald to my right, but as I got to the far side of the pitch, no one was in my way anymore. I frowned, but aimed to shoot anyway. As I released it a bludger slammed me from behind and I somersaulted on my broom, too dazed and confused to register the fact that it had been shot at me by my own team.
The crowd laughed because it was a mistake to them. I seethed because I knew it wasn’t. Jacobs caught my throw and gave it to Meredith. With my sight on her, I pressed myself flat on my broom and raced across the pitch. Our seeker dove to get out of my way, and at the whistle of a bludger I dipped slightly myself, but it wasn’t until I was level with her that I noticed Ross and Bryant were casually lounging on the other side of the field.
Infuriated, I swung my broom in front of Meredith’s and wrested the quaffle from her grip, the force of her broom shoving me backwards. I pulled up harshly on my broom to untangle myself and to get away from her sharp elbows.
Since my fellow chasers were deciding to boycott the game, I reworked a play we’d made at practice for one pair of hands. As Fitzgerald came at me from one side, I wobbled on my broom, making it look like I was going to fumble the quaffle, and he moved in. I shoved him harshly and hit the back of his broom with the tail of mine and he flew off-course.
I saw Meredith’s shadow before I heard her and did a spin in mid-air so her foot wouldn’t connect. I struggled to regain the speed I’d had, but once I was there I went straight past Jacobs and in between the center and right hoops, circling back around and shooting it through the left hoop before he’d even gotten himself turned around.
I heard Bo Elmsworth announce the goal, and the roar of the Gryffindors, but I didn’t stop to care. I intercepted his pass. He was so furious at himself that he overestimated the toss, making it easy for me to grab it and zoom right pass Meredith. I’d never seen her look so mad.
Ross decided to finally get in the game and flew below me, gesturing for the quaffle. I sighed but didn’t hesitate as I dropped it for him to catch. The second it left my fingertips, the bludger came at me. It caught me in the forearm, which in turn smacked me in the face.
Ross missed the goal and while Jacobs was sizing up where to throw, I spat out the blood from the split lip I’d gotten and felt my arm.
Bruised, but not broken. I’d gotten lucky so far, which couldn’t be making my teammates very happy. I didn’t know who’d hit that bludger, but I had a hunch it wasn’t a Claw. They’d have gone for Ross.
I was seeing red at this point, and spitting it out onto the grass too, but I shook my thoughts as clear as I could and zoned in on the current play. Jones, Fitzgerald, and Scozzafava were throwing the quaffle back and forth to one another quickly, but I knew that either Jones or Fitzgerald would make a mistake soon.
Sure enough, ten seconds later Jones threw it over to Meredith when she wasn’t expecting it and it went right over her shoulder.
“Thanks Jones!” I called out, shooting off towards the hoops with a grin. I heard Meredith yelling bloody murder at him.
Narrowing my eyes, I sized up my options. I had a slim margin of making it in the right hoop, his dominant side, and an even slimmer chance of making it through the center. I raised my arm to make an arced shot to the left hoop when I got hit behind by both bludgers.
Not used to experiencing the force of both at once, I dropped the quaffle and flew straight into the posts, banging my head. I scrambled for a hold as my broom fell out from under me and I wrapped my arms and legs around it, sliding several feet down before I stopped my momentum.
The crowd gasped and the whistle blew. My limbs were shaking from adrenaline, shock, and fear. I glanced down and saw I was about sixty feet up. Vaguely I accepted the referee’s help as I got onto his broomstick. Everything was blurry.
I managed to thank him when we made it to the ground and wobbled over to my own broom, slightly dizzy from smacking my head. My split lip had gotten bigger. I tasted the coppery blood as I flicked my tongue over it.
“I’m sorry Sullivan, I can’t give you a foul shot. The Ravenclaws didn’t shoot those bludgers at you, and it wasn’t an illegal play,” Professor Higgs said apologetically. My teammates were all smirking. This had been planned. They wanted me to get hurt, to humiliate me in front of the entire school and any scouts, if they were here. This was just another punishment.
My response was to spit a wad of blood onto the ground. I shrugged to let Higgs know I didn’t care, grabbed my broom, and walked back towards Gryffindor’s side of the pitch.
“Let’s dance knob-whacker,” I hissed at Ivan, catching him in the ribs with my shoulder. Whatever else my team had planned for me, it didn’t matter. I would keep playing. I would keep going. I refused to quit and give them that satisfaction. I was going to hand-deliver Ivan a win, and I was going to love it.
We once again took our positions. Instead of sizing up the Claws, I sized up my opponents: my team members. The whistle blew and I hurtled into the air, staying low to avoid any more dizziness.
“Let’s play some quidditch boys,” I said to myself, tailing Meredith.
I played admirably for a while. I’d scored a total of three more goals, which was not only a record for me, but a record for Jacobs as well. He’d never let so many goals in a single game before. He was flustered. Unprepared. Didn’t know how to take it.
Meredith was trying to make up for it by taking as many shots on goal as she could, but Ivan was playing irritatingly well. He blew a few kisses to the crowd and ran his hands through his hair.
I raised a brow and gestured I wanted the quaffle.
He smirked and faked tossing it to me. His expression said, ‘Oh, you want this? Really?’
I snarled and, impatient, flew over and took it from his grasp, diving low to get out of range of the Claw chasers. That was my mistake. It made Ivan very angry. I saw the first bludger coming, and I was able to shift so my back took the brunt of it, but I didn’t see the second one because it hit me in the back of the head.
I pelted head-first into the ground, skidding onto my stomach. My robes tore and I felt a few stones making nice gashes on my abdomen. I groaned and managed to roll slightly onto my side to cough up the blood and bile in my throat before I passed out.
Dizzily, I opened my eyes to find Higgs, Madame Bones, and Professor Longbottom staring down at me worriedly.
“…I don’t care Neville, she’s sustained multiple injuries during this game, including two head injuries!”
“Let her talk first! Then you can take her back if need be,” he said exasperatedly. Higgs gently moved me to a sitting position.
He knelt down in front of me. “You all right, Sullivan?”
My head pounded. My stomach churned. The gashes bled. I fought the urge to heave again. “Peachy, Professor,” I rasped, and stood. At least, I tried to. I fell onto my hands and knees, but my right forearm hurt so badly from the hit towards the beginning of the match that it quivered and gave out, causing me to collapse.
In frustration I rolled over onto my back and banged my fist into the dirt. I laid there silently as Madame Bones did a quick scan of my injuries, seeing if any were, “serious.” It turns out I did not, by the grace of God, have a concussion. My right wrist was sprained and I had two broken fingers, but everything else was just bruised, including the back of my head.
Once my wrist and fingers were splinted and my cuts and bruises were healed, I sipped some water and finally managed to stand.
Ivan wasn’t even bothering to hide his smirk. He thought he had me. He thought he’d won. He was the only person who would be proud of his self-sabotage.
“You going to play, Sullivan?” Higgs asked me, his brows furrowed. Madame Bones looked skeptical, Professor Longbottom hopeful.
I made eye contact with my captain. “Oh yeah, I’ll play.”
When that whistle blew for a third time, I had no inhibitions. I was on a search and destroy mission: find the quaffle, destroy everyone in my way.
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