Chapter 18 : The one with ignoring, a Quidditch match, and paintings
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I’d ignored my cousins for the remainder of the holidays, which meant that it was very awkward back on the platform one cold January morning as we boarded the train. At first, anyway. Emma and I apologised and I told her and Nikita what happened and why I left the Potter’s early, and they sympathetically promised to beat the living daylights out of Al when they saw him. It made me feel a little better to know that Emma was on my side, and she cheered me up a bit by opening her bag and revealing Chloe the bear dog asleep there. How did I know she’d sneak that bear dog to school with her? Cousinly telepathic abilities. I’d always been able to sense when Emma did something rebellious.
When we did see Al, I was surprised to see that his bruises hadn’t healed; I was sure his parents would’ve used magic or something, like Mr Potter did to my cheek and hand. He stopped at the door of our compartment and looked as if he was about to say something, before Nikita’s hand set on fire in warning and he left. James, who had joined us not five minutes before, chuckled.
“Well, its nice to see my brother in the doghouse for once. Mum and dad interrogated him when everyone finally left, demanded to know why you left so early” He said.
“What happened?” Emma asked.
“Well he was all riled up and he told ‘em about him and the irish blokes fighting and you stepping in-very impressive, by the way Vida, that punch- and that he upset you, and then mum went a little mental because she has a soft spot for you three, said that he was a terrible person and no way on this earth was she healing his face for him until he apologised. Dad didn’t yell; but dad doesn’t have to yell. He just said a few magic words that had even me feel guilty, and I wasn’t the one that hurt your feelings” He explained. Did I say how much I liked Al’s mum? Because I did. Mrs Weasley was one of my favourite adults. Well, she was behind George and my grandpa. No one could beat my grandpa.
“Good on your mum, what he said was mean and rude” Nikita said, rolling a little fireball over her fingers menacingly.
“Its kind of true though, isn’t it?” I said glumly, my mind replaying that moment. It was on a loop, my brain somehow assuming that replaying the moment Al became mean was a good thing and I should keep watching it. My brain was annoying.
“What are you talking about?” Emma asked sharply. I could see her reach for her bag, sensing my upset and was probably about to throw her bear dog at me. Em wasn’t the best person to go to when you were sad. Well, she was if you appreciated hugging dogs. Never mind, Em was the best person to go to when upset. Bear dogs were awesome.
“I do embarrass him. And annoy him” I elaborated.
“Well you do that to us too, and we’re not bloody complaining, we love it” Nikita said a little too harshly. Emma nodded.
“Vida you’re loud. And sometimes you don’t shut up. And you drive me up the wall a lot, but you’re also the best person to make me feel better, if you weren’t here, being all crazy and funny and cheering me up, I’d probably be in the avatar state permanently” She said, and I almost cried from being talked about so nicely. She pulled Chloe out and put her in my lap, and the bear dog began licking me excitedly, probably thinking something along the lines of ‘oh my Aang a new friend! Lets be nice to new friend, give new friend kisses. I love new friend!’. I laughed and patted Chloe’s head.
“Yeah! And you cheer everyone up just by being there Vida, and people love that you don’t pretend to be someone else around them. You’re genuine Vida, and that’s refreshing around all these fake cows who’d disappear if you rubbed at them with a baby wipe” Nikita added.
“Aw you guys, I feel I should do some fluffy speech too. You’re smashing Vida, and if Al doesn’t see that he can have my foot up his arse, because everyone else loves you. Come ‘ere, and don’t be so down on yourself. Its not British” He said, and pulled me onto his knee and into a bear hug, whilst Chloe sat on my seat and waited for my return, wagging her fluffy tail happily. I laughed as he squeezed me far too tight, trying to squirm away.
“It is too British; do you even watch eurovision?” I said, and Emma laughed.
“Truer words have never been spoken” She said. James finally let me go and Nikita replaced me, which I guessed wasn’t that weird; they were going out. I picked Chloe up and giggled as she barked, wriggling in my lap to get herself comfortable. I’d have hair all over my jeans, but I didn’t care one bit. I could almost hear Jinjin’s jealousy from his cat basket.
“If you start playing tonsil tennis in this compartment I’ll use my avatar powers to kick you off the train” Emma warned, watching as James and Nikita scarred us for life. Blimey, come up for oxygen would you? James pulled away and stuck his tongue out.
“Damn, our whole plan for the day is ruined” Nikita replied dryly, and I laughed, sitting on the seats opposite and stretching my legs out, grinning as Emma raised an eyebrow at me from her curled up position in the corner. I nudged her with my foot.
“The threat stands for you too if you kick me again”
My foot went nowhere near her for the rest of the train ride.
It took a whole week for Al to grow a pair and talk to me, and let me tell you it was an awkward week. We didn’t talk to each other; I was purposely ignoring him for insulting me and he had his own reasons for not talking. That meant that there was an uncomfortable silence during most lessons, and James was losing his nerve during Quidditch practice because his team weren’t communicating.
It was also very lonely; Al had been my best mate for six years, he knew all my inside jokes and he was the first person I turned to when I wanted to share something, and now he was right there but not an option. It was like a big empty space had suddenly appeared in my life and I didn’t like it. Of course I still had Emma, and Rose and Scorp, but it wasn’t the same somehow. Scorp knew Al and I weren’t talking but he didn’t push me into telling him why, which I was grateful for; we just had fun annoying professor Chancey during muggle studies. I had a feeling that the woman was plotting our deaths every time we opened our mouths during her class. Meanwhile Emma and Nikita had suddenly become my bodyguards. If Al came within three feet, there were suddenly steely glances and discreet fireballs ready to be aimed his way on either side of me, which I found amusing, but after a while it felt mean to laugh, as he’d give me this wounded look that matched Jinjin and Chloe, his big sad eyes that just melted me. Aang, I would have to toughen up. Al found a way to get past them though; it was just unfortunate that it was right in the middle of a Quidditch game.
“And the Gryffindor seeker has actually stopped for a chat! Blimey, this is new; Potter is normally very focused, what could be so important that he’s following the beater around for? She doesn’t seem interested! Move on potter!” The commentator narrated through the speaker, so the whole crowd knew that Al was following me around the pitch as I diverted bludgers.
“Vida, just listen to me!” He pleaded.
“Albus Potter we are in the middle of a game, get your arse into gear!” James yelled, and I rolled my eyes.
“What he said!” I called, walloping a bludger at a Ravenclaw chaser. Al didn’t give up. Persistent little git.
“I’m sorry for what I said, okay?! I was angry and a little bit drunk!” He called.
“Yeah, and when people are angry and a little bit drunk, they tell people the truth!” I yelled back, swinging at another bludger angrily. I was afraid I was going to break my bat if I carried on like this. Al darted after me as I zoomed across the pitch, racing to protect Emma, who was in danger of being knocked out by a bludger hit by a Ravenclaw beater. I just managed to smack it away, distracted by Al flying too close.
“Sod off Al, I’m trying to play!” I barked.
“Not until you hear me out!”
“I heard enough when you told me how annoying I was. If you were embarrassed by me that much, why stick with me for six years? Pretty stupid thing to do!”
“And, they seem to be having an argument! Well Gryffindors, you can consider yourself losers if your seeker carries on ignoring the game” The commentator said, and I scowled.
“Go. And do. Your job. You can talk to me afterward” I seethed, and turned the other way, rushing after the other bludger. Sometimes it felt like there were more than two on the pitch, the amount of times I have to chase after them. Troublesome things, bludgers. Why couldn’t the quaffle fly on its own instead? It would make my job easier. I knocked one toward a Ravenclaw chaser and It smashed into her elbow, probably breaking some bones and she dropped several feet, the quaffle falling into James’ ready hands. I only felt a little guilty as I raced off to chase another bludger.
“Oh, nasty collision there from a well-aimed bludger! It seems that the Ravenclaw beaters are making new tactics!” The commentator called, and that was a warning on my behalf. Since I was successfully diverting every bludger they hit whilst Fred attacked, I was a new target. Now I wasn’t protecting my teammates; I was protecting myself. I was beginning to regret my decision of joining this stupid team.
“Bloody hell!” I yelped, as two bludgers chased me across the pitch. I couldn’t turn and bat one away, because the other one would just crash into me. I would have to avoid them until they changed course. They were charmed to hit as many people as possible, not just chase after one player.
And yet they did. When the game ended I’d been hit several times pretty forcefully, and it was hard to fly straight. They’d got my ribs through my padded robes and I sure they’d broken a few. I could see James yelling at Al for getting distracted, as the Ravenclaw seeker was embraced by his team, the tiny snitch struggling in his hand. I flew out of the stands and into the castle, heading to the hospital wing. I met Peeves on the way.
“Hey Loony! You got bludgered by the bludgers?” He asked, not an ounce of worry in his tone.
“Yep, how did you guess?” I asked, sarcasm layering my voice.
“Eh, I’m very good at noticing things. Anyway, you better get fixed up quick; I’ll need your wind power!” He said with a cackle.
“I’m gonna wreak havoc of course! There’s a broom cupboard at the heart of the castle full of big pipes. All you’ve gotta do is blast some air through those! I’ll be zooming around, pouring glitter and feathers everywhere, to give it a snow globe effect. It’ll be so much fun!” He grinned.
“Alright, let me get fixed up, and then you just tell me when, okay?”
“You got it Loony!”
He zoomed away, laughing evilly and I flew into the hospital wing, depositing myself onto a bed.
“My my, they shouldn’t put you near a Quidditch field, its far too dangerous. Lie still” Madame Mason ordered, and took out her wand. I knew she’d fix me up in a heartbeat; she was a skilled matron who’d worked as a healer in Mungo’s for years. Within seconds of her casting the spell, my ribs were healed.
“Thanks Madame Mason, I need these ribs” I said, and she chuckled.
“I know you do. So, did you win?”
“Nope, Potter lost the snitch”
“That’s not like him, he normally does everything to get his hands on it; been in here a few times because of it, he has”
“Well, he’s been distracted lately” I said with a shrug, and she tutted.
“Its probably some girl he’s chasing after, giving him the run around, he’ll be as right as rein in no time. Now go on, you’ve got a house to face” She said, shooing me out. I doubted her words; I was far from a girl he’d chase, more like a girl he should’ve avoided.
I shouldered my broom and wandered the hallways, passing through my favourite corridor. It was full of portraits of people who’d fought and died in the battle of Hogwarts, a sort of memorial to them for defending the school from Voldemort and his death eaters. I liked walking down here and making small talk with the portraits, they told me stories and Fred Weasley, George’s twin brother, often told me jokes. He asked about his twin a lot, demanding to know he was okay, and I reassured him that George was coping fine and still as mischievous as ever. I was about halfway down the corridor, between the pictures of Severus Snape and Fred Weasley, when I almost walked into Al, who was hurrying the other way.
“There you are! How did you get up here so quick with broken ribs?” He asked. I wiggled my broom.
“Flew. I guess we have to talk now” I said. He nodded.
“I am so sorry Vida, I didn’t mean what I said-
“So why did you say them?” I asked “My feelings are badly damaged thanks to you, and you know I like to keep them well-fed and in good spirits”
“I just- I was just annoyed okay? You swooped in and saved me from getting my arse kicked, and I could see everyone judging me for that. I’ve had sixteen years in the limelight for being the saviour of the wizarding world’s son, and I couldn’t manage one fight? It was shameful” He said, and I sighed.
“Right, so you have a reputation to uphold. That doesn’t mean you hurt your best friend. That’s just mean” I told him. He nodded.
“I know, I am a terrible person, but I just- you made it look easy, just knocking them down and I had to- I had to-"
“Knock me down too? That’s a terrible way to make yourself feel better” I said harshly. He nodded.
“It is. And I regretted it the second the words came out of my mouth. This week has been horrible without you Vida, I can’t stand not talking to you! I’ve had you there every day for six years, cheering me up and making me laugh and now I’m a miserable git without you there” He said, and he did look very sincere.
“If I’m honest, I missed you too” I admitted. Very quietly though, so I didn't sound too desperate to be besties with him again. Hey, if I just forgive him like that, he'll never learn!
“I wish I could take back what I said”
“Well, you can always let me have the chocolate cake. It’s the next best thing” I suggested. His expression turned hopeful.
“Is that you saying that you’ll talk to me again?” He asked.
“That’s me saying that I’ll forget what happened if you let me have the chocolate cake to myself at dinner. For the rest of our school life” I corrected, and his face broke out into a wide smile. God damn, Al Potter you should not be allowed, with your dimples and your stupid perfect teeth.
“It’s a start” He said. We stood for a moment, him a little awkwardly, before I rolled my eyes.
“This is where we hug, you massive tool” I said, and he laughed, all the tension gone from his shoulders and the worry gone from his eyes. He stepped forward and pulled me into a tight hug, and I rested my head on his shoulder. I could smell broom polish and grass, Al’s usual post-Quidditch match smell, and he sighed.
“I missed you, Vida” He admitted into my hair. I just smiled over his shoulder, and the portrait of Fred Weasley winked at me from his canvas, giving me the double thumbs up. Just like George. Al refused to let go for what seemed like ages, and I didn’t force him to, because those damn birds had returned in my stomach, ordering me to carry on hugging him. I had a feeling these birds would turn violent if I went against them, so I just didn't move. I relaxed into him a little more, and I realised just how lonely this time without him had been. I’d been with him every day for six years, and yeah, we’d fell out; but this time seemed different. I’d hated it.
“Will you two brats go and find a broom cupboard before I slam my head against my frame?” The portrait of Severus Snape asked, and I heard several shushing noises from other portraits.
“Oi Severus, shut it will ya, this is the most interesting thing that’s happened here in weeks” Nymphadora Tonks said from her frame.
“Yeah, stop being bitter because you never got any-"
“Fred Weasley, need I remind you what happened last time you insulted me about my love life?” Severus snapped, and Fred laughed loudly, disappearing from his frame, being chased by the older man whilst the other portraits giggled and rolled their eyes, used to this sort of behaviour. I pulled away from Al and grabbed his hand, pulling him along after the two painted war heroes.
“Lets follow them!” I cried. Al laughed and began running with me, following Fred Weasley’s bright red hair as he ran from Severus, yelling stuff like ‘grease ball’ and ‘huge nose’ at him as he went. He bowled over several monks in one painting, and ran through a portrait of a young woman with curly hair, actually stopping to say hello and wink before continuing. The girl giggled. She stopped when she saw Severus. He knocked her over, which I thought was mean, before I realised that Severus was a generally mean person. I’d hate to have him teach me potions.
The chase went all the way up to the portrait of the fat lady, who grabbed Fred and Severus and forced them to apologise to each other. Al and I laughed, out of breath, as the sallow, bitter potions master mumbled out a sorry before being shooed away by the fat lady. He shoved Fred the moment he got into another canvas. Al and I, both breathing heavily, entered the tower, leaning on each other and laughing, only to be met by a common room full of stares, varying from mildly disturbed to very suggestive.
“Found another broom cupboard, did you? Glad you worked out your differences” A voice, sounding awfully like Hugo, called. I reddened and distanced myself from Al. There were giggles spreading through the common room, and I huffed. I could see several first years whispering and looking at us, and I sighed.
Well, here’s another rumour for the rumour mill that this school thrived on. Al rolled his eyes and slumped on the couch in front of the fire, whilst I marched over to Hugo, threatened him with death by ‘falling’ off the astronomy tower, and went off to bed, happily stretching out under my covers and trying to get yet another image of me and Al in a broom cupboard out of my head. After around ten minutes, I fell asleep, still in my Quidditch robes, and still thinking of that damn broom cupboard.
Nothing like a high speed chase after two painted people and your house thinking that you and your best friend are snogging in broom closets to wear you out.
Ah yes, hello everyone! How are you all, okay? Nice and warm? I hope so! I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and as always, you're free to leave a review as they make me happy :)
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