The weather got wetter and windier as January changed to February, which meant many a night returning from Quidditch practice drenched, cold, and most certainly grumpy. Hugo and Rose had a cure for that; when we returned they’d bagged the seats in front of the fire and supplied a drying spell and a lot of snacks, which was appreciated after a gruelling few hours on a broom. Al, Emma and I would sit down on the couch and our moods improved, even when we began working on the homework that had stacked up slowly over the month.
James had gone mental, making us train almost every night in pouring rain. The other Quidditch teams had complained he was taking up the whole practice rota, and we sided with them; he was bombarding us with new moves and complicated tactics that we just couldn’t deal with all at once. Our youngest player, Jamie, who was taking his OWLs, was becoming more and more stressed (poor little love, I had to coax him out of moaning Myrtle’s bathroom one day when he’d dashed in to avoid our captain and refused to come out), and James himself was exhausted. His NEWTs were this year, and they needed a lot of revision and effort.
Al, Emma and I were between exam years and we were stressed out; apparition lessons had begun, teachers were piling on homework, and I was teaching Emma to air bend from scratch whenever we had time to spare. Her earth bending teacher had arrived and was giving her lessons every week, but she still wanted to practice air bending so that it would be one less thing to worry about. She would work herself into the ground with this avatar stuff. If I was the avatar, I’d probably be in my eighties by the time I mastered all the elements. Maybe that’s why I’m not- the spirits knew I wouldn’t be very good at balancing the world, as I don’t actually have any balance at all.
“I swear, by the end of this year, I’ll have one less sibling” Al grumbled, lying across the couch with his head in my lap. James had really pushed us tonight, and my batting arm was seized up completely, Al completely drained (apparently not drained enough to actually go to bed though- no, I was his pillow now). Emma was hoping for a couple of minutes training tonight, and I could hardly move. I don’t know how she wasn’t exhausted.
“I think I’ll have one less arm” I said, wincing as I wrote my essay on felix felices for potions. I could do with a vial of luck right now, or maybe just a good old cheering potion. Al sighed, putting down his transfiguration book and instead messing with the end of my plait, attempting to pull the hair tie out, much to my annoyance. Do you know how long it takes to fishtail plait my hair? A bloody long time, and he was undoing it! I was about to tell him to stop, when I realised that he probably wouldn’t listen to me anyway. There was no point wasting my energy on yelling at him.
“He’s killing us Vida” He complained.
“And himself. Have you seen how much work you have to do for NEWTs? It’s hard enough to do on its own, never mind piling Quidditch on every night as well”
“Well, he’s not the only one over-working himself. Nikita is doing exactly the same, but with fire bending” Al replied sleepily. I glanced over the back of the couch at the pair, sat together at a table. James was hastily scribbling a two foot long essay whilst Nikita speed read through a fire bending book, the pair sat close together but looking so very distant. Nikita was advanced like me, and the masters had offered her a chance to become one of them early. She’d jumped at the chance, but I knew she wouldn’t get all the work they’d given her done by the time she finished seventh year. It was a full new set of moves including lightning bending, ancient traditions and several tests that needed top marks to prove she was capable. With air bending It wasn’t quite as complex, but I knew it would be just as difficult. Grandpa had also warned me that republic city was ready to offer me the chance to become a master now if I wished to. I hope they gave me some time.
“I know, they’re going to get ill. I’ve already been treated for pneumonia, and I’ve still got a massive head ache through stress or whatever. Spirits knows how they’re feeling” I muttered, finishing my essay and rolling it up, dropping it in my bag and relaxing into the couch, sighing as Al messed with my hair, successfully, undoing it and attempting to plait it himself. Having someone play with your hair was very relaxing, even if Al was terrible at styling my hair. He ran his fingers through the knots that Quidditch had caused, gently so it didn't hurt too much.
“You two are so morbid” Hugo grumbled from the armchair he was lounging in. I rolled my eyes.
“I’m tired and overworked. Sod off with your judgemental opinion” I replied.
“Come on, lighten up a little. We’re all stressed” Emma said. I guess she was allowed to say that. Her avatar training was gruelling and often frustrating, since she had to master new elements that were completely different to what she was used to. She had to change her whole nature and frame of mind to get even a stone to move for her, and I knew that must be tough. I knew what happened when I tried to fight like an earth bender and had to sit for hours on the trophy room floor. She has to do that for every element. Granted, the avatar is born with the ability to switch between elements, but getting over that initial first transition is often headache worthy.
“Yeah, Em knows how it is! Never thought I’d say it, but Emma, I think you’re now the fun one” Hugo told her. She raised an eyebrow.
“What do you mean you’d never thought you’d say it? Come here you little git!”
Ah, so Em is very much still in the earth bending frame of mind; all physical and not much thought. She’d pinned Hugo to the floor, making him apologise.
“Top tip Hugo; Em has very sensitive skin” I hinted. Emma gave me a glare as Hugo began to attack her with tickling; I just smirked in return.
“Very loyal there Vida” Al commented.
“What? Just giving out one of my top tips” I replied, screwing the lid back on my ink and putting back on the table.
“I have a top tip; not moving around so much would make the person lying on you a lot more comfortable” He said. I smacked his head.
“Go to bed if you’re that tired, I’m going up soon”
“I’m aching too much to move” He complained, adjusting his head so it sat more comfortably in my lap.
“And you’re lazy” I pointed out.
“Yes, that too” He agreed. I chuckled.
“Em, you are a rubbish play fighter” Hugo teased, as he pinned her down.
“Only because you cheated” She accused, not even trying to push him off. This was either because she liked him pinning her down, or her strength could hurt him. I had a feeling it was mix, and smiled drowsily.
“I was using what information I had to my advantage” He corrected easily. I rolled my eyes.
“Right, I’m going to bed. Move your head Al” I ordered.
“No” Al refused. I shoved him off me.
“Hey!” He complained. I shrugged and got up, picking up my bag and ink.
“What? I did ask you, but you said no, so I moved you myself. Its your own fault. Goodnight to you” I said, kissing his head before I wandered away to my dorm, wanting nothing more than to curl up and sleep forever. I undid the messy plait that Al had tried to do (at least he hadn't done as bad a job as he did last time; even magic couldn't get all the knots out), changed into my pyjamas, and crawled into bed, praying for a lie in the next morning.
But of course that didn’t happen (when did that ever happen?-silly Vida). I was woken the next morning by Peeves, telling me that it was time to make chaos with him. The poltergeist wasn't exactly the nicest of wake up calls- he'd almost given me a heart attack with the sudden yelling in my ear, and I had to sit for five minutes on the bathroom floor before my breathing had returned to normal. Peeves seemed to think this was hilarious. I got my own back by air bending him forcefully out of the room.
Peeves, once he'd returned from his impromptu trip, led me to a broom cupboard on the fifth floor, full of pipes with holes in them, covered with screwed on lids. I undid them, and Peeves zoomed away, cackling madly, no doubt ready to ruin a few kid's lives. I waited for around ten minutes before he gave the signal; one of the pipes suddenly clanged, as if someone had deliberately banged it somewhere further along the metal. I jumped and began to send massive gusts of wind down the pipes, and I could imagine the result; things blown about, hair and skirts and robes blown out of place- the air was so strong it could push around the desks in the classrooms, and no doubt Peeves was adding his own flair to the small tornado that was disrupting the quiet castle. The prank went on for, at best guess, twenty minutes or so before Peeves hit the pipe again.
“THANKS LOONY!” He yelled down the pipe, his oily voice echoing loudly in the tiny broom cupboard and making me wince.
“YOU’RE WELCOME!” I yelled back, and left the cupboard, praying that there were no random people assuming things like the last three times I went anywhere. At least Al wasn't here, and they couldn't accuse me of anything.
I walked down to the great hall for breakfast to find half a dozen people covered in feathers and glitter and some weird adhesive that made it impossible to get the stuff off, all looking murderous and pretty much hilarious. A few people were covered from head to foot in coloured powder, looking like an angry rainbow. I just whistled innocently and went on my way, trying not to laugh as they gathered together like some weird mob, and were attempting to hunt down Peeves’ ‘Looney friend’, despite not knowing who it was (hint; it rhymes with Nida).
Two weeks later, James was going yet again overboard with the training. We had a game against Slytherin coming up, and if we lost, we were out of the running for the cup. For James, that was absolutely unthinkable, and he was working us to the bone perfecting our gameplay.
“James, if you yell at me one more time, I’m summoning my giant bison and I’ll have him sit on you” I growled at him, as once again he’d gone ballistic about me having a sore batting arm. It was mostly his fault, air bending never gave me sore limbs anymore.
“Giant bison? Why do that when I can just get the giant squid? Or Nikita? Seriously James, you need to lay off us” Emma snapped. I swear I saw a flash of glowing white grace her eyes for a moment, and jerked away from her. James didn’t seem to see it.
“The game is tomorrow, and we’re no where near perfect-
“Because you’re wearing us all out with your crazy every night practices! We’re exhausted, we’ll never win a game in this state!” I exclaimed. Once the whole team came to my defence, he thankfully let us go and we returned to the common room, Al and I actually falling asleep on the couch we were that tired. One moment we were finishing off week-old essays and complaining about our lives, the next we were cuddled together, barely able to keep our eyes open. I drifted off to sleep quietly, Al’s steady breathing acting like a sort of lullaby, or counting sheep; it was comforting, and safe, and I feel asleep without a worry about homework or tomorrow’s match.
“LOONY!” A voice yelled. I shot upright, realising that I was somehow in bed, and it was daylight, and there was a very annoying poltergeist yelling in my ear. Again.
“Peeves?! What was that for?” I demanded, trying to calm my racing heart with little success.
“Well, you helped me decorate the students, so I decided to repay the favour by waking you up in time for your big game!” He sung, and I groaned. Oh spirits, the game was today. I was a little touched through my dread; Peeves never did anything so nice for anyone.
“Peeves, if I could hug you I would. What time is it?”
“Half past seven, Loony!” He chimed.
“Thanks. You’re awesome Peeves” I told him. He bowed and cackled.
“Only for you Loony!” He called, before flying through the wall and vanishing. I got out of bed, still in my Quidditch robes and wondering just how I got there, yawning. I distinctly remember falling asleep on the couch, my head on Al’s shoulder and his on top of mine. Unless I’d suddenly perfected apparating and could do it in my sleep- oh wait, silly Vida, you can’t apparate inside Hogwarts. That left me getting up and sleepwalking or someone carrying me. I doubted I sleepwalked; I wouldn’t have gotten up the stairs uninjured unless I was awake. Some poor sap must’ve dragged me into bed.
I trudged downstairs, ready to grab some breakfast since the game started at eleven and I had time to kill. Al appeared from his staircase just as I got to the bottom of mine and he smiled, also dressed in his Quidditch gear.
“Morning, feeling better?” He asked.
“A little. Don’t know how I ended up in bed though” I admitted, and he blushed a little.
“That would’ve been me. I woke up at about one in the morning and carried you up” He told me.
“What, really? Thanks Al” I said.
“It fine, I couldn’t leave you on the couch, could I?” He said, and I smiled.
“How did you get up the stairs?” I asked. The girl’s staircase turned into a slide when a boy tried to go up. It was quite funny to watch them try.
“Well I didn’t think I would get up at first, I almost put you in my dorm, but for some reason I tried it, and it let me go up; maybe carrying a girl to her room makes a boy going up okay” He shrugged.
“Or maybe the stairs thought you were a girl; easy mistake to make” I joked, and he pouted.
“Leave it out, we’ll have no teasing today, we’ve got a game to play” he said.
“Oh, don’t remind me. If we lose this, James will kill us” I groaned.
“He’ll kill me twice since I live with him” Al grumbled.
“We’ll just have to kill him first” I resolved.
You could tell we were desperate, if we were plotting to kill James Potter and risking the wrath of his girlfriend.
We dragged our feet down to breakfast, sitting in the nearly empty hall, and I was almost too nervous to eat. Al encouraged me, telling me I needed my strength, and I was able to get a few toast slices down my throat before I just felt sick and couldn’t eat anymore. The rest of the team filed in as the minutes ticked by, all looking pale and full of dread. At least they didn’t look drained and half-dead after a good night’s sleep.
James sat down last, looking pale and frankly pretty terrible.
“Jesus, zombie much?” Fred asked him. James scowled and pulled some bacon toward him. At least he was eating.
“Good luck guys, you’ll be great” Nikita said as she joined us, kissing James on the cheek.
“Yeah, nothing could be worse than your game against Hufflepuff” Hugo agreed, popping up out of nowhere. Emma threw a sausage at him. I snickered.
“Just remember your tactics guys. Vida, you protect the team no matter what. Fred, you keep those bludgers heading thick and fast at the Slytherins. Em, I’ll need you to keep setting up those shots so Jamie and I can get us some goals. Danny, for every goal you let in I’ll make you do fifteen crunches, so don’t you dare let me down. And Al, if you feel like having a mother’s meeting half way through a game I’ll ram your broom so far up your-
“Okay, so great pep talk James, who’s for some sausages?” I butted in, sending snickers around the group. Nikita became mother hen and was forcing the team to eat, and we weren’t arguing because no matter what you thought about Quidditch players, we had some sense between us. We knew she’d force it down our throats if we didn’t eat willingly.
The hall began to fill with chatting students, and James told us it was time to head down to the changing rooms. We marched down to the pitch and into our changing room, and I sat cross-legged on the bench next to Al, shutting my eyes and beginning to meditate; I always did better after a nice bit of meditation. I didn’t enter the spirit world this time, as I just needed to float away for a while, and when James ordered us to stand and head onto the pitch the roars of the crowds just sounded like waves and my head felt clearer than it had in months. It was a wonderful sensation, because I could focus on this task instead of having several different things trying to get my attention at once.
It was raining, as per usual, and the ground squelched as we walked across the pitch to meet the Slytherins. Scorp smiled at me as James and the Slytherin captain shook hands and I returned it easily, making Al sulk a little.
“Calm down, he’s being nice. Look, he’s smiling at you too!” I said. Al’s returning smile just looked more like a grimace. I guess it was a start.
We kicked off and the balls were released, the snitch shooting up faster than I could follow and the bludgers whistling after it, before darting away in either direction. I kept all my senses on those two demon balls, weaving around players to hit them. The Slytherin beaters were all offence and no defence, which meant we were both at an advantage and disadvantage; advantage because when Fred hit the bludger there wasn’t anyone to defend his target, but disadvantage because that meant I had my work cut out trying to stop my team getting hurt from two sides. The Slytherins had burly, tough looking beaters who could break more than a few bones with their bats, and for a flimsy looking kid like me, that wasn’t the best news.
“Bloody hell!” I called, almost snapping my arm like a twig as I hit back a bludger they’d sent at my chasers. The bludgers were powerful enough on their own; I’d hate to think what would happen if they hit someone now.
“You alright?” Scorp called from above me “The beaters are quite strong!”
“No bloody kidding!” I replied, as another bludger thundered at Al. I caught up easily, and wielded my bat, hitting it as hard as I could the other way. My wrist twisted dangerously and I winced.
“Jesus, Vida you almost snapped your wrist!” He said, and I grimaced.
“Rather that than your neck” Was my retort, before I was off again.
As the game wore on, I got more and more injured. My wrist became painful and I had to switch hands, and since it wasn’t my best arm, I actually got in the way of bludgers instead of hitting them, not used to my bat being on the other side of my body.
“Al, catch the snitch as fast as you can before Vida gets really hurt!” Fred yelled across the pitch, as a bludger hit my leg so hard I barrel rolled several feet away. Only the pads I wore for protection were stopping the bludgers from knocking me out. Al nodded and shot around the pitch, searching frantically as the commentator yelled out my vulnerability for all to hear.
“When this game ends we’re investing in armour!” I yelped, as I twisted around to look for the bludgers and my leg exploded in pain. I could hardly see straight, and the effects of meditation had worn off. I could hear everything, including the crowd and the other players and it was awfully distracting.
“The new Gryffindor beater’s skill seems to have failed her against the powerhouse Slytherins folks, if Gryffindor wins this they’ll be partying a player down. Or maybe two, looks like a bludger is going for the kill!” The commentator yelled and I whirled around on my broom, trying not to yell in pain as I searched for the bludger. It was flying straight at Jamie, who was throwing the Quaffle to Emma and was unaware of the danger he was in.
“JAMIE!” I yelled in warning “MOVE!”
He heard me just fine and shot upward, and I chased the bludger that flew after him.
“No-you-DON’T!” I cried, swinging my bat and intercepting the bludger as it put on a burst of speed. Jamie had just caught the tail of my broom as he flew away, jerking it sideways and putting my bat on the wrong side of me. The bludger collided with my collar bone painfully, and I was pushed backward, losing my balance and falling downward. My bad leg was useless, but I had enough sense to hook my good one around my broom, stopping me from falling. If my collarbone could speak I could almost guarantee it was letting out a stream of swearwords and hateful comments at me for playing such a reckless game. If I wasn’t half unconscious, I’d be doing the same.
Stupid Slytherin beaters.
Well hello there, its been a little longer than usual! This is a longer chapter, and I hope you like it, and if you did, leave a review! Well, leave a review if you didn't as well, as constructive critism improves people :)