Chapter 19 : Of Nutters and Fight Club
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I’m fairly certain I’m going to die today.
The events which lead to my death are too painful to talk about. So I’ll just act them out for you, in the form of a play.
HALLE THOMAS’S DEATH. SCENE 1: ACT 1
Halle: ‘I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die.
A demon (also known as a first-year): ‘CAN I HAVE YOU AUTOGRAPH?!’
Halle: ‘Death is imminent.’
James: ‘For Merlin’s sake, Halle, stop having a mental breakdown and get up!’
Halle: ‘How am I meant to get up? These creatures are sitting on me.’
Another firstie/demon: ‘Why are you hugging that grey ball?’
Halle: ‘His name is Benny!’
Another demon/firstie: Is that the thing you got in the first task? I WANNA SEE!
Halle: Get lost, muther focker!
Demon firstie: JAMES! HALLE USED A BAD WORD!
James: Shame on you, Halle. I’m extremely disappointed.
Halle: I hate you.
Another demon/firstie: ‘Are you and James dating? You’d make a super-hero couple!’
Halle (louder): ‘O DEATH, PLEASE COME AND TAKE ME!’
A particularly stupid firstie: ‘Halle! Try some of my mud-pie!’
Halle: Pie? Well, it can’t be too bad. All pies are good, right?
That particularly stupid firstie: Yeah! Just have a little bit.
END OF PLAY, DUE TO HALLE’S PROMPT DEATH BY MEANS OF FOOD POISONING.
James looked at me desperately, trying to claw off two strong-willed girls, who were hooked around his legs, ‘JAMES!’ One of them yelled, ‘MY SISTER LOVES YOU!’
‘Help me,’ he mouthed.
‘Help yourself!’ I yelled back, rinsing the last of the mud from my mouth with a well-aimed Aguamenti charm.
‘Why did you just shove a piece of mud in my face?’ I shrieked at a red-haired boy, who was grinning devilishly.
‘Because,’ he replied. ‘You wanted a mud pie.’
‘WHAT KIND OF PIE IS MADE OF ACTUAL MUD?’
Another girl –a bushy haired brunette– scoffed very loudly, ‘A mud pie. Duh.’
Some other firstie, this time a little blonde girl, made a hmphing sound, ‘Don’t talk to her like that! She’s the Hogwarts Champion!’
I smiled at the blonde firstie, before ruffling her hair, ‘I like you,’ I said.
She beamed, ‘Us Ravenclaws gotta stick together.’
The prissy little brunette scowled, ‘Oh it is on,’ she snarled, launching herself at the blonde Ravenclaw.
I was now witnessing two little firsties battle to the death.
And it was really funny.
Is that a bad thing to say? Are you judging me? HOW DARE YOU?
I’d like you to watch two first years run around the Quidditch Pitch looking like headless chickens. It wasn’t like they were actually hurting each other; it was more like a very energized game of tag.
I would’ve broken them up but there were three boy-firsties sitting on me, asking if I wanted another mud pie.
‘I DON’T WANT ANOTHER FREAKING MUD PIE!’
One of my boys gasped, ‘JAMES! Halle said another bad word!’
Still trying to shake the girls off his leg, James simply growled in return, ‘I DON’T GIVE A SHIT!’
Finally victorious, he managed to claw the girls off his legs, before running forwards to hold back the attacking brunette, ‘LET ME AT HER! Hold my shit. HOLD MA SHIT!’ she yelled, taking off her bracelet and school tie, before handing them to James.
James shot me glance saying; did-she-just-say-what-I-think-she-said?
We both burst out into laughter.
‘Halle, are you ticklish?’ asked one the firsties, who was sitting on me.
I instantly froze. Alright, I can bluff my way through this. I am cool. Calm. Collected. I’ll just lie to the little firstie, and his stupid firstie mind will believe me.
‘YES! BUT DON’T YOU DARE TICKLE ME OR I WILL KILL YOU!’
Fuck my life.
In complete synchronisation, every first year moved their head towards me, all grinning evilly. Before I knew it, ten, screaming children were tickling every single part of me with could be tickled.
But I know what you’re thinking. James, being the chivalrous Gryffindor he is, comes to my rescue and we ride off into the sunset. Right?
He’s watching the whole scene with a vindictive little smirk on his face. His arms are crossed and he’s towering over me like he’s the Lord of Pies.
With a banshee-esque yell I push all the firsties off me with my high level of strength.
Because I’m strong like a lion.
(Let’s just ignore the fact the combined weight of all those tiny first-years was about equivalent to a really fat owl.)
Growling, I turned to face my ten attackers, all of whom looked pretty petrified at seeing an outraged Ravenclaw/Quidditch Captain/Hogwarts Champion.
That’s right bitches, be scared.
Empowered with a new resolve, I pointed a menacing finger at the now silent first-years, ‘EVERYONE IN A LINE! ONE STRAIGHT LINE! DO IT NOW!’
Terrified, the firsties arranged themselves in a line. I turned around to look at James, who was lounging on the ground, watching me with intense amusement.
‘What’s the plan, Captain?’ he asked, lazily.
I shrugged frantically, ‘What do I do now?’
He smirked, ‘You’ve made it further than I could. You’re in charge now.’
I glared at him, since he obviously was going to be useless for the remaining hour. Sighing, I turned back again to face the firsties, an idea springing into my mind.
Putting my Angry-Halle façade back on, I walked across the front of the line. ‘Welcome to the first meeting of, Flight Club.’
The firsties stared at each other nervously, my fabulous Muggle-Movie reference lost on the poor souls.
James, however, made an impressed sound from behind me, ‘I like where this is going.’
Smiling a little, I continued. ‘THE FIRST RULE OF FLIGHT CLUB, YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FLIGHT CLUB.’
The firsties nodded. James laughed.
‘THE SECOND RULE OF FLIGHT CLUB, YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FLIGHT CLUB!’
I was shell-shocked when they all looked at me with solemn faces. I was actually getting through to the little buggers.
‘THE THIRD RULE OF FLIGHT CLUB, You will not laugh if someone cannot do what you can do. Here, we are ALL EQUAL.’
One of the boys nodded so enthusiastically, I was surprised his head didn’t fall off.
I turned around and gave James an I-can’t-believe-this-is-working smile, and he pushed himself off the ground and stood next to me.
‘THE FOURTH RULE OF FLIGHT CLUB, you will listen to everything Halle and I have to say,’ he bellowed.
More nods. Nods are good.
‘AND THE FIFTH AND FINAL RULE OF FLIGHT CLUB,’ I yelled, feeling drunk on my power already. I was so tempted to yell out something like, ‘You must all be my slaves,’ or something useful like that. But, being the responsible Ravenclaw I was, I chose a more appropriate final rule.
‘IS TO HAVE FUN!’
Corny? Perhaps. But boy did those first-years look excited.
Carefully putting their brooms away, the firsties started leaving pitch once seven had come ‘round.
‘That was a great practise,’ one of them said to us before they left. ‘When are we doing it again?’
The other nine firsties turned around as well, anxiously asking when the next meeting of Flight Club was happening.
James and I exchanged awkward glances, ‘You see guys, the thing is…’ he began, gesturing for me to continue.
I scowled at him, since he made me say the hard part. ‘There will be no other meeting of Flight Club. This was a one-time only thing. But, the rules still stand. What are the first two rules of Flight Club?’
‘DO NOT TALK ABOUT FLIGHT CLUB!’ they yelled back in unison.
I smiled, ‘Now get lost, flying-experts.’
Laughing and giggling and beaming with pride, the group of ten first-years which James and I had successfully turned into Flight Club ran back towards the castle, hoping to make it back for dinner.
I turned around to see James smiling at me, his teeth glowing in the falling darkness. ‘That was awesome,’ he congratulated.
Why does he look so pretty when he smiles?
FOCUS, HALLE, FOCUS! I think he just complimented you. Say something in return!
His teeth are so shiny.
NO DON’T SAY THAT!
‘Odontophobia is the fear of teeth,’ I blurted out in response, as always the epitome of cool.
He laughed, ‘I’m serious, Halle. I’ve never met a girl who actually watches Muggle movies. Let alone a girl who knows them so well she can quote them and turn them into disciplinary mechanisms for first-years,’ he said, taking a step closer to me.
WHY IS HE TAKING A STEP CLOSER TO ME?
I’m cool. As a cucumber. Totally not freaking out on the inside.
I’M FREAKING OUT ON THE INSIDE!
‘Well, Muggles have the best movies,’ I replied, alarmed when my legs took me a step closer to him, completely of their own volition.
Face. So. Pretty. Eyes. So. Swirly.
We were now only inches apart, and James was looking at me so intently, his gaze tearing into my eyes.
Is it bad that I really want to kiss him? Like a lot?
The air around us seemed to fizzle with humidity, heat spreading to my cheeks as he reached out to brush a stray piece of hair from my face, gently tucking it behind my ear. ‘You have really pretty eyes,’ he said, somewhat dreamily.
Letting myself be swept into the very cliché moment, I leaned in slightly closer, our noses literally a hair-length apart, ‘Your face is nice to look at.’
Oi! Don’t judge me. The lack of distance between James and I had successfully turned my brain to goo, so excuse me if the best I could come up with was; your face is nice to look at.
Smiling, he wrapped an arm around my waist and leaned in closer, ‘I know.’
This was it. I was going to kiss James Sirius Potter and neither of us was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Or Imperio’d or something.
Just as our lips were about to make contact, something happened which will forever piss the shit out of me.
There was an almighty CRASH.
Yes. A freaking CRASH.
But this was no normal CRASH. This CRASH was so deafening that it needs to be spelt in capital letters if it’s ever written down. This CRASH was so huge that it practically forced James and I apart, both of us springing away from each other as the CRASH reverberated through the Quidditch storeroom.
‘You have got to be fucking kidding me,’ James muttered, once the CRASH had died down so it merely left a resounding ringing throughout the room, ‘So close.’
I looked at him.
He looked at me.
And I knew at that moment, somewhere, a tumbleweed blew threw a desert.
WELL. THIS IS AWKWARD.
Cheeks burning bright red, I turned around and found the culprit to the booming CRASH. The shelf which had been holding a whole bunch of old Quaffles had broken and fallen to the ground.
‘Stupid loose screws, ruining my teenage hormonal moment,’ I muttered.
James chuckled slightly, before turning a barely-noticeable shade of pink, ‘It’s getting dark. We should probably head up to the castle,’ he suggested, shuffling his feet awkwardly.
I know what you’re thinking, it can’t be too awkward. Just knock him over and snog his brains out.
And trust me, I wanted to. But the moment had passed. And even James, with all his snogging-experience, probably couldn’t salvage this awkward situation.
This was disappointing. Very disappointing. And awkward. Did I mention the awkwardness?
‘You go on ahead,’ I squeaked, bending down to pick up Benny, who had fallen to the ground along with the other Quaffles. ‘I should probably clean up Benny,’ I said, gesturing to the now mud-covered grey ball, which I held in my hands.
Nodding once, he turned swiftly on his heel and walked away, leaving me with nothing but a muddy, magical ball.
Once he was out of earshot, I dropped my ass on the ground and burrowed my head in my arms, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ I moaned to no one in particular.
What does this mean? Does he like me? Do I like him? WHY IS BEING A TEENAGER SO CONFUSING?
My head in a whirl from hormone-induced thoughts, I absent-mindedly took out my wand, directing it straight at Benny.
Now, mind you, I was supposed to shoot a quick water charm, dousing my grey ball with water so that I could clean it.
But for some unfathomable reason, maybe it had something to do with James or the bitter cold of the night, I did something incredibly stupid.
‘Incendio,’ I muttered, pointing my wand straight at Benny.
I realised my mistake a second too late.
Alarm bells ringing in my head, I threw the now-alight sphere on the ground, hoping the fire didn’t spread. Benny seemed to be burning with ferocity, the colour a blinding white as opposed to the regular orangey-yellow.
I just lit my magical ball on fire.
WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK.
I started freaking out. Running around in pathetic little circles to calm my nerves, I watched in horror as an alarmingly excessive amount of smoke rose off my little ball.
‘SHIT. FUCK. MUFFINS. PIE. FUDGE. SHIT. DAMN. WHAT. THE. FUCK.’ I cursed, having to turn away due to the sheer brightness of the flame.
I started coughing as the smoke filled the enclosed space of the storeroom, ‘CHOKING. DYING. THIS IS WHAT DEATH FEELS LIKE!’ I yelled, doubling over in a coughing fit.
Focus, Halle. Life-or-death situation here. Stop being stupid and FIX IT!
Thank you, reasonable voice in my head.
Turning around to brave the fire, I quickly aimed my wand at what seemed to be the source of the smoke, since the light was too blinding to look at straight on. ‘AGUAMENTI!’ I yelled, satisfied when an enormous shot of water burst through the tip of my wand.
But, instead of extinguishing like it should have, the fire just continued burning. My eyes opened wide, and then I truly started to panic.
‘GET OUT! GOTTA GET OUT! GOTTA LEAVE! GOTTA LEAVE!’ I shouted, bolting towards the door and shutting it in a matter of seconds. Panting, I slumped against the closed door, afraid that the fire would spread and ruin the Quidditch Pitch.
What have I done?
Gathering my courage, I peeked through the window to see how bad the damage was. Biting my lip, I braced myself for burning furniture, smouldering papers and broomsticks gone haywire.
But there was nothing.
The office was fine. And so was Benny, if you disregarded the smoke slowly recoiling from his surface.
Relief washing over me like a tsunami, I threw myself inside to see whether I had died or something, and this was my sick, twisted version of heaven.
Nah. MY heaven would be made primarily out of chocolate pie.
Is there even such a thing?
If there’s not, I’ll invent it.
HOW CAN I BE THINKING ABOUT PIE AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!
Gingerly stepping towards my precious grey ball, I nearly doubled over in shock at what lay at my feet.
Still smelling slightly of burnt copper, I realised in wonder that something new and different lay before me.
Despite the fact that it was just on fire, the ball was cool to the touch, and I turned it over reverently in my hands, afraid that it would turn to ash at any second.
Tracing the expertly mapped countries which now spanned my ball, I realised that the fire must have burnt through a layer of disguise. For, hidden beneath the dull, grey exterior, was something new entirely.
‘ALBUS!’ I shrieked, running through the castle, the tips of my hair still smouldering and my cloak strongly smelling of smoke.
I needed to get to that gifted Slytherin, since he could help me figure out what I was meant to do from here.
Clutching my newly-transformed globe closely to my chest, I nearly passed out from excitement when I saw a familiar head of messy, jet-black hair in front of me. Barrelling through a group of second years to make my target (‘Out of my way, commoners!’), I successfully pounced on my slippery friend.
‘ALBUS! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT JUST HAPPENED OUT ON THE QUIDDITCH PITCH. IT MAY BE THE MOST EXCITING THING EVER TO HAPPEN ON THIS UNIVERSE.’
Al let out an uncharacteristic chuckle, before turning around to face me head on.
‘Let me get this straight,’ James says, raising an amused eyebrow, ‘We nearly kiss, and the first person you tell is my brother? That concerns me.’
HOW COULD I POUNCE ON THE WRONG POTTER SON?
Swiftly pushing the globe under my shirt (successfully making me look like a pregnant woman), I contemplated how I could possibly have been put in Ravenclaw. ‘Cause honestly, I’m the stupidest person I know.
We both get up, to the amused looks of his Gryffindor friends. I’m tempted to flip them off but honestly, I’ve made a huge fool of myself.
Act like a crazy person.
It works every time.
James opened his mouth to speak again but I quickly intervened and put a finger on his lips, ‘Hush, disciple. You will never learn the way of the ninja through false accusations.’
The way of the ninja? Meh, might as well roll with it.
‘As you can see, my recent serenity trip to the mysterious falls of –er mystery– have impregnated me. I must consult my snake-like physician before the Jade Warrior returns on the solstice,’ I blabbered.
I am so weird.
James was stunned into silence, a mixture of amusement and pure disbelief on his face. Before he could say anything, I yelled out, ‘THE MOONSTONE HAS ALL THE ANSWERS!’ before turning on my heel and racing towards the dungeons.
Hastily removing the globe from under my shirt, I spared a glance to James, who looked as confused as a lost sheep.
But I couldn’t bring myself to care about my ninja-themed weirdness, and the awkward implementations it would have on me and James’ friendship/more-than-friendship or whatever, because I had finally spotted Al, the real Al, loitering around the Slytherin Common Room entrance.
‘Al,’ I breathed, running up to him, ‘I’ve got some big news.’
Immediately pushing me away from his friends, who were looking at me curiously, he entered the Common Room and led me to a fairly dark and isolated corner.
‘This hasn’t got something to do with a little grey ball, does it?’
Smiling, I removed the globe from behind my back, ‘It’s not a ball anymore, Al.’
It had been hours since the last seventh year had deserted the Slytherin Common Room for a warm bed, and yet Al and I were still there, pouring over Muggle geography books and marvelling the sudden transformation of Benny.
Still holding the ball like it was a diamond, Al asked (for the fiftieth time), ‘So you just set the ball on fire?’
‘By accident!’ I pointed out, hastily.
He waved a dismissive hand, ‘And that fire couldn’t be put out with water?’
I shrugged, ‘It couldn’t. I assumed it was a magical fire.’
I shook my head, ‘There was no dark magic involved.’
‘And this magical fire then burned through the exterior layer of the ball and uncovered a whole new layer,’ he confirmed, looking determinedly at the globe.
I nodded, ‘Seems about right. But a globe? Why a globe? Is this meant to be a clue? Or have we already figured it out? When you think about it, what is a globe, really?’
‘According to this Muggle dictionary,’ Al said. ‘It’s a spherical representation of the earth.’
I rolled my eyes, delicately tracing the outline of various continents, mentally willing the globe to give me some answers, ‘I know that. But what are we meant to do with it?’
He shrugged, before letting out a mammoth of a yawn, ‘I dunno, Halle. But I’m dead tired. We’ll work on this later, yeah?’ he asked, getting up and heading towards his dormitory.
I nodded, giving him a quick hug, ‘Yeah. Sure. Thanks, Al.’
Just as he was about to ascend the staircase, I gathered the courage I needed to ask the question I had wanted to ask him all night, ‘Al?’
He stopped and turned around, ‘Yeah?’
‘Would it be extremely horrible if I found out I didn’t hate James anymore?’ I asked, twiddling my thumbs and avoiding his eyes.
His figure dropped slightly. ‘What exactly are you saying, Halle?’
I shrugged again, instantly feeling nervous and shaky, ‘What if I recently found out that maybe I might like him?’
His eyes opened wide, ‘Like, like him?’
I coughed. Did I, as Al so maturely put it, like, like James?
Nah. At least, not yet anyway.
I shook my head quickly, ‘Just as a friend, I reckon.’
His jaw loosened marginally, and he gave me a faint smile, ‘I reckon that’ll be alright.’
Sighing in relief, I spun on my heel to return to the ‘Claw Common Room, when Al called out, ‘Halle?’
I turned around, ‘Yeah?’
‘When you fall for him, please be careful,’ he said, before turning away and disappearing up the staircase.
The fact that he had said ‘when you fall for him,’ really bothered me.
Shaking my head in confusion, I started ninja-travelling my way to the Common Room, taking extra care to avoid any Prefects who were snooping around.
James and I had an almost kiss. The key word being almost. That almighty CRASH in the Quidditch storeroom must’ve happened for a reason. Perhaps it was the universe’s way of telling me that it was a bad idea.
Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t realise I was heading straight in the direction of a wall.
‘FUCK!’ I yelled, rubbing my throbbing head, cursing my bad luck when a figure approached out of the shadows.
‘And what are you doing out of bed?’ bellowed a nearing Prefect, ‘I’ll have points deducted- wait, Halle? What are you doing here?’
I looked up. Of course. James.
‘I didn’t know you were a Prefect,’ I said, for the first time noticing the shiny, silver badge which was pinned onto his robes.
He shrugged, ‘Not something I like to publicize.’
I couldn’t help but grin, ‘Don’t want your bad-ass reputation to be ruined?’
He puffed out his chest a little, ‘Of course.’
I bit my lip. I wanted so badly to subtly mention our shenanigan from tonight, but I have no idea how to be subtle. So, I went for the blunt approach.
‘James?’ I asked quietly, ‘What happened tonight?’
He smiled slightly; you know those cute half-smiles which only guys can pull off? Yeah, it was one of those smiles.
‘Well, first we coached some bratty first-years, who turned out to be pretty alright. We successfully turned them into Flight Club, then we nearly kissed in the Quidditch storeroom, and then you attacked me and blurted out some shit about ninjas and Jade Warriors. What was that all about?’ he asked, cocking his head to the right.
Chuckling, I replied, ‘It’s my first response to awkward situations. Saying a whole bunch of crazy, nonsense shit.’
He laughed, ‘I would expect nothing less. Ninjas, though?’
‘Ninjas are cool.’
‘Halle, about the almost kiss-’ he began, but I held up my hand to stop him.
He was going to reject me. Say something stupid like ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’ Or, ‘I’m not looking for a serious relationship right now. Come back in April.’ He was Hogwarts’s Biggest Player, after all. And besides, I’d be betraying everyone. Al, Dom, Rose even Freddie had told me James was bad news in the boyfriend department.
So, even though it hurt me more than it should’ve, I replied, ‘It was a mistake. Can we just forget about it?’
His expression didn’t waver, but the optimist inside of me saw a little emotion in his eyes. Regret? Sadness? A deep longing for pie?
Whatever the case, he took a couple of steps back and muttered, ‘Yeah. I was thinking the same thing.’
Practically drowning in the awkwardness, I turned to leave, ‘Aren’t you going to deduct any points?’ I asked jokingly, hoping to ease some of the tension.
He grinned, ‘5 points from Ravenclaw.’
I dropped my jaw, ‘I was joking!’
‘You are out after curfew. Be glad I didn’t give you a detention,’ he replied, shrugging his shoulders.
Rolling my eyes, I flipped him off. ‘You suck.’
‘I live to please.’
Just when I was nearly out of his earshot, I called out his name, ‘James?’
‘Yeah, Halle?’ came his faint reply.
‘We’re still friends, right?’
Even through the darkness, I could see the white of his smile. ‘Nah, we’re bros.’
I smiled. His response should’ve made me happy. He even incorporated an inside joke. And I love inside jokes. But it made me feel oddly empty.
Even when travelling in ninja-style, my journey back to the Common Room had lost its spark of excitement.
Because no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get that almost-kiss off my mind.
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