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Chapter 8 : Avoiding Boys and Bludgers
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Chapter 8~ Avoiding Boys and Bludgers
I was extra careful to avoid both Sirius and Rabastan over the next few days. Though, as I had patrols with the latter that was a little hard. We tried to remain businesslike as we walked through the corridors late at night- or, at least, I tried. He teased me as we slowed to a luxurious stroll- no one was wondering the corridors at this time of night and we still had to be here for another half hour, and I laughed lightly at his jokes like always. I couldn't really help it, relaxing in his presence, laughing with him, talking like this. I couldn't help it, so-for once- I didn't try. When patrol was over, he walked me to the door of the Ravenclaw Common Room and hugged my goodnight.
But other than that mandatory encounter, I was determined not to run into either of them.
Because first, if I was having dreams about making up with Sirius (even if said dreams may have been influenced by the heavy slumber potion I was under at the time). there was no way I'd be able to see him in person without giving in. And I refused to give in- I wasn't in the wrong and he was going to admit it. That and, as usual, if I was seen anywhere near him it would not go unnoticed and the last thing I needed was to be noticed with Sirius Black. By anyone.
The reason I was so determined to avoid Rabastan was that I couldn't quite shake the nagging feeling that he'd meant more by those diamonds than he'd said. That the long talks were more than talks to him, that those overly long hugs were giving him ideas. And I didn't want to think about that.
In my efforts to avoid the boys currently making my life a twenty-four hour headache, I threw myself into Quidditch. I concentrated on getting in shape for my one goal. Beating Gryffindor to a pulp in the rematch.
The rest of the team was just as commited, we were at the Pitch nearly every morning and night doing drills until curfew. If we weren't there, we were together discussing strategy. Which suited me just fine. It saved me the need to think.
I walked into the Great Hall on the day of the big rematch flanked by Nora and Lena with the weakest stomach I'd ever had. Made even weaker when I locked eyes with Sirius immediately upon entering.
As always we stared at each other for several nanoseconds and then averted our eyes, like we were watching each other undress or something (Ha! I wish). But this time it was charged which a whole new energy of betrayal and rejection. His face was hard, something hovering on the edge of pain swirled in his eyes. Which made me wonder if I had really dreamed the hospital encounter. Was it really just my imagination running amuck? Or had he really been there? Did I really dream that apologetic tone, the warmth of his hand in mine, his silky spine-tingling whisper?
Of course you did! Quit being ridiculous! A voice shot me down instantly.
"Deep breaths," Lena whispered to me. "Just breathe, Belle."
I swallowed hard but it did nothing to loosen the knot in my throat or making my muscles relax. I didn't look towards the Slytherin table, for fear that I'd lock eyes with an overly eager Rabastan. I didn't look up until I sat at the Ravenclaw table with my freinds and, even then, I kept my eyes trained on their faces- as if I was deeply interested in the conversations going on around me. As if I didn't feel nervous at all. I could feel eyes on me but I didn't look to see how many or to whom they belonged. And I didn't touch my food, no matter how much Nora nagged.
"Mirabelle, Kathlena, Lanora, c'mon!" All three of us glared at David and his use of our full names but he didn't seem phased. He was beckoning us over to where the rest of the team was. It took my a second too long to realize where we were going. The Pitch.
I tried to breath deeply but couldn't.
No, no, no. Just stop. A firm voice told me for some reason it sounded like Andromeda Black.
It starled me, as did the wave of nastalgia that followed. I missed Andy.
Stop, Mi, no crying. Her voice ordered me again. Don't you dare sabotage yourself before you even get there! You need to beat my cousin, take his ego down a few notches.
I smiled to myself, (ignoring the fact that I could very well be going insane- as I was hearing voices) it sounded exactly like something Andy would say. She always said the two of us were the only ones who could ever deflate that giant head of his.
Despite my lapse in sanity, I was still naseated by what was about to happen. My face was hot with the nerves of what I was doing and my determination to win. I'd never wanted to win a game more. I was going to show Alice Haze who was really the better Seeker- I didn't have to have technicalities caused by my boyfriend to win my games.
The day was perfect. Gorgeous, sunny, glorious, ideal Quidditch conditions. The light breeze was just enough to cool my cheeks down and helped me relax a bit. I crossed the lawn with my team pretending to listen to David prattle about moves to try and techniques we should use if we wanted a chance at the Cup.
He was still talking when we entered the dressing room but there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I wasn't alone in tuning him out. Arina was fussing with her ponytail, Everett was swinging his bat menacingly and Lena was blowing bubbles with her Drooble's Chewing Gum (where did she get that? There hadn't been a Hogsmeade trip since October!).
"..... Right then, it's time, I'd say."
All of us looked up. Blinking the stupor off, we stood at attention and grabbed our broomsticks. It didn't escape my notice that everyone shot me worried glances. And, I found out that it was beyond irritating to be the weakest link in our very strong chain. Normally I was the one who was depended on. I was the one who ended the game once we had a cushion of points under our belt. I was the one who screamed warnings from my usual eagle eye position if there were Bludgers hurtling towards my teammates. I was the one who saved our asses if we were losing. But now, I was the one they were worried about. The one who might just choke and ruin everything (again). And I didn't like it at all.
"Well, let's go," I snapped, sounding braver than I felt, quite frankly. Without waiting for one of them to reply, I marched ahead of them towards the doors. I didn't have to look back to know they would follow.
We stepped out onto the Quidditch Pitch and it erupted. Leo's voice booming over all the rest, magnified by magic.
"Goo-oood morning, students of Hogwarts. What a lovely day for a rematch, eh? Quite the new rivalry we've got on our hands. The charming and witty Ravenclaws and the bumbling brawny Gryffindors," he alliterated. "Yeah, real hard to figure out the better of the two, eh?"
The Slytherins cackled with glee as the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors booed indignantly. My own house was split between the loyal lot and the gabbing bints who still held the whole Sirius debacle against me. Traitors.
We mounted our brooms as Leo's commentary continued- unabashed by the generally unfavorable response.
"... As you all know, lest you've been living in a broom closet for the past month, last game ended with an pettily aimed Bludgers to the Ravenclaw Seeker, Mirabelle Echols' head and the Gryffindors took their chance to catch the Snitch and they won on a technicality. Further proof that chivalry really is dead, mates..."
I would have laughed if I wasn't trying to focus intently on my game plan. I was determined to beat Alice Haze this time at all costs, nothing was standing in my way.
I saw her shoot a scathing glare towards Leo and then she locked eyes with me, long enough to smirk maliciously, before jetting off in the direction of Frank Longbottom. I noticed he didn't look too happy with Leo either, but his unhappiness was different. I could tell by the sad look on his face that Frank, ever genuine, had indeed felt terrible for knocking my lights out and didn't appreciate Leo's reminder. I felt a little bit better at this revelation, I'd always liked Frank and it had saddened me to think he was gullible enough to buy the rumors that had been spread about Sirius and me.
"Don't forget to breathe, sweetie," Arina reminded me before kicking off the ground.
I followed her advice and took another deep breath, tuned Leo out, and then followed her, kicking off hard. Harder than I'd meant to. I soared through the air on my state of the art racing broom and everything around me blurred.
I loved flying for this very reason, the whole world disappeared behind me.
I didn't see Sirius's hard, unfeeling stare, I didn't feel conflicted when Gabe and Everett flexed their muscles menacingly, I didn't notice Potter's insufferable presence and I didn't even feel the worried eyes of my friends on my face. It all just melted into nothingness as the wind whipped my hair around my face.
I liked the feeling that I so rarely got to experience. Freedom.
The whistled brought me down from my place in the clouds, back to the Pitch and the roaring student body. The game had begun without me and now I had to orient myself. I was up high enough to circle the Pitch and keep out of the way while still looking for the snitch like a hawk searched for it's very elusive prey.
I was determined to avoid bludgers at all costs this time around. The thought of Madam Pomfrey's bedside manor alone was insentive to keep clear of the heavy balls Sirius, Everett, Frank and Gabe kept batting at each other and the other players. Though, I doubt I was in any real danger of that this time, unless one went astray. Sirius, no matter how stubborn and angry he was at me, would never dream of hitting a bludger my way, Frank was obviously still gushing with guilt for last time so he was extra cautious not to aim in my direction and Gabe and Everett had too good of aim to ever hit me by mistake.
My only worry was Alice Haze. Determined to prove that she didn't need technicalities to win. Determined to hate me for Merlin knows what rumor she'd heard. Determined to see me fail. She hovered above me and over a ways so that I could see her from the corner of my eyes. If she darted towards the Snitch, I would know and, unfortunately, vice versa.
So use it, the Andromeda in my head ordered.
Yes, I was actually answering the voice of Andromeda Black in my head now. How pathetic. It didn't stop me, however from considering her words. How could I use Alice Haze's obsessiveness to my advantage?
I mentally scanned through every Quidditch move I knew and-
AHA!!! OF COURSE!
I had to surpress a grin of triumph, not wanting to give myself away. I decided to let Arina bask in the glory of the cheers coming from the Ravenclaw and Slytherin sections for her phenomenal goal and allow Leo to have his fun with the commentary, "...lovely execution of that one! Ravenclaw ahead 60-40! No technicality needed..."
I laughed aloud and, just as I'd gotten Haze's attention in the form of a scathing glare, I stopped short.
"... comparing Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, it really isn't difficult to see who's the better- Oh, what's this!" Leo gasped with the crowd. "Echols has spotted the Snitch! If you recall, that's twice now that the Ravenclaw Seeker has spotted it first. Look at the way she's flying! Either she's determined to go unscathed by Gryffindor's heinously aimed Bludgers this time or Haze's technicality really has her determined to beat their arses this time- Oops, sorry, Professor. It slipped." The crowd laughed,in spite opf the fact that the atmosphere was tense, breathless and half of them were routing for Alice to catch up with me. "Look at her go! Haze is catching up a bit- Oh! Mirabelle Echols dives! She's getting closer to the ground! She's got to catch the Snitch before she hits it- GO, MIRA! GO!"
I'm going, I'm going. I thought in a back chamber of my mind. The cheers of the crowd around roared, I could see Alice a little bit behind me and Leo's commentary crashing in my ears. Gosh, he was impatient. I hadn't even really spotted the-
The gold glint was all it took for me to change my coarse. As planned, I abruptly pulled out of my Feint (a move Sirius had taught me when I made Seeker) and Alice Haze still plunged towards the ground without enough time to pull out of the downward spiral. But, unlike I planned, I went racing off towards the real deal rather than watching the result of my handy work.
I didn't hear the boos, hisses and cheers when Alice crashed, I didn't hear Leo's frantic narrative- he wasn't sure whether to comment on my faking out my opponent or the fact the I was now racing after the real Snitch, arm outstretched- all I heard were the fluttery little wings. I didn't see Sirius stop a few meters away to watch me, the Ravenclaw blue and Gryffindor gold slurred together in a dizzying way that I was too busy to notice and Potter was feverishly trying to block the goals our Chasers were pelting at him (taking advantage of the situation) while also trying to pay attention to his Seeker but all I saw was the glitter of gold inches from my finger tips.
Bit more. Just a bit more. I stretched my arm as far as it would go. Haze had recovered from her collision and was now racing like a speed-demon to get her revenge. Hell hath no fury like a Quidditch player scorned, I thought smugly. And just as I felt her catch up to me-
"YES! YES! YES! Ladies and gentlemen of Hogwarts, Mirabelle Echols has just caught the Snitch! RAVENCLAW WINS! Stick that in your technicality! Ravenclaw's Seeker wins fair and square! RAVENCLAW WINS!" I looked up to see Leo on his feet, jumping up and down with another Ravenclaw next to him.
I wanted to see Haze and Potter's faces but, before I could look around for them, my teammates thudded around me in a midair bear hug. As we descended together the Slytherins and Ravenclaws (even those who'd been routing for Gryffindor when the game began) were chanting "MI-RA! MI-RA! MI-RA!"
I laughed in ecstacy. Victory was sweet and it was all mine. It was the happiest I'd felt since the morning I'd overheard my parents discussing Sirius's escape to the Potter's. Only Quidditch could make me feel this way when everything else was wrong. Gabe and Everett carried me off the Pitch on their shoulders but just before we got to the dressing room I caught Sirius's eye.
His face was expressionless. Not happy, not unhappy. Just blank. His eyes were clouded and broody. His jaw was locked in that signature way of his, I was positive that-were I to get closer to him- I'd see his jaw muscle lurching like mad.
And then, just like that, I was whisked away on the shoulders of the two hottest Ravenclaw blokes and Sirius was gone.
The party following the rematch was the most bizzare of any party I think Hogwarts has ever had (which says something when you consider that James and Sirius throw strange Gryffindor parties frequently). Not because every twit who'd been glaring at me for the stupid Sirius nonsense was now being freakishly sweet to me. Not because Kathlena and Everett were making out in the corner. Not because the firewhiskey was causing some of the brightest and best at Hogwarts to do things that would make Bella Lestrange blush.
No, the party was bizarre because for the first time EVER, Slytherins were partying in the Ravenclaw Common Room.
I'm. Not. Joking.
So there I was, completely knackered, being clapped on the back by everyone within arms reach, achey muscles and all and I was also having to avoid Rabastan and my cousin and pretty much every Slytherin in my family circle. It was a nightmare.
I darted in between people and attempted to get to the stairs and sneak up to my dorm. I was almost there and one of the Seventh year girls pulled me over to their group and made me recount catching the Snitch.
By the time I escaped them I was acrossed the Common Room. I spotted Rabastan, talking to Rosalie, a few other Slytherins and a pack of Ravenclaw girls. He looked delicious and my stomach did a flip.
Bullocks. I turned and made an immediate beeline for the door. I didn't know where I was going, just that I needed to get out of there.
I slipped out of the Common Room and down the corridor. For a while, I just walked aimlessly around the castle. Paintings congratulated me as I passed and torches flickered all around me, urging me forward with their. It wasn't until I heard a giggle that I realized what floor I was on.
I found myself rounding the corner as quietly as possible, wishing I knew how to make myself invisible. There in the shadowy corners of the corridor, among the suits of armor and flickering torches, was a couple in a rather compromising position. They were clearly in the throws of a passionate snogging session, both his and her shirts were discarded on the floor and the giggly girl was pressed to the wall. Her long legs were wrapped around him, her fingers tangled in his tawny curls. His hand dipped under her lacey pink bra and cupped her breast in his rather perfect looking hands. Blood rushed to my cheek and my entire body felt hot and flustered as the bloke groaned. They seemed to be oblivious to her, too intent in sucking each others' faces off. Maybe if I just crept past them they wouldn't...
The girl's tinkling giggle trilled again as her companion nibbled on her ear, "Siri, that tickles!"
A sheet of ice seemed to slide into my plummetting stomach. My entire body froze, all the previous warmth leaving my body. I couldn't access my legs to run away, I couldn't feel my body at all. My heart had jumped into my throat and I felt like all of my airwaves had been abruptly cut off. I gulped frantically but could not fill my lungs with air.
My pulse drowned out every other sound in the world. All I could her was the frantic beat crashing like symbols inside my head. All I could see were those hand, those beautiful hand I'd admired for so long, holding and touching the giggler; those dark curls she'd always longed to run her fingers through, being tosseled by another; those lips, those gorgeous full lips, she'd watched breathlessly as they spoke wishing he'd stop flapping them and snog her already, being nibbled on and caressed by another's or currently trailing down the giggling girl's jawline.
It was then that his other hand began to trail up her thigh and skirt. I could finally feel my legs, in another second I could move them and as soon as I realized this, I ran. And ran. And ran. And ran.
I came to a stop at the edge of the lake. It was dark but I didn't care, I collapsed on the ground and hugged my knees to my chest. I didn't bother wiping away the tears sloping down my cheeks, though I hated myself for crying. It was stupid, I should be over him. He didn't care about me (obviously), so why should I care about him?
I growled in frustration, interrupting the quiet night air. My face, hot from so much running, began to cool as I blinked up at the stars. My pulse slowed to a numbingly steady pace and my eyes started to flutter with fatigue. I would have to go back to the Common Room soon. It was past curfew and my friends would be wondering where I'd disappeared to.
But, for now, I stayed where I was, sprawled on the grass gazing up at the night sky.
It was almost the full moon.
Poor Remus, I thought distantly through my own pain. I gulped, as if I could somehow swallow all my problems an maybe even Remus's too, but they still remained.
Tears felt frozen on my face, I hadn't brought a jacket and it was getting chilly. My teeth chattered and goosebumps raised on my arms. I was shaking but I didn't feel how cold it was, I didn't feel anything and I was glad.
In order to block out the painful images, I blocked out everything else as well. It was the only way to keep the pain manageable, numb everything.
I have no clue how long I laid there on the grass, staring dejectedly up at the sky but when I snuck back into the castle it was completely black. Not that I would've noticed anyway, by that time I was on autopilot, I knew the route to the Ravenclaw Common Room by heart. I wasn't required to think to get back up there. The only concious thought I can remember having was hoping that, by now, the victory party was over and I wouldn't run into anyone on my way to bed.
I hardly noticed the question I was asked before I could get into the room, I didn't pay attention to the people passed out on the chairs and floor in the Common Room and I definitely don't recall walking up the stairs.
Before I knew it I was in the dorm. My friends were all sleeping, or at least acting asleep, judging by their slow, even breathes and Lena's soft snoring. I didn't bother changing out of my clothes, I simply crawled under my covers and waited for sleep to rescue me.
I curled into the fetal position, the pain hurting the worst around my midsection, and cried silently again. Or had I even stopped crying to begin with? I didn't know.
All I could remember the next morning were my last thoughts before I slept. All revolving around Andromeda and the desperate things we do and horrible pains we endure for love.
My silence the next morning hardly went unnoticed. I saw my worried friends exchange glances and avoided their furtive questions. They didn't press me though, knowing I'd tell them when I was ready.
Instead of going with them to spend a lazy afternoon on the sunny grounds, like everyone else, I went back to bed after breakfast. I was exhausted and my head was pounding, as if- like many of the older Ravenclaws and Slytherins who'd attended the party last night- I was hungover. My whole body felt crushed and raw.
It was one thing to know that Sirius was a playboy who snogged a new idiot practically every night, it was an entirely different thing to actually see it.
Despite his promiscuity, Sirius had never been very big on the major public displays of affection that most couples exhibited on a daily basis. I realized that night that I'd never actually seen him snog any of the many many girls he'd "dated". I'd heard of them, heard him talk about them, heard plenty of things about his conquests, but I'd never witnessed it with my own eyes.
It made my stomach churn just reliving it.
But, as I laid in my bed, I couldn't help but relive it. It was like a broken record in my head playing over and over and over again, making it impossible to sleep. I was so frustrated that, after well over an hour of lying in bed, curtains drawn, I gave up entirely. It was no use trying to force myself into unconciousness, no matter how much I wished for it. No matter how desperate I was for a world of dreams instead of harsh reality.
I got up and paced the room four times before deciding to throw my jeans back on and explore the castle. Perhaps I would have the satisfaction of discoverign a Marauder-free secret passage and then I could satisfy myself with the smug knowledge that I knew something about the castle that Sirius and his half-wit mates didn't.
I was moving on to the next stage of grief, I realized, once aware of the desire to see someone besides myself suffer (it didn't matter who). I'd moved on from denial and crushing, humiliating sadness to anger. Boiling, hot anger bubbled in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to hit something.
I moved through the halls feeling more invisible than a ghost. No one was in the corridors, it was too nice of a day to be inside, even the teachers had abandoned their usual posts. I was glad of that. The last thing I needed was to run into anyone, especially-
"You know, I thought we were over this."
A blood-curdling scream escaped me, echoing through the deserted corridors. I whipped aroun to see Sirius leaning against the wall, face closed off, muscles tight and strained with anger, eyes trubulent like a stormy night at sea.
He was angry? HE was angry with ME?
What the hell did he have to be angry for? I was the one who should be angry! And I was! I was livid actually. Livid and disgusted. Disgusted wiht myself for wasting so much time on him. Disgusted with him because he hadn't noticed!
My eyes narrowed of their own accord, words bubbled into my throat but I resisted them and just continued to glare. I wanted to run but my legs seemed to have frozen.
"Good game by the way," he said, when I didn't speak. I knew his tone well enough to know he didn't mean it. "Your Slytherin boyfriend teach you how to play like that?"
"What is that s'posed to mean?" I snapped, before I could stop myself. I didn't bother pointing out that I learned that move from him, not Rabastan.
"Just that, you were never one to play dirty before he started sha-"
"I can play just fine on my own. I don't need his help," I cut acrossed him, not even bothering to correct him. Let him think Rabastan and I were together, maybe I'd seem less pathetic that way. Less like a lovesick little puppy that's been following him around his whole life. "I played dirty because your Seeker pissed me off and I wanted her to be knackered enough to cry when she lost," I added spitefully.
"Spoken like a true pure-blood."
"You would know."
"Have you joined up yet or are they saving that for your graduation day?"
"Getting sick of being Potter's bitch or have you adapted to it over the years?"
"Bella show you how to apply your makeup or are those under-eye bruises from shagging filthy Slytherins all night?"
That did it.
I was so angry, I almost said it. I almost retorted with a witty one-liner about walking in on him and his blonde. But I didn't want him to know that I'd seen. I didn't think I could keep the pain from lacing my tone and I didn't want him to know I was hurting. Why should he know that I was mad about him? It was none of his business.
Instead, I turned on my heal and started to strut away while I still had a portion of my dignity left.
"Mira, wait," his tone was apologetic.
I hesitated for a second before deciding against obliging him. He wasn't going to hurt me even more, I wasn't going to let him keep getting to me like this. It was unhealthy. I began to walk again when something rough and warm came around my wrist.
Before I knew what was happening, Sirius had pulled me into him and the pressed me between the wall and his rock hard torso. My breath caught in my throat and my heart kicked into overdrive - I prayed he couldn't feel it. Soon his legs touched mine as well and I could feel his hot breath on my face.
I was closer to him than I'd ever been. In all our years of knowing each other, I'd never had this many surfaces of my body covered with his. I secretly relished the feeling. It was beyond intoxicating. More brilliant than anything my imagination could conjur.
But, somehow, I managed to keep my wits and remember my resolve to never let him hurt me again. I didn't want anymore pain than I already had.
"What are you doing, you bloody wanker? Get o-!"
But before I could finish my sentence he shut me up by covering my lips to with his.
( AAAAAHHHH! I know that was wicked! I'm evil! Feel free to get those pitchforks back out! As long as you review! What do you think? Good? Bad? Predictable? Abandon, abandon, abandon!!!? 'Til next time!
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