Chapter 31 : Don't Give Up
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After our fight during the middle of the task, Fred wanted nothing to do with me. I tried to apologize to him a few times for my assumptions about him and Delilah Matthews, but he didn’t seem to want to hear them. Sophie even tried talking to him a few nights before the game; with such high stakes for Gryffindor she (or, Al) wanted to make sure we’d still play as normal come game time.
His resentment did soften slightly after Sophie’s talk; we were actually able to sit in the same vicinity without starting a hollering match. It wasn’t the same – not even close – to normal, but I could feel the change as he joked around a little bit more. I tried to get some information out of Sophie as to what she had told him, but she wasn’t budging.
The sound of the morning post owls tore my thoughts away from everything and back on today’s game. The Great Hall flooded with birds hooting and cooing for their owners. From James’ suggestion, I had written my mum earlier this week, so I half expected three scrolls of parchment back today.
“Susie?” Fred’s voice traveled from the opposite side of Al and Sophie as he recognized one of them. His father’s bird, again, was hooting loudly above the Gryffindor table in search of her letter’s recipient. “Oi, Susie!”
She recognized her name and swooped down to land in front of Fred. However, once she landed in front of him, she flapped down the table – knocking over a plate of sausages in the process – until she stopped in front of me.
“Susie, don’t be stupid,” Fred murmured as he reached across Al to grab for the note.
I cleared my throat. “Fred, it’s got my name on it.”
“Oh.” His annoyance quickly subsided as I looked back down to the bird in front of me. I kept quiet as I untied the parchment from Susie’s leg, letting her eat off of my plate while I read:
If quitting is what you really want to do, then that would be a shame because Fred and I were looking forward to having you. I suspected this may be coming, and if it’s for the same reason my son wrote me about, I want to ask you if you really want to give up on your dreams because of a little bump in the road.
Don’t give up—on anything.
I looked down the table to Fred after scanning the letter again.
“What?” Through his bewilderment I couldn’t help but smile that – through everything – he had written his dad about me.
“Nothing,” I smothered my happiness and turned to my teammates a whole. “Are you ready to crush those Claws?”
Gryffindor’s students started to cheer as we left the Great Hall as a team. I snuck a spot in between Sophie and Al and helped Sophie in her adapted routine of getting Al to put his nerves away for the game ahead.
I listened to Al’s ‘how important today is‘ speech while I pulled on all of my padding and my new helmet. When I knew everyone was giving him their full attention I reached up and ran my finger over the bat of the necklace I was still wearing. Tucking it safely away under my uniform, I started to lace my shoes and pretend to listen.
In what seemed like a blur of seconds later we were lining up to fly out of the locker rooms for what could be my very last Quidditch game at Hogwarts. Just as the realization really began to sink in, Fred nudged me in the side.
“You look nervous,” he mumbled so only I could hear. “You’re never nervous.”
I smiled at his sincere tone. “It might be our last game; little sad, don’t you think?”
“I guess,” he shrugged his shoulders. We fell silent as Tobian, Shelby and Noelle flew out of the locker rooms.
He instantly cut me off. “I’m sorry for what I said during the tournament; it was completely uncalled for and I felt awful the second it slipped out.”
I mounted my broom and looked over to him. “Honestly, Fred, I was just happy you weren’t with her,” I joked.
He rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Never.”
Before I could ask what he meant by that he kicked off the ground and flew off. In complete bewilderment I stood and watched him, only to get shoved forward by both Al and Sophie a second later. In bafflement I kicked off the ground and followed him into the air.
I let the cheers from the Gryffindor stand fill me as I flew my normal lap around the pitch; I had the biggest grin as Fred met me in the middle for our usual high five before positioning himself next to me in the center of the field. Sophie was next, and then Al got announced, leaving us to wait for the members of Ravenclaw.
After the seven players in sapphire were out on the field Madam Hooch gave us the usual rundown before releasing the Snitch, quickly followed by the Bludgers. I watched as one darted off to the left and hovered over the Slytherin stands. As Madam Hooch gave her countdown to the Quaffle release I gripped firmer onto the handle of my bat and broom, kicking off the second she blew her whistle in pursuit of the Bludger.
Delilah was hovering just above the Ravenclaw goalposts, looking to make this a quick game. That’s where I sent my bludger.
And my next three.
Gryffindor and Ravenclaw kept the score balanced as I could tell Delilah’s temper grew. I kept my plays inconspicuous to Madam Hooch and the others but as she spent more time dodging my Bludgers than actually searching for the Snitch, she caught on rather quickly.
While I was working on our offensive side, Fred took the time to stick back and protect our defense. Along with Al doing greater than ever, the pair was a rare sight for a let through Quaffle.
“You’re going to get yourself in trouble if you keep staring at him like that.”
I nearly did damage to my neck at how fast I looked away from Fred to find who was talking to me. I immediately grimaced as Delilah hovered a few yards in front of me, pretending to be on a search for the Snitch.
“Go away, Matthews. As usual, no one has asked for your opinion and you still insist on giving it.” I wanted to say something about the Bludgers but I knew she’d call me out for singling her out if she had verbal proof.
“He’s done with you, you were too much of a—”
“Finish that sentence, Matthews, and see how quickly this bat can meet your ugly face,” I interrupted her and patted my bat into my hand menacingly.
I must have hit a nerve with her because she spun around and shrieked, “You’re just jealous, Wood!”
“No, not really,” I sneered as I completely ignoring the game at hand. “If I looked like such a cow in a skirt I wouldn’t flaunt it so much.” There really wasn’t any point in trying to fake being nice to her; she knew I despised her and she loathed me just as much.
“You’re such a bitch!” She screamed as she flew towards the ground to take a water break.
It wasn’t the fact that she had called me a bitch; I didn’t give a damn about that. It was the fact that she was purposefully trying to start drama in the middle of the dammed Quidditch pitch, and now I had to finish it. I shot after her and landed on the pitch to shout, “He left you after three days because you’re too much of a jealous slag to trust him!”
The spectators had silenced as two players landed on the turf and started to scream. I could already see Madam Hooch out of the corner of my eye; she was already mounting her broom.
“At least I’m not so much of a slag that I’d actually cheat on him,” she spun on her heel to scream back.
In the second that I was torn from asking what the hell she knew about me, and attacking her prissy little face with my bat I felt a pair of gloved hands grab my arms. As I deepened my glare I figured my instincts must have leaned towards physical because I instantly tried to pull away from Al’s grip.
“Hannah!” He was shouting at me. “What the hell are you doing!?”
“Let me go, Potter!” I pulled again but Al’s grip stayed firm.
The sound of Madam Hooch’s whistle echoed in my ears as I fought against Al. By now all of the other players had stopped flying around and I could hear hundreds of murmurs coming from up in the stands.
“What is going on here ladies!?” Madam Hooch barked as she landed in the middle of us. Her hawk-like yellow eyes flashed and her nostrils flared as she waited for our reasoning.
I started. “She’s trying to bring up irrelevant drama in—”
“She’s threatening me!” Delilah quickly interrupted me with a shriek. “Madam Hooch she’s been targeting me all game, and the only reason she didn’t assault me now is because Potter is holding her!”
The Flying Instructor pressed her thumb and forefinger to the bridge of her nose. I could have sworn I heard her mumble “I’m too old for this.” She looked up to us. “This Quidditch pitch is not the place to execute your own teenage feminine vendettas. Wood, Gryffindor locker room. Matthews, Ravenclaw. Professors Longbottom and Flitwick will meet you in their respective offices after the game. If you do not leave now, you will not participate in your team’s final match against Slytherin.” She looked up behind me. “Mr. Potter, get back on your broom!”
Al let go of one of my arms and I turned me around to face him. If Madam Hooch was mad, it was nothing compared to my Quidditch Captain. “You’re bloody lucky you got her kicked out too, Wood. While you’re cooling off in the locker room maybe you should think about getting your personal problems sorted out so this doesn’t happen in the ruddy final. If we make it. They’ve got a replacement Seeker but now we’re down a player.”
I didn’t argue. He was right, and I looked down to the ground as he mounted his broom and flew off, ashamed at my actions. I turned on my heel and ignored the cheers from the Ravenclaw stands at my departure.
By the time I got into the locker room my eyes were burning with tears. I stood for a second and took a few angry breaths of air before I walked over to my locker. The muffled call of “Ravenclaw scores, seventy-fifty!” pushed me to the edge; digging my nails into the palms of my hand, I raised my fist up and threw it into the locker.
I called out in pain as I felt something in the side of my hand pop. Instantly bringing my hand into my stomach and cradling it, I grabbed my wand out of my locker and ran back to the castle. Well, tried to run. I sort of half ran half swaggered; it was hard to see as my fist was sending blinding pulses of pain to my head. By the time I had gotten to the doors I had tears streaked down my face and a few of my fingers had swollen to twice their normal size.
Thankfully the entrance to the castle from the Quidditch pitch is close to the Hospital Wing. Turning, I shoved open the doors to the Hospital to find Madam Pomfrey wagging her finger at a younger student. In any other situation I probably would have started laughing; his hair was a cotton candy pink color, and his cheeks were spotted with blue dots.
“Miss Wood?” Madam Pomfrey looked up as I let out a half sob, half laugh. She sighed. “That blasted game needs to be banned from this school.”
She rushed over and lifted my hand up with minimal care. I tried to hide my cringe as she twisted my wrist to examine what I had done to my fingers. I couldn’t help but whimper as she suddenly let go and my hand fell to my side.
Looking up, she raised an eyebrow. “It’s certainly not the first time you’ve been in here, Miss Wood— but it’s the first time I’ve seen you crying over a broken bone, especially one as minor as this.” I lifted my hand again as she motioned to look at it.
Minor!? Mother of Merlin’s G-string she calls this minor!?
She let go of my wrist and looked to me. “What’s the matter?”
I reached my other hand up to my cheeks to wipe the tears that had fallen away. “Stupid Ravenclaw slags.”
She pursed her lips. I was really thankful she didn’t take more points from Gryffindor for my word choice; instead she remained silent, except for a small ‘hmm’. She reached into her Mediwizard coat and pulled out her wand. “I was a Hufflepuff; I know the sort. Episkey.”
I winced as I expected pain – I always did – but sighed a second later as the warm sensation took over my hand. After the moment had passed I looked down and wiggled my fingers. My hand was no longer swollen, and I could move my fingers freely. After she sent a few bandages out of her wand and around my hand she said, “Keep these on overnight so the bone sets. If anything feels strange in the morning stop in.” I looked up to her. As I opened my mouth to talk, she added, “No need to thank me dear; if Gryffindor makes it to the final I’m sure I’ll see you next time.”
I nodded, and with an unconvincing smile I left the Hospital Wing. I let my mind buzz as I headed back for the Gryffindor common room. I’d go to visit Longbottom after the game got over. I wasn’t aloud out on the Quidditch pitch, and being down a player I had probably just lost the championship spot for Gryffindor. I let out an ironic laugh; my very last game as a Hogwarts student and I got thrown out for nearly attacking the other team’s Seeker—that’ll be one to write home about.
Oh bloody hell, when my mum finds out about this; I should just watch the post in the morning for the red envelope because I’m sure it’ll be headed towards me. And my dad; well he’ll just be disappointed his little Quidditch prodigy lost the game for his childhood team. If I’m not disowned it’ll be a miracle. I had been doing so good all year with hardly getting into any detentions, and my behavior was more than making up for it lately. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was assigned Thestral shit duties for the rest of the school year for my latest number.
I gave the Fat Lady the password – thankfully for my sanity she didn’t put up a fight – and climbed through the portrait hole to the empty common room. Finding a place out of view of the entrance, I positioned myself to wait for Sophie; if anything I needed to apologize to my team for screwing things up and I figured my best friend would take it the best.
Delilah… who the hell did she think she was? I shouldn’t have been so stupid to chase her after she swore at me. It was always the second person who got punished, wasn’t it? She speaks first, I get blamed for it. Clearly the girl had some issues she needed to work out. Fred told me – of all people – he didn’t want to be with Delilah Matthews, so I didn’t understand why she still needed to try to start a fight in the middle of the game.
I wrapped my arms around my chest as I heard the thunders of the Gryffindor students heading up the staircase; the match must have finally finished. I refused to look over at the portrait hole as I heard it creak open; I was about to dash up to the girl’s dorms to hide, but the excited cheers stopped me. In a matter of seconds the common room flooded with gold and scarlet streamers.
The excitement that filled me at the sight of the overjoyed Gryffindor students quickly left me as they realized I was sitting there. Despite a few glares and scowls, I was completely ignored. As the common room quickly filled with setup for another victory party, I took it as my cue to leave. Just as I pushed my way through the crowd at the portrait hole and out the common room, I noticed the team walking up the stairs. I cursed to myself as I picked up my pace, rushing down the stairs with my head turned away.
But I had a lot more bad karma than a few broken fingers could take away.
I let out a shriek as my foot slipped through the trick stair and I fell onto the stairwell. I heard someone from the top of the stairs curse, and a set of footsteps rushed down behind me. I tried to pull myself out of the fake stair before they got there, but with my newly cured hand my efforts failed. Seconds later I felt a pair of hands wrap around my waist and pull me up and set me on the stair below. I turned around to find Fred doing everything in his power not to laugh.
I looked at him for a second, debating whether or not I should thank him, or run away.
“We won,” he finally stated with a small shrug.
I gave him what probably looked like a very unconvincing smile and said, “Congrats.”
“Turns out, Ravenclaw didn’t give their reserve Seeker too much practice…” He started to smirk, so I raised my eyebrows, waiting for the rest of his sentence. “…And Gryffindor’s remaining Beater was so handsome and talented that he defended his team all by himself.” He pretended to ponder the thought as he brought his finger up and tapped his nose.
I rolled my eyes. “Always so modest.” I couldn’t help the smile growing until everything else bubbled back up in my mind. “Fred, I—” I tried to start apologizing, but he cut me off.
“You didn’t hit her; what’d you do to your hand?” I saw his eyes widen as he realized my hand was in bandages.
“No,” I managed to squeak out. “I punched a locker when Ravenclaw scored after I got kicked off the pitch.”
He snorted, and smiled. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’m sorry.” I whispered the only thing I had wanted to say for the past few months. “I messed up the best thing I’ve ever had and I know you’ll probably never forgive me, but I’m sorry.” I turned to finish heading down the stairs, but his hand wrapping around my wrist stopped me.
“Are you deaf?” he asked with an eyebrow raised. I looked down to where he was holding onto my wrist, only to sigh in disappointment when he dropped it a second later.
“No.” I tried to answer logically, but it only made him laugh again.
“I said I miss you, Hannah,” he repeated. “I mean, you hurt me.” I cringed, but he continued, “But I miss being friends with you, and Sophie told me you officially ended things with... you know who.”
I looked up from the ground, and before I could stop myself I said, “I wasn’t snogging Voldemort.”
He started to laugh, finally getting me to join him. It felt good to laugh with Fred; I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I had it back. Making sure I skipped over the trick stair this time, I walked up to the same step he was on. Taking a small breath, I reached out to grab his hand.
He pulled away. “Hannah,” he sighed, “You – you hurt me a lot. And as much as I want to forget everything and snog the hell out of you right here, I can’t. Right now, I need to let myself forgive you as a friend so I can learn to forgive you as more. I love you, Hannah, I love you so damn much and I can’t let myself get hurt again that easily. I fell so damn hard for you and it’s been hell picking myself back up from that.”
“Fred if there’s anything I can do,” I tried to offer.
“Yes.” He finally smiled again. “Be my best friend again. Let me fall in love with the you I did before all—all this. I don’t want to love the Hannah that snogs Malfoy. I want to love my best friend and stare at her arse when she’s walking ahead of me and wish I could snog her when we argue over who gets to harvest the Mandrake acne in Herbology.”
I smiled back and nodded. “I’ll do my best; but, I have to go to Longbottom’s office – one of Madam Hooch’s requirements; hopefully Al will let me play in the final if I get my ‘issues’ sorted out.” He chuckled. “I’ll see you later Freddie.”
He gave me an understanding nod. I turned around, and with a little extra wiggle in my hips, headed down the stairs towards the greenhouses.
“It’s helping,” He called, and I turned around to give him a small smile, before making my way to Longbottom’s office.
I wasn’t going to give up – on anything.
A/N: I know! It's been too long. I hope the little bit of hope made up for it! Thank you for reading :)
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