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My words rang sharply through the night air, reverberating off of the goals and bouncing towards the Slytherins’ ears. If they couldn’t hear what I had said, I was sure that they would hear the hammering of my heart or the churning of my stomach. This really had been a stupid idea. Damn me for not thinking about what I would say when he asked what I was doing out here donned in all black at three in the morning. Damn me for not listening to my friends. Damn me for not brushing my hair – even I wouldn’t agree to what I was going to ask of him with hair like this. 

I pulled my hat lower over my head and glanced towards the skies, where the Slytherin team was just starting to figure out that they were being summoned.

The next thing I knew I was laying face first on the ground, the heavy weight of numerous people piled on my back and the slight dewy taste of grass in my mouth.

“What the hell,” I yelled, before having something warm and wooly shoved in my mouth and the pressure removed from my back, only to be replaced with having my arms yanked painfully back in a way they weren’t supposed to bend and my wrists tied together.  

The first though to cross my mind was that I was being kidnapped. The second was why I hadn’t bothered to listen to what my mother had told me about what to do when kidnapped. The third was that I was almost peeing in my pants I was so scared.

I felt my body being jerked around and stared up into six sun-glassed faces. Part of me was relieved to see them, but another part of me was terrified, because none seemed to be smiling. I was hoisted up by my armpits and felt myself being dragged by said body parts across the pitch. In the distance I could see a green clad figure descending towards the ground, but I knew my chance had passed. Thanks to our black outfits we had disappeared into the night. 

It wasn’t long until we reached the cover of the bleachers, but even in the short time that had elapsed I was feeling progressively more and more enraged. Every part of my upper body hurt. My back ached with the tell-tale signs of emerging bruises and my arms screamed in anguish from being continually stretched in a manner that I was beginning to believe was not humanly possible.  Even the backs of my legs and heels stung from being bounced and dragged across the bumpy and occasionally gravel strewn pitch. And these people were supposed to be my friends.

What made me the angriest though, was that I had been thwarted. It all made sense, not that I’d explained my twisted sense of logic to them, but in the end when they finally did find out they would understand. And then they would feel bad for trussing me up like a Christmas turkey.

My feet and calves bounced over the wooden steps as I was dragged back into our layer. Agonizing pain shot through my legs and up my spine with each bounce. My teammates did not seem to notice my discomfort, or if they did they didn’t acknowledge it. I wanted to scream out, but settled for a muffled whimper when I realized that even if I did manage the amount of air it took to scream no one would be able to hear it.

We finally came to a stop back at what James had called ‘headquarters’. Whoever was holding my shoulders let them drop to the ground where they landed with a sickening crunch and this time I did scream despite the wooly thing in my mouth.

“Quiet down Rose,” James barked, casting the usual charms around the place so that we couldn’t be heard or seen.  “You are in no position to talk right now.”

Well he had that bit true. I really wasn’t. My entire upper body was on fire from having my arms bent at such odd angles and the gag in my mouth was cutting off my air supply. I glared up at what I could see of the rafters as curses of various degrees ran through my head.

I was stupid. What had I expected, that they’d just let me run out there and make a fool out of myself? Not even that, but I was putting the entire team in danger of being discovered. I was selfish. All I had thought about when walking out of the bleachers was putting my life back together. I hadn’t even considered them, or all the hard work we went through to get here. There was no ‘I’ in team.  

I turned my head the little bit I could and even from my skewed position I could see them towering over me, their sunglasses removed. A part of me wished they’d put them back on. At least then I wouldn’t have to see the disappointment in their eyes. Or the anger. The disappointment was worse. I could tolerate anger, annoyance, indifference, even over the top giddiness, but disappointment I could not handle. Disappointment made me feel awful and guilty for letting someone I cared about down and I usually mentally berated myself until I felt that I had done myself and them justice.

“Tie her to the beam,” I heard James say through my internal monologue and I snapped back to consciousness only in time to feel myself being lifted up yet again and propped up none-too-gently against the support beam James had been lounging against previously.  

I hadn’t been planning on trying to escape – not again – but now that the option was going to be completely eliminated it sounded ten times better. With a muffled yelp I attempted to scoot closer to the stairwell. Maybe if I was lucky I could get up enough stamina and lift myself to my feet and then I could make a run for it. Yeah, because that worked so well last time, a snide little voice at the back of my head said.

The mental version of me gagged that stupid, smart little voice just like the physical me was and I decided that it was my best bet. With all the strength in my body I tried to push up with my legs, which my friends hadn’t bothered tying up. And that was why. I couldn’t lift myself. Damn James and his bloody making us run at practice. He always said it would help build up muscle, but apparently that muscle wasn’t building in my legs. 

With a pathetic squeak I slid back down the beam. Nothing was going right today. And it was only about four hours into the fricking day. I glowered at the floor as I felt the tight ropes wrap around my upper body, binding me to the beam. A tear pricked at the corner of my eye.

I was angry. I was in pain. I was exhausted. I was humiliated. And most of all I was hurt. Experiencing all of these emotions at the same time was overwhelming. It wasn’t good for the mind or the soul, or even the body, but especially the mind. Especially a mind like mine that was confused on a good day. My brain felt as if it was on the verge of spontaneous combustion, with the little bursts of smoke pooling out of my ears like someone mad or someone who had eaten a spicy pepper on one of the curious muggle inventions called a cartoon.

“So what got into you Rosie?” a voice said as another tear trickled down my cheek. It wasn’t the harsh, angry bark of James, but Jason’s distinctly Australian drawl.

I kept my eyes trained on the floorboards. Even if I could have answered, I wouldn’t know what to say. That I was Imperiused? That the impulse to bash Malfoy’s head in was too unbearable to control? Or should I say that I had a moment of insanity due to lack of sleep? The latter would be the most believable.

Alright Rosie, you’ve chosen your story. Now stick with it. I took as deep a breath I could with the wooly thing in my mouth and raised my eyes to face them. I should just tell them some sob story. Maybe I could change it around so that it was all James’ fault for making us come out here. They’d believe that. Heck, Reagan and Ben would jump at a chance to verbally abuse James.

“Why don’t you respond?” James asked sharply.

I shot him my most withering glare and he seemed to recoil a bit. How oblivious could he get?

“What?” He asked, somewhat affronted by my obvious attack.

“James, I think she can’t talk because of the fact that she has your right sock stuffed in her mouth,” Al pointed out, shrugging slightly.

I gagged behind the wooly thing, which Al had just revealed was James’ sock. And it was in my mouth! My mouth! He had stuffed his bloody, sweaty sock in my mouth. That bloody wasn’t a swear word. James had a long standing cut on his foot from Quidditch training last year that kept breaking open in his boots. Oh that was gross. And it was touching my tongue! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!

“Get the sock out of her mouth,” I heard Ben say, “she’s gagging and if she pukes, she could choke and die.”

I felt like I was going to choke and die. My stomach was churning, bile was forcing its way up my throat, and my skin was probably a dangerous shade of green. I felt someone’s fingers graze the roof of my mouth, and then the itchy fabric was gone and I could breathe. I took a few deep breaths to replenish my lungs and to calm my stomach.

“James,” I croaked, spitting in an attempt to get the feel of it out of my mouth, “your socks taste disgusting.”

“That’s beside the point,” he snapped, stopping my other teammate’s laughter. “I still want to know what possessed you to go out there. Are you mental?”

“Probably,” I answered honestly, trying not to hang my head like an admonished child. “But it’s an injustice-“

“We were all disgusted by what happened to Nott, Rose,” Al said, cutting me off.

That wasn’t the injustice I was talking about, but it was better than my bit about being overtired.

“I know,” I sighed, jumping on the chance, “I realized that about the time you tackled me.”

I watched as they all scratched their head or bit their nails uncomfortably. Apparently that hadn’t been planned.

“We didn’t mean to do that,” Kat piped up. “Al sorta tripped, and it was like dominoes after that.”

I nodded sagely. That was to be expected. In the air we were majestic and the epitome of coordinated, but on land we were more like the epitome of tripping-over-your-own-feet-and-concussing-yourself.

“That still doesn’t make up for the fact that you nearly got us caught,” James pouted.

“I’m sorry,” I said honestly, and somewhat hotly. “I didn’t mean too. I wasn’t thinking. I’m really, really sorry.”

“You will have to be punished,” he added crossly. Everyone turned to gape at him in surprise.

“Punish me?” I asked incredulously. “Who do you think you are, my mum?”

“No, I’m your Quidditch Captain. And you’ve put the team at risk. Therefore, you must accept the consequences of your actions.”

“Isn’t the fact that you’ve bound me like a chicken, dragged me down the stairs, tied me to a beam, and stuffed your used sock in my mouth punishment enough?” I cried angrily, writhing against my bindings.

There was a chorus of agreement amongst our other teammates and I was happy to think that I might win this fight.

“Over here guys!” a voice called from above.

We all froze. The voice was right above us. And we were all here. With mild expressions of horror on their faces, my teammates set off collecting our spy gear as quietly as possible. Al and Kat wrapped up their trumpet while James wiped the map blank and Reagan gathered up her notes and my binoculars. Ben and Jason put away the chess set. I sat still tied to the beam and watched as it all went on.

“Hurry up!” the voice above called again. We all seemed to panic now. James stood up and cast a hasty muffliato. Al looked over at him and the two exchanged a Look. Looks were never good. They usually involved the cursing of someone or some other deed precarious to our safety and sanity. Al straightened up and pulled his wand from his pocket. Suddenly I knew what he was going to do.

Pointing the tip of his wand through the slats in the bleachers he mumbled ‘confundus’ and then put his wand back in his pocket.

“Did you hear it?” a second voice said from overhead.

I held my breath, and judging from the sharp intakes of breath I could hear from the others, it seemed like everyone else had too. This was the moment of truth. Either we were going to get caught, or we weren’t.

“No, I think it was just something in the forest,” the first voice said.

Even from down here I could tell that the voice was dreamy and odd – not the tone of voice one usually associated with Slytherins.

“Right. Get back on the pitch if you want to have any sleep tonight,” the second voice barked. It was followed by the thuds of their retreating footsteps.

Slowly we all expelled the air in our lungs.

“Do you think they’re gone?” Kat whispered.

“I think so,” James whispered back. “The stupid Slytherins.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Al said. “I’m exhausted and I don’t think we can learn much more from this.”

There was a murmur of agreement, and even James looked relieved by his suggestion. They finished packing up and I sat and watched somewhat contentedly.

There was still a dull ache in my arms and shoulders and my jaw twinged painfully whenever I talked, but sitting was nice after the night I’d had. I watched as they finished packing and moved silently towards the stairwell. I assumed that they would stop and untie me. They had to. They wouldn’t just leave me out here all night. Then James walked down the stairs. Al followed, and then Reagan, and then Ben, and Kat and Jason until I was left all alone.

“Guys!” I whisper called. “Did you forget something? Hello! Come back! Don’t leave me.”

“Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in,” a voice said, as a figure emerged from the shadows.

 




 

A/N: Ah, I couldn't resist. I promise there won't be a cliffie next chapter. Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter. I'd love it if you left me a review! Favorite moments, quotes, predictions, constructive criticism, whatever. Thanks to everyone who's stuck with this story! You all rock! The next chapter should be out within about 2 weeks. 

-dora

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