For MiSTY_VoLPe, Katie, PotterMistress, & lovealways99.
I never expected professors to hound us about NEWTS during the first week. The first lessons. How wrong I was in thinking during the first class of term I’d get a pleasant overture-esque class filled with me skimming Quidditch Weekly and Katie filing her nails. Oh, no. Instead we got McGonagall slapping the board with the end of her pointer, Flitwick giving us examples of exam questions (Yeah, I knew none of them), and a pop quiz of plants in the greenhouse.
It was safe to say the seventh year Gryffindors were in a little over our heads.
I spent my first two evenings sweating in the library, eyes squinting at the tiny text as I fought to find answers. The girls joined me at a table by the window, swearing every so often as a burst of wind blew our papers around the aisle. Twice we hit the same Hufflepuff in the face with Transfiguration. Sorry.
Funny enough, the only thing I looked forward to were Quidditch practices and sleep. Our first practice the second day back just consisted of Angelina outlining her goals for the year. There were no pie charts involved and for this I was thankful. And it took place in the locker rooms as opposed to Hogsmeade. The following day I wasn’t required to practice since they were feeling out the team dynamic. Ellis shot me a snarky grin when he asked if I would be on the pitch. He knew I wasn’t. He just wanted to hear me say it.
Instead of mounting a broom, I took to the stands, yellow legal pad positioned on my lap as I watched the players.
Daniel Ellis, more commonly known as fucking tosser –
Nope. Couldn’t write that.
This is Angelina Johnson’s first year as captain of the Gryffindor Lions. She has been on the team –
Godric, bored already.
I crumpled the first sheet, tossing it over my shoulder.
School’s only just started and this place is practically empty. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a fresh group of first years that barely come to my shoulder and they clump together so much I’m not sure how many of them there are. They also speak in uncommonly high voices.
I’m watching the practice now – Ang is a great captain. She knows when to yell at the twins for goofing off and when to just let them go. Currently she’s letting them go and they’re pretending to be Lee and commentating. It’s rather filthy, to be honest. I know you told me to keep you updated on George and Katie. They’re doing brilliant and are quickly becoming the new “Fred and Ang” with the amount of snogging they do in public. I’m sure Mr. Bell wouldn’t approve, but I don’t care all that much. Alicia tends to scoff. And yes, she’s still calling you Dodger.
The thing is, while I’m up here observing practice, I just realized I don’t have anyone to sit with. All of my friends have either graduated (you) or are on brooms. Maybe I should make more of an effort to join in. Or make more of an effort on this article. I told Valerie I would write something on the Keeper tryouts but all I’m managing is stupid sentences and stuff that would put you to sleep. Maybe I’ll read some more tonight. Try-outs are soon and if this piece doesn’t fly, Valerie might rethink taking me on as an intern. Do you think?
Update me on your life. I miss you loads.
“Please tell me that story is about me.”
I jumped, glancing up. George was hovering a few meters from me, his body pressed against the broom in a lazy way. He wore a lopsided grin like cologne. “It’s not,” I replied. “You have to do something well in order to get an article.”
“You mean you didn’t favor my commentating skills?” he asked.
“Not for a Quidditch article, I’m afraid,” I replied. I folded Roger’s letter and tucked it into the back of the legal pad. “Why aren’t you out there Beating and such?”
“Came to see you. Looked lonely up here. Why don’t you come practice?”
“Ang wants you guys to get on correctly before tryouts,” I said with a shrug. “I’m fine up here.”
“C’mon.” George lowered his broom and moved back on it. “Get on.”
“Shut up, George. I’m doing something important.”
“Oh, a letter and a couple sentences? I’ll tell the NEWT committee you’re ready for them too.” He rolled his eyes and patted the broom. “Don’t make me ask again, Janey.”
I let out a sigh, straightening up. After tapping the paper with my wand, I clambered onto the broom in front of George, gripping it tight. “I hope Oliver hears about this,” I teased.
“I’ll even tell him we were shamelessly flirting,” he said, kicking off from the benches and soaring over the pitch. The rest of the team turned, smirked, and said nothing as I’m sure they noted the fear-stricken look on my face.
No matter how many times I finally got up there, I was still petrified I was going to fall on my face. And eat dirt. Since no matter how many times I’ve eaten dirt, it never got any better.
“Okay, love?” George asked, putting his arms around me to steer. He smelled like chocolate.
“Doing all right.”
“You should try and best Ellis this year. Godric knows we’d rather have you as a Seeker.”
“Oh, yes, the girl who caught the Snitch because of a fluke and then fell off her broom,” I said, rolling my eyes yet again. “Versus Dan Ellis, who catches the Snitch in seconds and has only fallen once…”
“But it was a bad fall!”
“No, it wasn’t,” I said, thinking about his opened Quidditch magazines in the hospital wing. “He’s just a baby.”
“See?” George countered. “I don’t want a baby as my Seeker. I want Jane Perry, girl who I’m fairly certain would punch a bloke for looking at her wrong.” I could hear the grin in his voice.
“Too bad,” I said. “You’re going to get Jane Perry: Quidditch writer extraordinaire who is trying to piece sentences together that don’t sound like dirt. I’m going to try and write again tonight.” We rounded the hoops, which were empty.
I bit my lip.
“You miss him?” George asked after a moment, turning and flying down toward the other end of the pitch. We narrowly missed Alicia, who was racing away from Katie with the Quaffle. Ang was yelling at them both.
“I do,” I admitted. “But not Libby-esque missing.”
“So if he’s on a retreat and some other girl is wearing his clothes, you aren’t going to come pounding on the door at five in the morning?”
“No promises,” I said with a smirk, closing my eyes against the breeze.
It was nice.
Tryouts are tomorrow. I know Ang will want all of our input on who gets selected. I’m kind of nervous there won’t be anyone good. Is that normal? Were you nervous every Seeker would be horrible? Is that why you picked me because I was less horrible than all of the other candidates? Or was it the legs?
I saw Puddlemere won again yesterday. One loss since your season started. How insane is that? Puddlemere was terrible last year (no offense). You were on the front of the sports section of the Prophet today. It was so strange seeing your face there. I’m definitely thrilled you didn’t go play with Bastian.
Students have taken to walking with me to class to ask about you. About Puddlemere. They’re all really on board, which I’m happy for, but also nervous for. Doesn’t that put a lot of pressure on you? I’m sure they tell you guys not to let it impact your play. What do I know? I’m a reserve Seeker for a house team. The only pressure comes from the smart-mouthed third years when they find out I’m playing instead of superstar Ellis.
All my love,
I pulled my legs under me on the sofa in the common room, eyes focused on the fire. I tried to keep my mind away from this time last year. I was practicing non-stop after Oliver threatened to out me at try-outs. Did I miss that feeling? The adrenaline rush associated with the mixture of pure hatred and exhilaration? His smirk didn’t hurt matters, of course.
“Send Ollie a letter?” Lee asked, flopping down next to me. The twins sprawled out on the floor, George shoving Fred into the coffee table. “You didn’t let me sign it with my kisses.”
“Tell him about our flirting from the other day?” George offered.
“I described it in inappropriate detail,” I replied, shoving my feet onto Lee’s lap. “Where are the girls?”
“Probably waxing,” Fred said and then raised a brow at my look . “What? Isn’t that what girls do? Read trashy romance novels and wax? What do you wax anyway?”
“We practice on our legs so we can wax a boy’s chest hair off when he’s sleeping,” I replied, leaning back into the pillows.
“I’m wearing pants to bed.” Fred pulled his legs up to his chest.
“What do you usually wear?”
“Fred sleeps naked,” George commented. “Got really awkward when we switched beds the other day and Katie came in…”
“Consider me warned,” I said, grimacing. I opened my mouth to comment on how scarred Katie probably was when there was a tapping at the window. A tawny owl was outside with a thin envelope tied around its leg. I got up (accidentally kicking Lee in the thigh) and walked over, pulling open the window. To my surprise, the owl remained, holding its leg out to me.
You really have to stop being so negative. I’m in quite a predicament and I’m not even being that negative. Yes, I’m not there. Yes, Wood isn’t there. But you could be a lot more unfortunate. All of your best friends are there. So what they play on the team? You still get to be at the meetings and the practices. You see them all in the tower, in your dormitory, and in classes. Look at the big picture.
You’re a seventh year. This is your last year at Hogwarts. How are you going to spend it? I hope not moping about because your boy toy is a famous Quidditch rookie and you’re trying to pass Potions. Are you even taking that this year? NEWT level Potions is an absolute disaster.
I digress. You have an entire year before you have to go out into the real world and make a name for yourself. You can do anything with it. You’ve already got an internship (I think you’ll be fine, by the way) to get experience. Use the year how you want to use it. Because once you graduate you’ll have to work, make money, and join the grind. Well, depending on your job. Mine isn’t much of a grind, though it does make me sweat a lot.
Just use it wisely, Jane. If you don’t, you’ll regret having all the time and not using it properly.
My life? Lackluster. Madeline is seeing someone else. Mind putting in a good word with Libby for me? I’ve always wanted a maid. Only joking!
All my love,
I frowned, skimming the article a second time as I moved my feet back to Lee’s lap. “It’s from Roger,” I said softly.
“Is he coming back to Hogwarts because he secretly failed everything?” George asked. “I could see that.”
“He’s a Ravenclaw,” I commented, folding the paper and stuffing it into my pocket. “No, he’s just giving me a little advice.”
“On sex?” said Lee. “Jane, I can give you all the advice you need.”
“I am already trying not to throw up with the image of Katie finding Fred,” I replied. “I’d appreciate it if we didn’t go there, hmm? Why don’t you just give Fred some tips. When I’m not here.”
“What’s it about then?” He leaned over, fighting to grab it out of my pocket. I had to swat his hand away six times before he wrinkled his nose in frustration and abandoned the fight.
“Making the most of this year.” I looked down at the twins. “He’s right. I can’t just pine for Oliver and whine that you lot are on the Quidditch team and I’m not. I’ve got to make the most out of the year. I need to accomplish things since this is the last year I’m going to live in a castle in Scotland.”
“What kind of things?” George said, moving his legs across Fred’s stomach. “Like finding secret passageways? Camping out in the Room of Requirement?”
“I want to teach Fang to play fetch,” said Fred, laughing. "Or George."
“We should make a bucket list,” I said, turning the sheet of parchment over and grabbing a quill out of my bag. “Should we each make our own?”
“I don’t want shag on the Astronomy Tower on mine,” grumbled George, staring pointedly at Fred.
“We’ll each make our own,” I agreed.
The Bucket List: Jane Perry
Actually practice for at least half of the Quidditch practices
Do not storm out of a team meeting
Get an E on a Charms test
Get an O on anything in History of Magic (fat chance)
Go to five of Oliver’s games
Start a Hogwarts publication
Bake a pie
Learn to dive properly (without falling)
Solidify a career for after graduation
Decorate my graduation wizard cap
Write a letter to Mum
Find out what’s really in snickerdoodles
Get back at Libby
Read books not assigned for class. A lot.
DO NOT let Ellis get hexed.
Tell Oliver (frequently) I love him.
“Does snog a lot count?” Lee asked, looking up. We had been at it for about thirty minutes and the girls had come down from the dormitory (from waxing? Mystery.) and joined us. Alicia patted him on the head. “I’m putting it.”
“I’m putting fight the giant squid,” Fred said.
“You should put don’t knock anyone up,” Angelina mumbled, still scribbling.
“What’d you put then?” He peeked over at her paper. “Don’t get knocked up? Oh, I am so knocking you up now. Right now.”
She smacked him on the back of the head. “Quit being stupid. It’s relevant.” She looked at Katie. “Anyone else have something interesting?”
Katie shrugged. “I put start a charity.”
Yeah, mine were stupid now.
“For me!” cried George, engulfing her in a hug. “It’s called the George Weasley is a Git and he needs Snogs…charity.” He beamed. “I’d donate.”
“Me too,” I said, winking at him. Oddly, the same time Lee did.
“I put marry Mr. P,” Alicia said with a cheeky grin.
“Hmm,” Angelina said, biting her lip. “I have make Alicia the new Keeper down… that one can definitely come true tomorrow.”
Then Ang got a pillow to the head.
I looked through my list, going over each thing. I could add things as the year went on, but it looked solid. Not quite as solid as starting a charity, but I wasn’t exactly rolling in rubies. No, it was my seventh year and I was going to make the most of it.
I smirked, grabbing my quill and scratching: See Oliver without a shirt as much as possible.
The try-outs were more popular than I thought they would be. I was on the bench with the clipboard since Ang told me she wanted my opinion. At least it was nice outside.
The team was assembled a small distance away in their gear, the twins hitting each other in the bum with their brooms. Ang was instructing them. Ellis’ eyes were on the pitch for whatever reason, but I didn’t pretend to understand anything that went through his head.
I glanced over, hoping for a familiar face. Instead I met the smirky gob of Dylan Panther (known to his friends as the male form of a cougar) who was leaning against his Nimbus.
“Oy, Dylan,” I said, looking at him expectantly.
“Puddlemere’s doing well,” he said.
“Yes, they are.”
“I bet you’re proud of Wood,” he said.
“Yes, I am.” This kid was weird. His nose looked like someone had attempted to roll it and failed.
“Did you guys have some pregame rituals?” he asked. “I bet you shagged before his games, didn’t you?”
I looked over. “What?”
“That’s hot.” He had a wonky, lopsided grin. “We’re all Puddlemere fans.” He pointed at five or six people with him – a couple sixth years and a couple fourth years. “I bet you’re his good luck charm. Do you talk often?”
“Good luck charm? I’m here,” I said, gaping at him. “We talk often enough.”
His name was being called, but he didn’t move. “You should stick around, Perry. If I get this position I could use a cute charm like you.”
My eyes flashed. “Excuse me?”
“OY-PANTHER!” Fred cried. “Get your sorry ass in the air before I shove my foot so far—”
“Fred, that’s enough,” Angelina said simply. “Panther, now, or forfeit your slot.” Did she talk to Oliver on how to be in complete control of her facial expressions? It was mildly frightening.
“Thank about it, love.” Dylan shot me a cheeky wink and kicked off, soaring toward the hoops.
“Don’t worry about him,” Ellis said, sitting beside me and pulling off his gloves while the rest of the team (sans Ang) took to the air. “He’s a git.”
“Makes you look tame,” I noted.
He chuckled. “Everyone’s on board with Puddlemere this year. Wood’s quite the center of attention.”
“He’s used to it,” I said, watching Dylan Panther miss a shot by Alicia. Thank Merlin. “He had enough attention here to feed an enormous ego, which is what it has inflated into.” I shot him a look. “But don’t worry, Danny Boy. Nothing in comparison to yours.”
“Could you imagine him?” He nodded up to Dylan. “If he got Keeper? Bloody disaster.”
“Not enough room for two of you on a team,” I said, laughing. “All of his confidence fake?”
“Hasn’t even had a date,” Ellis said, smirking into the back of his hand. “Elizabeth told me he’s asked out all four of her roommates. Swears he’s getting some in Hogsmeade. With how he carries himself, I don’t think so. Still, the fourth years tend to worship him.”
He only missed one and sank back to the ground to scattered applause by the other candidates.
“So why hasn’t Libby dated him yet?” I asked, biting back another laugh.
“Only a matter of time, Perry.” He smiled. “I mean Jane.”
Of the twenty-two people trying out, Angelina told five to stay. Dylan Panther, some third year, some second year, a girl everyone called Ali Cat, and Theresa McCourt. The other Panther worshipers took to the stands.
“Are they the next Shriekers?” I asked Ellis.
He nodded. “Unfortunately,” he said. “The most unfortunate part is half of them are blokes that want his talent.” He scoffed. “And by talent I mean his ability to stop some of the Quaffles but not all.” He rolled his eyes at that, watching the second year take to the air. His expression remained neutral.
She missed two.
The third year missed one. He clapped Panther on the back on his way toward the rest of the group.
Ali Cat missed three and started sobbing.
Theresa McCourt missed one.
Ellis’ leg shifted uncomfortably when Dylan took to the hoops. Ang looked flustered, but I tried to concentrate on the sky.
It was difficult not seeing Oliver up there. He owned those hoops since I’d arrived at Hogwarts. He knew what he was doing. He knew which way to go. We should have had try-outs at the end of the previous year so Oliver could train them and then they could practice not sucking all summer.
Alicia’s lips were tight, Quaffle tucked under her arm.
Ellis’ leg was bouncing anxiously. My hands held the clipboard tight.
The Panther(ers?) were screaming beside us. Clearly they’d forgotten they were just cut. That had to be all of the third years, half the fourth, and two or three of the fifth. Uncalled for.
Alicia passed to Katie. Katie flew under Fred, who sent a Bludger straight at Panthers. Katie tossed it back to Alicia, who hit it toward the left hoop with her first.
Panther dodged the Bludger, dove, and saved the fifth Quaffle.
“Fuck,” breathed Ellis, raking his fingers through his hair. “This is bloody great.”
“Do you think he’ll throw a party for himself?” I asked.
“It’s probably already planned.”
“I’ve made a decision,” Angelina announced once Dylan’s feet hit the ground and he ran over to the crowd of people, giving them high fives.
“I’m the fucking best!” he shouted during this.
“Why did I even take notes?” I asked, crumpling up the paper. I could have been napping or something. Oh yeah. I had an article to write. Great. On Dylan Panther’s rise to the top. Photography welcome.
The five remaining students gathered around Angelina, who had moved to stand on the bench beside Ellis. The rest of the team was looking sour a meter or so away. The small crowd left was chanting “Panther, Panther, Panther!”
“I accept!” Dylan shouted, laughing. His cheeks were red.
Angelina shot him a look. And then the crowd. “I’m the Captain,” she said. “Speak when I’m speaking again and you’ll be doing laps for four days.”
“Get on with it,” Fred said impatiently.
“I’ve selected the Keeper for this school year,” Angelina said, looking down at her clipboard. “Theresa McCourt.”
“WHAT?” The crowd echoed. Dylan Panther echoed. Everyone’s brains echoed.
“Theresa McCourt,” Angelina repeated curtly. “Is the new Keeper for Gryffindor. Ali is the reserve.”
“WERE YOU NOT LOOKING!?” Dylan cried as Angelina stepped off the bench. “I SAVED ALL OF THEM.”
“Did you?” she said sarcastically.
“This is rigged!” he shouted. “She probably shagged her way to the top!”
“Step a little closer, Panther,” Fred said from Ang’s side. He held up his bat casually.
“You’ve got a nasty attitude,” Angelina said, her eyes narrowing. “That’s disease to a good team. I’ll work with both girls so they’re just as good as you in a couple weeks. They can get better at Quidditch. You can’t lose your disgusting arrogance.”
He gaped at her. “I know I’m good! Why shouldn’t I be confident?”
“Be confident,” Alicia said, shoving past him to link arms with Theresa. “Don’t be a bloody asshole.” She looked over.
Theresa smiled weakly, obviously shocked by the announcement. She was a tall girl with blond hair and a warm grin. “I don’t know what to say,” she said.
“You agree with me,” Alicia advised.
“That he’s an asshole?” Theresa’s eyes widened.
“Anything I say.” She smirked. “I’m beautiful.”
“You are!” Theresa said.
“I think we’ll get along just fine.” Alicia hooked her other arm to Ali Cat and tugged them toward the locker room. “You’re going to love this. All scarlet and gold. We’ve cleaned out Oliver’s old locker. Smelled a bit like man. Not that man smell is bad…”
Dylan shot Fred and angry look and stomped off toward his fan group, who were all muttering viciously about an inside job.
Ellis nudged my leg. “Good luck this year, Jane.”
“Do not end up in the hospital,” I shot back. “And I’ll have all the luck in the world.”
“How’d it go?”
Dad’s head was in the fire, hair ruffled and tossed since he was just about to go to bed.
“Theresa McCourt got it,” I said from a few meters away, blanket wrapped tight around my shoulders. “She missed one, but she’s adorable. She kept staring at her robes like she was shocked she got robes. Like we’d make her play in trainers and a sweatshirt.”
“Pretty unreal though,” Dad said. “To make it just like that. After Oliver had the position for so long. How about reserve?”
“Second year. Ali. Don’t know her last name but everyone calls her Ali Cat. She’s a tiny thing and really quiet. I think she said she was going to have to quit Transfiguration club. I’ve gone to this school for seven years and I didn’t know there was a club for Transfiguration. You’d think someone would have told me about that.” I shrugged. “She missed three out of five, though. Not sure what Ang is thinking on that, but I trust her.”
“I like that,” Dad said. “Too many times Captains select players just based off of how many they save at a try-out. All that shows is how you deal with nerves. You have to judge on so much more.”
“Like arrogance?” I laughed and told him about Dylan Panther.
“Sounds dreadful. He should really learn some respect. Especially for women.” He grinned at me. “Sounds like you aren’t doing too bad, though.”
“I’m not,” I said, shrugging a little. “This week has been great other than a few small things. I’m even getting along with Ellis, which obviously won’t last long, but it’s nice…for once. I can concentrate all of my irritation at Libby instead.”
“And Dylan, by the sounds of it.” Dad laughed. “Good, pumpkin. Just owl me if you need anything. Just make sure you’re having fun. It’s your last year.”
“So I’ve heard,” I said, smiling at him. “It’s going to be the best year.”
“That’s my girl. Oh, Puddlemere lost tonight,” he added. “I think Oliver needs a break. He’s not used to playing so often.”
“What do you mean? He’s been doing great.”
“He looked exhausted,” Dad explained. “Just too tired. They don’t play again until Tuesday so he should be okay. It wasn’t a pretty game.”
“Yeah, yeah, he’s fine. I’m sure he’s at home either sleeping or throwing things.” He shrugged. “Only just ended a half hour ago. You can read about it in the paper tomorrow.”
I nodded. “Love you,” I said, leaning toward the flames and kissing his cheek. “Night.”
“Night, pumpkin.” He grinned and was gone.
I took out my bucket list and headed down to the kitchens. It wasn’t brownies, but pie sounded delicious.
A/N: Two left. Ah, I'm so sad already! This is going to be difficult to get through. I won't be all nostalgic here though! I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter, especially Dylan Panthers. I'm pretty sure he goes by "The Panther" to the third years. Poor Ellis has to share a dorm with him. Did I just say poor Ellis? Wow!
I would also like to let anyone interested in my writing know that I have started another novel called Hormones, which is up now. It's a next generation Fred II/OC with a lot of humor & romance & plot and stuff. If you're interested, please check it out. :)
UP NEXT: A team meeting, a surprise, a date, and plenty of nostalgia.
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