Disclaimer: It's all Jo's.
Since I had skipped dinner the night which I started the rumour, I didn’t really get to witness the aftermath of my stupidity. And what with consequences being like that nagging ex who you just can’t seem to get rid of, of course my lovely breakfast with Dare had to be ruined by an onslaught of gossip hungry students.
I’ve lived through my fair share of ambushes, but this one definitely took the cake – with no one other than my beloved best friend at its helm.
My skin still prickles whenever I think about the murderous look she gave me once she finally reached us. I think what made this certain occasion worse than her previous blow-ups was the fact that she actually sounded hurt. That and all of the annoying third years that kept trying to put their noses into places where they didn’t belong. What did a bunch of thirteen year old Hufflepuffs care if Dare and I were dating or not?
Talk about a creepy lot.
Anyway, it was quite the scandal. And it didn’t help that when Nat had spotted us, Dare’s arm was still casually wrapped around my shoulders. I don’t really remember how it ended up there, but it turned out being the muse for the most creative string of swear words I’ve ever heard used in a single sentence.
Had to hand it to that best friend of mine – she sure had a way with words.
On top of that we also had the Andies squealing like a bunch of giddy pigs, Professor Flitwick squeaking at us to settle down, catcalls coming from all four corners of the earth, and you basically got chaos in its purest form.
It took us about an hour to explain everything and clear up all the rumours.
The hardest part was getting Nat to accept everything. Being the irrational woman that she was, she wouldn’t just go and accept either of our apologies right away. To make a long story short, I was basically given two options of how I could make it all up to her: either allow her to give me a total makeover or try out for the Quidditch team.
Fast forward two weeks and you’ll find me standing on the pitch at 6:30 in the morning, silently cursing myself for having got into this mess in the first place.
I could feel the bones in my back pop as I twisted around my waist, trying to warm myself up before the try outs started. I was about as stiff as my Uncle Percy in a night club but I think it was mainly due to the nerves. As much as I loved Quidditch, it’s been a really long time since I played in front of a group of people that wasn’t just my family.
Granted, my cousins were like half of the house, but they really only filled up like half a row in the stands. It didn’t make up for the other, twenty something rows that were filled to the brim with chattering students.
Practically the entire tower had shown up for the try outs. The majority of them were only there to either support their friends that were actually trying out, or get a front row seat to all of the drama that was bound to go down. This was Quidditch we were talking about. There was no chance any one was going to miss out on fresh gossip, even if it meant having to sit in the stands since six in the morning.
On a Saturday.
You can always count on Gryffindor to not disappoint.
As for all of us who actually came to participate, it was also a pretty good turnout. Out of my family, only Lily decided to give it a go. She was jogging around the pitch with two other kids from her year. I think one of them was Eli’s little sister, who I also think was her best friend. The boy I had no idea. Nor did I really care. Even though there were a ton of third and fourth years trying out, I doubted any of them would actually make the team. The only one who actually stood a chance was Lily and well, that was for obvious reasons.
Hugo was also going to try out, but he broke his arm a few days ago after tripping down a flight of stairs, so he was stuck on the stands with his sister, the twins, and Albus – who even though wasn’t a Gryffindor, still showed up to support his siblings like the good brother he was .
It was better that Hugo didn’t try out, though. Poor thing probably wouldn’t have been able to handle the rejection of not making the team.
Anyway, I don’t know why so many people showed up, since there were really only two open positions. Yeah, technically Nat had to say that just because someone had made the team last year didn’t guarantee their spot this year. But the chances of a former member not making the team again were slim to none.
I would say that out of the twenty something that showed up, only like, five really stood a chance. They did have dedication though, considering they all showed up at such an ungodly hour of the morning and were actually warming up. It was more than what I could say for Freddy.
Having been on the team since his second year, he was a little too overly confident. Yes he’s been out here since six like the rest of us. But instead of taking the time to warm up, he’s been too busy flirting up a storm with some of the girls from his year.
Then you’ve got Dare on the other hand, who’s been jogging the pitch every morning this week. But what else did you expect from such an over achiever?
I made my way towards the nerd, who was currently chatting with Davie Fields – the fifth year prefect that was also one of the few that I could actually see Nat putting on the team. They both greeted me with warm smiles, though only Dare gave me a hug.
Ever since he rescued me from my detention, our relationship has improved quite impressively.
“Ready for tryouts?” he asked, letting his arm rest around my shoulders. It’s become a bit of a habit for him this past week.
“If you mean two whole hours of legalized torture a la Natalie Wood, then no, I don’t think I’ll ever be ready for that.”
“Yeah, I’m so glad Nat wasn’t captain back when I tried out for the team. I don’t think I would’ve made the cut, to be honest.”
At his comment, I had to bite my tongue.
He may not have remembered, but when he first tried out was also my first – and last, until now – time trying out for the team. It was also the day that has been forever dubbed in my memory as the Great Quidditch Incident of 2017. Or in other words, the day that I swore to hate Dare for forever and always.
It all started when the four of us –James, Dare, Nat and I – made the decision to try out for the team back in third year. Well, due to some poor communication skills and a misleading announcement, instead of going for the Chaser position like we had planned, Dare somehow ended up in the same line that I was in – the Seekers.
That might not have been such a problem had Dare not push me off my broom when I was just a finger tip’s reach away from catching the Snitch. Yeah, you can imagine how livid my thirteen year old self was when, after resurfacing from my impromptu nose dive into the Black Lake, I caught sight of the prick holding that little gold ball with a look of triumph on his face. And thus my hatred for him was born.
None of my friends believed me when I told them Dare had cheated, which I think added to my bitterness. They said I was just being a sore loser and maybe I was, but I knew what I saw. My cousin Roxy had offered me a spot on the reserve team but my pride didn’t allow me to accept.
Anyway, it was all water under the bridge now.
I mean, we’ve made so much progress and it really wasn’t fair of me to hold something he did when he was thirteen against him. Especially since he apparently had no recollection of the event.
“But I’m sure you’ll do great, Min,” he added in a rushed, worried tone, making me realize that I had gone stiff at the memory. “You’re a much better flyer than I am and Nat knows that. There’s no way you’re not going to make it onto the team.”
“Thanks,” I said, not helping but smile.
See what I mean by all of the progress we’ve made? The old Dare would have never in a million years admitted that I was better than him at something. Not to mention, the way those eyes got all filled with worry when he noticed my discomfort. Granted, he was the one who had caused it.
It was like trying to hold a grudge against a puppy.
So how come Brain isn’t here? Is she not going to try out?” I asked, noticing the absence of my friend. Like her brother, she also had been jogging every morning and it wasn’t like her to miss out on such an important event.
“She had a thing for her Herbology class,” Dare answered. “I think they were going to plant some kind of herb that can only be planted at sunrise. I know she spoke to Nat about it and got permission to miss out. What I don’t know is if that means Nat’s going to let her try out separately or save her spot on the team. But she didn’t seem all that worried, so I’m guessing everything will work out.”
“Then how come you’re not there?” I looked over at the fifteen year old who as far as I knew, was in the exact same class as Brain.
“Professor Longbottom only picked the top student from each house,” Davie replied. “And well, there’s not really any competing when it comes to Brain.”
He had a point.
It also explained why Rose was looking especially bitter over there on the stands. It must have been killing her to know that she wasn’t considered the top of her house. Though I didn’t really see what the big deal was. The only thing being top of your class meant was more homework. Seriously, someone had to teach these professors what the word ‘reward’ actually meant.
“EVERYONE WHO IS HERE FOR TRY OUTS I WANT YOU ON CENTRE PITCH NOW!”
Nat’s ear-bursting yell tore through the air, bringing me back to reality. All chatter had ceased at the sound of her voice and everyone scrambled towards the pitch, lining up so that they’d be facing her. James stood at her right-hand side, arms crossed and face stern, like the good co-captain that he was. I made my way over so that I was standing between Dare and a trembling third year who was probably regretting having shown up.
“To start, I’m going to announce right off the bat that anyone who came today with a specific position in mind can kiss that idea goodbye. All positions are up for grabs, including those who were on the team last year. I don’t care if your Daddy has told you you’d be a great Chaser all your life. I’m captain, and that means I’ll be the one deciding what position you will fit best.”
I felt Dare stiffen up at the announcement and I could see from the corner of my eye that he was clenching his jaw ridiculously tight.
“She’s probably only saying that for protocol,” I muttered to him, afraid that his jaw might snap.
“Yeah, probably.” He didn’t sound all that convinced, but at least he relaxed a bit and offered me a small smile.
“Obviously, the Beater positions are not open since James and I are the only ones who already have secured spots on the team.” She smirked a little at this. “However, we are also looking for reserve players, so that means there are twelve positions open all together. And since there are about twenty five of you here, that means half of you are going to be cut. So let’s get started shall we?”
“YOU PATHETIC LOT CALL THAT RUNNING?! MY NAN RUNS FASTER THAN ALL OF YOU AND SHE’S HALF DEAD!”
It’s only been about an hour into the trials and I’ve already died and been brought back to life about five times. I stopped feeling my calves about halfway through and I’m pretty sure my left lung exploded fifteen minutes ago. Not to mention, I was practically swimming in my own sweat.
“GET THOSE KNEES UP! COME ON!”
Surprisingly enough though, I actually wasn’t doing half bad. You know, asides from the fact that I’m probably going to have to be levitated into the Hospital Wing by the time this torture is over. But there were only three fifth years, my cousin Lily, and Dare, that were ahead of me. And considering how I was expecting to be in dead last, I’d say that it was going rather well.
“LET’S GO, LET’S GO, LET’S GO!!!”
Nat had decided to start the tryouts off with ‘a bit of cardio’ – as she put it – to not only get us warmed up, but also to weed out all of those whose conditioning wasn’t up to par with her standards. So far we’ve had to run around the pitch ten times, do a series of abdominals for ten minutes without stop, jumping stars for another ten, as well as press ups, and now we were running up and down the stands. Thankfully, this was the final drill of the cardio segment. However, she also didn’t give us a specific limit, so we basically had to hang in there until she’d had enough.
“OKAY ENOUGH OF THAT!” Nat blew her whistle, signalling the end of the drill.
I don’t know how, but I actually made it to the top of the stands. Granted I was the last one to make it, but it was better than the other seven who either fainted or fell just a few steps short before the whistle blew.
We all collapsed onto the seats, chests burning as we waited for Nat and James to finish scribbling on their clipboards. My head was pounding and my vision was clouded with bright green and white spots, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t normal.
“Alright, it’s time for the first cuts!” Nat announced happily. “All of you who made it to the top stand, congratulations! You will be continuing on towards the next round. As for the rest of you, thanks for showing up but you have officially been eliminated! If those that are conscious could please levitate your weaker friends to the Hospital Wing so that we may continue, it would be much appreciated.”
There were quite a bit of tears shed as the majority of the third and fourth years limped (or were levitated) off the pitch and collected their belongings.
“And that leaves us with eighteen! I’m surprised so many of you were able to survive this first half, but don’t celebrate just yet. What you just experienced was probably the most excruciating part physically speaking, but now it’s time to see if your skills match your conditioning. James, if you’d do us the honour of explaining what to expect during the last half of tryouts?”
“Gladly!” James exclaimed, his grin as wide as it was on Christmas morning. There was a wicked glint in his eye, one I was all too familiar with. It was the one he always had right before we were about to go through with an exceptionally devious prank. It was the one that usually would have first years running to take cover.
It was the glint that spelt trouble.
“Who’s ready to have a little bit of fun?”
Well, Nat was right about one thing – this last half of tryouts was nowhere near as painful as the first part. It didn’t make it any less draining, though.
I think for what the drills lacked in pain, she made up for in excess.
It wouldn’t have been hard to lose count of all the different routines she had us go through. However, since she would cut a person after each one, it made it a little easier to keep track. So far we’ve had to throw a Quaffle as far as humanly possible, dodge a swarm of rogue Bludgers, try not to get hit in the face while simultaneously having to defend the hoops, fly laps around the pitch blindfolded, race from one end of the pitch to the other on multiple occasions, before finally ending with a scrimmage.
It has possibly been the most exhausting hour of my life, and that’s including when I had to take the OWLS back in fifth year.
I had to hand it to Nat, though. She really knew how to squeeze every last ounce of energy from a person.
“Whew! What a day!” she stated, wiping some sweat off her brow. “I don’t know about you lot, but I sure am beat.”
How? How could she possibly be tired from just standing around and yelling at us? She literally just watched us fly around the entire time, scribbling a few things onto her clipboard every now and then.
“Anyway, well done everyone! I’m sure I speak for the both of us when I say that you all put up an excellent fight, am I right James?”
He nodded. “Definitely. We could see you lot really gave it your all which is exactly the type of dedication we want to see on this team. It’s been a long two hours but the hour of judgement has finally arrived.”
“Exactly,” Nat continued. “Twenty five started with us today and now we have twelve sweaty, exhausted kids who stand before us. As you heard at the start of the tryouts, this was the number of open positions on the team. However, after some careful consideration, we have decided that we are only going to keep eight of you.”
There was an outburst of protests, but Nat ignored them and continued on with her ridiculously melodramatic monologue.
“In my hand, I have the names of those eight who will go on to be either official or reserve members of Gryffindor’s Quidditch team. When I call your name, please come take your stand up here next to James. The names I do not call, must pack their brooms immediately and leave the pitch.”
She paused for dramatic effect.
“First on the team – Lily Potter.” My cousin squealed at the news, earning herself a warm smile from both captains. “Congratulations, you are officially a starting Gryffindor Chaser.”
“The next two names I will call are also going to be starting Chasers,” she continued. “Freddy Weasley and Davie Fields.”
Loud whoops and clapping filled the air as the two high fived each other, before going to take their place next to Lily.
“The next two names are not going to be starting players, but rather the two reserve Beaters. Since both James and I are leaving at the end of this school year, our hope is that after this year of being on reserve, you two will learn and acquire the skills necessary to take our places.”
Wow, that was actually pretty smart thinking of them.
Nat and James probably went down as one of Gryffindor’s best Beater duo and so whoever was going to take their places had some pretty big shoes to fill. By training their potential successors, they could ensure that the team’s success stayed alive.
“Robbie Thomas and Jillian McLaggen, congratulations for making the reserve team.”
Yeah, so that strategy was going great until they decided to give the spots to two third years.
An audible gasp broke out amongst us, no one being able to believe that those two skinny twigs were now going to be whacking around Bludgers all year long. They both seemed shocked at the news as well and looked at their new captain as if she were insane.
“How the bollocks do you expect me to be a Beater?” Jillian exclaimed, her eyes terrified. “I’m a girl!”
“And what does that have to do with anything?” Nat replied, staring her down. “Just because the position has traditionally gone to males, it does not mean we are any less capable of doing the same job. I was also a third year when I made the team and we’ve been unstoppable ever since.”
Always the modest one, that best friend of mine.
“Nat’s right,” James added. “You’ve got quite an arm there, Jillian, and I know that with some training and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to bat a Bludger just as hard as anyone of us.”
She still didn’t look all that convinced, but after one more defying glare from Nat, she nodded her head and accepted her fate. It also helped that the crowd was going wild over by the stands. Eli was jumping up and down and shouting all sorts of praises at his little sister, giving her the confidence boost she needed to go take her place by her new teammates.
“Oscar Jordan,” Nat announced, once everyone had settled down. “Congratulations, you are officially Gryffindor’s starting Keeper.”
How could he be Keeper when that was Brain’s position? How could they give her spot away like that?
Nat caught my eye, and upon seeing the outraged expression on my face, she shot me a quick ‘I’ll explain later’ look.
Oh she better explain! That was totally unfair to give away Brain’s spot when she knew she couldn’t make it due to school work. What kind of friend was she?
“Right now I only have two names left on my list, yet there are still six of you here. So to make things short, I’m just going to go ahead and say that those two names are Dare and Minnie. All the rest of you can leave.”
Holy Voldemort, I actually made the team?
Once the cries of injustice and whiny protests ended, and the four unlucky souls followed the instructions of immediately leaving the pitch, Nat turned to us with the most mischievous smirk I’ve ever seen to grace that pretty face.
This couldn’t be good.
“There’s only one starting position left,” she said, getting all dramatic again. “One of you that stand before me is going to be Gryffindor’s Seeker. The other earned a spot as a reserve Chaser. You both did excellent jobs but only one of you proved that they have what it takes to be on top.”
“Just cut with the overdramatic crap already, Nat, and tell us who’s going to be Seeker!” Dare exclaimed, testier than usual.
For the love of Grindewald, I really hope I got reserve.
There was no way I could steal Dare’s spot as Seeker – not after he’s had it for the last four years! I mean, yeah, technically he did kind of steal it from me back in third year. But I’ve finally gotten over that!
Besides, I just knew if things don’t turn out the way he wants them to, we’re going to be taking a huge step back in this whole friendship thing we’ve got going on. I mean, the levels of hostility he was expressing right now with just the risk of losing being Seeker was already too much for me to handle.
“Merlin, you take the fun out of everything!” Nat pouted. “But fine, have it your way. Congrats Minnie, you’re the new Seeker. Dare you’re on reserve. Happy?”
Oh bloody hell.
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR DAMN MIND?!” I roared, once Nat and I were safe within the privacy of our dormitory. “How on earth could you make me Seeker?!”
I was absolutely livid.
How, how could Nat do this to me? I mean, just the look on Dare’s face when she announced her little plot twist was enough to have me feeling guilty for decades.
He had basically turned into a human gargoyle! His eyes had just completely hardened and it was like his soul had turned to stone. Not a single word left his mouth and after what were a few blinks of shock, he just silently stalked off the pitch. James sort of went running after him, after having dismissed the team.
Even though Dare wasn’t one to have a flair for dramatics, his reaction was probably the closest thing to a scene that he’ll ever cause.
“I made you Seeker because it’s what was best for the team!” Nat replied, equally as intense.
The entire walk back to our dorm she had ignored my demands for an explanation, her attitude firm and unrelenting. I guess she didn’t want to make a huge show in public because the moment we were alone, she let it all unleash.
“Bollocks,” I cried. “Dare’s been on the team for the last four years!”
“Yeah, and that was a mistake!” she shouted. “He’s completely predictable, which is the last thing I need from a Seeker. You on the other hand, you completely earned the position. Why can’t you just accept that you’re the better choice?!”
“Because it’s not right!”
“No, what would have not been right would have been giving the spot to Dare just because he’s had it forever,” she explained, her tone firm. “Look, he’s good, but he’s always been better suited as a Chaser. It’s not my fault that Roxy never saw that and had him continue doing a half-arsed job these last four years.”
“You’re a heartless wench, you know that?”
“If that’s what putting the best interests of the team makes me, then so be it.”
“Oh enough with this whole ‘best for the team’ rubbish!”
“It’s the truth!” she cried. “You know how much being captain means to me! I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. I need to leave behind a legacy, Minnie. That’s what Woods do – we create legacies.”
She paused, eyes closed as she took a seat on her bed. A defeated sigh came out of her, before looking back up at me.
“Why do you think I chose younger players for the team?” she asked, her tone much calmer now and with a hint of sadness. “It would’ve been so much easier to just pick the sixth years that already have the skills, but it would’ve all ended by next year. I need players who can keep it going for three, four years! Because let’s face it – one year is not enough time for a legacy. I needed to think about the future, Minnie. And if that meant sacrificing a year to ensure the team’s success for the years to come, then that’s what I have to do.”
I let out a breath, guilt creeping in at the sight of my best friend’s solemn attitude. I took a seat next to her, my voice softer now as well. “Okay, I get it. But I’m leaving this year too, Nat. What good does it do having me on the team?”
At my question, she let out a small smile. “You’re on the team because you’re a bloody brilliant Seeker. And no one on that pitch had what it took to do a better job.”
My cheeks flushed at the compliment. “And what’s going to happen next year?”
Nat smirked. “That’s why I made Brain your reserve.”
How did that make any sense?
Seeing the confused look on my face, Nat let out a laugh and began to explain. “The reason Brain didn’t stay on as Keeper is because she asked for a break. With OWLS this year, she wants as much time as she can to dedicate to her studies. However, we talked about it for a while and decided that if she feels like she can handle it, next year she’s going to try out as Seeker. She’s got the build and has seen Dare play it for years. Plus as your reserve, you’re going to help train her so that next year she’ll be ready to take your place.”
“You really think of everything, don’t you?”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
I shook my head. “All this doesn’t erase the fact that Dare is going to hate me.”
“Oh don’t be ridiculous, Dare doesn’t hate you. If anything, he’ll hate me and James for a while. But you? He hasn’t hated you since fourth year and I highly doubt he’ll be starting that nonsense up again.”
Alright, now what was she smoking?
“I mean, yeah he’s probably going to be a little miffed for a while, but he’s much too in love with you to backtrack now.”
I nearly choked on my own spit.
“Don’t act like you haven’t noticed, Minnie!” she exclaimed, laughing now. “He’s been practically attached at your hip these last two weeks, and the way he just ogles after you. Really, I’m surprised you haven’t realised this earlier.”
“We’re friends!” I replied, my mind completely baffled at the suggestion she was making. “And he doesn’t ogle after me. We just finally figured out how to get along is all, and you lot aren’t used to seeing that.”
“Uh huh, friends. Because of the bet, right?”
“Exactly. It’s all because of the bet.”
“As it turns out, thanks to that little bet that you’ve been so diligent in trying to win, Dare has finally been able to get on your good side. As soon as his little tiff about you beating him out for the Seeker position is over, I’m pretty sure he’ll be confessing his love towards you.”
Dear Merlin, I think I’m going to be sick! This couldn’t be possible.
How have I not noticed before?!
“Are you telling me that this whole bet was just a plot you came up with so that the two of us would end up together?”
“As far as Freddy and I go, yes, that’s exactly what it was.” She didn’t even seem ashamed at admitting it. “James on the other hand, is a little blinder to these things. He just wanted you two to stop going at each others’ throats every five seconds.”
Well that settled it. There was no way I could let this happen. Things were already complicated enough – adding ‘love’ to the mix would just create chaos. With the decision made in my mind, I hopped off the bed and made my way towards the door.
“Where are you going?” Nat asked, startled by my sudden actions.
“To find Freddy,” I replied, stepping out onto the staircase. “The bet’s off.”
Gryffindor Team Members:
Oscar Jordan - Jason Castro
Lily Potter - Bella Thorne
Davie Fields - Louis Tomlinson
Robbie Thomas - Jayden Smith
Jillian McLaggen - Chole Grace Moretz
***Title credit goes to the Arctic Monkeys - it's a line from their song Teddy Picker. Credit for Nat's melodramatic monologue gos to the lovely Tyra Banks/my favorite guilty pleasure, America's Next Top Model.
A/N: *slowly comes out from underneath a rock* Heeeeeeeeeeeey, guys. Long time no update. Anyway, it's been a pretty crazy two years for me, hence the lack of chapters. Lots of stuff going on in my life. But I'm back now and that's what counts!
I'm not going to promise when the next chapter will be up because let's face it. I never keep my promises. However, I hope you all enjoyed this one! Lots of stuff packed in here - you can consider it as a make-up gift for taking forever to update. It was a little hard getting back into the swing of things after taking such a long hiatus, so if it feels a little different from the other chapters, that's why. Feel free to leave a review!
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