Beautiful chapter image by moonbaby11@TDA
A.N.: Hey guys! This is finally edited and everything! Big shoutout to my wonderful Beta banshee/Julie who has done so much not only for this story but also for HPFF. Thanks you so much Julie! Also here's a note: if a character is introduced with their last name, it's usually because they are a new character. Also also, because it's edited, it's time for reviews! :D
I fidgeted in the red uniform as we all waited in the Minxes changing room. Bridgett already showed us exactly which plays we should use and which plays we shouldn’t, based on what tactics the Broadmoor Bears were using in their own practices. Heather had just left us after an especially peppy pep talk. She somehow managed to also make it extremely threatening. It seemed that her bubbly personality and need to be optimistic were being overpowered by her desire to be a good coach.
There were butterflies in my stomach and sweat was beading at the base of my neck as the seconds ticked closer to the match. Ever since Jessica announced that I was the last First String Chaser for the Minxes, I’d noticed the Second Stringers from each team whispering whenever I passed them. Roseann, the sweetheart that she is, always managed to sit with me at the Canteen and always had something to distract me with.
But even so, I found out what they were muttering about. Jessica was the most vocal, going so far as to discuss it in the changing room while both teams were there, her lowered voice still carrying around the room, intentionally I’m sure. The first time I’d heard her whispering with Kate and Savannah Cochran, our Second String Beaters, and Eleanor.
“Of course they’d put her on First String,” she’d seethed, and in the corner of my eye I saw her shoot me a dirty look. “If my last name was Weasley they’d have put me on as well.”
Almost immediately, Ava appeared next to me, wondering if I wanted to grab lunch with her, Juliette and Brooke at the Canteen, forced smiles on both of their faces. But even in the Canteen, I could feel the stares and hear the murmurs. Brooke had talked to Joseph and recruited the boys to distract me as well. As thankful as I was, I just wanted the attention off of me. Which was why I got ready a half hour before the rest of the girls – I’d escaped to the pitch immediately after an early breakfast to get away from Jessica’s glares.
But now that I was sitting here, the other girls milling around me, I wished I had something to preoccupy myself with. Juliette was tying up her boots beside me when there was a knock on the door. The seven of us exchanged glances before Cheri got up and opened it. She seemed to hesitate for a moment and when she moved to the side, I saw Cedric was standing there, a agrin on his face.
“Can I have a chat with Molly?” he asked.
Cheri turned and winked at me, and Juliette giggled quietly. I shot them both glares as I got up and followed him out the door, my broom in hand. He smiled then leaned against the stone wall as I eyed him warily.
“Heard you were nervous,” he teased lightly, raising an eyebrow as I closed the door behind me. “Would that be related to the murmurs and whispers that have been going around?” His voice suddenly got serious and I cast my eyes downwards to avoid looking at him.
“Do you think it’s true?” I asked meekly. He crossed his arms but stayed silent. “Do you think that maybe I’m only here because of my last name?”
He scoffed. “Ignore them, Molly.” I watched as a small smile started to form. “If you repeat this to anyone I’ll deny it forever – my father saw our final last year and told me afterwards that Gryffindor didn’t deserve to win. You outshined every single player on that pitch and made me look like a fool more than just a few times. He’s here today because Puddlemere’s already scouting for next year and I told him you were playing today. You belong here because you’re one of the best. I don’t think there’s anyone here who could possibly beat you; except maybe Reid on his best day.”
I felt my cheeks flush as I looked down at the ground. Was Mr. Wood actually here today to see me in action? “And you, right?”
He grinned and clapped me on the back. “Sure, but I thought that was already established.”
I laughed, feeling my spirits rise with every word he spoke. “How do you know Reid anyways?” I asked, switching my broom from my right hand to my left.
“His mother and my mum are old friends,” he answered, crossing his arms over his chest. “He was home schooled so whenever his parents could, they brought him over so he could make a friend. And, Joseph practically lived with me the summer after third year, so we all got really close.”
“Big coincidence you all ended up here,” I observed, raising an eyebrow.
He chuckled and nodded. “Whenever we’re together we usually end up practicing. We just work really well together. Guess that’s why we’re all on First String.”
I looked over at him with faked astonishment. “An even bigger coincidence,” I said theatrically.
“The match is about to start soon and my dad’s probably wondering where I am,” he said, looking down at his watch. “I’m going to go back to my seat, but, Weasley?” I tried to frown at the use of my last name but his easy smile made it hard to. “Give ‘em hell.”
Minh Nielson, the Keeper for the Broadmoor Bears, was devilishly good. An hour into the game, Ava, Juliette and I had only got three goals past him.. We were still ahead of them by ten points, but with him at the hoops I severely doubted we would keep that lead. Everyone was getting tired, and I had no doubt that Heather was screaming at Roseann from the ground, demanding that the game be brought to a close.
Victoire Auch and Quentin McNeil, two of their Chasers, were currently whipping down the pitch as Ava and Juliette followed. I trailed after Laurette Boissieu, the last Bear Chaser, as she meandered around mid-pitch. Like a football defender, prepared if her team couldn’t make the shot.
Thinking of football made me think of Mum momentarily, but I pushed those thoughts aside to focus on the game. I felt my stomach turn as Victoire dodged around a Bludger sent her way by Brooke. She took aim, and her shot whistled through the air and past the outstretched hands of Cheri.
“And the Bears tie this riveting game up. Thirty to thirty after over an hour and it seems as though the Seekers are nowhere near spotting the Snitch,” came the voice of Terry Gray, the strategist for the Powerhouses and our announcer for this match.
I groaned as the cheers from the Bears echoed throughout the pitch, but Juliette quickly grabbed the Quaffle and away she went, Ava close behind. I circled away from Laurette in a flash, slipping through any kind of defense pretense she was trying to keep. I dodged a well-aimed Bludger from Travis McIntosh and another from Scott Coffey, and Juliette, Ava, and I streaked down the pitch. I caught the Quaffle one-handed after an easy throw from Juliette, then dropped it to Ava as she ducked underneath me – an amateur version of the Porskoff Ploy that Bridgett and Heather had been teaching us in practice. Then, I raced off in the direction of the hoops, wondering for a second if perhaps Cedric’s dad would be impressed with us.
“I’m open Juliette, I’m open!” I screamed, knowing full well that both of my teammates would understand the hint I was giving them.
I raced towards Minh, drawing his attention towards me instead of the other two, then at the last moment I turned straight up and rocketed away. A second later I turned to see Ava, streaking towards the hoops, her right arm poised to throw the Quaffle. She swung her arm out as though she was about to shoot, but let the red leather ball slip through her fingers and fall away, only to be caught fractions of a second later by Juliette, who had been tailing her the whole way. Minh faltered for a second, but that was all it took for Juliette to shoot, her aim true as it sailed into the left-most hoop.
Terry’s voice boomed out again. “And the Minxes are not going to take that lying down. With a Reverse Pass from McKnight, it seems as though the game just picked up with an amazing goal by Michaud.”
I saw Victoire scoop up the Quaffle with ease, tucking it under one arm as she zipped back down the length of the field. I raced after her, the rest of the field becoming a blur. It was almost too easy to snatch the Quaffle from her, as I dived underneath her and barrel rolled, kicking up only just enough to knock the Quaffle from her grasp. She looked down at me in surprise and I grinned cheekily as I sped off. I banked at our end of the pitch, waiting for Juliette and Ava to pull back, while Cheri yelled at me from in front of the hoops.
“You’re not going to be able to get past Minh – not without forfeiting any points on our end. It takes three of you to get past him, which leaves the rest of the pitch unmanned,” she shouted over her shoulder. “Brooke and Anabelle can’t stall them enough on their own, so start acting like a team and work with each other.”
I nodded as I watched the rest of the players on the pitch fall into place. Brooke was hovering near enough to the hoops that she had to have heard, so as Victoire made her way towards us, I flew over to her.
“Keep her off my tail as long as you can – and get Anabelle on the opposite end so we can distract the Keeper,” I demanded before rushing off.
The crack of a Bludger against a bat told me that she had responded, but I didn’t wait to see if it would hit its mark. I caught Juliette’s gaze and threw the Quaffle with as much strength as I could, about thirty feet forward, into her outstretched hands. She went only a few feet forward before a Bludger whistled through the air on her tail. Ava screamed a warning and Juliette leaned forward, gaining speed as she flew past the stands. I watched in horror as it crept closer to the edge of her broom as she got closer and closer to the edge of the pitch. Suddenly, there was a streak of red and a harsh crack, and the Bludger was redirected towards the Beater who aimed it at Juliette in the first place.
Anabelle’s face remained fierce in concentration as she was flying back up, her eyes darting around the pitch. Meanwhile, Juliette swung around the hoops and fired from the back end, but Minh was there to stop it. He passed the Quaffle off to Quentin but almost as soon as the ball was in his hands, Anabelle’s expertly hit Bludger startled him into dropping it into Ava’s waiting hands. She performed a flawless Finbourgh Flick, the sound of her broom hitting the Quaffle music to my ears.
“And another beautiful save by Minh!” Terry yelled, his voice full of excitement. “It seems as if the Minxes might not be able to get another one by him anytime soon.”
Victoire grabbed the Quaffle and she and Laurette passed back and forth as they flew down the field. Juliette and I flew beside them, attempting to check but unable to get around them. I heard Ava scream my name, and I felt the tail of my broom shift downwards. The unmistakable crunch of a Bludger against a broom resounded a second time as I flipped through the air, Victoire’s yelp of surprise telling me that she had been hit too. The ground was firm yet soft as I landed and a second later I felt something land on me and then heard a hurried sorry as Victoire rolled off.
“Sorry about that,” she frowned, holding out her hand and pulling me into a standing position.
I reached down and grabbed what must’ve been her broom. “No worries. Can’t always land on your feet, can you?” I handed her the broom then picked up mine a few feet away.
“Watch your Keeper – she leans slightly to the side she plans on covering. Good luck.” She grinned at me before taking off.
I chuckled to myself and followed suit, thinking that after all of this was over, I’d need to make an effort to get to know this Victoire Auch a little better.
Heather had called a time-out at the hour and a half mark – there were no captains as coaches, trainers, and strategists took on all of those responsibilities – and we’d listened to very upbeat constructive criticism on how we were playing. Cheri stopped leaning to the side she was planning to cover after I pointed out what Victorie told me. Brooke and Anabelle asked us to start bringing the play either higher or lower as we were on the same level as the spectators and they didn’t want to draw a penalty by accidentally smashing a Bludger into the stands, and the last half hour we had been playing magnificently – but so had the Bears.
Another thirty minutes later, two hours in, and they’d brought the score up to fifty to thirty, and we weren’t anywhere close to catching up. Minh managed to stop every single attempt on the hoops, and the Bears’ Chasers were learning our patterns and figuring out ways to get around us. Even their Beaters seemed to sense where we were going; we had to duck every minute to avoid injury. At least that was mutual; Brooke and Anabelle were on fire, pulling out every single trick in the book, and there were more than a few moments where I thanked my lucky stars they were playing with me and not against me.
Terry’s voice grew hoarse as every play seemed like it was going to culminate in a goal before one of the Keepers would make a miraculous save, and then the cycle continued. I could tell that the crowd was getting restless, their cheers quieter and less frequent than the start of the game. The energy of the pitch was lethargic as we continued to go through the movements.
Juliette had just taken a shot on the Bears’ hoops – which Minh had just saved – when out of the corner of my eye I saw a commotion at our end of the pitch.
“And it looks like the Seekers have caught sight of the Snitch!” Terry screamed into the microphone. “Roseann Short and Andrew Delacruz are neck and neck as it seems like this intense match is coming to a close!”
I felt chills down my spine as the entire pitch went silent, save for Terry’s gasps and hisses as the two Seekers battled it out in the race to the Snitch. For a moment we were all frozen, everyone’s eyes glued to what we hoped would be the very last play of the match.
All of a sudden Minh threw the Quaffle to Victoire and spurred everyone else into action. Victoire passed it off to Laurette who attempted to Reverse Pass it to Quentin, but Anabelle swiftly knocked a Bludger their way, knocking the Quaffle off course and into the waiting hands of Ava.
And then we were off, the Bears’ Chasers behind us and only Minh in between us and the hoops. The three of us passed the Quaffle between us , diving and soaring through the air in an attempt to confuse Minh before we were able to shoot. As we got close to the hoops I heard Terry’s excitement grow and I knew there was only one way to finish this game properly if I had any hope of impressing Mr. Wood.
I brought my left foot up on the back of my broom and then my right foot near the front, balancing on the broom as I slowly stood up. Juliette hesitated for a moment before throwing the Quaffle my way. I wobbled a bit as I caught it, the added force from the toss putting me off balance for a second, but then quickly regained my balance and coaxed the broom forward, the wind rushing past me. Minh balked as he saw me approaching, which was just what I had intended.
I feigned left and as soon as his body moved an inch in that direction I leapt off the broom and into the air, angled towards the rightmost hoop. I threw the Quaffle with all my might towards the goal post, my stomach in knots as I began to fall back towards the ground. Without a second thought I grabbed my wand from it’s holster on my left arm and summoned my broom, not daring to take my eyes away from the Quaffle and Minh – who had realized my intentions and was now reaching with all his might, trying to stop this last goal.
“AND ANDREW DELACRUZ HAS CAUGHT THE SNITCH, SECONDS AFTER A BEAUTIFUL CHELMONDISTON CHARGE FROM MOLLY WEASLEY.” Terry screamed, his voice hoarse. “And what a magnificent match this was! The Minxes end with forty while the Bears sweep the table with two hundred points!”
I pulled on the sweater that I still hadn’t given back to Reid and put up my wet hair so it was out of my face. Juliette was still in the shower, so I slipped on my boots and left the changing room. While we were disappointed that we didn’t win, Heather assured us all that we played magnificently, her bubbly personality bringing a bit of warmth to the otherwise somber atmosphere of the room. Unfortunately, as soon as she left the tension resurfaced and the silence was deafening. I was on my way back from the pitch when someone grabbed my arm.
“Molly!” Cedric spun me around to face him and an older man who bore an eerie resemblance to him. “Great game!” He hugged me so tight it became hard to breathe.
“Cedric, I need oxygen,” I reminded him, tapping him on the back. He let me go and I blushed as his father grinned. “You must be Mr. Wood.” I held out my hand and he grasped it firmly. “Molly Weasley.”
“I know who you are, Miss Weasley” he said with a chuckle. “Your Chelmondiston Charge was very impressive. I was almost as riveted as the last time I saw you play.”
I felt my cheeks redden and I glanced at my feet. “Thank you, Mr. Wood. That really means a lot.”
“Your uncle used to stand on his broom like that,” he continued. “I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
My eyebrows knit together and I glanced at Cedric for a moment before turning back to his dad. “I didn’t know that any of my Uncles played as a Chaser. Are you sure you don’t mean my Aunt Ginny?”
Mr. Wood laughed and shook his head. “No, your Uncle Harry. In his first game he nearly swallowed the Snitch after riding around on his broom like you just did. He’s never mentioned his Hogwarts Quidditch career?”
“No,” I mused, biting my bottom lip. “He doesn’t talk about it very much. Usually when my family talks Quidditch it’s all about Aunt Ginny.”
“Well, Harry wasn’t so bad himself. He became the youngest Seeker at Hogwarts in a century his first year.” Mr. Wood’s eyes suddenly became unfocused, as he reminisced about the past. “You should ask him about it sometime.”
“Now why would we do that when we could always just listen to your stories, Dad?” Cedric teased, nudging his father’s arm.
Mr. Wood laughed and nodded at me. “Could never understand where he got that attitude. Now unfortunately I have another game to get to over at Hogwarts. I thought I was done watching games on that pitch, but recruitment never used to be in my plans.” He absentmindedly redistributed his weight off his left knee, the ghost of the injury that prematurely ended his professional Quidditch career seemingly resurfacing. “You played well Miss Weasley. Puddlemere’s coach will be sure to hear about you.”
With that he said his goodbyes to Cedric and then walked off. I waited until I heard the distinct crack of him disapparating, and then began jumping up and down and squealing while Cedric laughed beside me.
“I can’t believe it!” I shrieked. “Oliver bleeding Wood said that he was impressed with me. Puddlemere United is going to hear about it!”
“Come on Weasley,” Cedric grinned, pulling me into another hug, “let’s go celebrate with some ice cream!”
I hugged him back, laughing as he picked me up and twirled me around. “Oh, you read my mind!”
I rushed into class three minutes late and was relieved to see that the professor hadn’t arrived yet. This morning had already been a mess, seeing as I’d been up since six and still hadn’t had a minute of relaxation. First there was a half hour of strategy meeting where Bridgett had praised me on my Chelmondiston Charge, then scolded me for not having practiced it beforehand somewhere she could’ve watched over to make sure I wouldn’t have been hurt. Then there was an hour and a half of ground training where Dan made us run twenty laps and then run circuits for what seemed like forever. To top it all off we had Dan, Bridgett, and Heather run us ragged for another hour and a half in the air. In the end, I barely had time for breakfast before I had to to rush off to class. I sank into a seat in the back and sighed, the ache in my legs catching up to me now that they were still.
“You certainly look chipper,” a soft voice whispered as a dark brunette slid into the seat next to me. She had her hands wrapped around a large paper cup filled with delicious smelling coffee, and I immediately recognized her as she smiled dazzlingly at me.
I smiled back at Victoire – Vicki – and nodded. “Hey! You played great last Friday. And thank you for the tip with my Keeper.”
She blushed and shook her head. “Not as well as you did. And it was no problem – how else am I supposed to get better unless I play against the best?”
“That’s how I feel;” I giggled. “So, you’re in General Studies then? Don’t know exactly what to do with your life either?”
She laughed nervously and twirled a strand of dark brown hair around her finger. “Not at all. Right now, Quidditch is my life. I can’t think of anything other than that.”
I smiled. “I feel the exact same way. My dad wants me to get all my N.E.W.T.s so I don’t focus on Quidditch and ‘burn out by the time I’m twenty-eight.’”
She took a sip of her coffee as she raised an eyebrow. “Are those his exact words?”
“Unfortunately. I know he’s worried about my future, but sometimes I don’t know if he realizes that I probably won’t be as successful as him, or my mother, or even some of my cousins, because I’m just not interested in working at a desk job, and maybe I never will be!” I finished, feeling my pulse quickening. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gone off about that.” Glancing at the front of the classroom sheepishly, I relaxed as I saw that the professor still hadn’t arrived.
Vicki slid her coffee my way and smiled. “Both my parents are Healers and my brother’s a crazy successful editor for The Daily Prophet. They all think that Quidditch is a waste of time. It’s a caramel mocha by the way, you should try it,” she pointed at the cup and I did, my eyes widening as the delicious taste of caramel and the bittersweet taste of espresso swept over me. “I get it. But don’t worry about it – with the way you play, you’ll definitely be as if not more successful than any of your family members.”
I frowned and took another sip of her drink before sheepishly sliding it back her way. “I highly doubt that.”
“What’s that you doubt, Weasley?” Cedric said with a yawn, dropping into the seat in front of Vicki. “Hi, I’m Cedric.,” he said, winking at Vicki.
“I’m Vicki,” she said, glancing at me. “And she’s worried she won’t be successful in life or something. I think it’s crazy – have you seen the girl fly? Only person that could beat her is Andrew.”
“What’s that Vicki?” A short boy with ashy brown hair sat down in front of me and smiled. “Did I just hear you say that I’m the best flyer you’ve ever seen and I’m basically the best Quidditch player ever?”
Vicki rolled her eyes while Cedric and I introduced ourselves. We engaged in small talk for a few minutes until the professor finally ran in, a large bag overflowing with scrolls and quills over his shoulder. He was young and quite tall, with thick brown hair and bright blue eyes that were noticeable even from the fifth row of the, albeit, small classroom.
“Sorry class, got turned around and then somehow found myself staring at a plate of donuts.”
Vicki sighed next to me, her eyes riveted on the man at the front of the room. “Oh no, I think I’m in love.” She fluttered her eyelashes at me and I giggled as I snaked her coffee again.
“My kids kept my wife and I up all night. I guess that’s something you need to account for when you’ve got three little ones.” He chuckled, dumping out his bag onto his desk and searching the contents.
“Oh no, I think he’s in love,” I sighed teasingly, a frown settling in on Vicki’s face as she took back her latte and took a long drink.
“Well I’m Professor Harvard; welcome to the General Studies class of Defense Against the Dark Arts – aha!” He brandished his wand and smiled at us. “Okay, let’s get started, shall we? Due to our condensed curriculum here at Oakshaft, you have four months in this class and then you will take your N.E.W.T. examinations before Christmas.” He waved his wand over his desk and the haphazard disorganization of scrolls and quills swirled around until they were nice stacks on either end of the oak surface. “This is because around Christmas time, reserve teams from around the world will be taking some of you to start practicing with them over the winter.”
Murmurs spread around the room and hands shot up at almost every table. Professor Harvard sighed and called on Quentin who was seated near the front.
“But what happens if we get on a reserve team? How will we finish our N.E.W.T.s?”
“Reserve teams looking for new players will typically bring in a tutor. And if not, Oakshaft will provide them with one.” He smiled and waited for the rest of the hands around the room to be put down. “Now, we have a very busy week ahead of us and I spent far too long with that plate of donuts. Let’s start with the lesson, shall we?”
We all pulled out our parchment and quills as Professor Harvard summoned a chalkboard. I wrote down the date on the top of my page then quickly stole a sip of Vicki’s latte once again.
“Now class, how about some review from last year? Please list the three Unforgivable Curses.”
“I’d like to do something unforgivable with him,” Vicki murmured. In surprise, I spit out the coffee I had in my mouth all over my parchment. “What? I’m not going to, but he’s cute, you have to admit that,” she said with a wink.
We stifled our giggles and I quickly waved my wand to clean up the mess. As Professor Harvard continued his lesson, I snuck a glance at Vicki. Not only was she an incredible Chaser, she was kind enough to offer a complete stranger her drink, and crazy enough to make vulgar comments about a professor. I looked back to the front of the room and caught Cedric’s eye as he turned back to wink at me. A week ago I’d gotten to the academy, and I was so nervous about having to meet new people and make new friends. But right now my nerves were gone and I’ll I could think about was how excited I was for the weeks to come.
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