“The Fitchburg Finches are going to win the conference this year. No question about it.” I remarked about my favorite quidditch team.
Nolan rolled his eyes, “You're so bandwagon. The Falmouth Falcons are where it’s at.”
Stephen hollered and high-fived Nolan. “Yeah, the Falcons would give your Finches quite a beating if you ask me. The only good thing about the Finches are their beaters and keeper. They have no offense yet they still win. Just shows how bad your american league is.”
I shook my head and brushed my hand through my sweaty hair. The 10 of us, (three reserves) had just finished practice after a tough day of Friday classes. Us three continued towards the great hall while the rest of the Gryffindors including Roxanne and Merida left for the dorms to change. Being the chasers and flying the whole practice us three didn’t care about dress. We were hungry. As we entered the Great Hall we got a couple of looks from multiple students. Stephen gave me a quick pat on the shoulder as to say ‘goodbye’ and sat with some of his fellow classmates. Nolan and I sat next to Tim, Chad, Skai, and one of her friends Talia who was also another seventh year.
Tim raised an eyebrow and sarcastically questioned, “What is this, your Mums made you too overprotective?”
Nolan gave a light playful punch on Tim’s arm.
“How was practice?” Skai asked flipping her jet black hair over her shoulder. I took note of her features - her bronze skin, tall stature, long black hair, and brown eyes.
“Great, if you consider Ellie making us do ten drills over the hour.” I said exhausted.
“We have a game tomorrow against the puffs. Apparently their seeker will be out, she was caught sneaking into the forest so as punishment she was suspended for the game. Say where did you two go during potions?”
Tim and I looked at each other, then in unison spoke, “Hagrid’s.”
Chad laughed all while munching on a chicken drummie, “Classic, that guy’s been here for over 20 years. I can’t believe you didn’t get punished.”
I shrugged, but I knew the real reason that Tim and I kept close to ourselves. I then thought of Charlie and realized that as we spoke she was currently cleaning the bathroom.
“Roxy also isn’t clear to play tomorrow due to being in the forest too,” Nolan said a little disappointed, “Lance Edington will be subbing, hopefully he will be on his game.”
Roxy never told me that...then again, I hadn’t really talked to her since Mcgonagall's warning. I then took chicken leg and started to eat. Skai, Talia, and Tim were talking about Slughorn who all three of them weren’t very fond of. Nolan and Chad were arguing about the upcoming match of their favorite teams, the Falmouth Falcons and the Chudley Cannons. I listened carefully all while engulfing a piece of apple pie they were serving. Suddenly I saw Tim get up and leaned over at us,
“Hey I’m going to go to the weight room if any of y’all want to come.”
Skai and Talia immediately shook their heads and Chad joined them saying,
“I don’t feel like going today. Maybe another time Tim.”
Tim nodded his head then looked at Nolan and I, “You guys in?”
“Heck yeah.” Nolan bellowed. Tim then looked more intently at me,
“What about you Sig?”
I didn’t often go to the gym with the guys but considering I didn’t have much to do I decided why not to join them.
“Sure.Why not.” I shrugged.
“Ok well then, we should change. See you guys.” Tim said making us three follow as the others waved.
* * * * * * * * * *
After changing into a Fitchburg Finches T-Shirt and Athletic shorts I headed down to catch up with Tim and Nolan who had thrown themselves into muscles t’s and long baggy athletic shorts and left in less than 3 minutes. The weight room really wasn't a complete weight room and looked as though it hadn’t been remodeled since the 40’s. It also had an age-line so no one under the age 14 could enter. They had dumbbells that went up to 55 pounds in weight (25kg) along with a bench press set, medicine balls, kettlebells, pull-up bar, and seated row. When I entered I looked around and saw the usual 7 or 8 people in the room and of course, Tim was lying on the weight bench with the barbell resting over him while Nolan was spotting him. I then walked up to the dumbbell area and took two 27.5 pounds/12.5kg dumbbells and started to do hammer curls. After I got done with two sets which made my biceps ache, I looked over at Tim and saw him benching 140/63.5 highlighting his chest and big arms. Tim then got up, picked up his towel and let Nolan give it a try. I wasn’t surprised two of the girls in the room were glancing over at him. Nolan was one of the most liked people in the school as far as I had seen and looks had something to do with it.
“Are they always like that?” asked a familiar voice. I turned to face a girl with green eyes and choppy hair that I immediately recognized as Aura. I’m guessing she somewhat knew Nolan from the quidditch pitch and from the library a couple nights back.
“Generally speaking, yes.” I chuckled, and noticed that Aura had been throwing a ten pound medicine ball against the wall.
“What are you doing here?” I questioned puzzled. I had never seen her in here before and I had gone here at least 5 times in the last two weeks school started.
“Oh, I’m just getting ready for my match on Sunday against Slytherin. Using this to replicate the bludgers if that makes any sense.”
“That’s quite smart of you. Have you only been doing that?”
“No, I also did some chin-ups in case I slip off my broom and have to pull myself back up.”
Brilliant...why didn’t I think of that.
“Well I just got done. I think i’m going to leave, good luck against the puffs, Look out for my sister Sue. See you Sig.”
“Bye.” I said as she walked out of the room dropping her towel in the bin. I continued finishing some tricep dips as well as dumbbell chest press until Tim, who by now was working on shoulders set down his weights and looked at me.
I gave an exhausted yawn and nod. When I looked at the clock it read 9:20. We had been here for over an hour. Nolan was right behind us as we put our towels away and headed back into our dorm.
Upon entering the place was a mess. I had my backpack on my bed which I haven’t worn much of recently. Dressers were open, clothes scattered the floor, the sheets were in a tangle, and the curtain had been nearly destroyed by Tim last night. I looked at the others, Tim of which was taking off his shirt and throwing it on his bed. I quickly pulled my wand off my dresser and using waving it in the form of an s I spoke pointing at my bed,
Suddenly things started to clean themselves as I changed into my night clothes. Chad and Beau (another and final roommate of mine who was generally more quiet than the rest of us) did the same. Tim and Nolan kept theirs the same.
“How about some 80’s?” Tim asked pulling out an old boombox from under his bed that only got 6 stations.
All of us gave exhausted groans but knew it was no use. All of a sudden a song ended and Ballroom Blitz by Sweet started to play at max volume nearly shaking his bed post. Tim picked up a belt and started to sing using it as a Microphone.
“Are you ready Steve,” He said leaning towards Chad, “Andy?” he said pointing at me. When he pointed at Nolan next we all laughed. Once the main beat started to go Tim started to sing out of tune, but do to the song he could pull it off somehow always making us chuckle or two.
“Ohhhh, It’s been getting so hard living with the things you do to me…”
The songs kept coming with us having to skip singing too a couple of the unlikable ones until the head boy came in and told us to turn it off.
Thank goodness it was a friday night and my homework wasn’t due til monday. Soon after that we all got to bed, but only the quidditch game was on my mind.
* * * * * * * * * *
The next day, I woke up a little past 6 and all the other guys were snoozing. I took a shower, changed, and shaved then pulled out my ancient runes homework and decided I should get a head start on it. I went down to the common room and saw two other students, probably 5th or 4th years working like me. I sat down on the bottom step and began to work, yet every 4 or 5 questions the quidditch match would pop into my mind. After about a half-an-hour, I put my books away and headed for breakfast. At 7:15 on a Saturday, not many people were in the great hall since breakfast just started so I ate quietly by myself. I checked my watch and it read 7:45. Suddenly I saw a groggy Beau enter the hall. More people started to enter so I left and decided I should get another nap in. Today, it was our time to win.
I sat in the locker room with the rest of my teammates. You could hear the noise of the crowd from behind the curtain. Roxanne had was there but wasn’t geared up for keeper. Instead Lance was in the room sitting next to Merida and Chelsea(another reserve). Everywhere I looked everyone had a solemn expression on their faces. Ellie who was only an inch shorter than me, hair in a bun, and a lean muscular build then began to speak,
“I think you all know what this game means to us. After our loss last year to them in the playoffs we need to take it to them today. Nolan today you are the X chaser (chaser that initiates the plays), and I want you running the Ishihara Isolation Formation to spread it to you Stephen who is our Z as our main option or you Sigmund who is our Y. Hufflepuff is a very tight on beater coverage and have Chasers that run a shadow defense so I think this will work well. I wouldn’t recommend using a streaks formation, they will pick you off one by one.”
Us three nodded. We had practiced this yesterday for a good hour or so until we had it down, but the formation wasn't easy. Wampus usually did a V formation with a streaks or shallow cross formation so the strategy she was integrating into our playbooks was more complex than the average student level. My best friend Doug at Ilvermorny uses the Hawkshead Strategy, but that is one of the only advance ones I knew coming in. Ellie began to speak again,
“Sigmund, I am expecting you to be back for a sky defense to help Lance here. I heard they have a hidden weapon first year and I do not want her having the ball.” (A sky defense is when the Chaser stays between two of the opposing chasers on defense so no pass can be made, making it easier for the keeper to get a save.) “Merida,” she'd said pointing at her, “I want you as a guard to Chasers. That means I’m relying on you Seth (our other beater) to protect the defense and to control the bludgers so the other beaters can’t get it. Lance, make yourself as big as possible. They have another threat Marie Silar so be on your game. Their seeker Barnes is out so I will be doing my job and go for the snitch. Let’s win this one.” she addressed and mumbled sounds of agreement followed. All of us stood up, I walked towards the gate. Roxy and the reserves stayed back. I looked at the clock in the corner and it read 2:57. Only three minutes till the game. Suddenly a roar of the crowd could be heard signalling that Hufflepuff had took the field.
“Ready?” Nolan asked. I nodded and tightened my left glove so I would get a better grip on my broom. Just then the curtain opened and we all flew out onto the field. The wind felt good on my face. It was cloudy out and reminded me of most of the games at Ilvermorny. The Gryffindor section let out a loud cheer as we all began to take our positions. Madam Hooch began to speak, “Now I want a clean match, no blagging, bumphing,cobbing, blatching, or any other rough play, understood?”
Ellie and us three nodded as well as the Hufflepuff Chasers and their Captian. Then the sound of the whistle blew and we were off.
Right away Nolan had got the quaffell and controlled it going in a semi-circle so Stephen could get into position. Merida ensued Nolan and I took my position directly parallel to him on the left. A small girl came flying in like a bullet yet Nolan flew down making her overshoot him. A bludger came in at Nolan get Merida speed up to him and batted it away hitting the girl in the back striking the girl nearly off her broom making her dangle on her broom. This must have been Aura’s sister because somehow she managed to pull herself up. A chaser came on my blindside so I sped up. Nolan and I were on pace and the defense and keeper was collapsing on us three. Merida pulled back as Nolan threw the quaffle through a small gap of a chaser and beater straight to Stephen who immediately punched it into the right post before the keeper could rush back into position. The sound of the bell rang and the announcer boomed, “What a drawn up play by Gryffindor as Stephen Geyers puts them up 10.”
The Gryffindor Section cheered yet Aura’s younger sister Sue and the other chaser had the quaffle and were speeding up and It was my job to prevent her from getting the ball in my sky position. If it wasn’t for my broom I wouldn’t even be close. I still held a head’s length behind her yet was pacing with the other chaser. I realized they were using their other chaser for defense. We approached the goal so it was now or never for the guy to throw it. He then released the quaffell from his hand deciding not to take the tough angle shot yet threw the ball a little too slow. I took an extra little boost of speed and just nicked the ball out of her way so the keeper could catch it. Lance snatched the ball and chucked it back to Nolan so we started our play again. The next twenty minutes went by fast since we were in the swing of things. We scored two more times with our strategy, I scored one of them before hufflepuff was able to exploit it. We then switched to the v formation and Nolan scored twice, Stephen once, and me once. On defence I was only able to stop Sue once more but by the third time she had been able to out maneuver our defense. Merida then started to play back. The score read 60-40 as Marie had scored a goal. Lance threw the ball too Nolan again and we started running a mesh. Stephen and I crossed preventing a steal as I was tossed the quaffle. All of a sudden there was a huge cheer from Gryffindor and I saw the beater in front of me stop moving.
“And Ellie Hansen just caught the snitch winning it for Gryffindor!”
I threw the quaffle up in the air and high fived Nolan. I shook the other Chasers hands and congratulated Sue.
“Your really good, keep up on the sport.”
She looked exhausted and a little disappointed but responded, “Thank you.”
Nolan and I flew by the gryffindor section giving high-fives as people cheered us on. The work I had put in had payed off...