Zacharias Smith (zach_sfh) wrote in steadfast_heart,
Zacharias Smith
zach_sfh
steadfast_heart

Year 4 Quidditch Tryouts - Hufflepuff

Zach balanced casually on his broom as he surveyed the crowd jockeying for position on the pitch. It was mostly fourth and fifth years, with a smattering of third years and one or two sixth and seventh. He had his eye on a few people in particular, and he noted with saitisfaction that they showed up. One person wasn't there, however. At least not that he could see, and he frowned before shaking off the thought that crossed his mind. What had he expected anyway? He looked over at Cedric who was hovering near their keeper at the far end. The three of them were the only ones left from the old team. And next year it would just be him. He needed a good team that would last the next few years till he left. That meant fifth years and below. He have Cedric the thumbs up sign and heard his friend bellow goodnaturedly as he flew down above those assembled below.

"Allright, we'll have the chaser candidates first. We have a couple of quaffles and I'm going to divide you into two teams. Zach will be going around trying to judge your defensive capabilities and your offense. Meanwhile, I'll be trying out the beaters at the other end of the pitch. You folks ready?"
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Wayne took a couple of deep breaths, trying to get into the proper mood. Being as excited as Ernie would just make him more nervous. Instead, he needed to temper his excitement with calm assurance. If he and Ernie were going to make it through the process, he needed to keep them level-headed. Ernie could make sure they were competitive. It was how they did most things.

"Ernie, come on down," he hollered as Ernie took another steep ascent, finally pulling in next to him so they flew over to where Cedric was waiting.

"Look who finally came out of hiding," Ernie crowed good-naturedly as a disheveled Justin came flying over from the opposite direction. He barely looked at them, concentrating on the captain and nowhere else.

"You didn't tell me Justin was trying out, too," Wayne hissed. "And as a beater, too. They only need two beaters."

Ernie shrugged, too wound up to really hear what his friend was saying. Instead of pushing it, Wayne listened to Cedric call out the exercise, pairing them up to hit a bludger back and forth.
Megan crept to the edge of the stadium stairs once again. She had been halfway up before losing her nerve this last time. It wouldn't be odd that she was coming to watch tryouts considering she seemed to be at almost all the practices.

With a shake of her head, she ran up the steps once again. Instead of taking her normal seat, she stood in the shadows and looked at the group flying around in the arena.

If you were like normal witches, you might be able to be up there with them. Why can't they play Quidditch on the ground?

Searching for the familiar black practice robe, she smiled. She leaned against the wall and tried not to sigh as she heard the girls coming up the steps behind her. The fangirls were here once again. Damn them and their pretty hair and pretty clothes and pretty makeup. She acknowledged their greetings but stayed where she was.
Zach kept his eye on the chasers that were trying out. So far none of them were any good and he fought the urge to slap the Quaffle he easily stole from them into the back of one of their heads. Over where Cedric was, he could see his friend dealing with an overabundence of beaters. He frowned at the sight of Wayne hitting a bludger back to Ernie. The long limbed boy would be an ideal chaser with that reach. He halfheartedly tossed the Quaffle back to an eager faced third year and flew over to where the Beaters were practicing, dodging a poorly aimed bludger. A few hand signals and Cedric flew over to Wayne.

"Hopkins. Why don't you go try out with the chasers. I think Zach wants to see what you can do."
"Sure." It took a lot to keep his smile in place. He had been practicing with Ernie and had let his friend talk him into beater even though his original thought had been to try for chaser.

A familiar shriek of laughter made him smile suddenly as he resisted the urge to turn around and smile at Lisa. He had told her to spend the day studying so that at least one of them would pass their classes this term. Most of his assignments were still lying on the floor near his bed, half finished.

Regardless of the fact that knowing she was nearby made him more nervous than he thought he should be going into this try out session, he was glad she was there. He needed all the good thoughts he could get.

Placing the bat securely on the broom behind him, he flew over to Zach. "Reporting for duty, boss."
Zach grinned at Wayne. Behind him he could hear Cedric ordering Justin and Ernie to team up against a pair of third years. "Excellent," he said. "I want you to work with me, passing the Quaffle. We're going to try to swoop down the field dodging some of the others and at the end I want you to try for the hoops. Got it?"

Wayne nodded half-heartedly and Zach smirked. "Try to keep up, kid." He zoomed off down the field and he say Wayne's head jerk up in surprise. Within a moment he kicked his broom into gear. He swooped around a pair of third years and passed the Quaffle, noting with satisfaction when he caught it with one swipe of his large hands. They worked back up the field, Wayne fumbling only occasionally. As they scored a goal past the keeper, he grinned at the other boy who looked a little bit surprised. "Good work." He looked past him as he ordered a few of the others to try the manuever and smiled as he saw a familiar figure in the stands. He gave the tiniest of nods then turned back to his players.
Justin looked like he'd rather swallow acid than pair up with him but Ernie tried not to take it personally. Neither of them had said much since the school year had started and it was showing in their performance.

He purposely hit a long shot, yelling, "Sorry!" as he flew over to help Justin retrieve the ball.

"I don't care what you think of me right now but I'm not going to lose out on this oppurtunity because you're feeling pissy," he hissed to Justin as he flew in front of Justin, cutting off his exit. "I want to be on the team. No, I need to be on the team. You know that better than anyone."

Justin glared at him but nodded. "Than play like you mean it."

"What about you? You look dead out there. At least smile. I'm sorry she's-"

"Don't say her name," Justin growled, his cheeks flushing an unhealthy red.

"Play." It was the only word Ernie could get out, his throat suddenly closing off. He had seen that look once or twice on Justin's face and it never failed to scare him. Now, it was making him angry. He was acting like his life was so horrible but it could be so much worse. If he didn't make the team because of this, he was going to personally see that his life WAS horrible.
She banged her head against the wall as the squeals escalated. "Did you see that? He looked at me." "At you? He looked at me." "Whatever. You're both delusional. He clearly nodded at me."

It was never ending. Every practice! Every game! With a sigh, she walked to the other end of this part of the seats and sat down, her hiding place already discovered.

"Show him you can fly, Wayne!" she yelled, as the two took off for another run through the maze of hopefuls. Zach and Cedric had certainly been right about the group they had out this year. Some of these people flew about as well as she did. They weren't going to win if it was up to most of this lot. "Go, go, go! That's the way!"
Padma hung at the far edge of the Quidditch field, her book under her arm as she sat. Terry was beside her. She had barely spoken to Mandy or Lisa in the weeks since school started. It hurt that her friends felt on edge around her, and she could only imagine what Justin had told them. It hurt even more to see him, however. Still, she knew what Quidditch meant to him, so she'd had to at least be close enough to watch. Seeing the sun shine off his light hair made her heart ache and she kept her lips firmly pressed together.

Behind her she felt Terry's fingers brush her shoulder. "You okay?"

"Mmm hmm." She said. The lump in her throat was tight. She still didn't understand how this had all happened. "I'm fine," she said, turning for a moment and smiling at him with tear filled eyes. Before he could say anything she turned back to the Quidditch Pitch. There were many people on the field, but she could only see one.
He was hurting so much inside that he was amazed he was able to stay upright on the ground, much less zoom around on his broom. This was the only thing that was keeping him here. If he hadn't had try outs to look forward to, he would have turned around on the platform and gone home to fuel his heartache in peace.

Ernie wasn't unreasonable in his request. This meant just as much to him as it did to Justin. It was only fair that he get his head off his pain and concentrate on doing his best.

With a fierce determination, he clutched his bat and swung back to the group just as Cedric called out another drill. From the captain's grin, he had an idea that this wouldn't be so easy.

"We'll start out with ten bludgers. Each of you will get a chance, one at a time. Each ball you hit will disappear. The top eight to make them vanish the fastest will get to go on to the next round where the top five will get picked the same way. Got it?"

Justin had to laugh at the first couple of kids. The second one, a first year with a hair so shockingly black he looked unhealthy with even a normal tan, got knocked off his broom after running into a bludger that had decided to stay still. It was amusing even though the round was momentarily halted so Cedric could make sure he was still breathing.

Justin was up next, getting the first nine balls within the first minute. The last one was bound and determined to elude him, giving him a time that was still the best but definitely one that was beatable.

Ernie grinned at him as he flew back to sit down. "Good, but I can do better."

"I'm counting on it," he answered quietly. "Go make her scream with pride." He couldn't help smiling at Ernie's scowl. "What? You didn't think I'd wouldn't notice your girlfriend over next to Lisa?"

"She's not my-"

"Save it, Ernie. You're either blind, clueless or just plain scared. She likes you."

"Macmillan, you're up."

Ernie swallowed a couple of times and smiled rather pathetically. "I didn't need that comment right now."

"Good. Than maybe you won't beat my time after all." He smiled until he made the mistake of taking another look around at the spectators both in the stands and on the field. With a sound that would have sounded like a whimper coming from anyone not in a Quidditch uniform, he pulled his eyes away from the tiny form and concentrated on Ernie.
Mandy had to keep herself focused on the end of the field where the beaters were. It was fairly difficult given that Lisa was screaming encouragement to Wayne at the other end. She had seen Justin give a good performance and now she kept her eyes firmly on Ernie who was up next. She saw Cedric release the bludgers and watched as Ernie manuevered around the field. He wasn't as quick as Justin, but he was more methodical. A trait she would have expected. It felt like she was holding her breath as he zoomed under Cedric's broom and hit the last Bludger right out from underneath the captain. She felt herself twitch nervously, wondering if his time had been good enough. He looked like he had done well.

She clapped and whistled, elbowing Lisa to get her attention from Wayne for a moment. She saw Ernie duck his head a little and deliberately not look over there way, just as Justin made a face something like a scowl, but something also like pained. Beside her, Susan clapped politely, one of the group, but also not at the same time. Hannah was down in front with a group of third and second years trying to organize some cheers, she felt herself laugh slightly at their antics, when suddenly Lisa grabbed her arm tightly and she heard her friend make a frightened noise.

"What are they doing?" Lisa blurted out, sounding horrified.
Megan couldn't help but smile even as her stomach sank. She knew that Zach must have a lot of faith in Wayne if he was going to try this out on him. "Breath," she reminded herself as she worked on unclenching her hands from the splintery wood.

Both Wayne and Zach had flown the length of the field, side by side, until they were going the exact same speed. With a nod from Zach, they began to circle back but this time, they started weaving in and out of each other. Wayne was the first to take the bottom, his face set in concentration as he kept his speed constant while diving and dodging.

He made an error toward the middle of the field, sending the tip of his broom into Zach's side. Both flyers lost their concentration for a precious second, falling out of the sky before they both gained control of their brooms and brought the decent to an end.

Both boys were panting, wiping sweat out of their eyes, but smiling broadly. Megan was barely able to see them as gray started to edge her vision. She blinked rapidly before she realized that she was breathing shallowing and much too rapid. When she could stand, she ran for the stairs, barely able to make it down to the ground before losing her breakfast. With a shaky hand, she pushed her hair out of her face and sat back against the railing.

"I hate you, Zacharias Smith."
Zach grinned at Wayne. "Nice one, Hopkins. It needs a bit more work, but that was brilliant." He slapped the younger boy on the back and looked over the others. There were one or two he'd ask to come practice with the team, and between him and Wayne they'd pick their third. He looked over to where Cedric was going into the second round with the Beaters.

"All right, Davies, Rhys-Bitterby, Hopkins, Sommersby, and Falkirk, you stay for second tryouts. The rest of you try again next year and thanks for coming out. There was a chorus of groans and some good natured cat calls, but the group flew down without much trouble. Within a few moments he had the new group doing drills, and he spared a moment to look back over at the crowd. Some of the people had gone inside now, apparently including her. He scowled and turned away, but just as he did, he saw her sitting on the edge of one of the towers, her hair in front of her face. After this he'd have to see what was going on. She probably thought most of the people trying out were just as pathetic as he did.
Justin tried to smile as his name was called third. Even with that disasterous first round, he'd only lost two places. Ernie was second, his time only slightly higher than one of the sixth years that had a smug look on his face. He even winked at Cedric who merely raised an eyebrow and turned back to start sending out the bludgers. There were twenty five this time and they were moving much quicker.

"Ern, I think I know how we should do this. We need to work together."

He looked over at him, puzzled. "What do you mean? Isn't that cheating?"

"I watched Cedric during that last round and there were a couple times he nudged a bludger out of the way. It didn't change when he touched it. Obviously, it'll only disappear when the one actually doing the challenge touches it. What say we work together, watch each other's back?"

He considered it, biting his lip as he considered the idea. "Okay. Let's do it. The most he can do is disqualify us."

Justin pointed out a couple of ideas that would keep them both working smoothly, smoothly laying out the plan as the sixth year ran for his life from four blood-thirsty bludgers.

When Cedric blew the whistle after five minutes had passed, only twelve of the bludgers were missing. "Let's do this," Ernie said resolutely, smoothly gliding into position as Cedric called his name. Without a glance at the captain, Justin took his place slightly behind his friend and waited for either the whistle or the yell.
The crowd had been buzzing but suddenly everything went quiet. Zach wheeled around from where he was directing the hopefuls to try to score as many goals unimpeded as they could in five minutes and looked back to where the beaters were working out. Cedric was surveying Ernie, who was oddly enough being assisted most ably by Justin. The two of them worked in formation Justin directing bludgers towards Ernie as Ernie tried to round up ones of his own. The technique seemed to work, and Cedric was surveying them with grin upon his face. Zach hung back a little and watched with interest as Justin and Ernie worked together. Ernie was able to eliminated 19 of the flying threats, and when Justin's turn came, he flew around with a surprising degree of skill, cutting corners quickly and seeming to sense when a Bludger would try to sneak up behind him. With Ernie helping him out, he captured 22 of them, and Zach couldn't help but smirk as one of the more moronic members of his year immediately went up to Cedric and began to protest.

Cedric merely dusted off his arm guards. "All's fair," he said. "We never said you couldn't work together. That's what Beaters do after all, isn't it." He grinned across the field at Zach, and the two of them nodded to each other. They had played together long enough to know what the other was thinking.

"We'll post the team in an hour," Cedric said to the crowd. "Till then everyone go cool off."

He flew down to the end of the field and he and Zach huddled around the keeper.

"Hopkins," Dave Edwards said, nodding sharply as he pulled up his keeper's mask. "And I'd go with either Somersby or Davies. I think he's Roger Davies' cousin, maybe. You going with MacMillan and Finchy?"

Cedric nodded. "We'll take Davies and Somersby along with Hopkins. One of them can be reserve." He looked back over the crowd heading for the showers. "This is going to be a good year. Even if there's no cup, we'll still have a darn good team."
Wayne didn't bother waiting, flying over to the stands where Lisa was. "Did you see that? Wasn't that brilliant? I swear, I've never felt so scared and excited in my life."

Looking around, he suddenly noticed that Lisa wasn't alone and that he was yelling over the heads of approximately 15 people from his house, all wanting to shake his hand or ask him questions. So this is what Megan was always growling about. He'd never noticed that people did this before.

"I'll meet you down there," he yelled, leaping on his broom again and flying for all his worth to where Ernie and Justin were quietly talking. "You two were brilliant! Just great! You should have seen Cedric and Zach grinning from ear to ear. I can't imagine them not picking either of you."

He slapped Justin on the back, noticing that he stiffened but he wasn't going to let him off the hook this time. "And you! What fire did Ernie light under you? You fly like Lucifer himself when you get that going."

"Put him on a btoom and he suddenly starts talking," Justin said sarcastically.

Wayne was unfazed, babbling a mile a minute about the flying manuever he had tried with Zach. He stopped abruptly as he looked over his shoulder and saw Padma and Terry walking away. Maybe Justin hadn't seen them but he had a suspicion that he had.

Flinging an arm around both the other boys, he stated, "What a team we make. No one will be able to get past the three of us."
Terry waited until Padma stood up as the crowd began to come down from the stands. "Let's leave before everyone crowds around," she said.

He nodded and the two of them started to walk away. After a few steps he paused and pulled her hair. "You go on ahead. I left my quill back there on the grass." She nodded somberly, not even looking up and continued to plod to the castle.

After a moment he quickened his steps back towards the field. If Wayne hadn't been standing right next to Justin he wasn't sure if he'd been able to do it, but the tall boy had never been anything but nice to him.

"Just wanted to tell you three good job," he said. He waited a beat before looking at Justin. "She's sorry you know. Whatever you think ... it wasn't anything. It's killing her too. Just thought you might want to know." He saw the set look on Justin's face and he turned and left before the other boy could hit him. If he did, he did. But Padma was his friend, maybe his only friend, and he couldn't stand to see her miserable. If Justin couldn't even talk to her so they could sort things out, he didn't deserve her. But at least maybe this would give them a chance.

If you were the half the man she needed, you wouldn't have let it get this far. If you were half the man...you don't deserve her. You can try, zooming around on a broom like him, but it's never going to be enough.

"You okay?" Ernie asked quietly.

Pushing away from the others, Justin walked resolutely to the changing rooms. He was one of the only people there but he didn't care if he had been surrounded by a hundred people. Slamming his hand against the rough walls, he grabbed a towel and headed to the steaming showers.

"If it's killing her, then she might as well die because I can't compete with him. I'll never be good enough for her." He hadn't meant to say it out loud, barely realizing he had. It didn't matter. He felt like he was wearing his pain like armour against the prying eyes of his friends.

Could he even call them his friends? He hadn't been the nicest person lately. The water pounded on him, cleaning away the dirt but not taking away what he really wished he could be clear of. He was tired of this guilt and pain.

Wrapping a towel around his waist, he headed out to get dressed. He was out the door before anyone else came in.
Instead of heading back to the castle, she did the next best thing. Dinner time would be soon, and she couldn't stomach the thought of having to sit at the Ravenclaw table and see him. So close, yet ...

Instead she went down to the bridge and sat on the edge where there was a worn spot in the railing big enough for her to slip through. It was nice to sit up here with the vast empty space stretching beneath her. Below was the rocks that seperated the far part of the grounds and the forest from the castle and the well tended lawns. She came here a lot to think. Especially lately. She leaned her cheek against the rough railing and stared down. She wasn't a big one for heights, but it wasn't that bad, not really. Sometimes she would stare at the water far below and think about it. No one would probably even care.

She pushed her weight up on her hands and let her feet be suspended by nothing one wrong move and.... She had been about to lean back when her fingers slipped. One moment she was looking down the next she started to slide over the edge. Her hand flew up and she dug her fingers into the edge of the railing, for one heart stopping second she was suspended over the rocks below and then she pulled herself up. Her body fell heavily to the floor of the bridge and before she could stop herself she started to cry. She didn't know how to fix this. For a little while she'd held out hope that if she could just see him ... the weathered boards absorbed her tears, callous to her soft sobs. She wasn't sure how long she laid there alone, but it was dark by the time she headed back to the castle, and she had to sneak upstairs.
Zach waited until everyone was calm, then he and Cedric posted the notice just before dinner. The few who made it received cheers and high fives from their housemates. Hufflepuff was in general not a house for sour grapes. Zach came up to Wayne and Ernie. "Congratulations you lousy wankers. Where's your third? Not here?" He winked over to Megan who sat in the corner and wanted to growl when she visibly sniffed and looked away. He would never understand that girl.
Somehow, Megan couldn't make herself enjoy the frenzied celebration that the Quidditch posting brought on. She waited for everyone to jubilantly head to dinner, unsure if she was going to follow. Her stomach was empty but she still felt queasy.

She was angry at him, suddenly. He made it look so easy up there on his beloved broom. Everyone loved him even though he could care less. Or maybe it was an act. Maybe he secretly enjoyed the attention.

Halfway to the Great Hall, she turned back around. If she was still feeling sick to her stomach in the morning, she would go to the infirmary. For now, she just needed to lie down.