Chapter 10

Vivi took a deep breath, savoring the early summer air as she soared around the pitch. She turned a few flips, smiling as the wind rushed past. Then, coming closer to the ground, she settled into a more stable position.

It was time to practice Quidditch, before school let out and she was resigned to returning home, where there was no Quidditch Pitch. Closing her eyes, she began to slowly inch around the Pitch, moving the broom only with her will power.

Satisfied, Vivienne slowed her broom to a crawl, moving even closer to the ground. She stood, ever so slowly, wobbling atop of the unstable broomstick. A split second and she balanced, crouched, before tumbling five feet to the ground. She stood up quickly, dusting herself off.

Avery walked out onto the pitch in search of Vivi, confident in his assumption that she would be flying.

He reached her in time to see her fall to the ground, stand up, and notice his presence. Suppressing a laugh, as the sight of Vivi falling from a height higher than she (when it was much lower to the ground than Avery) was quite funny, he smiled at the small girl.

“Hiya, Viv.”

A familiar voice rang out behind her, and she turned, surprised. “Hi’ya Avery.” Never thought to find ya near the pitch—least ways not willingly,” she observed, desperately trying to appear casual. With the way her throat tightened and her heart thudded whenever she saw Avery now-a-days, it was easier said than done.

Just get it over with, Avery thought to himself, unaware of Vivi’s thoughts.

Taking a deep breath, he spat out, “Iwannalearnhowtofly.” It was both soft and fast, and his head was tilted towards the sky.

Vivi suddenly grinned, her smile stretching from ear to ear. “Are you serious Avery? I mean, you’ll really let me teach ya?”

She flicked her long black hair out of her way, and then tied it back more firmly with the band that had been coming undone. Snatching her broom from the air where it hung, uncertain, she crossed the space between herself and Avery.

“First—what do ya know about flying? Anything atall?” she asked, eyeing him. Previous experience had taught her that Avery despised heights.

Avery fell to the ground and crossed his legs in front of him so he would be able to look the girl in the eye. Looking up, he sighed and shook his head. “Nope. All I know is that ya need a broom to fly while a human. That’s it.”

And I know I dun wanna fly.

Avery shook his head and leaned backwards, his legs still crossed. He squinted at the sky, and then strained to look at Vivi. “So, how do those things stay up? I mean, gravity should pull ’em down. And that’s all—” he motioned at the sky “—air… It’s not gonna keep ya from fallin’.”

Vivi too sat down, cross-legged. She was so used to staring up at Avery that it was decidedly uncomfortable staring down at him.

“How does it stay up?” she asked, thinking the question over. Her knowledge of gravity was limited. “Well, it’s magical to begin with. And magic defies other rules lots,” she pondered a few moments longer, remembering all of the Quidditch books she had read.

“Actually air’ll keep ya from falling. How else would air planes work? Just trust that the spells’ll keep ya in the air Avery. They work for me, and every other Quidditch player. ‘Sides, I know my broom. It won’t let us fall. The only times I’ve fallen were when I was being stupid or trying to do something I couldn’t. And I won’t do anything like that with ya on.”

She smiled again. “So, ya wanna try it by yourself first, or do you want to ride behind me?”

“Erm, I think I’d best go with you…either I’d kill myself, damage the broom, or both. I can’t fathom being on a stick in the air with no safety harnesses or walls to keep me from falling.”

Standing up, Avery shoved his hands in his pocket and looked at the broom next to Vivi.

“Let’s go.”

“Poor deprived child, never havin’ been on a broom.” Vivi teased. She swung onto her broomstick, feeling it hum underneath her. The Lightening Bolt knew her touch.

“Okay Avery,” she said looking at him over her shoulder. “Get on.”

Avery smiled sarcastically and walked over to the hovering girl. “Here goes.” he muttered, swinging his leg over the broom carefully so as not to kick Vivi. He rubbed his legs nervously, “Ready.”

Why did I say I’d do this? Why?

Vivi rose a few feet off of the ground, Avery behind her. “Okay Avery,” she looked back, comfortable at a mere ten feet from the ground. “Well, just hold on. I’ll go slow.”

A slight breeze tickled her face and she rose higher, up to about fifteen feet. “Ya okay?”

At the feeling of almost falling, Avery clutched onto Vivi, wrapping his arms around her waist. “F… fine…” he stammered, looking up at the sky to avoid looking down and panicking. “Fine.”

Like heck! The only reason I’m freakin’ out is ’cause I know we’re gonna go higher… Crap…

“You’re doing fine, Avery,” Vivi said, blushing. It was queer having him hug her as though his life depended (which, come to think of it, it did).

Vivi let the broom have a little more control over the height as she focused on keeping it steady, another trick she had been practicing. Steadiness was the key to the standing stunt, which was one she desperately wanted to master.

Avery buried his head in Vivi’s shoulder and whimpered, his arms tightening around her waist.

“I don’t like this,” he muttered, shutting his eyes tightly, as Vivi directed the broom to rise. It soon reached forty feet in the air, which was as high as Vivi planned on going today.

The broom stopped in the air and Vivi directed it to simply circle the pitch-slowly. She really didn’t want to try anything fast, not with a terrified third year clinging to her like she was his favorite teddy bear or something.

Interesting idea, that.

Vivi shook her head. She would not think about that right now, not with him about to go into convulsions from fright or something.

“Suddenly I understand why ya didn’t wanna to learn ta fly,” Vivi said, turning to look at the head buried into her shoulder.

“Come on Avery, look up,” she coaxed. “Just at the sky, like ya were on the ground. Don’t look down yet, just up. See, there are the clouds, still overhead where they belong. We’re not that high up, lower than the Gryffindor tower.”

“Is that entirely necessary?” he asked, still clutching onto Vivi.

He knew what she would say, and there was no use fighting as they were in the air and she had control of his fate.

Inch by inch Vivi let the broom sink until they were only twenty feet from the ground again. This was a better height for the moment, one that was much more comfortable. A wizard would not die from a fall this low down. Maybe break a bone, if even that, but this was relatively safe.

Slowly Avery raised his head and looked up, but snapped it back down into her shoulder. “I know we’re flying, so looking up is as bad as looking down.”

Ten feet from the ground Vivi pulled the broom to a stand still. She slipped both legs to one side of the broom, sitting side ways.

“Okay Avery.” She said slowly, dislodging his head from her shoulder. “We’re only ten feet up now, all right? Nothing scary there…just ten little feet.”

Gripping Avery’s shoulder for balance, Vivi maneuvered until she was behind Avery, so he was the one steering. “Your turn, and I won’t let ya land yet, so don’t try. The broom still listens ta me,” she grinned, though she knew he wouldn’t see it. Right now he was preoccupied.

“Okay, so just fly ‘round slow and I’ll just hang back here, ‘kay? Good.” Vivi grabbed his waist, not feeling like falling ten feet even if it would not hurt her. “Go.”

“Ya know… That would be great and all, but I don’t exactly know how to control this thing! Do I kick it, talk to it, what?” Avery said, turning around to face a smirking Vivi. “You’re evil, you do realize that, right?” The broom started moving slowly and, although he wanted to stop it, he couldn’t, as he had not made it move in the first place.

“Erm, hon? How do I stop this thing?”

Ignoring the remark about evilness (it was nothing he had not said before) Vivi patiently explained, “To go forward, lean forward, but not too hard, unless you’d like ta go into a dive. Lean to either side to go that way. Lean back to stop.”

She placed his hands on the right spots on the broom, as secure as if she had been in her dormitory bed. Quidditch came naturally to Vivienne, although she practiced every day to improve her skill.

“Now, easy Avery, just go around in a circle, okay?”

Nodding, Avery leaned slightly to one side, white-knuckling the broom. If brooms could feel (which he was sure they could not), that broom would kill him, dump him, and fly away.

But brooms could not feel, so he was safe.

Unless he jerked it and sent them both to the ground.

He leaned back a little to widen the circle. It worked enough so he would at least cover more… erm, air…

“I don’t like this Vivi. You do realize that?”

“You’re doing good Avery,” Vivi soothed, still working with the broom in her mind to make sure it behaved. A naughty broom would simply not do. Somehow she had the idea that if Avery fell, he would definitely not be getting back on.

“Okay, try stopping it. Then you can try changing altitudes—up first, and then maybe a very slow dive.”

“I think not, Vivi,” Avery muttered, tilting he handle down slightly and coasting to a stop.

“I’m getting off this thing. Perhaps another day.”

“All right, Avery,” Vivi said, bouncing off as he lowered the broom. The fall was a short one, and she landed up right and grinning on the ground. “Enough’s enough.”

Another day, hmmm? Perhaps there is hope for him yet.

“See ya later, your tallness. I’m staying and practicing for a while. Gotta learn the trick for standing on the broom. Could be useful.”

Avery shook his heard, but he smiled. “Bye Vivi,” he said as he walked off the Pitch. But this time, perhaps he would be coming back willingly…eventually.

Vivi kicked off of the ground so hard that she was thirty feet up before she could control her broom. Not that she cared. The higher up she was, the harder it was for people to see her red, puffy eyes.

She had never meant to have a crush on Avery Berke. And never in a million years would she tell him that she did. He was her friend; she would not risk losing that. Besides, now he was smitten with Agatha Swales.

Turning a flip in the air, Vivi rose higher, high enough to see all of the grounds. High enough to see the two figures leaving Hogwarts for a stroll around in the sun. Nauseated, she turned another flip, nearly losing her grip on the broom. By now she was breathing hard, but she continued to fly around like a maniac, which was better than being on the ground and throwing things.

Agatha had put on her fluffy white-hooded coat over her strappy top and tiny cardigan. On her feet were white suede boots. Her blonde white hair framed her face. She looked stunning and she knew it. But then…her outfit was designed to have a favorable effect.

The Berke boy had, frankly, been asking for it. He needed to be taught a lesson. And that was a lesson that Agatha Swales was more than happy to teach him.

And yet as they walked out onto the frosty ground Agatha almost wished she had not bewitched him. She almost missed their rows and hatred. Yet those were foolish thoughts and there was much work still to be done.

They walked slowly on the crisp white grass down to the lake.

Avery sighed softly, turning to look at Agatha. Gorgeous, he thought, every shred of sanity gone from him, destroyed by the love potion.

Though walking slowly to accommodate Agatha’s small form, his open coat flared out behind him (as they were walking against the wind). Why they were walking into the wind was beyond him, yet he could not have cared less, as his brain was mush.

Stupid Bird-Brain.

He should have been freezing his butt off, but, again, he was too infatuated by Agatha to care. He could have run into a brick wall and it would not have fazed him. Nothing but an antidote or time could wake him from his zombie-like coma.

“So…” Avery began, at a loss for words.

“So.” Agatha prompted him with a small smile. From the mushy, puppy-dog look on his face, the potion had probably neared the peak of its power. All she had to do was sit back and savor the moment when Bird Brain Berke declared his undying devotion for her. A moment he would never be allowed to forget. A moment to treasure in the volumes of school history.

“So is there something you wished to tell me, Ave?” she asked, pausing dramatically on the northern shore of the lake and turning to face him.

Crap. He thought as the girl turned to look at him. He did not care to confess to her, not yet, but he could not hold it any longer.

Not that it would have mattered. She obviously suspected something.

“Kinda,” he muttered softly, turning to face her. “Erm…I, uh…”

Shut up, Bird-Brain, that voice, the shred of sanity that remained, said.

“I love you.”

Avery stared at Agatha for what seemed like hours, hoping not to be rejected, but somehow expecting it, as she was Donal’s girlfriend.

Though if she did return his feelings, screw Donal.

Vivi fell off of her broom.

Well, she nearly fell. One hand caught the handle as she tumbled over, having been trying to listen to the conversation between Agatha and Avery (being the nosy twelve- year-old she was) without success. She had overestimated her ability to lean towards them, and then slipped. She missed whatever Avery said to Agatha, though the blonde girl was looking decidedly smug.

But then something strange happened, as Avery, still smitten with love for Agatha, gagged. He reached for his throat, eyes widening, but no sounds emitted from his mouth. He was still breathing regularly, but his voice was…gone.

What Vivi had no way of knowing was that Avery’s loss of voice was a side effect of the love potion he had ingested. It was an allergic reaction, in a way, one that Agatha knew about as she had read information on the love potion. Yet it was no more harmful than a Silencing Charm, and easily reversible if one knew the right spell.

Sighing deeply at her misfortune, the blonde considered Avery as he mouthed words of love to her, sappily unaware of his condition. Clearly she had to do something.

“Ah well here goes nothing,” she said and pointed her wand at Avery, who merely smiled back goofily and put up no defense whatsoever.

“Trust me, it will be so much better if you can talk,” Agatha reassured him, “So much more memorable.”

Countandum Silencio!” Commanded Agatha and a shower of sparks flew at Avery and settled in his open mouth.

Immediately Agatha felt certain the spell was not quite right. Nearly— but not quite. She was not sure what she had done wrong, but from an inability to talk, a torrent of words just poured out of Avery’s mouth. No matter how many times Agatha tried to intervene, or even to talk over him, nothing would shut him up, not even for a second!

What’s she done? Avery asked himself as he began speaking of decapitated gremlins and whether the turkey or the jello was better.

“What’ve you done chicken!?”

Crap.

There was only one way that Agatha could think of to shut him up. It was a repulsive, gross, genius wonderful idea. There was absolutely no one around except Avery, who was, not only under the influence of a love potion, but, it seemed, stark raving mad to boot.

She kissed him.

Full on the lips.

That shut him up.

Oh my word. That was all Avery could think, as he was too caught up in their supposed “moment.”

Avery, believing her to have returned his feelings, set his hand lightly on her cheek and deepened the kiss that, had he been at all sane, he would have thought to be more disgusting than kissing a pile of cow dung.

And she kept kissing him. No, even more than that. She returned his kiss. And was there, or was there not a moment when she forgot what she was doing? Did Agatha maintain that cold, hard, distant feeling throughout?

Well of course she did. How could anyone doubt it? Not only was she Agatha Swales, pureblood Slytherin heiress and he a lowly Gryffindor fool, but she had a boyfriend.

Suddenly, without prior warning and right in the middle of the kiss, something changed.

The love potion wore off.

Yet that fact remained unbeknownst and unimportant to Avery. He was too engrossed in the moment to notice. As far as he was concerned, he was still under the influence of the potion (which he did not know he was under) and was therefore head-over-heels for Agatha Swales.

Avery ended the kiss, so surprised that all of his babbling had ceased. He rubbed his thumb softly on her cheek and smiled, their faces still only inches from each other.

Agatha would give him hell, he knew that, but again, he had not any idea that his mind was no longer mush. He would eventually figure out that it was him speaking and not that blasted potion.

Softly, he muttered, “I love you.”

But then he jerked, standing abruptly and looking around to assure himself that they were alone.

“Oh… my… word… I did not just kiss you! Yuck!” Painfully realizing his actions from the past day or so, he wiped his lips roughly with his sleeve to rid himself of her germs.

Glaring down at the girl and backing away, he asked, “What did you do?” Avery was fully disgusted and fully suspicious. Somewhere there was something very funny going on.

It was not meant to happen like this, Agatha thought. This was not how she had planned it.

Bird brain had spoilt it.

Just as she should have known he would.

Or perhaps it was her.

Agatha touched her cheek where but moments before his hand had been. She looked at him and held the look one long, very long, then too long moment.

Then she broke it. It was impossible.

“Don’t know what you were doing Bird Brain?” she said in a sneering tone, trying to get back that cold exterior and by-and-large succeeding.

“You just told me you loved me!” she exclaimed, not feeling as self-satisfied as she thought she would.

“Probably thanks to some evil curse you put on me to embarrass me no end. I know no one else would be evil enough to do something like that!” he spat back.

Shaking his head in disgust, he resisted the overwhelming urge to hex her or kill her by means of a conjured-up knife.

She would pay.

“I know I said that and am ashamed that I could give you enough of a compliment that basically says I think you’re pretty or nice or… Argh!” Avery screamed, still too confused by the kiss and the like to speak to her with any composure.

Agatha made up her mind. It was not the best decision she had ever made, and her logical mind reprimanded herself even whilst deciding on that course of action.

Bird brain, it was clear, was somewhat confused, and understandably so, having just come out from under the effects of a rather strong potion. Confused enough not to mind. Confused enough not to tell? She would risk it. She could always deny it. Everyone was allowed a lapse at least once in their life.

“Shut up, Avery,” she said. She shook her white blonde hair out of her white fur hood and moving towards him in one fluid movement she kissed him again.

Avery, taking special care to touch only her shoulders, roughly shoved the girl away and wiped his lips once more. “What is with you?” he asked, spitting on the ground, almost on her shoes. “What are you playing at?”

Avery turned around and began slowly walking away, holding his head in his hand.

This is very odd. She could not actually like me, could she?

No. Not that I care. She has a boyfriend. And I’m an immature Gryffindor…

…a Gryffindor Mudblood, not worthy of the presence of the all-mighty Slytherin Pureblood.

As Avery stomped off, Agatha was left to reflect. On the whole the encounter had not gone as well as she would have liked. Indeed, there was something very wrong, very unAgathaish in the way she felt about the whole sorry and sordid affair.

But one thing was becoming clear and of paramount importance in her mind.

Berke must pay. He would not be allowed to get away with this. Quite what this was Agatha knew, yet refused to define, even to herself.

The more she thought the angrier she felt. He would not get away with it! It may not have been a success but she would still win. And to win was always the most important quality that one could have. At any cost. At all costs.

Yet it was with a sigh that Agatha looked wistfully at her brand new Gucci, white, boot-leg trousers and her pure white fur DKNY hooded coat. It was really too bad.

But it could not be helped and it was an imperative part of the plan. Mama would always send her some more.

There was no one around. None had ventured as far as the lake, restricting themselves instead to the Quidditch pitch.

Gritting her teeth Agatha moved over to the lakeside stones and, taking out her wand, levitated herself up into the air a meter or so. She was not strong enough to control it for more than a few seconds, so she dropped with a thud onto the sharp and pointed rocks below.

Her beautiful trousers were ruined. A great gash had ripped through the knee and blood (which was surprisingly red not blue) seeped out onto the fine fabric.

Next Agatha yanked back the top of her coat, ripping off the top two buttons. Finally she slapped herself very, very hard round the face. A large red wheal began to form.

It was not even necessary to force out a tear. Feeling really very sorry for herself now, Agatha began to cry.

In the most bedraggled state that ever Hogwarts had seen her in, Agatha began to run wildly back to the castle.



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