Chapter 16; The Dreams and Goals We Pursue
How many of us truly pursue the goals we set ourselves in life? How many of us can say we have lofty aspirations for our lives, and are able and willing to follow them through no matter how hard it may be?
The fact is while we all can and do dream big, very few of us actually have the courage to pursue them. It takes a special kind of courage to go against the grain, to not settle for ordinary and fight come hell for the of-chance that something great happens to you.
I wish I was one of those people, but I don't even know what I want to do tomorrow never mind what I want to do with the rest of my life. But that is okay, because I don't need big aspirations to make myself happy. But someone very dear to me isn't like that. He wants greatness and I'm proud to see that he's willing to do anything to achieve it. As long as I've known him, he has always wanted to be a professional Quidditch player. Considering how popular the sport is in the Wizarding community and the high levels that our British teams play at, it was always a near impossible feat. But he practised and trained from the age of seven. Heck he was so focused on his goal that he made captain of the Gryffindor team at age fourteen, an incredibly young age. The next step in his grand plan was the Quidditch Cup, which had eluded him as captain for the last three years. But in just over a week's time he would finally get the chance to claim the cup for Gryffindor and be one step closer to fulfilling his dream, and I was so proud of him.
In just over a week's time, we would finally have won it back from the Slytherins, and it would be ours. Fingers crossed…
Quidditch fever hit Hogwarts hard. With the Easter holidays in their second week, and only ten days until the Quidditch final between Gryffindor and Slytherin, sworn enemies for life and even more so this year, there was no escaping it. Now it usually gets pretty intense every year, especially with the final a week away, but this year spirits were heightened. With a Gryffindor team performing on par with when the legendary Charlie Weasley was captain and a renewed vigour and energy as a result, they were seen as a worthy opponent to Slytherin, and could possibly wrench the Quidditch Cup away from them for the first time in at least five years.
All in all it was very exciting, if not a little stressful. It also didn't help that we had NEWTs this year and all, bar Jackie of course, had done little to prepare for them. As such our year spent the two weeks of Easter holidays stressing about our upcoming exams and having no fun whatsoever. Wood had disappeared a few days into the holidays; swallowed up no doubt by his Quidditch playbook, although we had been reliably informed by Ethan that he would still show up occasionally for dinner and sleep. I hadn't gotten a chance to speak to him since Cedric and I broke up and I wondered quite often if he even knew of this development. Although with the final so close now, I doubt he even paid attention when Ethan or Aiden told him anything. He had the Gryffindor team doing Quidditch practice every morning, and then in the evenings he would take certain members aside and drill them even more on certain plays.
Unfortunately if Oliver had left it there with the crazy, then it would have been manageable. But no; about eight days before the final he had started trawling through the corridors during the day in search of his teammates, and when he would come upon an unfortunate team member he would berate them and remind them of specific tactics they had to learn. Naturally after a day of this behaviour the team started to get quite shirty with Oliver, even little Harry Potter who's usually so well mannered.
After Angelina got caught by Oliver on the fourth floor corridor and ended up being ten minutes late to Potions, she rounded angrily on us that evening and demanded we control our crazy friend. Fred and George might only try out some of their new pranks on him if he bothered them for too long, but Angelina could be a scary character when she wanted to be, so the boys were tasked with keeping a leash on Oliver. Not that it helped a lot, as we started to suspect by Tuesday that Oliver wasn't going to class anymore, and even more scarily that McGonagall was letting him get away with it. So while the boys were stuck in class, Merlin knows what Oliver got up to.
While we were making our way towards Ancient Runes on Wednesday, we bumped into a stressed out Alicia Spinnet who was trying to avoid the Slytherins intent on injuring her before Saturday's match.
" You alright Alicia?" Abby asked her, her brows furrowed when she saw Alicia's hunched shoulders and the bags under her eyes. "You look stressed."
"Yeah I'll be fine, trying to make my way to class without getting harassed by other students or injured by those bloody Slytherins,' she sighed, and pulled her bag up higher onto her shoulder.
"Come on, we'll walk you there," I remarked nonchalantly. "Five is better than one and if they try and pester you, we'll just let Abby at them."
"Cheers you guys," Alicia replied, sounding relieved at the concept. We gathered around her and walked her to her class on the third floor. We left a happier Alicia behind and began our trek back to Ancient Runes, discussing how mad the school had become of this final and wondering whether it would get any worse.
I hadn't told anyone about my break up with Cedric last night. That in itself is an unusual thing; Abby would usually be my first port of call in situations like this, followed by a trip to the kitchens for copious amounts of chocolate ice cream and a night in the dorm with the girls.
But this break up was different to all the others, and it had as much to do with Oliver as it did with Cedric. If I told the girls that Ced and I broke up, I would have to explain why and I hadn't quite figured out how to approach that yet. For now it would be my little secret until I told Oliver how I felt. And that I decided this morning would not be done until after the Quidditch final in less than a week's time. I could wait six days and I hoped the girls would understand in the long run.
I knew how distracting a personal life is to a Quidditch Captain; I saw how it affected Ced and as much as I wanted our team to win the Cup, I couldn't bear the guilt if Oliver blamed his personal life on a dip in his performance. I so desperately wanted him to win this league and if I had to stay away from him for another week then that would be a small sacrifice to pay.
I was not going to stand in the way of his hopes and dreams. I would do anything to help support those dreams and sometimes that means putting your personal desires aside. And no matter what that niggling little voice said in the back of my head, this had nothing to do with a fear of failure or a fear of rejection. I wasn't afraid of the possibility of Oliver turning me down; this was so he could focus on his dream without me distracting him. I missed Oliver terribly and it still scared me quite a lot that he was avoiding me, but I could wait one more week until I told him how I felt. That was my promise to myself; I would wait one week.
The Dreams and Goals We Pursue
What are you prepared to give towards your dream? Are you willing to fight against conventions, limitations and lack of money to achieve them? Or will you fall because the road ahead of you is too steep, too long and too arduous for you?
The truth is the pursuit of dreams is a hard quest. It's not easy in the slightest; for if it were then dreams and goals wouldn't exist. You have to sacrifice for your dream, push yourself harder than you ever thought you could go and often abandon what's easy and comfortable. It's a long lonely journey filled with disappointments and a desire to give up at every turn.
So why do we do it? For that glittering small chance that we achieve our dreams, become famous or rich or even just recognised in our field. So many have tried and failed, fallen along the way yet we still try; and it's because of those few who do manage it that push us on.
Most of us won't dream big like those people; we are willing to settle for the ordinary, for the nine-to-five job, the wife or husband, the kids and the detached house in the suburbs. We are willing to settle for the achievable and bask in the glory of those who have made it.
But then a big part of never pursuing your dreams is the fear of failure. Failure is like a big cloud hanging over our heads, reminding us what's in store when we try and don't succeed. It can put off the strongest minded of people. The fear of failure is so prevalent you see it in all aspects of our lives and it even affects those small dreams and goals we set ourselves. It stops us from pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, of not sticking to the diet, or dropping a bad habit or even chasing after the boy we really like.
Fear of failure is debilitating, keeping us back and stopping us from evolving and growing as a person. Fear of failure is the biggest obstacle we will ever face when pursuing our goals, and that's because it's a product of our own imagination. No-one else can scare us as much as we scare ourselves.
So why do we do it? It's in our nature to try. We always have to climb higher, strive further and try new things. It's how we've come to dominate this planet and make it our own. It's how we invent new things and achieve new feats. It's within our nature to dream big and chase after those goals.
So if you're not willing to give everything to achieving your dreams, you may as well sit back down and quit dreaming. We should never settle for ordinary, for second best, for the silver medal. Life would not be worth living under those conditions, and even if we fall time and time again, and give up all our hopes and dreams, just remember. It only takes one opportunity to get your heart's desire.
Despite there being almost a thousand students at this school, Hogwarts was still a surprisingly small place. With seven years and four different houses, you would think it would be easy to miss someone in a crowd, but how I wish that were true.
I painfully felt this smallness on a Tuesday evening while walking back up to the Entrance Hall when I bumped into none other than my ex Cedric Diggory. His bag was loosely slung over his shoulder and he was still wearing his uniform while I had changed into my regular clothes right after classes ended. His eyes looked tired and his genial expression changed and became unreadable when he spotted me. I paused, not quite sure how to acknowledge him, or whether I even should. I hadn't picked up the courage to tell my friends yet that we had broken up and by the fact I hadn't been accosted by the school gossip mill on Monday told me he hadn't said a word yet either.
"Hi," I said to him, unsure of what else to say.
"Hey," was his response and I nodded lightly at him. "How you been?"
"Alright," I shrugged and then gazed up at his steel grey eyes again. "You?"
"Same," Cedric replied and fidgeted with the bag strap, not sure where to look.
"I'm sorry," I said emphatically, surprised, as I didn't quite know where that one came from. I'd been feeling horribly guilty about how I'd treated Cedric towards the end and our break up had been quite abrupt. Maybe I felt I owed him more than that after all these months.
"Thanks Chrissie," Cedric replied and I felt he really meant it. It caused a ghost of a smile to flit across my face. But it disappeared as quickly as it appeared as a moment of sadness washed over me. It would have been so easy if I could have just loved Cedric. He was such a fantastic guy and a great boyfriend and he could have made me so happy if only my heart didn't belong to someone else. Because that's the one undeniable fact in all this, my heart always belonged to Oliver. It had always been him through Roger and Cedric, during our period where we fought and didn't speak. I lost it to him that night at the Gryffindor party back in sixth year and everything since that night had just been me too stupid to realise this.
I looked up at Cedric and saw that his face showed how dejected he was by our break up and the guilt intensified once again so I looked away and fixed my attention on my shoes.
"Chrissie," Cedric began and I brought my eyes back up to him. I watched as his face became unguarded before he continued.
"You've to stop being so scared of telling him the truth. You know you belong together, the both of you and the more you flit around each other without telling the truth the more you hurt those around you. For the sake of us, just tell him the truth, otherwise our break up would have meant nothing."
I didn't expect this moment of honesty from Cedric, but then I had always underestimated how decent a bloke he really was. I knew he was hurt about our break up but I didn't think he'd be able to be the bigger man after he dismissed me after Saturday night. It just goes to show how decent he is.
I pulled myself out of my thoughts and nodded my head at Cedric. He was right, as he always was and I did owe him this. He gave me another curt nod and then continued on down the corridor.
With that it was truly over between us, all issues had been resolved and my life no longer revolved around Cedric.
"Hey Chrissie, what's up?" Karine queried, a frown marring her features as she looked up at me. We were in the middle of studying for our NEWTs that Wednesday evening, though she was the only one at the table doing any form of studying. I was doodling all over my scrap of parchment, not even attempting to hide this fact. I couldn't concentrate and I was in no mood to study for an exam I never had an interest in.
"Oh, nothing," I replied absently, shrugging my shoulders and continuing with the spirals I was drawing.
"Come on, there's something going on. I can see it. You're not being yourself!" she remarked, now concerned and I brought my head up to look at my friend. "Is it Cedric?"
"What? No!" I remarked quickly, then hesitated and added. "Well yeah in a way."
"Oh we broke up a few days ago, but that's not really it," I replied, twirling my quill around my fingers. "It's Oliver. We broke up because of him."
"Why did Oliver say something, or did Cedric get jealous of your friendship again?" Karine asked, now very curious and her dark eyes were fixated on me.
"No, nothing like that," I said, not in the mood to discuss my feelings for Oliver with her. Karine took in the morose look on her face and her eyes widened as she let out an 'Oh'.
It seemed I didn't have to tell her anything; she was astute enough to figure it out on her own.
"How long have you liked him?"
"I don't know, it could have been weeks or months for all I know," I let out sigh while shaking my head. "We've been so close, I suppose it's only natural that it happened again."
"Does he know?"
I shook my head and elaborated. "I was going to tell him until after the Quidditch Cup final on Saturday."
"I think that's a good idea."
"Yeah?" I replied, unsure.
"Let him focus on his match. You know how much he's been wanting this," Karine said, her face scrunched up in thought. She shook her head, then looked back over at me and smiled.
"It'll be okay Chrissie," she said, her voice reassuring. "It'll all work out the way it's supposed to."
The tension between Gryffindor and Slytherin house had reached fever pitch by Thursday afternoon, and had gone beyond any house rivalry seen at Hogwarts in many years. It certainly didn't help matters that both Gryffindor's and Slytherin's Seekers hated one another with a passion and were already harbouring a lot of enmity against one another. I'd been told by other Gryffindor third years that every person in their year knew that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy couldn't stand one another, so it no surprise that scuffles would occasionally break out between them.
Oliver became so concerned that he ordered a protection team for his star Seeker, one that almost the entire Gryffindor house took up with relish. Poor little Harry wasn't so keen on the idea, and would often grumble about it to Oliver when no-one else was around. The upside was it made spotting him in the corridors so much easier, as you just had to look where a gaggle of Gryffindors were walking along the stone corridors. The whole thing would have been incredibly funny if we weren't all stressing about the final. It was just another example of how Quidditch mad we'd all become in the last couple of weeks.
The days were dragging by and I was missing Oliver terribly. I missed his smile, his laugh, just sitting and chatting to him. I missed his presence next to me in class and more than anything I missed his scent that always wafted through the air when he was nearby. He had been avoiding me for over a week now and even though I had made a promise to myself to let him focus on his dream of winning the Cup, I was starting to regret that decision.
School just wasn't as entertaining without him around and I so badly wanted him to talk to me again. But it was Friday afternoon, I reasoned, taking in a deep breath as I turned the corner on my way to my last class of the day, Arithmancy. I could wait another 24 hours. I would stay steadfast to my desire and let Oliver chase after his in peace.
But as I rounded that corner and spotted the boy in question chatting to Karine, I realised I wasn't quite ready to see him yet. I hesitated and paused by a suit of armour, my heartbeat suddenly so much faster than before. I took in his profile, bedazzled by how his amber hair was glimmering in the sunshine streaming in through a high window, how his trousers were creased after a long day and how he looked as ruggedly handsome as ever. The three-day stubble suited him so well with his messy hair.
He was deep in conversation with Karine about something I didn't catch, though I was able to discern from the hand she had placed on his shoulder and how his head kept dropping that he wasn't his usual confident self.
My heart yearned to go over to him and give him a hug to comfort his despondent state, but I held myself back. I scrutinised the part of his face that I could see and he seemed unhappy and if I didn't know any better, I would say lonely.
The corridor around us emptied a little and suddenly I was able to catch the words they were speaking.
"You'll be alright Oliver. Just believe in yourself," Karine spoke emphatically, but Oliver was avoiding her gaze.
"Everyone keeps saying that Karine. It gets a bit annoying hearing it from Ethan and everyone all the time," he remarked dryly and rolled his eyes. He sighed then and his shoulders dropped as he confessed, "I hate being unsure about myself. Fuck, am I even doing the right thing?" He seemed dissatisfied with himself, because he shook his head and mumbled something under his breath. Karine in response squeezed his shoulders and sent him a sympathetic smile.
"You're the most sure person I know Oliver. Trust yourself that you're doing the right thing. I'll always be here for you when you need me. You just have to stay strong!"
I pulled my head away and turned to walk back the way I came. I felt like I was intruding on a private moment between Oliver and Karine and it was obvious he needed comfort in the wake of the Quidditch final coming up. I shouldn't be some kind of peeping Tom, listening in to other peoples' conversations. It was rude and they were both my friends and deserved better.
It stung a lot though, knowing that Oliver was feeling unsure about himself and I couldn't or wouldn't comfort him. But then we were both avoiding one another, so even if I hadn't promised myself to give him some space and time, he might not want to talk to me right now.
The whole thing compounded down to one very simple fact; I missed him terribly and Saturday couldn't come soon enough!
It was the night before the match and no-one could focus on their activities. The entire house had given up all its usual pastimes, and was hanging out in the common room, so much so that I hadn't seen it this full since Sirius Black broke into it a few months ago. Though thankfully, this time the mood was a little lighter, though not by much. Gryffindor house seemed to be running on nervous energy alone, tense to the rafters and unable to deal with it.
Scuffles had been breaking out between Slytherin and Gryffindor all week, culminating on Thursday with a nasty incident between a Gryffindor fourth year and a Slytherin sixth year, which ended with both of them in the Hospital Wing getting leeks removed from their ears.
The team itself wasn't doing much better in relieving the tension on their shoulders; Fred and George Weasley were dealing with the pressure by being even louder and more exuberant than usual. Oliver was crouching over a model of the Quidditch pitch in the corner, refusing to talk to any of his friends and just prodding little figurines of the team with his wand while muttering under his breath. The Chasers, Alicia, Angelina and Katie were laughing at Fred and George's jokes and Harry was hanging out with his friends on another sofa on the other side of the room.
We weren't doing much better to be honest, Abby was grouchy and snapping at everyone, Tess was nervously biting her fingernails, Ethan was muttering quietly to Aiden sitting next to him, and Jackie, the one girl immune to all of Quidditch's charms was sitting on a chair next to us knitting a Gryffindor scarf. If I didn't have a giant piece of lead sitting in my stomach I would have laughed at the oddness of it all.
Well I reasoned, now seemed like the best time to tell the guys the news.
"Cedric and I broke up," I remarked simply and it took a minute or two before anyone reacted. In fact I was about to say it again, when Ethan swore under his breath, jumped up from his seat and made his way up to the boys' dormitories.
"What was that about?" I remarked confused, a frown on my face.
"What?" Abby asked, not quite believing her ears. "You broke up? When did this happen?"
"Saturday night," I replied, turning my attention back to my best friend.
"Why didn't you say anything before?"
I shrugged and added, "I'm telling you now. I didn't want to before. To be honest, neither Ced nor I really wanted the whole school to know about it yet."
"Oh, I'm sorry Chrissie!" Tess declared as she jumped up and came over to me to give me a big hug. I smiled and hugged her back before I responded.
"It's okay Tess. I ended it with him. We both knew it wasn't going to work," I shrugged.
"But you're okay?" Abby added that concerned look on her face again.
I smiled. "Yeah I'm good. It was for the best. I'm okay with it."
It was at this moment that Ethan came back to the group and slid himself into his seat next to Aiden. Tess, Jackie and I sent him questioning glances, while Abby as subtle as ever remarked.
"Where did you run off to there?"
"Nowhere, it's not important," he replied dismissively. The girls might not know what Ethan had meant by that, but I knew exactly why he was pissed and why he'd darted away. The conversation we had two weeks ago on the way to the kitchens late that night was still fresh in my mind and I knew he was annoyed at me for toying with Oliver's feelings. Not that I ever wanted to do that to Oliver, but Ethan never did see it that way.
Abby just shrugged her shoulders at Ethan's odd behaviour and turned her attention back to me.
"Did you tell Oliver yet?"
"No, not yet. I don't wanna bother him with silly stuff like this just before the Quidditch final. I'll tell him tomorrow or something," I replied, hoping it came of nonchalant. Abby caught my eyes and gave me one of her piercing glances, which she seemed to be holding for an age. Eventually she looked away and I let out an inaudible sigh. I wasn't quite ready for her probing questions on my feelings for Oliver yet.
Three hours later and we finally gave in and decided to head to bed. No-one was tired and we had barely spoken all night, but we all knew it was fruitless to stay up longer. The common room had emptied out considerably by the time we wished the boys a good night and started making our way to the girls' dormitory. I paused, letting the girls walk on before me and glanced over at the lonely figure of Oliver Wood in the corner. He was still studying his figurines and with his slumped shoulders and dark circles around his eyes I could see he was exhausted. He looked so alone there on his own and I hoped I was doing the right thing by staying away and giving him space. He looked like he really needed companionship and I was doing the exact opposite. I suppose I just had to hope that my plan would work out.
"Until tomorrow Oliver," I whispered under my breath before I turned around and followed the girls up the staircase.
The sun dawned bright and clear on that June morning, rising slowly over the tops of the Scottish highlands, and whatever mist there had been, was already burned away. I awoke with the rise of the sun around five in the morning and tossed and turned for another hour and a half, unable to go back to sleep or even bring myself to get up. The rest of the girls were still fast asleep, Denise and Abby snoring lightly in their sleep. By six thirty I finally had enough and pulled my tired body out of my warm bed and ambled quietly down to the common room.
I really shouldn't be that surprised that the common room wasn't empty; it seemed I wasn't the only Gryffindor who couldn't sleep because of the upcoming match. I could already feel the chaos around me, of students excitedly discussing the final, while others were putting the finishing touches to their outfits and banners in support of Gryffindor. I was surprised to see Oliver descending the boys' staircase at the same time as I was and we glanced at one another across the common room, smiling at each other. For once it didn't bother me that I was still in my pyjamas and short shorts, or that Oliver was fully dressed in his Quidditch regalia. I was only focused on the fact that he was walking towards me and acknowledging my presence.
"Hey," he spoke, his voice still gruff from sleep.
"Hi," I responded, my own voice coming out a little breathless.
"Couldn't sleep?" he asked and I grinned and nodded my head, hand still on the bannister of the staircase. Since I was still on the steps of the girls' staircase, for once I was level head with Oliver.
"Yeah, kept dreaming of flying Quaffles and Slytherin Beaters chasing me, and I'm not even on the team!" Oliver chuckled at that, his deep throaty laugh warming my senses. "What about you?"
"Have you ever known me to sleep the night before a match?" he asked sardonically and I grinned back at him, nodding my head. It had been a stupid question.
"You all set for the match?" I asked him, but he never got a chance to respond as Anne-Marie came barrelling down the girls' staircase and when she spotted Oliver, she skidded to a halt next to me and wished him luck.
Oliver smiled back and thanked her, before she ran off and out of the common room. Oliver turned his attention back at me, a sheepish look on his face.
"What did you ask me again?"
"Just if you're all set for the match," I reiterated and he shrugged his shoulders, a concerned expression on his face.
"As much as I can be, I guess," he responded and I felt for him, carrying the weight of the team's expectations on his shoulders.
"You will do fantastically!" I implored him, and he looked up at me, a doubting expression on his face.
"You sure about that?"
"I am," I replied simply, stating the most obvious thing in the world. "I have faith in you."
"Thanks Chrissie," Oliver said and we grinned at each other. It felt so good to be in his presence again, to smell his familiar scent and revel in his humour.
I was about to say something again, when we were interrupted this time by a fellow seventh year boy, who started drilling Oliver for player statistics, no doubt to use in any future bets he would be placing on the game. I rolled my eyes at this, and wondered whether this was the work of Fred and George Weasley. After five minutes he finally left and Oliver and I were left on our own again.
Oliver turned to me and asked, "I haven't spoken to you in ages. How's things been with you?" I was about to respond when a frantic Katie Bell came darting over to Oliver. I wished her a good morning, and she responded before she started jabbering to Oliver about some Quidditch move she wasn't sure about. Oliver calmly reassured her that she would be fine, and that she didn't have to do the move if she didn't feel confident, but they had been practising it for over a month and he had full confidence in her. She nodded her head, calming down and said sorry for interrupting us before she made her way back up to her dorm.
"You were saying?" I asked him, a grin on my face as I realised he had forgotten what he had asked me again.
We tried to have a conversation for another five minutes, but eventually we gave up because people wishing him luck constantly interrupted us. It was a fruitless effort anyway, trying to have a private moment amongst all the chaos around us, but we tried. I was sorry to see him go, but Oliver said he needed to do some last minute strategising and I wasn't going to stand in his way. I wished him luck and told him I'd see him out there, before he sent me one more smile that warmed my soul, turned around and walked out of the common room. I sighed, feeling suddenly very lonely, as I turned around and trudged back up to the dorm to get dressed for the day.
Two hours later and the girls and I were sitting at our usual spot at the table in the Great Hall, tucking into our breakfast when the doors opened and the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team came walking in with Oliver in the lead, all decked out in their uniforms and pads. The entire school, bar Slytherin burst into a raucous applause and I was pleased to see that the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were cheering as loudly as the Gryffindors. The Slytherin house hissed loudly as they passed, but Wood and the team took no notice of them. They sat further up the table, together for once as Wood stood over them ordering them to eat, yet touching nothing himself. About fifteen minutes later Oliver hurried his team along, to the sounds of protestations from the girls because no-one had gotten a chance to finish their breakfast yet, but Oliver was adamant. He wanted them to get an idea of the conditions outside and I watched with a smile as the manic Captain appeared once more, urging his team out of the Great Hall to the sounds of cheers from the rest of the school.
The Quidditch final was the most intense match I had ever seen in my life, including all the professional Quidditch matches my Dad and I would go to during the summer. The ferocity kicked off as soon as Madame Hooch blew the opening whistle and only got worse as Gryffindor took an early lead, leading thirty to zero within the first half hour. But Slytherin were upping the ante in regards to dirty tactics and soon foul after foul was played to the extreme anger of Hooch.
Oliver took two Bludgers to the stomach early into the match that made me wince and hope he was alright, but he clung onto his broom and soon righted himself, saving a couple of goals in the process.
Lee Jordan was an unbiased in his commentary as ever, though for once Professor McGonagall didn't give out to him about that, instead she tried in vain to curtail his swearing, though even that was dropped after another of Slytherin's filthy tricks after Malfoy grabbed onto Harry's broom to stop him catching the Snitch. It got so bad I started watching the match through my fingertips, though Abby next to me was roaring her head off with such ferocity she frightened me a little. I loved every second of the match, but I couldn't bear to watch it anymore. It was too much for my poor heart and nerves.
"YES! HE'S DONE IT! HARRY'S CAUGHT THE SNITCH AND GRYFFINDOR HAS WON THE CUP!" Lee Jordan roared into the megaphone as the stadium erupted in an almighty ringing of cheers, screaming and laughter. Aiden, Ethan and Abby next to me were bouncing up and down, hugging each other alternatively and yelling very loudly.
Ethan wrapped an arm around my shoulder and pulled me in for a massive bear hug, and I grinned into his shoulder, but the only person I wanted to see was Oliver. I gently pulled away and stared at the mass of bodies that was the Gryffindor Quidditch team as they were slowly descending towards the ground. Through them I could see Oliver sobbing and my heart filled with pride and joy at the look of ecstasy on his face.
"Come on guys," I yelled at my friends, pointing towards the team that had landed at the edge of the Quidditch pitch and we darted down the many steps of the Gryffindor stands, Ethan and I taking them two and three at a time.
By the time we made it out onto the pitch half of the stadium had made it there before us, jostling and cheering on the team, so that I lost sight of them.
I tried darting through the throng, but everyone was also thinking along the same lines as me, though not for the same intention that I was. I stopped pushing after a few minutes and gazed forlornly at Fred and George, who had just been hoisted up into the air. Harry Potter was hoisted onto the shoulders of some sixth years and I watched with a smile as his ecstatic face lit up with delight, the Snitch still feebly trying to dart away in his right hand. A moment later Oliver joined the rest of his teammates on the shoulders of his peers, and my heart lurched in my stomach, as I prayed he would see me, but his attention was focused on his teammates around him.
"Oliver!" I yelled out into the din, but he couldn't hear me. I sighed and jumped up, yelling out his name again. No such luck and I let out a breath, when Abby came up next to me and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Don't worry Chrissie, you'll see him later on in the common room," she spoke, and her face was serious as she gave me a wistful smile.
"I just wanted to congratulate him," I replied, hiding my true desire to see him from my best friend.
"I know Chrissie, but maybe it might be better to tell him later on when you've got a bit of privacy," she added, giving my shoulder a squeeze, before she released me and added brightly. "Now I'm going to use some 7C connections and get us a whole load of booze for tonight with Ethan. Care to join us?"
"No, I'll see you guys later," I replied giving her a smile and watched for a moment as the three made their way back towards the castle. I watched with a proud and wistful smile on my face, a little removed from the dancing crowd in front of me as the team made their way towards the box where Dumbledore was sitting and with a beam and a sobbing McGonagall next to him handed Oliver the Quidditch Cup. He raised it into the air to the screams and delight of everyone around us, and I couldn't help but let the infectious mood get a hold of me. I screamed so loud that I was sure I would damage my vocal chords, but the look of pure joy on Oliver's face made it all worthwhile. He had achieved his dream and I couldn't be happier for him. I would give him time before I talked to him as I wanted him to enjoy this moment and nothing in the world could ever persuade me to take even a second away from him.
There is nothing I hate more than waiting impatiently for something. It's even worse if it's something that's been weighing heavily on my mind. After the spectacular win by the Gryffindor team and seeing Oliver's elated smile at finally winning the Quidditch Cup, I knew I had to tell him how I felt, before I lost all courage completely.
The rest of the afternoon dragged by unbearably slow, and I took to perching myself on a sofa chair with Tess and Jackie that faced the portrait hole with a book on my lap as I waited for Oliver to return. I was anxious beyond belief and I kept playing with my hair, twisting it around my finger, but nothing could keep my attention for more than a few minutes. After a few hours Tess gave up, frustrated and departed to find something more fun to do. Jackie just kept watching me quietly, her study notes on her lap where she sat opposite me, and growing increasingly frustrated and not wanting to snap at her, I finally got up around six in the evening and headed for a walk through the castle.
I desperately wanted Abby, as she was always able to get me out of these moods, but she was still missing with Ethan and Fred and George, no doubt doing something highly illegal or at the very least against school rules. I took to wandering through the corridors on the ground floor, and I spent a peaceful half hour watching the sun set over the Scottish hills. When it was finally starting to grow quite cold around eight-ish I gave up my fruitless quest in distracting myself and made my way back to the Gryffindor common room.
When the portrait opened before me I was greeted with thumping music and the loud screech emitted by Tess, who came barrelling towards me at break-neck speed.
"There you are. Where have you been? We started an hour ago! Come in a join us!" she promptly declared so fast, I didn't know which question to answer first.
"Oh never mind," she dismissed, shaking her head and grabbed my hand as she pulled me into the crowded common room. A smile spread across my face as I watched the dancing jolly crowd around me. Before I could even argue I had a drink pushed into my hand by Anne-Marie, as Denise came over and gave me a hug.
"We won!" she screamed in my ear and it took me a second to realise that she was shit-faced drunk. Denise despised Quidditch about as much as Tess, so her exuberance was entertaining to see.
"Yes we did. You missed a great match, Denise!" I chuckled, but she just whooped and let go of me, stumbling into the crowd.
"Someone should keep an eye on that girl," I remarked with a grin and Anne-Marie sighed and sent me an exasperated smile.
"I'd better make sure she doesn't go near the Firewhiskey again," she replied and darted into the crowd after our roommate.
"So where were you? You've been in a weird mood since the match," Tess remarked, but I just shrugged and took a sip of the drink Anne-Marie had given me, tasting a tangy mixture of cranberry juice and a large amount of Firewhiskey. It looked like I would have to go easy on the punch this evening.
"I just needed to go for a walk," I replied, unwilling to talk to Tess about why I was feeling so antsy all day.
"Well you missed the best part. When the team came in and gave a speech, Oliver got soaked by Fred and George." I raised my eyebrow at that, and smiled at the thought of a drenched Wood, torn between giving out to the prankster twins or join in.
"Then you would not believe what I saw-" Tess declared triumphantly, but I was only half listening to her as my eyes scanned the crowded common room, spotting the Chasers in one corner giggling away to themselves and Harry Potter with a glazed look on his face celebrating with his friends. But still I couldn't see Oliver.
"Are you listening to me?" Tess asked me, her brow creased as she gazed piercingly at me. At that moment I spotted the familiar mop of amber hair that belonged to Oliver. Without a word, I handed a surprised Tess my drink and made my way over to where he stood with Fred and George.
The crowd parted a little in front of me and I grinned from ear to ear as I walked up to Oliver and saw with my heart fluttering that he was grinning back at me.
"Hey," I grinned and he beamed back at me. I noticed that he was still holding the Quidditch Cup and I let out a chuckle as he sheepishly handed the cup over to George, who proceeded to start squabbling with Fred over who could hold the thing. The attention of the crowded Gryffindor common room suddenly turned on Fred and George as they cheered along and raised their drinks into the air in a mock salute.
Oliver grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the throng towards one of the tables near the boys' staircase.
"Hey," he replied grinning back at me, rubbing the back of his neck in an awkward fashion that had me grinning even more.
"Congrats! You finally did it!"
"Thanks, although it wasn't just me. We couldn't have done it without Harry catching that Snitch the way he did," Oliver replied, the modesty shining through and it sent my stomach into somersaults. His hair was ruffled from the match hours earlier, which he still hadn't straightened out and his Keeper shirt was just as crumpled from the game. He looked more handsome than ever and I just grinned goofily at him, drinking in the sight in front of me.
"I'm so proud of you!" I remarked and I watched as Oliver's eyebrows shot up at that comment, but his eyes lit up as he mumbled out an embarrassed thanks.
"I didn't see you on the pitch after we won. I was looking for you," he replied and I smiled a hopeful smile at him. Taking a step towards him, I knew this was the best chance I would get to tell him how I felt.
"I broke up with Cedric," I blurted out, having waited a week to tell him, yet at that moment I didn't know what to say.
"Oh, when did this happen?" Oliver remarked, his face inscrutable.
"Over a week ago," I replied and Oliver grinned at me, taking my hand again and giving it a squeeze. He wanted to say something, I could see it, but I didn't want to hear the words. Instead I took a steadying breath and took another step towards him so that we were only inches apart. His eyes had grown a little wider, but the smile hadn't left his face so I took a chance, stood on my tiptoes and kissed him lightly on the lips.
I could go on for hours how heavenly it was kissing Oliver, but I was too distracted by his arms grabbing a hold of my upper arms and his soft lips returning the kiss. His fingers trailed slowly up and down my arms as he kissed me back with fervour and I felt like I was floating on air. We stood like that for a minute or so, when he slowly pulled away and I smiled shyly up into his emerald eyes.
"Chrissie," Oliver began and it was only then that I saw the troubled look on his face. My brow creased as I took in the torn look on his face.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that," I mumbled out, my eyes dropping the floor in confusion. I didn't understand; I had been so sure that he felt the same for me. He said he missed me on the pitch earlier, so why would he suddenly turn me down?
"Chrissie," Oliver began again and his fingers gently pulled my chin up until I looked him in the eyes again. "I'm with Karine." The pain in his eyes was evident and he didn't even try to hide it from me.
"Oh," I replied numbly, taking a step back and looking over his shoulder at the raucous crowd all around us. I blinked quickly, trying my hardest not to cry in front of Oliver, but the overwhelming feeling that I was drowning in my own emotions was making it difficult to focus on anything else.
Oliver's voice pulled me out of the din as he added, "I'm really sorry Chrissie. I wanted to tell you – "
"When did this happen?" I said, fixing my eyes on his face, so filled with regret it made me want to start crying again.
"A few days ago. I followed your advice and gave her another chance. You'd always been telling me to do that," he added, a wry smile tugging at the corners of his mouth but I couldn't share in the irony. I nodded my head and looked away again, thinking about how fucked up this whole thing was.
I wanted to scream and yell at him that I had meant for him to give me another chance, not her, but nothing came out. She was my friend after-all and I should be happy for her, right?
I struggled to gather all the inner strength I could and gave him a watery smile, holding back the tears as I smiled at him.
I'm happy for you," I said, lying so hard I was sure he could see through it and see the raw pain hidden beneath the smile and the words. But he just nodded his head and smiled at me.
"We're still friends, right?" he asked, his tone nervous and I nodded my head at him. He let out a relieved breath and squeezed my shoulders that made me want to cry even more.
"Just please do me a favour and don't tell Karine about the kiss. I don't think she'd see the misunderstanding as clearly as you or I could," I spoke, taking another deep and calming breath, but finding it was proving more futile than ever.
Oliver grinned and nodded his head. "I really don't wanna hear her take my ear off!"
"I'm gonna go now, Oliver. Again congrats for the win," I said and I saw his face marred by the frown crossing his face.
"Are you sure you don't wanna join in on the fun. We have a full vat of Firewhiskey and I could get you a Firewhiskey and cola since you love them so much," Oliver added quickly, but I smiled at him, knowing that if I didn't leave now my dignity would be gone too.
I'm fine. Enjoy the party," I said and turned around making my way out of the common room, not at all surprised that no-one stopped me. They were all too busy to have seen my heart break in the midst of the celebration party. As the portrait door swung closed behind me I let out an almighty sob and let the tears flow freely down my face. I began walking not quite sure where I was going, nor did I care, for that matter. The only thing that revolved around in my brain was that I had lost my chance with Oliver. I had spent the last week and a half plucking up the courage to tell him how I felt, but I got there too late. In all the scenarios that ran through my head, I never expected that Karine would beat me to the punch, or that she had been looking to reunite with Oliver too.
I let out another sob as I leaned my head against the cold stone wall on the seventh floor, and tried to subside the tears.
That's the thing when we set up goals for ourselves to pursue. We might dream and hope all we want, and strive in the pursuit of happiness, but sometimes it doesn't work out like that. Maybe having dreams and goals won't guarantee that you achieve them. Sometimes we put our heart on the line only to have it rejected. That's the shitty thing with life; you never know how it's going to go.
Well that only took less than a year! I must be getting better! :-D
Thank you as always for the reviews, urging me to update. Don't worry I'm still here and this story will be finished, even if it takes me another couple of years. The good news is there's only four more chapters left and they're gonna be a lot easier to write. So hopefully it shouldn't take me too long to get through them. I've already written sections for chapter 17 and it's gonna be a fun one to do.
The other news is that there's a sequel planned for this story. Originally it was only meant to be a few chapters long, but you never know with me. That could take a lot longer as I only have the premise planned and nothing else.
In the meantime, I hoped you enjoyed the chapter and don't want to kill me for the ending. In my defence, it was planned years ago and there's a method to my madness. As always, please review. It makes me very happy and gets me writing quicker! :-P