Oh, so long for this night I’ve prayed
That a star would guide you my way
– Ribbon in the Sky, Stevie Wonder
Angelina swerved around the pitch, once again racing towards the hoops, Quaffle in hand as her Constellation 240 raced to keep up with her furious movements. She threw the ball as hard as she could, screaming into the void as it missed its usual target and hit the long post. Her breathing slowed in time with her broomstick as she swooped down to the ground to grab her weapon of choice once more.
Letting out a huff of irritation, Angelina leaned her body against the back of the post, determined not to let tears fall from her eyes. She pulled her hands through her hair, her usual sign that something was bothering her. Ironically, it was her hair that had caused all the commotion.
Ever since she had been sorted into Gryffindor last year, Angelina had made it her mission to be selected for the House Quidditch Team. She spent most of her spare time either on the pitch practicing her throw, in the library studying famous Chasers and their best moves, or bugging Madam Hooch to teach her new flying techniques. She knew that she had what it took to be a great athlete, but there was only one thing standing in her way, or rather, there was only one thing flying in her face: her hair.
She had spent the week amping herself up. On Monday, she and her roommate and best friend Alicia Spinnet, had spent the afternoon completing their version of the Hollyhead Harpies workout they had seen the Easter before (25 loops around the pitch, 75 throws to a partner, and 100 shots before the timer went off). Tuesday, she ironed her favorite piece of clothing, a red I Don’t Chase Boys, I Chase the Quaffle t-shirt that her father had given her on her eleventh birthday. Wednesday, she begged her prefect, Mallory Minecoff, to let her into the bathroom so she could soak in the special bath soap that her grandmother made—a blend of eucalyptus and spearmint with a dash of honey—assured to relieve stress and cleanse the senses.
Thursday night though was her favorite, because like clockwork, she met up with her favorite cousin, Delaney. They snacked, cackled about their weeks, while Angelina did her hair. A super cute and quiet Hufflepuff, Delaney gushed about how she was ready to see Angelina totally kill it at her tryout. Angelina knew her cousin was loyal to a fault, so it made her feel good to know someone would be there to cheer her on.
But what Angelina couldn’t have anticipated that Friday, mere hours before tryouts, was a Double Potions lesson that would go completely awry. Professor Snape was a beast on his best days, but hearing the students chat about the upcoming trials seemed to have him even more on edge. Thus, he set them to task with mixing up Helping Handcream, a lotion that would give the user’s hands an extra boost of energy.
Usually Angelina worked with Alicia, who was really diligent with watching Potions, but it seemed that Snape was truly in a fit to be tied. Thus she ended up with Holiss Kettlestone, a nervous Hufflepuff who just couldn’t seem to keep calm, despite all efforts. One moment their cream was settled and the next…
“My hair!!” Angelina screamed as the bubblegum pink concoction landed on her curls, its sticky steam hardening quickly. Holiss was truly apologetic, but Snape was not. 20 points taken later, Angelina sniffed away her tears as they finished the class. Professor Snape also refused to remove the cream, claiming, “You can always bathe Miss Johnson. Surely you have nothing pressing after my lesson.”
It got worse. The handcream truly would not come out in the quick shower that Angelina took right before lunch, nor did it come out when Alicia and their friend Katie Bell scrubbed it before their Charms lesson that afternoon.
Angelina had no choice but to head to the tryout, head full of gunk. She managed to tie a hair tie around it, but it did nothing to stop the elements, nor the snickers. To add insult to injury, she had to watch as Alicia and Levi Ravencroft, a fourth year whom she had seen practice and had quickly been named as the crowd favorite, scored several goals a piece. She had only scored two, a new low even for a second year. She was sure that she would be a reserve, or worse, wouldn’t make the team at all. Alicia tried to help by saying she didn’t like Levi’s flying style and that anybody could be a star on a Comet 250, but they both knew that the Quaffle doesn’t lie, and Levi could score. Even Delaney’s famous pep talks, complete with chocolate chip cookies, didn’t make her feel better, and that was saying something.
She looked up from the post, quietly saying, “Lumos,” to make light shine from her wand. She bit her lip as a slightly taller boy came across the field, his red hair a beacon in the darkness.
“Hey Fred,” Angelina tried to reply cheerily, but knowing she had failed. Fred, along with his brother George, had tried out for Beaters that afternoon too. They moved flawlessly together, probably due to playing countless games with their brothers Bill and Charlie. She particularly liked his laugh, but she didn’t know what to do with that information.
“Just tossing the Quaffle around?” Fred gave a small smile, picking up the ball.
“Yeah, not really getting anywhere. The perfect end to the perfect day!” Angelina sniffed sarcastically, though she couldn’t really be mad. It wasn’t Fred’s fault that today was epically bad.
“Yeah I know today was rough for ya. Snape was an absolute git in class. You really did some amazing flying though. I, um…”
Angelina watched as Fred composed himself as he pulled out a bottle and something else from his robes. “I wrote to my mum about what happened; she’s always cleaning and uses Helpful Handcream a lot. She got it in her hair once and made this special shampoo to remove it. I’m sorry I didn’t have it earlier.”
“Wow, thanks Fred! That’s really sweet.” Angelina took the bottle, feeling extremely grateful and surprised that a guy would help her, much less write to his mum to do it.
“Yeah it’s no problem. I also made you this.” With his other hand, Fred held out a dark red ribbon, sleek and shiny and thick. It felt light and heavy in Angelina’s hand, which made her curious.
“I notice your hair—I mean, I noticed that you were struggling to tie your hair back at the trials today, and I had been working on a ribbon that would tie and retie itself when hair escaped. I tried it on my sister and she seemed to like it.” Fred talked a bit fast, his hand rubbing his neck as he explained.
“Oh Fred, that’s amazing! What an awesome gift! Thank you!” In a burst of energy, Angelina wrapped her arms around him, the sudden hug startling them both. He stiffened, but then gave her a quick embrace back, both of them breaking apart, suddenly shy.
“Haha you’re welcome. Will you come inside though? I’m always getting in trouble but I don’t want you to catch detention. Besides, I think you’ll be very happy once you get in! I have to go meet George and Lee, I’ll see you later yeah?” Fred questioned as he sprinted back towards the castle.
“Yeah of course. Thanks again!” Angelina shouted as she grabbed her new gifts and her equipment. As she made her way back to the Common Room, she was suddenly tackled by Alicia and Katie.
“Lina, Lina we made it! Lina we’re Chasers!” Alicia exclaimed as Katie clapped. Angelina laughed, trying not to feel sad and instead cheer for her friends.
“That’s great Alicia, I’m so happy for you.” She managed tactfully, eager to get into a shower.
“No silly! We ALL made it!” They dragged her over to the lists, where Angelina astonishingly read Chaser – Angelina Johnson. Her name was even followed by Beater – Fred Weasley which made her smile even further.
“Ooo pretty ribbon Lina! Who made it for you?”
Angelina smiled as she traced over her name one more time. “A friend.”