A few days after the Quidditch selection, Benny seemed better. Meera knew that she was a little mad at being rejected. But surprisingly enough, Benny still showed up at Quidditch practices to cheer her friends. Meera was a little worried if it helped Benny, but Benny did not seem bothered as she was the day the names were pasted on the door, so Meera let it go.
It was misty morning as the colder months approached. The Quidditch practices continued as a major tournament was ahead of them. Meera was running to reach the practice ground. The group had already gather and were warming up.
‘Hi!’ said Neal as Meera reached.
‘Hi!’ she said panting.
‘Benny’s not going to show up?’ Neal asked.
‘No, she got some extra homework to finish.’
‘Better get ready for practice.’
At a distance Li was waving. Meera waved back as Neal tried to smile. She wasn’t sure if he was really waving at them. Li was the team captain and the keeper of the team. It was his job to keep the opposite team from scoring. Neal was the seeker, which was rather unexpected. Nobody thought he could take up that role, even Neal himself was a little reluctant. But as the days progressed, he proved to be one of the best the team could ever have. Redna and Gia were the beaters while Meera, Yuki and Kate were the chasers.
A new professor named Plutus was overseeing the entire Quidditch game for the Hogwarts team. He was a serious looking person who did not speak much but made the team practice really hard. It seemed like he had made his life’s mission to win the league.
‘If we don’t do well, Plutus will keep us till nightfall,’ Gia said as the team gathered closer.
‘The league begins in one week’s time,’ added Li. ‘And we shall be playing against Durmstang.’
‘I hear the team at Durmstrang is really good,’ said Neal.
Neal always had some information to share with the team. No one knew exactly where did he get his bits of information from and no one really asked. Meera did try, but Neal did not seem to want to reveal his sources.
‘Plutus is coming!’ gasped Redna. She particularly did not like him.
‘Everyone back to work!’ said Li.
The next two hours were filled with broom sticks flying left and right, the team members zooming in from there and here. Sometimes it felt like a state of chaos to Meera. When Plutus nodded to let them leave, everyone was exhausted as they hurriedly left for the Great Hall to have dinner.
A separate table had been arranged for the team. Meera thought it made them feel special but she also felt like it was quite unnecessary as they attracted so much of attention. Benny often peaked out of the side of the Hufflepuff table to have a look at Meera and Neal. She had other friends too, but it was clear she missed them.
As everyone sat down in a rush, Meera was surprised to find Li sitting next to her. He smiled as she sat down.
‘You did well today,’ he said.
‘Thanks,’ Meera said, running out of anything particular to say. ‘You’re always great,’ she was quick to add.
‘Nah, I’m just trying,’ he added.
Meera felt like she was so inadequate at conversations. What should she say next? How about how classes are going? But what would she say? Classes with students much younger than herself? How was it like? Maybe she should just keep quiet, yes that would be best. Maybe he’d say something interesting.
‘So how did you get to come to Hogwarts?’ he asked.
Yes, something interesting, Meera thought.
‘I’m not sure myself. Zuck just appeared out of thin air,’ she said and instantly regretted. Perhaps there was a better explanation, something that was really truly hooking. Sadly, there wasn’t.
‘Must be weird, huh.’
‘But its fun here. I’m not sure my other friends back home are having this much of fun,’ she said.
What fun was she talking about? Was she kidding? Mystery was beautiful, but only as long as the time threshold was bearable.
Dinner was over soon and everyone headed back. Meera ran up to where Benny was standing and they headed towards the Hufflepuff common room.
Benny looked tired and eyes were slightly puffed. She immediately fell on the bed, but got up immediately after her back hit something.
‘Ouch!’ she said. ‘There’s something really hard here.’
Meera tried to check in. There was indeed something really hard there, something rectangular. Benny removed it from under the blanket. It was a book. It must have been really old because of its smell. The pages looked torn from the outside and the cover was deep brown in color because of which it looked dirtier than it was.
‘I don’t remember borrowing it from the library,’ Benny said.
Meera took the book in her hands. There was something written on the cover in black ink.
‘The Queen and the Princess,’ it read.
‘How did this get here?’ Benny asked, perplexed.
‘Let’s leave it for now and sleep.’
Benny curled in and was asleep after a while. Meera wanted to open the book and devoured its pages. There was something in it that was calling for her. But it was placed on Benny’s bed. So it must be hers, she thought. And so she decided to leave it, for now at least.
It was match day. The Quidditch League was officially about to start any moment. A special ground had been built for the purpose and the Hogwarts team with a group of other students had reached for the match. It seemed Neal’s information was correct. The Durmstang team was being wildly talked about when the Hogwarts team reached the ground accompanied with the Headmistress and some other teachers.
Other schools also had their headmasters, headmistresses and teachers accompany their students. It was supposed to be a friendly meet up for the teachers and students aside from the game. The Headmaster of Durmstrang was a sharp looking man. The Beauxbatons Headmistress was a very beautiful lady. She was not as young as she seemed. Headmistress Elysian was not fond of either of her counterparts.
‘You’ll be meeting them again, Headmistress,’ said Zuck. ‘Must bring back memories.’
‘Only wished it were the good ones. But they’re not,’ replied Elysian.
The match was about to begin and everyone rushed into their respective seats.
‘Good luck,’ said Plutus, as the team gather for the last time before the match and walked away.
‘I’m sure he’s more worried about his status than Hogwarts winning or losing!’ Gia exclaimed.
‘I can’t disagree,’ added Li. ‘Let’s just have fun.’
The players zoomed in on their broomsticks, and the crowd cheered. To the right was the Drumstang crowd and to the left was the Hogwarts supporters. The match was intense. The Drumstrang players were really good with some of the fastest movements. Hogwarts was trailing behind with some 40 points when Neal caught the sight of the Snitch. The golden ball was fluttering to the left of Meera’s broom. The Durmstrang seeker was also quick to see it and both of them zoomed towards where Meera was.
Neal was far ahead when the chase started. As he got closer and Meera did not move out of the way.
‘Get out of the way,’ he screamed.
But the Durmstrang keeper had already hit her. Meera fell straight on the ground with her bleeding forehead. Li called for a time out. Before she lost consciousness, it felt like the wind whisper to her.
‘The Queen and The Princess,’ it said, whatever it was.
Out in the distance Headmistress Elysian said to herself. Even the students are just like the ones who teach them!
The match was called off for the day despite Durmstang’s strong appeal to let it continue. Their seeker was unable to catch the snitch and so they hadn’t quite won the match. Meera was taken to the medical ward to be treated.
‘It’s a good thing no bones were broken and you didn’t receive much blow to your head,’ said the nurse after Meera was awake.
Benny was already by her side, reading the same book that they had found over Benny’s bed.
‘How are you?’ she asked handing Meera a box of chocolates. ‘You can eat it when you’re better.’
‘Benny,’ Meera said rather seriously.
‘Neal and the team were waiting for you to be awake but they left as Plutus wanted them to practice even more, can you believe that?’
After Benny and some other students had left. Zuck and Headmistress Elysian visited Meera.
‘Are you all right?’ she asked.
‘Yes Headmistress. Its a shame we hadn’t won the match.’
‘Do not be worried about the match,’ Zuck added.
‘You should eat those chocolates,’ Headmistress Elysian said looking at the box Benny had given her. ‘It has healing properties. Will make you feel better.’
‘We should leave now,’ said Zuck as they left.
It had already gotten dark. Meera stretched her hands to pick the chocolate box. Just when she lifted the box, she saw the book Benny had been reading. The same book, she thought. Meera was not sure if she wanted to read it, but it was not something personal so she decided to go on with the idea.
The Queen and The Princess, she murmured to herself.
The first few pages were empty. She turned a little further, it was still empty.
What was Benny reading, she thought.
After turning a few more pages, Meera touched the corner of a page. And suddenly letters started appearing in the book. She was alarmed, but she was already reading the first few lines and she could not avert.
It was a story of a King and a Queen in a faraway land filled with mountains. There were a few illustrations in the book of the King and the Queen and the kingdom. The royals were both noble and ruled their magical land in the most honorable way possible. They had a daughter, the Princess, who had been lured into the dark side by her conspicuous desires of taking over the kingdom from her elder brother, the Prince. A whisper in the air had promised her that if she killed her brother in his sleep on the night of the no moon, she could become the rightful heir to the throne.
It was dark and the lights were out. It was the night of the no moon. The princess proceeded to kill her brother as planned. After the royals had their dinner for the night, the princess asked if she could have a private talk with him.
‘Most certainly,’ the Prince said.
After reaching his room, she poisoned his wine so he would fall into a deep sleep.
‘I bought you your favorite wine, dear brother,’ she said.
Without suspicion the prince drank the wine. He felt a lump in his throat. He was not sure what was happening. His head was spinning.
‘What is this?’ he asked slowly losing his consciousness. ‘Why would you do this?’
He was already in a deep sleep. The princess decided to use the death spell. She was in the middle of chanting the incantation when she heard a noise.
‘Ma!’ said someone standing by the door. It was her daughter. The princess panicked.
‘What happened to mama?’ she said looking at the prince on the floor.
‘Nothing little one,’ said the princess.
She could not use the spell in front of the child. She could not do anything as far as the child remembered what happened. She needed to erase her memory and get her out of here. But before the Princess could cast a spell the child had already run away into the corridors yelling and calling for the Queen.
The Princess trailed her. She had no choice, she had to finish the child. But it was her child. She would go on to become the Queen someday. But if the Princess never became the Queen there was no way her daughter would become the Queen, the air whispered.
She raised her wand and a green light split from her wand, it hit the child, and reflected back. There was the Queen. She was standing behind the child.
‘But nobody can cut a death spelll!’ the Princess yelled.
‘No, but I’ve been given the one chance to deflect it. I never thought in my wildest imagination that I would have to deflect the spell casted from my own blood. I would have saved it for my worst enemy. But it seems, she is standing in front of me.’
The Queen raised her wand. The duel continued for quite a while. The little child watched two women she had known battle their lives. The Princess fell. And the Queen ordered for her to be taken to the dungeons.
Meera heard footsteps approaching her. She could faintly recognize the steps. It belonged to someone she knew. She put the book aside and pretended to be asleep. She felt scared for no apparent reason. She had just been reading a few pages from the book, but perhaps she had taken the story to her heart.
The steps were much louder now. The doors opened and a figure was standing in the door. Meera opened her eyes to check who it was. She could not believe her eyes.
It was the Queen from the book she had just read. It was most definitely her.
Its been a long time. And I’ve been wanting to write so many other stories rather than the one I’m working on. I absolutely get the ‘writer memes’ saying don’t work on other stories now! Motivation is definitely a thing!